How To Spot A Fake Dan Marino 1984 Topps #123 Rookie Card

1984 Topps Football is loaded with lots of rookie cards.  Eric Dickerson, Howie Long, and Dwight Stephenson to name a few.  There are two quarterbacks though who’s rookie cards you immediately think about whenever this set is mentioned – John Elway and Dan Marino.  Both have been heavily counterfeited over the years.

With so many grading companies looking the other way and allowing trimmed/counterfeit cards to pass through, its important to know what to watch out for.  Nothing could be more irritating than finding out the centerpiece of your collection is a fake.

Below are some tips on what to keep an eye open for when looking at Dan Marino 1984 Topps rookie cards:

  • Black border – many counterfeit examples exhibit a black border that comes to four sharp corners around the photo.  On authentic examples, those corners are much more rounded.
  • If you’re able to weigh the card, counterfeits tend to be a little heavier.  Counterfeits tend to weigh 1.93 grams compared to the normal 1.90 grams.
  • Look at the Miami Dolphins logo on the card’s front.  The stripes on the dolphin’s helmet are usually fuzzier on a counterfeit.  Take a common Miami Dolphins card from that set and compare it to the Dan Marino card you’re looking at.  Authentic examples should have clear stripes.
  • On the front of Marino’s jersey you can see the number “13”.  Lots of counterfeits have a notch out of the “1” near the edge towards the center.
  • On the back of the card, the © logo is incomplete, and the “A” in “YEAR” and “8” in “1983” (in the statistics box) are both filled in on counterfeits.

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Card of the Day: Steve DeBerg/Dan Marino 1991 Upper Deck #450

These Cards From 1984 Are NOT Dan Marino Rookies

At one time you could think of a player, and instantly one iconic rookie card would come to mind.  Nowadays that doesn’t happen.  Active athletes today have so many rookie cards to choose from.  For example, if you asked a group of collectors to write down a single Tom Brady rookie card, you’ed get various correct responses.

In my opinion, the further back we go the easier it is to identify a player’s true rookie.  That’s just how it goes when there were fewer manufacturers and products being released.  Its very possible for someone to have one unanimously regarded rookie, while at the same time having other cards issued that same year.  He’s far from the only one, but Dan Marino is the first person I think about when it comes to this setup.  Trust me.  There are lots of others.

Dan Marino’s true rookie card is #123 in the 1984 Topps Football set.  As far as football rookie cards from the 80’s go, this one is atop the list.  That card is his only rookie.  Despite that, eight other Marino cards can be found from 1984.  They’re a mixture of subsets, inserts, stickers, and promotional pieces.  Its very common for sellers to label them as rookies though.  I don’t like to see that.  Someone who doesn’t know any better could easily think they’re getting a good deal on an actual Marino rookie.

1984 Topps Instant Replay #124

1984 Topps Passing Leaders #202

1984 Topps Instant Replay #355

1984 Topps Glossy #3

1984 Topps Stickers All-Pro Foil #132/#144

1984 Topps Stickers #222

1984 Miami Dolphins Police #9

1984 7-Eleven Discs #E15

How To Spot A Fake 1999 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition Dan Marino Autograph

Dan Marino is no stranger when it comes to counterfeit cards.  His 1984 Topps rookie has been heavily faked over the years.  So much in fact its not safe to purchase one raw.  You’re safer buying one that’s been graded and/or authenticated.  I’m not saying fakes don’t get by them, but it can drastically reduce the odds of owning one that isn’t real.

Rookies aren’t the only cards of his that get counterfeited.  Autographs from popular sets are also in danger.  Take for example this 1999 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition Autograph.  Cards from this set are highly sought after.  Especially big name players like Dan Marino.  Every 12-pack box featured an on-card autograph inside each pack.  Still a relatively new concept at the time.  This is also one of the earliest brands to introduce cut signatures.  Sealed boxes command major dollars today.  The asking price for a single sealed box is usually around $1,000.

Adding a Dan Marino autograph from this set to your collection is a great choice.  But you need to be extremely careful.  Over the last few years counterfeits have flooded the market.  When compared to authentic versions, the counterfeits usually have these characteristics:

  • Slightly smaller in size
  • Blurred lettering and logos
  • Completely glossy – authentic cards have a matte background, and just the player is glossy
  • Incorrect coloring

Another big giveaway is the autograph.  Of the counterfeits I’ve seen, the autograph looks nothing like the real thing.  There are lots of discrepancies.  Dan Marino almost always includes the #13 in his signature.  These forgers didn’t even do that.  Plus the pen they used looks to be much thicker.

For a detailed side-by-side comparison, check out this post over on the Blowout Cards Forums.

Fake

Authentic

Card of the Day: Dan Marino 1991 Tuff Stuff Jr. #7

Card of the Day: Dan Marino 2002 Donruss Gridiron Kings #154

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Card of the Day: Dan Marino 1984 Topps NFL Star Set #3

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