Card of the Day: 1977 Topps Star Wars – A Pair Of Jawas #257

How To Spot A Fake Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 Rookie Card

It might seem like a trivial card to counterfeit today, but at one time the Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 rookie card was the king.  Back in the 1980s this card easily fetched over $100.  Many hobby veterans consider it to be the card that kicked-off the whole prospecting phenomenon.  With that type of attention and money being thrown around its no surprise that the counterfeiters came crawling.

Counterfeit Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 rookies have been around almost as long as the real card itself.  If it weren’t for counterfeit versions of this card being made, the Upper Deck Company most likely wouldn’t exist.  Getting duped is what gave them the idea to print cards featuring holograms in order to make counterfeiting more difficult.

Don Mattingly has a very dedicated group of collectors.  His rookies may not be worth what they once were, but still are in demand.  An endless amount of counterfeits will always be floating around.

Here are some tips for spotting a counterfeit Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 rookie card:

  • Card Stock – Large quantities of counterfeits were printed on thin card stock.  Authentic examples have card stock which is much thicker.
  • Gloss – Counterfeits tend to contain a lot more semi-gloss on the front.
  • Print – Blurry, dot-matrix printing is a major red flag of a counterfeit.  Especially on the front where it says “DONRUSS ’84”.
  • Coloring – A lighter-colored front/back is a telltale sign that the card is not genuine.  On an authentic example these areas will be darker.

One of the best things you can do is compare your Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 rookie to other cards from that same set.  The card stock, gloss, photo, and text should all look similar.  I wouldn’t use cards depicting star players from 1984 though.  Even those are known to have been counterfeited despite not being rookies.  Use some nobody.

There has been a growing trend of counterfeit cards being sold as reprints.  Counterfeits and reprints are two completely different things.  Reprints originate from the card manufacturer.  Counterfeits are whipped-up in some losers card doctoring lab.  Its a wording loophole that helps them move their stash of counterfeits.  They’re hoping the people buying them don’t realize the difference.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit front/back

Card of the Day: Luke Richardson 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player Auto

Q&A: What Is A PSA Qualifier?

Question: Could you please tell me what a PSA qualifier is?  I see a lot of PSA graded cards with strange designations on them – OC, ST, PD, etc…

Answer: In short, a PSA qualifier allows for a card to receive a higher grade while having one major defect.  PSA qualifier designations include OC (Off-center), ST (stain), PD (Print Defect), OF (Out of Focus), and MK (Marks).  According to PSA “A “qualified” card is a card that meets all the criteria for a particular grade, but fails the standard in one area.”

For example, take a look at this Mickey Mantle 1961 Topps #300 graded by PSA a Mint 9 with an OC qualifier.  Other than being off-center its in really nice condition.  Without the qualifier it would probably be graded a 5.  As far as value goes, a normal PSA Mint 9 will always be better than that same card graded by PSA with a Mint 9 qualifier.  The qualifiers just allow people to own lower-quality cards while being able to retain that higher grade.

While we’re on the subject of graded cards I think its important to remind you of some things.  Grading in it’s current form is a complete sham.  Card grading has been corrupt since it all began with the world famous 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner graded by PSA a NM-MT 8.  Certain people have been outed as receiving higher grades on their cards just because they have friends at the grading companies.  Better grades have been given due to the volume of grading individuals do as well.  Cards that are counterfeit, altered, and doctored have made it through the grading process just because they know how much publicity and/or money that high graded card will receive.  Its a total joke.  Grading companies, cosigners, card doctors, and trimmers are all in bed together.

Despite so much proof of all of this wrongdoing, very few people care.  PSA continues to have record profits.  As long as people are willing to spend large amounts of money on high-graded cards nothing is going to change.  They will all continue to look the other way because its a ride that nobody wants to get off.

Its difficult to look at a card like this and not wonder what might have been done to it in order to obtain that grade.

Q&A – How Can I Tell If A Topps Tiffany Baseball Set Has Been Searched?

Question: Could you please tell me which Topps Tiffany Baseball sets arrived from the factory sealed in cellophane?  Looking on eBay I see some that are and some that aren’t.  I don’t want to buy a set that’s been searched.

Answer: Between 1984 and 1991 Topps issued Tiffany sets to various dealers, hobby shops, and mail-in publications.  These cards look just like the normal flagship sets except they’re printed on high-quality stock.  For those same years Topps also issued Tiffany cards for their Traded sets.  Each set has a limited print run.

The sets issued between 1984 and 1988 did not come packaged in cellophane.  Just the seal on the lid.  Its the years 1989-1991 where things can get a little confusing.

  • 1989 Topps Tiffany – Clear cellophane & seal
  • 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany – No cellophane, just seal
  • 1990 Topps Tiffany – Just seal
  • 1990 Topps Traded Tiffany – Clear cellophane & seal
  • 1991 Topps Tiffany – Topps branded cellophane & seal
  • 1991 Topps Traded Tiffany – Topps branded cellophane & seal

If purchasing a set, there are some factors to consider.  Does the box show any signs of prior opening?  You want everything to be flat and flush.  Bent-up flaps are not a good signal.  The top part of the box where the lid tucks in should be completely straight and tight against the cards.  Cracking can easily take place on the lid’s hinge after it has been opened.  Inspect the hinge looking for any cracking, bending, and/or change in color.

How does the box feel from the outside?  If its truly never been opened before the box should feel full.  The cards are packed tightly inside.  You shouldn’t feel any movement.  Movement could indicate that cards might be missing.

Finally, inspect the label.  Resealed boxes can have double labeling.  Upon breaking the set’s original seal to remove the good cards, people have been known to print-up fake labels to place over the older broken ones.  Stay far away from them if you see any signs of two labels.  Others have figured out ways to remove the original label without damaging it.  Once they’ve searched the set they simply reapply the label.

Just because a set may have been shipped sealed in cellophane from the factory doesn’t mean it hasn’t been searched over the years.  Resealed Topps Tiffany sets have been making the rounds for a long time.  Its a major problem you have to watch out for.

This 1985 Topps Tiffany set did not originally come shipped in cellophane from Topps.  It was added later by a scammer once the Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Kirby Puckett cards were removed.

How To Spot A Fake Stephen Curry 2009-10 Topps #321 Rookie Card

In 2016, a massive wave of counterfeit Stephen Curry 2009-10 Topps #321 rookie cards found their way into the hobby.  They continue to surface today.  Some sellers will attempt to pass them off as the real thing, while others claim that they’re reprints.

When I see the word “reprint” I think that the card’s original manufacturer made more later on to use as an insert set in another product.  That certainly isn’t the case with these.  This card has no genuine reprints.  Although they might not be asking the price they would if they were passing it off as the real thing, using the word “reprint” still makes people think it was printed and distributed by Topps.  Its just another way to move their hoard of counterfeit cards.  A major loophole in the wording, and the misinterpretation from uneducated buyers.

Here are a few tips for spotting a counterfeit Stephen Curry 2009-10 Topps #321 rookie card:

  • Extra Gloss – Counterfeit examples tend to have more gloss on them compared to an authentic card.
  • Incorrect Card Stock – When placed side-by-side its obvious that the card stock on the counterfeit isn’t the same as an original.  Counterfeit card stock has a cheaper feel to it.
  • Blurry Topps Logo – The Topps logo on the front of a counterfeit can be blurry and made up of tiny print dots.  On authentic examples this logo will be much clearer.
  • Wrong Font Size/Color – On the front of a majority of the counterfeits “Stephen Curry” and “Guard” are printed in a completely different size and color compared to an authentic example.  What should be small and silver is big and white on a counterfeit.  With that being said, I have seen some (not many) counterfeits that have the correct font size and color.  But even those don’t look right.

One of these counterfeits found it’s way to Pristine Auction.  And it sold for a total of $66.99.  You can clearly see the font isn’t what it should be.  eBay has them too.

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit back

Authentic front

Authentic back

20 Years Later Topps Crystal Is Still A Mystery

Drawing a blank upon hearing about 1999 Topps Crystal?  I was debating whether or not to use this for a post since very little is known about it.  But then I thought perhaps just talking about it could shed some new light on this set.

Right now, there are only five different cards known to exist that come with the Topps Crystal name – Craig Biggio, Wally Joyner, Ivan Rodriguez, Andy Brown, and Mike Mussina.  Every card that has surfaced is serial numbered to (99) copies.  Given how rarely you see these popup, I highly doubt (99) copies were actually made for each card though.

The reason why you probably haven’t heard of Topps Crystal is because it was never released.  Many people believe that Topps printed these cards as a test for what would eventually become 2000 Topps HD.  The printing technology between the two is very similar.  Topps HD was a minor success, but only survived for two years.  What makes the cards standout is that they are printed on thick plastic.  Its unfortunate that they didn’t catch on.  I think they look really well done.  Especially the handful of on-card autographs that include Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Adrian Gonzalez.

Seeing that Topps Crystal was never officially released, it makes you wonder how these five cards found their way out.  The most logical explanation is that someone at Topps walked out the door with them.  The odds of finding a new Topps Crystal card are slim, but it could happen.  It would be cool to find one from the Phillies.  For all we know, one of Pat Burrell could be out there somewhere.