The History of the Pikachu Illustrator Card: A Journey Through Time

The Pikachu Illustrator card is a name that resonates with Pokémon enthusiasts and collectors alike. It's a symbol of rarity, history, and prestige in the Pokémon trading card community. This blog post delves into the fascinating history of the Pikachu Illustrator card, exploring its origins, significance, and the story behind its astronomical value.

Origins of the Illustrator Pikachu Card

The Pikachu Illustrator card's journey began in November 1997, a year after the first set of Pokémon cards were released. A contest was held in the CoroCoro Comic, a popular Japanese Manga magazine, called the "Pokemon Card Game Illust Artist Contest." Participants were tasked with drawing their own Pokémon card and sending it to the magazine.

In January 1998, three winners were chosen, each receiving 20 Pokémon cards featuring their own illustration and one copy of the Illustrator Pikachu card. Additionally, 20 more contestants received an "Excellence Award," earning them a copy of the card.

Subsequent contests were held in May and June 1998, with more Illustrator Pikachu cards distributed to winners. Officially, only 39 Illustrator Pikachu cards were distributed, making it the rarest Pokémon card in existence.

Design and Features

The design of the Pikachu Illustrator card was crafted by artist Atsuko Nishida, the original designer of Pikachu. It's unique in several ways:

  • It's the only card with 'ILLUSTRATOR' written across the top instead of 'TRAINER.'
  • It features a pen symbol in the bottom right-hand corner.
  • It's one of the only Pokémon cards with a double-star rarity symbol in the bottom right-hand corner.

The Japanese text on the card translates to a certification of the recipient's excellent entry in the Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest, officially recognizing them as a Pokémon Card Illustrator.

Value and Rarity

The value of the Pikachu Illustrator card has skyrocketed over the years. In 2013, one sold for $100,000, and by 2019, the price had almost doubled to $195,000. The most recent and notable sale was made by Logan Paul, who purchased the only PSA 10 in existence for $5,275,000.

There are only 39 known copies of the Pikachu Illustrator card, with 24 of them graded at PSA. Its rarity and historical significance have contributed to its status as the most expensive single Pokémon trading card.

Cultural Impact

The Pikachu Illustrator card has transcended the boundaries of mere collectibles, becoming a cultural icon. Logan Paul's purchase and subsequent display of the card during his WWE debut brought it to the global stage, showcasing the rarest Pokémon card in existence.


The Pikachu Illustrator card is more than just a piece of cardboard; it's a symbol of the Pokémon franchise's impact on pop culture, art, and the world of collectibles. Its history is intertwined with creativity, competition, and a passion for the Pokémon universe.

From its inception in a Japanese Manga magazine contest to its status as the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold, the Pikachu Illustrator card's journey is a testament to the enduring allure of Pokémon. It stands as a beacon for collectors, a treasure for enthusiasts, and a fascinating chapter in the history of one of the world's most beloved franchises.

Whether you're a seasoned collector or new to the world of Pokémon, the story of the Pikachu Illustrator card offers a glimpse into a world where imagination, artistry, and a love for pocket monsters can lead to something truly extraordinary.

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