The Melky Mix-Up

In 2006, Topps released a product called Bowman Originals.  Each pack cost around $75.00 and included two buyback autographs.  Opening a pack of this stuff usually yieled an autographed rookie of Mike Lamb numbered to 1,000,000, but if you were lucky enough you could pull a Pujols signed rookie numbered to 1.  Bowman Originals has so many different autographed cards for one player, it can get very confusing when purchasing one and knowing its the real thing.  

Take a look at this Melky Cabrera “autograph”.  

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At first glance, it looks like a buyback autograph from 2005 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects #’ed/10.  But there is just one little problem.  The only Cabrera buyback autograph from ’06 Bowman Originals #’ed/10 is the regular 2005 Bowman Chrome, not the DP&P.  The above card should be #’ed/161 and not 10.  Someone just looking to pick up a low numbered Cabrera autograph may not realize this at first if their not familiar with the Bowman Originals product.  

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This is the card that should be numbered to 10.

2006 Bowman Originals is a great product for player collectors that need to obtain every autograph of a specific player.  It would be wise to familiarize yourself with the product before purchasing any on the secondary market so you don’t get scammed.  When purchasing online, it would be a good idea to get a picture of the back.  Topps included a few stickers that certify the autograph.

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Counterfeit Fro-Joy’s

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Andy Broome of Beckett Grading Services wrote another piece today on how to spot counterfeit cards.  This time it deals with the Fro-Joy Ice Cream set from way back in the day.  Remember, if you see any colored Fro-Joy cards, they are very much fake.  You can read the entire article here.

AlteredCards.com

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I think I have found the best website on the planet that deals with the doctoring of vintage cards.  Its called AlteredCards.com which is operated by Kevin Saucier.  Mr. Saucier has been collecting cards for many years, and has become a card doctor himself trying to warn collectors about doctored cards.  AlteredCards.com covers subjects such as card soaking, detecting bleached cards, card sanding, detecting a rebacked card, aging and toning, detecting colored cards, detecting rebuilt corners, reglossed cards, errors and other alterations.  Here is a piece he wrote on identifying trimmed cards.  Be sure to check out his website for more information.

“How many times a have you sent a card in to be graded only to have it returned as “evidence of trimming” or ever wondered if that certain card with an unbelievable price is actually to good to be true? Many hobbyist have, at one time or another, run into this situation or knows of somebody who has. As the values of cards become increasingly higher there is always a chance that fowl play and unscrupulous characters will have their hands in the mix. This can either be intentional or simply done to appease to the previous owner. Nonetheless a trimmed card has a lower resale value and is generally not held in high regard. With a little education and some basic knowledge, even the beginning collector can recognize a trimmed card quickly and with a large degree of accuracy.


The first test is to see if a card measures-up properly. To find this out you will first need to know the textbook measurement of the particular card you are examining. Most modern era cards vary little to none from the exact manufactures specifications. You can although, have a card that is not trimmed but was just naturally cut a little short. In most cases, this card will not be graded based on the fact it does not meet the correct measurement.

Vintage cards with an emphasis on tobacco era cards can be a little more difficult to ascertain. Since the cutting of cards in the early years of production was not an exact science, many tobacco era cards were cut with little regard to accuracy or consistency; this can be often seen in the very popular T206 series. These were cut with various widths and lengths. A card may be shy of the proper size but still be within the limits of authentication and grading standards. A card could also have been cut larger and be “doctored” to precise measurements. This is where knowing how to identify a trimmed card may come to use. 

There are some key indicators to tell if a card is trimmed:

To truly tell if a card has been trimmed, it must be removed from any holder it is in so the edges can be clearly seen and studied. For most vintage cards the border-edge on a normal card will be slightly rounded and have a light porous appearance. A trimmed or sanded card will be flat and/or very smooth in one or more spots, this is the most common indicator. Usually this can only be seen under slight magnification and desk light. Look at all the edges and corners of the card under a 50+ watt halogen light and a 10x jewelers loupe. A vintage card should be slightly toned (light gray-brown), a trimmed card will magically reveal a very white appearance compared to a naturally toned edge when held under a halogen light. It will be surprisingly evident. Modern cards may have less wear and no toning at all. 

Since most cuts are made with scissors, scalpels or razor blades, a cut card will almost always show signs of tampering. Often times a card that has been cut can reform the original shape in the middle over time…but the corners usually show the initial pinch point, so look for crimped edges and pay close attention to the corners.

Other things to look for include wavy uneven edges, obvious (missed) cut marks when magnified or stray paper strands left over from the cutting utensil. With the card lying on a flat surface, look at both sides from a distance. Some trimmed cards may have a slant cut or flared (bat-eared) corners that are slightly higher than the middle edge. This derives from the person cutting the card trying to avoid the easily identified crimped corners. When scissors are used, the hand has an involuntary tendency to start high and go low for the initial and/or end cut, if ever so slight. 

The best way to learn about card trimming is to do it yourself. Take an inexpensive card, which you suspect has not been tampered with, and study the edges and corners under a light and 10x loupe. This will serve as an example of what a normal card looks like. Next, choose your cutting devise and cut about 1/32 off of any edge. Now study the cut area again under a halogen bulb and magnification, note the differences. Also take a look at the card from a distance, you may see that the cut is crooked, uneven, wavy or shows flared corners. To get a firm understanding of what to look for, it is best to do this with both a modern and vintage card if possible. 

Card doctoring and manipulation has become very sophisticated over the years and you may have a difficult time, at best, in discovering their hidden tricks. Hopefully with the information above you should be able identify the most common forms trimming and be able to make informed purchases on cards you may have previously questioned.”

The T206 Museum

This afternoon I was looking for information on the T206 set and came across the website T206 Museum.com.  This website has everything you can think about the T206 set, including information on how to spot counterfeit cards and reprints.  For example, “Every genuine T206 cards, they are printed in solid black pinstripe separating the white border from the colored photo. Reprints show the line as a string of dark dots. You can see the different under a high power (x10) magnifier.”  If you are looking for information an any T206 card, they will have it.  

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Catching Those 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Counterfeits

KSA is a Canadian grading company, and on their website they have a small section that gives you tips on spotting fake cards.  They have some great tips on how to spot fake Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey baseball cards.  These tips can be used for all Ruth Goudey’s.

  • Look for a glossy finish on the front surface
  • The green text on the back of the card should be solid
  • If under magnification, the text looks dotted, you are probably looking at a reprint
  • Be very careful when buying or trading for these cards as they have been artificially aged  to look real

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Sports Collectors Digest: Counterfeit Brett Favre Memorabilia

Here is an article that I found from Sports Collectors Digest.  It talks about counterfeit Brett Favre memorabilia, specifically game-used jerseys.  I found it to be very interesting and educational.  Talk about having to do a lot of digging.  They went back to view pictures and video of the game Favre played in to try and determine if their jersey was real or not.  To download the entire article click here.

National Sportscard Authenticators (NSA)

National Sportscard Authenticators (NSA) is a card manufacturer and grading company.  They sell game used cards slabbed in their protective holders of players from all different sports.  On their website they claim that if they grade a card that has been trimmed or is counterfeit they will pay the cardholder $1,500.00.  I wonder how that really works?  If someone sends in a card for grading that they know it is counterfeit or trimmed and it comes back graded what is the person going to do?  Are they going to admit the card was doctored?  Probably not.  Even if you sent the card in and didn’t know it was doctored and it comes back graded, how does that help?  If you sent in a card in which NSA graded it you would have to remove it from the holder and submit it to another grading company like PSA or BGS just to get a second opinion.  The whole thing seems a bit confusing to me.  The serial numbering on the cards for example says “1 of 25”.  Why couldn’t they just stick with “1/25” for a serial number?  The way they have the cards numbered makes you think they are part of a set and not serial numbered.  Browsing eBay you can see that NSA cards don’t really sell that well.  Most of them don’t even sell at all.  Personally, I wouldn’t buy them, but thats just me.  Has anyone else had any experience with them?

Topps Fan Favorites Autographs

Topps Fan Favorites has some really good on card autographs.  They feature a lot of reprinted cards from the past of some great players.  Topps Fan Favorites does leave some room for scammers to have some fun.  A lot of the cards from any of the Topps Fan Favorites sets look similiar to the originals.  Topps may have changed the photo for their Fan Favorites product and they added a foil logo to the card, but if you plan to buy a Fan Favorites autographed card over the internet I would double check before you place the bid.  Before placing the bid, make sure you read the description carefully.  Its very possible that the card you are looking at could just be an original card that the seller got signed in person.  Look for the foil logo on the front of the card to indicate if it is a Topps Fan Favorites Autograph.  Check the product’s checklist to see if that player has an autograph in the set.  Finally, ask to see the back of the card.  Topps should have a hologram sticker on the back to indicate that it is authentic.  Below is an example of how similiar the original card and a Topps Fan Favorites card look.

Original 1990 Topps

2003 Topps Fan Favorites Autograph

 

Even Yankee Stadium’s Dirt Gets Authenticated to Combat Fraud

Source – Bloomberg.com

By Erik Matuszewski

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Mariano Rivera was like a kid in a sandbox after the final game at Yankee Stadium, down on his hands and knees digging up dirt from the pitcher’s mound for a memento.

His keepsake just isn’t officially recognized by Major League Baseball.

During the Yankees’ 7-3 win over Baltimore last night, baseball had a team of three authenticators on hand to verify just about anything connected to the final game at the 85-year- old Yankee Stadium — from infield dirt and bases to the lineup card. It’s all part of the sport’s effort to eliminate fraudulent memorabilia from the marketplace.

“Since we are the leading sport in terms of memorabilia, we decided to take the leadership position and create this program ourselves to protect our fans, players and clubs from all the fakes out there,” baseball spokesman Michael Posner said in an interview at Yankee Stadium.

Hundreds of items were officially recognized as game-used, receiving a sequentially numbered, tamper-proof hologram on the spot. It ensures that fans who may pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for the items are getting the real thing.

Among other items verified by baseball’s team of authenticators — all of whom have backgrounds in law enforcement — were balls, new bases every half-inning, rosin bags, dugout signs and several buckets of dirt shoveled off the infield long after the players’ celebration subsided.

Buckets of Dirt

While many players, like Rivera, scooped up dirt on their own following the game, the officially approved product was shoveled into buckets and sealed under the eye of an authenticator. The containers are then sent to licensees in Florida, where they’re opened by another authenticator to ensure no seals are broken. After that, it’s broken up into smaller lots and given a hologram, which destroys itself if removed from a piece of memorabilia.

“It’s a chain of custody, really, it’s like evidence,” Posner said.

Baseball set up its program in 2000 after a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that more than 75 percent of sports collectibles were fakes. Other major U.S. sports leagues, such as the National Football League and National Basketball Association, also have programs to combat counterfeit memorabilia.

Rivera said he plans on keeping the dirt he gathered for himself, as a memory of the stadium in which he had 230 saves and was a part of four World Series-winning teams.

Property of Yankees

All of the authenticated items go to the Yankees and many will likely be auctioned off through the team’s Web site. Some will go to players, who have requested a piece of history.

Other items in Yankee Stadium, from lockers to urinals, haven’t yet been authenticated. They will before the stadium is torn down and the team moves into its new $1.3 billion home across the street.

“I’ve asked for my locker, first base, four seats from the upper deck,” the Yankees’ Jason Giambi said in an interview. “I’m going to pass it on to my kids. I wanted to get everything I could get.”