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

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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.