How To Spot A Fake John Elway 1984 Topps #63 Rookie Card

John Elway and Dan Marino are the two key rookie cards when it comes to the 1984 Topps Football set.  Eric Dickerson, Howie Long, and Dwight Stephenson aren’t far behind.

Here are some tips on spotting a counterfeit John Elway 1984 Topps #63 RC:

  • Image Quality – Counterfeits tend to have a blurry, fuzzy, pixelated quality to them.  Its actually not uncommon for authentic cards to have a snowy-look to them as a result of a printing defect.  Another printing defect found on some authentic cards includes a small bubble around Elway’s fingers.
  • Card Stock – Counterfeit examples in many cases are printed on much thinner card stock.  When placed side-by-side the counterfeit tends to be half the thickness compared to the original.  Thin white edges are a pure sign of a counterfeit.
  • Black Border – Its not the easiest factor to spot, but the black border on a counterfeit can have very sharp 90-degree angles to them.  Authentic examples have a black border with a bit softer/rounded angles.
  • Blue Line – Some counterfeits contain a blue line within the Broncos logo on the front.  Right beneath the horse.  Originals do not have this.
  • Centering – Authentic examples are known to be off-center.  Counterfeits like to look as perfect as possible.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Remember, not every counterfeit John Elway 1984 Topps #63 RC will have all of these features.  Topps did issue genuine reprints over the years.  A majority of the reprints up for sale were not issued by Topps though.  A lot of these counterfeit cards are now being sold as genuine reprints.

How To Spot A Fake Brett Hull 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee RC #66

Thousands of counterfeit Brett Hull 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee #66 rookie cards entered the market during the early 1990’s.  Many are still floating around deceiving collectors today.

Counterfeit examples exhibit the following characteristics:

  • The absence of a small yellow dot found on the push-pin next to Hull’s name on the front.
  • The dots around Hull’s nameplate on the front are lighter in color, especially the ones which are on his photo.
  • Ragged and broken type on the back.
  • Filling in of the center of the upper case “A” in the type next to the NHL logo on the card’s back.
  • The text on the card’s back is fatter, thicker, and tends to blend together.  Very noticeable on the O-Pee-Chee logo.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit front

Counterfeit back

How To Spot A Fake 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars Card

For only having (11) cards in the set, completing the 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars set is not the easiest accomplishment.  Especially if you want a set in decent condition.  Given that these cards are die-cut, and meant to be punched-out, means many display a considerable amount of wear.  Players in the set include Grover C. Alexander, Connie Mack, Mickey Cochrane, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Collins, Tris Speaker, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson.

Please don’t confuse the 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars set with the 1951 Topps Major League All-Stars Baseball set.  The 1951 Topps Major League All-Stars Baseball set utilizes the same design, has the same amount of cards, but consists of active players at the time.  The checklist is completely different.

Here are some tips for spotting a counterfeit 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars card:

  • Not Die-Cut – Cards from the 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars set are meant to be punched-out and stood-up with no background behind them.  Some counterfeits lack the entire die-cut feature altogether.  Being die-cut is what makes this set what it is.  Not being able to punch-out that player is a major red flag.
  • Cut Line Not Cut – Some counterfeit examples contain a cut line, but many aren’t actually cut like they should be.  It may appear that you can punch-out the player, but you can’t.
  • Card Stock – Compared to an authentic example, counterfeit cards tend to be printed on card stock which is too thick.  Poorly cut edges too.
  • Poor Image – Taking a closer look a counterfeit will exhibit computer print lines not found on a genuine example.  What should be solid in color is blurry, and contains lines.  Color tends to be off compared to an authentic card.

Authentic

Counterfeit

How To Spot Fake 1952 Wheaties Hand-Cut Cards

“You better eat your Wheaties.” is a phrase ingrained into American culture.  Starting in the 1950s, Wheaties began to team-up with athletes.  Olympian Bob Richards was the first athlete to be featured on the front of the Wheaties box.  Since then, Bruce Jenner, Mary Lou Retton, Walter Payton, Chris Evert, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Dale Earnhardt, Brett Favre, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michael Phelps, Mia Hamm, and Muhammad Ali have all graced the box cover.

Wheaties has issued various trading card sets with their cereal.  In 1952 they released a 60-card multi-sport set.  Card subjects range anywhere from baseball stars to professional divers.

We live in a time where anything and everything can be counterfeited.  Years ago someone forged a lot of these cards, and they made their way onto the market.  They’re still floating around.  It certainly isn’t the most expensive set in the world.  Perhaps that is why they thought they could get away with it.

Here are a few tips on what to look for in authentic/counterfeit 1952 Wheaties cards:

  • Hand-Cut – These had to be cut-off the side of the cereal box by collectors.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  They won’t be perfect.  Major condition issues.
  • Stains – Authentic examples tend to have stains on the back.  Not uncommon when you have cards included with a food product.
  • Border Color – Counterfeits usually have very bright white borders.  Authentic cards have borders which are a bit darker in color.
  • Reverse Color – The back should be completely blank, and a grey color.

Authentic front

Authentic back

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

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