How To Spot A Fake Albert Pujols 2001 Fleer Tradition #451 Rookie Card

Albert Pujols is a definite first ballot Hall of Famer.  No doubt about it.  His rookie cards though have cooled off quite a bit since their heyday.  If you purchased some of his rookie cards at their height with the sole intention of turning a profit, you’re probably not too happy right now.  That’s what happens.

When Albert Pujols was all the rage, it created the perfect opportunity for counterfeiters to do their thing.  His 2001 Fleer Tradition #451 rookie card became a major target.  If you’re in the market for one, I highly recommend buying it in person.  That way you can inspect it better.

  • Many counterfeits are actually made up of two different cards.  The front is printed on glossy stock, and the back is printed on natural cardboard stock.  The two are then glued together forming the “card”.  Once the two halves are glued together, the card is much thicker than your standard 2001 Fleer Tradition card.  It weighs a lot more too – 3.05 grams.
  • Print quality – counterfeits have a very distinct print dot pattern.  Take a good look at his statistics on the back.  On an authentic card, items like the statistics should be printed in solid black ink, no dots.  The dotted print pattern carries throughout the entire card.  Both on the front and back.  Because of this, counterfeits tend to have fuzzy photos.

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Product Highlight: 2001 Topps Tribute

Remembering the first truly high-end product you saw I guess depends on when you began collecting.  For me, the first high-end product I can remember is 1997 Donruss Signature Series.  At a cost of around $15/pack with a guaranteed autograph inside each pack I thought it was a very big deal.  Having the opportunity to open up a few was great, even though I wasn’t too familiar with the autographs I was pulling – Eric Young, Todd Hollandsworth, and Jeffrey Hammonds.

High-end is one thing.  Super-premium is another.  In 2001, Topps introduced us to their Tribute brand.  At the time I suppose you could consider it a super-premium product.  Packs cost $40.  2001 Topps Tribute marked a first for Topps.  It was the first Topps product to feature a “hit” in every pack.  Quite the norm today, but fairly a new idea back then.

If your looking to put together the base set, it shouldn’t be that difficult.  Only (90) cards make up the entire set.  There are no parallels, short prints, or variations.  Just cleanly designed cards of retired stars.

The “hits” are what drive Tribute.  Its odd to think about Tribute not having any autographs, but the 2001 incarnation did just that.  “Hits” purely come in relic form only.  Zero autographs.  When opening a pack, you’re most likely going to pull a horizontally designed jersey, pants, or bat relic.

Franchise Figures Relics (1:34) is a (19) card set featuring multiple players and relics on the same card.  2-4 players per card all from the same team.

Game Patch-Number Relics (1:61) contain patches.  Although these aren’t serial numbered, the Game Patch-Number Relics are limited to (30) copies each.

Dubbed just Dual Relics (1:860), Casey Stengel and Frank Robinson are the only two individuals here.  Cards have two relics for each player.

By far the hardest card to pull is the Nolan Ryan Tri-Relic.  These fall 1:1,292 packs, and hold three Nolan Ryan relics.

Long expired now, Topps did include some redemption cards for original cards.  Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams each had (50) redemption cards thrown in.  You even had the chance of pulling a redemption for an original Mickey Mantle card graded by PSA.  The exact Mickey Mantle card and grade were not stated on the redemption.

Topps regularly released Tribute between 2001 and 2004.  Then it took a break for five years and returned in 2009.  I actually enjoy the earlier Tribute sets more compared to the newer stuff.  Those checklists have many older players who you just don’t see getting a lot of attention today.