The Reprint Loophole

According to the official GO GTS Live! Glossary of Hobby Terms and Definitions, a reprint is defined as a card that has been purposely reproduced of an original, usually more expensive, card or set.

Browsing sites like eBay I’ve noticed something shady going on.  The word “reprint” is being used much too casually.  Seeing “reprint” in an auction title/description implies that the card you’re looking at was printed by the same company who made the original.  For the most part this is true.

What I find bothersome are the people selling cards they label as a “reprint” but did not originate from the manufacturer who issued the original card it is modeled after.  Many times these cards are flat-out counterfeit.  Using the word “reprint” tells the buyer its not the original while at the same time implying that it originated from the manufacturer.  This is what I refer to as The Reprint Loophole.  Its an easy way for counterfeiters to move their hoard of fake cards without being called out for doing so.  eBay allows it because they have zero knowledge of what a card company did or did not issue as a reprint.  Why would they want to?  The more items they allow to be sold, the more money they make.

I highly recommend doing you’re research before buying that reprint.  Make sure you know which set that reprint is coming from.  Glance over that product’s checklist to confirm it indeed contained reprints.

High-dollar cards are the prime target for scammers to take advantage of this loophole.  You see this with prospect and rookie cards of Mike Trout quite a bit.

Some of these counterfeit reprints are so convincing unaware buyers will treat them as if they’re the real deal.  Spending hundreds if not thousands on a card not worth a dime.

The real sneaky jerks don’t even use the word “reprint” in their auction titles/descriptions.  Instead they’ll use “RP”.

Signs That Your Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 Rookie Card Is A Fake Or Reprint

To many hockey collectors, the Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card is the holy grail.  Adding one to your collection can cost a pretty penny.  Especially wanting an example that’s in decent condition.  Its a decision that can cost thousands.

Along with Wayne Gretzky’s 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 RC, Bobby Orr’s 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card is one of the most counterfeited pieces of cardboard in the hobby.  Some of these counterfeits and reprints are very convincing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about purchasing a Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card:

  • Locate Bobby Orr’s name on the card’s front.  If you see small red dots within the yellow text that’s a sign its not authentic.
  • Take a look at the back of the card.  On a large number of counterfeits/reprints there is a small circle on the grid line right beneath the “1965-66” text.  Not every counterfeit/reprint contains this feature, but a good portion do.
  • Extremely dark/light colors on the front, with a much brighter (sometimes white) back are signs of a counterfeit/reprint.
  • Mint condition – this card is notorious for having major condition issues.  The centering is usually off, and chipping can be a big problem due to the wood-grain border.  Finding an authentic example in nice condition is incredibly difficult.  If its too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If possible, take a common Boston Bruins card from the 1966-67 Topps set and compare it to the Bobby Orr rookie you’re looking at.  The card stock and printing techniques should be very similar.  Special attention wasn’t paid to Bobby Orr’s rookie card during the printing process.  It was treated like all of the others.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit/reprint front

Counterfeit/reprint back

Card of the Day: Barry Sanders 1999 Score 10th Anniversary 1989 Rookie Reprint Auto

Card of the Day: Roberto Clemente 1994 Topps Archives – 1954 Reprint – #251

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Card of the Day: Joe Montana 2012 Topps Chrome Rookie Reprint Refractor Auto


Card of the Day: Dan Marino 2010 Topps Chrome Rookie Reprint Refractor


Q & A – 1953 Bowman Color Reprints?

Question:  How do I tell the difference between a card from the real ’53 Bowman (color set) and the reprints from the ’80’s?

Answer:  One of the main differences between cards from the original 1953 Bowman Color set and the reprints of the 80’s would be condition.  Cards from 1953 will be harder to find in really good condition.  There are some people that would “artificially” age reprints to make them look like the real thing, so you need to be on the look out for that.  Specifically, the Mickey Mantle 1989 Bowman ’53 Color reprint actually has the word “Reprint” printed on the front.  Another major area that separates the originals from the reprints would be the color of the back.  If you take a look at the back of an original, the color will be a brown or grey.  A lot of the reprints will have a white back.  The original cards measure about 2.5″ x 3.75″.  Reprints may come in different sizes depending on the set.  The best way to be 100% sure is to buy one that is certified and/or graded.


1989 Bowman Mickey Mantle ’53 Color Reprint


Original ’53 Bowman Color back


’53 Bowman Color reprint back

Q & A – How do I tell if a Nolan Ryan rookie is a reprint?

Question:  Can you explain to me how to tell an original Nolan Ryan rookie card from a reprint? What do I look for? Thanks.

Answer:  The Nolan Ryan 1968 Topps rookie card is one of the most popular vintage cards in the hobby today.  There are however a few reprints flying around out there that can throw off a lot of collectors, especially if they are buying one over the internet.  Topps would most likely be the company to produce a reprint of this famous card because they made the original.  Usually on a reprint, the front of the card (and sometimes the back) will have a glossy finish.  When you look at the back of the card I would look for copyright information.  On a reprint there would be a much newer date in small print.  Also, on an original the copyright date may not be given in small print on the back.  A reprint will have darker colors on the front and back.  They also are more likely to be in better condition.  The best way to know for sure that one is not a reprint is to buy one that is graded and/or certified by PSA, SGC, or BGS.

Q & A – How can I tell if this Yogi Berra 1948 Bowman #6 RC is real?

Question:  I have a Bowman 1948 Yogi Berra card #6. It does not say reprint, or RP. How can you tell the difference between a reprint and original??

Answer:  If the card is a reprint it probably would have a glossy finish to it.  Also, if the corners and edges are sharp and perfect it may be a reprint.  Reprinted card sometimes will have the copyright date written in small letters on the back, even under the reprinted copyright date.  If you want to send it in for certification I would use Beckett (BGS) and JSA.  They will let you know to be 100% sure.   

Reprint of an Original Auto

The title says it all.  I can see how some collectors could be confused.  Is it a reprint or an original autograph?  I see some sellers doing this all the time.  Using keywords like this to make you think its an original autograph when it really isn’t.  They throw the word “reprint” in there so eBay won’t kick them off.  This leaves the potential buyer wondering whether the card is a reprint or the autograph.  Trust me, this is not an original autograph.