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.

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 Fake 1989 Score Football Cards

Five cards come to mind when I think about 1989 Score Football – Barry Sanders #257, Troy Aikman #270, Derrick Thomas #258, Deion Sanders #246, and Thurman Thomas #211.  Do you know what each of them have in common?  All are rookie cards, and each one has been counterfeited over the years.  Specifically, Barry Sanders and Troy Aikman.

There are four key areas on these cards that can assist you in identifying a counterfeit:

  • Score logo on front
  • Red star on front
  • Black lines around the helmet on front
  • NFLPA logo on back

On counterfeit examples, fuzzy dots make up each of these parts.  You should be able to clearly read each word in the NFLPA logo.  Authentic examples have clear, crisp pictures, and the colors are solid.  Fuzzy printing has always been a common sign when it comes to counterfeit cards.  The printing methods just aren’t as superior as the manufacturers.  CLEAR = GOOD.  FUZZY = BAD.  Using a common base card from the 1989 Score Football set which isn’t worth a dime can be used as a comparison.  Special treatment wasn’t given to those five cards.  They were all printed the same way.

How To Spot Fake 1950 R423 Cards

Made available in 13-card strips, the 1950 R423 set certainly isn’t the first vintage set that comes to mind.  Its obscure, and can easily be overlooked.  They were most likely sold through bubblegum machines.  Card fronts feature a photoengraved picture.  Backs come in a variety of colors such as orange, red, green, blue, and purple.  Measuring only 1-5/8″ x 1-7/8″ they’re really small.  You could easily mistake them for a postage stamp.

Condition is a major issue.  It always is when cards come in a strip that needs to be pulled apart.  Examples in decent condition can command hefty asking prices.  WATCH OUT FOR COUNTERFEITS!

Below are a few tips when it comes to identifying counterfeit 1950 R423 cards:

  • Weight – Authentic examples weigh .05 grams.  Counterfeits weigh .15 grams and are much thicker.
  • Card stock – Authentic cards are printed on off-white stock which can be slick looking.  Counterfeits tend to have bright white stock.
  • Perforations – Authentic cards will have perforations on the left or right or both the left and right depending on which part of the strip they came from.  Most counterfeits don’t have perforations at all.  You don’t want to see smooth edges all around.
  • “Rind Effect” – Images on the card fronts are made up of tiny ink dots.  On authentic cards this “rind effect” print pattern can be seen on these photoengraved cards.  Counterfeits do not have this feature.
  • Measurements – Authentic examples should measure 1-5/8″ x 1-7/8″.

Counterfeit on left

Counterfeit on left

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.

How To Spot A Fake Patrick Roy 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee #53 Rookie Card

Here are a few tips on what to look for in a counterfeit Patrick Roy 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee #53 rookie card:

  • Look closely at the O-Pee-Chee logo in the top left corner.  If you notice that the black lines in the oval and text are dotted, that’s a good sign of a counterfeit.
  • Locate Patrick Roy’s name on the front of the card.  On many counterfeits the white and blue bleed together.  Its important to note that authentic examples can have bleeding of these colors too.  The consistency of the two types of bleeding are different though.
  • The 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set has blue colored backs.  Counterfeit Patrick Roy rookies tend to have alternative shades of blue.  Simply take a common card from that set which would have no reason to be counterfeited and compare it to your Roy rookie.  If your Roy rookie card is authentic, both backs should match.
  • Due to a printing error, a tiny black dot appears on the front.  This dot can be found directly above Roy’s helmet on the top white border.  Its a small detail that counterfeiters miss.  I wouldn’t trust a copy that doesn’t contain this dot.

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.

How To Spot A Fake Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded Rookie Card

Unless you have his Topps Tiffany counterpart, the basic Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded rookie card doesn’t carry much value like it once did.  With that being said, counterfeit copies are still floating around.

Keep these tips in mind.  We don’t want that $5 going towards a counterfeit.

  • The counterfeit is printed on a thicker card stock than the original, and has a weight of 1.70 grams compared to a weight of 1.42 grams of the authentic card.
  • When comparing the edges of both cards, looking straight down on the edge, the counterfeit has a bright white stock compared to the off white, almost yellowed color of the authentic card.  The counterfeit also has a smooth edge compared to the choppier edge of the authentic card.
  • On the front of the counterfeit, the font of the “Topps” logo in the upper right corner is noticeably smaller than the font on the authentic card.
  • The trademark “R”, located just above the word “Topps”, touches the “S” in Topps on the counterfeit, while there is a noticeable space between them on the authentic card.
  • On the front, the font size of the name “Barry Bonds”, at the bottom of the card, is visibly smaller on the counterfeit than the authentic card.
  • The overall fuzziness of the photo on the counterfeit compared to the authentic card is another sign to look for.  A good place to look to help spot the counterfeit is in the blue sky background just to the left of Barry Bonds’ head.  On the real card the sky is made up of blue and white print dots, while on the counterfeit the background has blue, white, red, and black print dots.
  • One sign giving away the counterfeit is the bright white look of the white card stock on the back, which looks almost bleached.  The authentic card has more of an off white color as opposed to the white card stock on the counterfeit’s back.
  • You will notice the card number “11T” has a diamond shaped box around it.  On the authentic card, the corners of this diamond are rounded, while on the counterfeit they come to a point.  The diamond around the “Topps” logo on the back shares this same characteristic.
  • The font size of the card number “11T” is noticeably thinner on the counterfeit than on the authentic card.
  • Look on the back inside the white box which says “Talkin’ Baseball”.  On each of the four corners in this box there is a black line located just inside the corners.  On the authentic card the lines are straight, while on the counterfeit the lines are rounded.

How To Spot A Fake Ichiro Suzuki 1993 BBM #239 BlueWave Rookie Card

Ichiro!  Ichiro!  Ichiro!  Fans love Ichiro.  They would chant his name hoping to see him get another record breaking hit every time he was at bat.  Before playing for the Seattle Mariners in 2001, Ichiro had a long career of playing baseball in Japan.

One of Ichiro’s most popular Japanese rookie cards can be found in the 1993 BBM set.  The look of this set reminds me of something Pro Set would’ve issued.  Watch out for counterfeits!

These are some items you should watch out for when it comes to counterfeit Ichiro 1993 BBM #239 BlueWave rookie cards.

  • Name placement – counterfeit examples have Ichiro’s name on the front placed off to the right.  Nowhere near as centered as it should be.
  • Compared to an authentic card, the counterfeit will almost always have a fuzzy (spotty) print pattern.
  • On a counterfeit, Ichiro’s name on the front tends to be rounded, fat, and fuzzy (spotty).
  • The “BLUEWAVE 51” lettering on the front is a bit larger and more bold on a counterfeit.
  • Take a look at the ORIX BlueWave logo on the front.  The word “ORIX” is much bolder on a counterfeit.  The red bleeding around the word “BlueWave” is much thicker on a counterfeit too.
  • On the back, the ORIX BlueWave mascot logo has the fuzzy (spotty) print pattern, and usually is lighter in color.

Authentic

Counterfeit

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Authentic

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Authentic

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