How To Spot A Fake Mike Trout 2011 Topps Update Series RC #175

Browsing the Blowout Cards Forums attempting to get a beat on the daily hobby pulse I came across an interesting post by user CoachBruno.  Within this post are some tips for spotting a counterfeit Mike Trout 2011 Topps Update Series RC #US175.  Rookie cards of Mike Trout aren’t cheap.  Even his mass-produced base rookies.  It shouldn’t surprise you that this card of his and the accompanying parallels that go with it are being forged.  Some of these are being sold as reprints for a few dollars, while others are being used to trick unknowing collectors.  Someone recently spent $1,200 for a counterfeit Diamond Anniversary parallel of this exact card.

When buying this card online, the best place to look at is the back.  This card’s front, especially the Diamond Anniversary parallel, is easier to identify a counterfeit in person.  The counterfeits are nowhere near as shiny.

A majority of counterfeits contain these features.  Its very possible that better counterfeits exist which don’t.

Authentic – Features “ANGELS OUTFIELD” in red.  Grey trapezoid beneath the Topps logo.  Color MLBPA logo.

Counterfeit – Features “ANGELS OUTFIELD” in black.  Missing/faint trapezoid beneath the Topps logo.  Black/white MLBPA logo.

How To Spot A Fake Michael Jordan 1984-85 Star ROY #288

Michael Jordan cards have been counterfeited for decades.  His 1986-87 Fleer rookie is atop the list of most forged cards in the hobby.  Outside of that card we have a large amount of Star issued cards.  Some collectors won’t even touch Star cards of popular players such as Michael Jordan because they have been counterfeited so much.  Authentic Michael Jordan Star cards can be worth a lot of money if they’re the real deal.

Mr. Jordan has multiple cards made by Star.  His 1984-85 Star ROY #288 is one of the easiest to spot a counterfeit/reprint:

  • Border Spacing – Perfect centering is almost unheard of when it comes to this card.  Most authentic examples show little border on the right side and a fat chunk on the left.  Having this reversed and/or the card being dead-centered in many cases is a red flag of a counterfeit/reprint.
  • Coloring – On the back of the card there should be a slight color bleed along the edge of the card from the front.  The color clarity is softer and unique to original issued Star products, the counterfeits/reprints have bolder colors and out of registry text, bleeding or feathering are good terms to describe the counterfeits/reprints.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit/reprint front

Counterfeit/reprint back

Tips For Spotting A Fake 1968 Topps Rookie Stars Card

With rookie cards of Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench, not to mention second year cards of Rod Carew and Tom Seaver, the 1968 Topps Baseball set is quite memorable.  How could collectors forget that classic burlap bag design?

The Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench cards are the most counterfeited cards from this set.  Especially the Nolan Ryan.

Here are a few tips for spotting counterfeit 1968 Topps Rookie Stars cards:

  • Front Letter Pattern – Look at the letters in the title “1968 Rookie Stars”.  The red and black should be solid.  Counterfeits usually contain print dots.
  • Reverse Coloring – The reverse should be a solid yellow color.  You don’t want to see it made up of little yellow dots.  It shouldn’t be a bright yellow.
  • Front Coloring – The color on the front should be red, not orange.  Specifically when it comes to the title “1968 Rookie Stars”.  Counterfeits and reprints tend to be darker in color.
  • Card Stock – Thicker/white-edged and glossy surfaced card stock is a definite sign of a counterfeit.

As you can see the coloring has a lot to do with identifying a counterfeit.  It can’t hurt to have a common on hand to compare it to.  Special treatment wasn’t given to Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench during the printing process.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit back

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit back

How To Spot A Fake 1967 Topps Baseball Card

(609) cards make up the 1967 Topps Baseball set.  Key rookies include Rod Carew and Tom Seaver.  Counterfeit copies of those two rookies have been floating around the hobby for decades, and might even be the subject of a future blog post.  But for now here are some tips on spotting counterfeit 1967 Topps Baseball cards that aren’t Rod Carew and Tom Seaver rookies.

  • Print Pattern – Especially visible on Robinson’s black sleeve, you can see dot matrix printing dots.  Authentic cards do not have this style of printing.  The colors should be solid.
  • Glossy Back – Many counterfeits will have a smooth and glossy back.  Authentic examples will always have a back that has a rough texture.
  • Thin White Sides – Counterfeits tend to be half the thickness of an authentic card.  Their sides also can be white versus brown on an authentic example.
  • Bright Coloring – Bright coloring is a dead giveaway on so many vintage counterfeits.  The baseball bat on this card is almost the same color as the white border (which is too white to begin with).  This bright coloring isn’t limited to the front.  Its not uncommon for authentic 1967 Topps cards to have green backs that vary in color a little bit.  Find some authentic commons from this set and see if the back of your card is close in color.  Too bright means its a counterfeit.
  • Black Bar – This is quite player specific.  On the back at the bottom below where it says “T.C.G. Printed in U.S.A.” is a black bar.  Some players have this while others do not.  Make sure you know whether the player you’re looking to buy has this bar or not.  If it does, learn if the bar extends all the way to the end.  Some do and some don’t.  Take this Brooks Robinson card.  On an authentic card he has a black bar that extends all the way.  The counterfeit stops short.
  • Perfect Condition – I’m not saying that an authentic 1967 Topps card can’t be found in mint condition.  The odds are just very unlikely that you will.  A lot of the counterfeits will lack wear and age.  Some counterfeiters will attempt to add these features artificially.

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit back

Reprint front

Reprint back

Authentic front

Authentic back

What’s Inside A SportsCards.com Mystery Box?

SportsCards.com sells a variety of monthly subscription boxes, has an eBay Store, and their database allows you to see completed eBay auction listings long after they’re not visible directly on eBay anymore.  I received this box as a gift.

What was in this Mystery Box?

  • (1) pack of 2019 Leaf Draft Football
  • Fred Lynn 1976 Topps #50
  • Ty Cobb – A Word From – Sample Card
  • Marquese Chriss 2016-17 Donruss Newly Crowned Relic
  • Buck Leonard 1978 Grand Slam #36 BGS Authentic Auto

How To Spot A Fake Pete Rose 1963 Topps Rookie Stars #537

Have you ever wondered what the first well-known card to be counterfeited is?  If so, the answer is the 1963 Topps Rookie Stars #537 card.  It contains rookies of Pedro Gonzalez, Ken McMullen, Al Weis, and most notably Pete Rose.  The inclusion of Pete Rose is the real value driver here.

In the earlier 1980’s, a wave of counterfeit Pete Rose rookie cards found their way into the market.  A large chunk of these counterfeits were confiscated, stamped “COUNTERFEIT ORIGINAL REPRINT” on the reverse, and found their way back into circulation.  It became such a big deal that some people actually seek the counterfeits just because they make an interesting conversation piece.  These counterfeits were so well-made if the individual pulling the scam would’ve sold them at multiple card shows instead of dumping them all at one spot there is a good chance they might have gotten away with it.

Its important to note that not every counterfeit Pete Rose rookie card will have this stamp.  Lots of non-stamped counterfeits are still out there attempting to fool uneducated buyers.

Here are some tips for spotting a counterfeit Pete Rose 1963 Topps Rookie Stars #537 card:

  • Black Line (Outside Hat) – Many counterfeits contain a thin black line around the outside of Pete Rose’s white hat.  Authentic examples do NOT have this line.
  • Missing Black Line (Cincinnati logo) – Its difficult to see, but on an authentic example there is a black line around the Cincinnati logo on Rose’s hat.  Counterfeits tend to be missing this item.
  • Thin Card Stock – Counterfeits tend to be printed on much thinner card stock compared to the real thing.  While looking at the card’s reverse, hold it up to the light.  If you’re able to see the four circles on the other side it certainly is a counterfeit.  You wouldn’t be able to see through the card if it was authentic.
  • Red Tint – On some counterfeits the faces can have a red tint.
  • Light Colored Back – The back on a counterfeit usually has a lighter tone versus an authentic card.
  • Pixelated Heads – Upon close inspection you’ll notice the player’s heads are quite pixelated on a counterfeit.  A genuine example won’t have this.
  • Perfect Centering – Not that there aren’t authentic examples with good centering, they’re just difficult to find.
  • Lack of Frontal Upper Edge Wear – The upper portion of the card on the front has a blue color that reaches the edge.  That part of the card is notorious for chipping.

Authentic front:

Authentic back:

Counterfeit front:

Counterfeit back:

How To Spot A Fake Greg Maddux 1986 ProCards Pittsfield Cubs Card

A key card that any Greg Maddux collector can add to his or her collection is his 1986 ProCards Pittsfield Cubs MiLB card.  Valued at $70-$100, this is one of the earliest cards to feature the 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.

BE ON ALERT FOR COUNTERFEITS!  They’ve been making the rounds.

Here is an example of an authentic card:

ProCards were cheaply manufactured, which resulted in a minor defect in the printing of his last name.  The “DD” in his last name are slightly cut off at the bottom.  Every authentic card has the same defect.

Here is an example of a counterfeit card:

Not only is the font different, but the “DD” in his last name are completely in tact.  The “DD” on an authentic example have flat bottoms, where on the counterfeit you can see a curve.

I Traded A Jar Of Peanut Butter For A Pin – 2019 Little League World Series Pin Pickups

The 2019 Little League World Series is in full swing.  Baseball fans from all over the world have found their way to South Williamsport.  Pin trading is bigger than ever.  Corporate sponsors and local businesses have pins for everyone.  Some you need to buy, while others are freebies.

This is the first year that I did not visit the Little League campus.  Obtaining pins from the corporate booths has really become an activity for kids.  Years ago pins were easily handed out for filling out a survey or lining up at a booth at a certain time.  Over the course of a few years mobile apps and registering electronic bracelets for the Family Fun Zone has become a requirement.  That’s not something I’m interested in doing.  Personally, I think it adds a bunch of unnecessary steps.  I suppose it keeps the kids busy though.

Just because I skipped the Little League complex doesn’t mean I missed out on adding some new pins to my collection.  Between Dunkin’, Dairy Queen, various businesses on 4th street, and Williamsport’s Golden Strip, I came home with (22) pins.  Between the Chamber of Commerce and Dick’s Sporting Goods, I was able to pickup the pins I would’ve purchased over at Little League anyway.  Some places which traditionally have pins like Pennsylvania College of Technology and The Crazy Tomato don’t have them this year.

I’m not going to show off all (22) pins.  But I will show you some of the pins I got which I haven’t seen popup online yet and/or I find unique.

Woodlands Bank – in order to get this pin I had to trade-in a jar of peanut butter.  Woodlands Bank will donate the peanut butter to the Central PA Food Bank and Firetree Place.

Bullfrog Brewery & Restaurant

Kinley Jewelers

Dolly’s Diner

River Valley Transit

How To Spot A Fake Wayne Gretzky 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 Rookie Card

The Wayne Gretzky 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 rookie card has been a prime target for counterfeiters for years.  It’s Topps counterpart isn’t far behind, but his O-Pee-Chee carries much more demand.

Here are some tips for what to look for in an authentic and counterfeit Wayne Gretzky 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 rookie card:

  • Print Dot – Authentic cards contain a yellow print dot on Gretzky’s left shoulder.  Every authentic version contains this blemish.  WATCH OUT!  Some counterfeits contain this dot too.
  • Rough Edges – Most authentic examples have rough edges.  The rough edges come from a metal wire being used to cut the cards from the sheets.  Over time this wire would get dull resulting in the cards receiving a rough edge.  Cards cut earlier will have smoother edges.
  • Image Quality – Counterfeits will have poor image quality compared to an original card.  The photo on most counterfeits are of low resolution and tend to be fuzzy.
  • Blue Stripes – On the first print run the Gretzky rookie card will have light blue stripes going across the back.  The second print run does not have the blue stripes.
  • Blue Specks – Around Gretzky’s skates you should see very tiny blue specks.  You do NOT want to see any red specks.
  • Black Borders – The black borders should be solid.  Counterfeits have been known to have breaks in the black borders.
  • Fuzzy Lettering – If any of the lettering (especially “Wayne Gretzky” on the front) looks unclear and fuzzy, its most likely a counterfeit.
  • Perfect Centering – Counterfeits tend to have great centering.  Authentic examples are difficult to find with decent centering.

How To Spot A Fake Reggie Jackson 1969 Topps #260 Rookie Card

The 1969 Topps Baseball set has a lot of notable cards.  Its highlighted by Mickey Mantle’s final card of his playing career.  Second year cards of Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan.  Rookies of Earl Weaver, Al Oliver, Bobby Bonds, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle, Rollie Fingers, and Bobby Cox are also key cards.  Above them all is #260.  That would be Mr. October’s, Reggie Jackson, official rookie card.

Much like a lot of valuable vintage rookie cards, Reggie Jackson’s 1969 Topps #260 has been heavily counterfeited and altered over the years.  Its important to know what to keep an eye out for when buying one.

Below are some tips for spotting a counterfeit/altered Reggie Jackson 1969 Topps #260 rookie card:

  • Glossy finish on the front.
  • Fuzziness to the photo.
  • Perfect centering – the 1969 Topps set is known for having horrible centering.  Its possible for an authentic card to have nice centering, but most counterfeits look too perfect.
  • The purple circle on the front containing Reggie Jackson’s name and position is fuzzy.  It should be solid in color.
  • On the front, locate the word “ATHLETICS”.  Look closely at the black lines surrounding the yellow lettering.  These lines should NOT be made up of tiny black dots.  Authentic cards will have solid black lines.
  • White letters – (23) cards from the 5th Series of 1969 Topps have white letter variations on the front pertaining to the player’s last name.  Guys like Mickey Mantle, Gaylord Perry, and Willie McCovey have this variation.  Reggie Jackson does NOT.  Jackson’s last name will always be in yellow.  Don’t let anyone convince you their Reggie Jackson rookie card is a rare white letter variation.  If their Reggie Jackson rookie card does have white letters its either completely counterfeit or they took a very fine pencil eraser to his last name which has been known to turn the yellow to white.  They’re attempting to catch an uneducated collector off guard.
  • Airbrushed hat logo – Ron Perranoski #77 and Paul Popovich #47 are the only two cards in the set to contain this feature.  Reggie Jackson does NOT.  If the Reggie Jackson rookie card you’re looking at has some type of airbrushed hat logo its either completely counterfeit or has been altered.  Another attempt at taking advantage of an uneducated collector.
  • One of the best things you can do is compare the Reggie Jackson rookie card you’re looking at to a less popular card in the set.  The printing techniques for all of the cards are the same.  Special treatment wasn’t given to Reggie Jackson’s rookie card.  The print quality should be similar in size, shape, and color.