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Did you just find an original Ikki ?

Updated: Oct 9

How to tell if you just struck GOLD when unearthing an old Ikki at the local thrift store. Many people wonder how you can tell. Guess what? I'm here to tell you.

Well, the sure fire way to tell if your Ikki is an original, is to take it out of it's frame. My father's original watercolors and pen & inks were all done on Illustration board. His acrylics were on canvas, but the graphic designer in him had him loyal to the super smoothness of Crescent's illustration board.

I received an email a couple days ago asking this question. It was a pretty easy answer, since he had removed the artwork from the frame. Here's his pictures:

This is The Mailman Bird of Autumn. Dad painted this one while we still lived in Loveland, Ohio in the early 70s. It has faded some from the sunlight, but luckily this piece stayed in Ohio and did not travel to Florida where the sunshine is hot, but brutal on artwork. Hopefully, the lucky collector will reframe this piece with UV glass and preservation mounting. That way, no more damage and will be protected for future generations. This fading is close to the one Mom and I found and had digitized and restored. I attached the restored giclee, so you can see the difference.

As you can see, the second picture is of the back of the artwork and shows it is illustration board. Illustration board is approximately 1/8 inch thick also, so it is easily distinguished from paper. Side note: That is my dad's handwriting/calculations on the back also.

If you come across an Ikki and you're not sure what you have you can always check for these things:

  1. What does the signature look like? My father's signature changed over the years. I don't blame him. It's a long name to have to write out a100, 200, 500, 1000 at a time. Here is basically the progression:

1978 and before.

1979 to early 80s.

Then, he shortened it even further and it stayed this way till the end. He would change his Chop (red mark) depending on the size of the artwork. He had several over the years.

This one (left) was one of his last prints he signed. His eye sight was getting pretty bad when he signed this. Dad was unable to paint for the last two years of his life due to failing eyesight. It was hard to see, because we all knew he was happiness at his drawing table or sailing and he couldn't do either.

*** Dad always signed his originals (on illustration board) and prints (on paper) in pencil. He would sign posters in pen and in Japanese (since "Ikki" was already printed on the poster.)

He signed the above one in pencil, because in the case of the Sanibel Jazz posters he signed 100 publisher's proofs, which looked like this:

2. Is there a number on it? Dad used a couple different markings, examples like:

a. 123/250 regular limited edition. The right number indicates the size of the edition

and the left number indicates that this print was the 123rd one he signed in this


b. PP stands for Publisher's proof.

c. AP stands for Artists' proof. If my father chose to keep any artist's proofs he did no

more ten and would number them using Roman numerals.

d. The size of the edition tells it's own story. If the editions are higher, like a thousand,

they are most like lithographs. The Series in Grey were lithographs originally. The

reprints now are giclees. The Frame House Gallery editions were typically 750 and

they were said to be Serigraphs. If the edition was a smaller edition (less than 200)

then most likely it was a hand-pulled silkscreen that he did himself in his studio at


If you are wondering what the embossing is in this picture. I now emboss all of his artwork that I sell, either the new giclees or the older pieces I have in stock or vintage pieces that I buy on the Secondary Market. I also include at Certificate of Authenticity with all of the artwork I sell.

You never know where you will find Ikkis. I received another email a few months back from a lady. This is what she wrote:

Hello! I have discovered a version of speeding at a snails pace that has a blue and green butterfly as well as girls in red dresses. The flowers are also yellow with green leaves. There is a note at the bottom reading LAP-147 - 1976. Is this a copy of an Ikki or a variation? It was recovered from a mental asylum in Indianapolis Indiana. It was in a box with several versions of Owl - Series In Grey

The framed photo is the only surviving copy, it is in pretty good shape with just some slight discoloration. The others were rolled up or scattered on the ground and had become soiled with mold and moisture. This was around a decade ago. I have since spoken with an art teacher who said that she was familiar with the style being used in therapies and that they were likely used as art in patient rooms or for patient activities. The owl photo was in a storage room in the basement of the facility. I do now see 1987 Sunrise Publishing on the bottom right hand portion Love these pieces, I had gone nearly the decade without being able to identify the artist.

Thank you to Duane and Josh for sharing your finds. Happy hunting to everyone. Let me know what else you find. I'm happy to answer any questions and I always love talking about my family.

Stay inspired,


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