Identifying Baseball Card Counterfeits and Reprints
People have been producing reprints for a long time. Some produce them for themselves because they cannot afford the "real-deal", while most are produced by thieves for the purpose of deceiving buyers. There are many ways to spot a counterfeit but the best way is to have an authentic card to compare the reprint to. If a buyer is purchasing a card on the internet they unfortunately cannot get an accurate comparison. Before you buy un-graded cards (not authenticated by a third party) on the internet you need to do some research.
A large majority of cards bought/sold and collected today such as Topps and Bowman cards from the 1950s and 1960s were produced with half-tone printing technology. Half-tone printing is best described as circular dots of color. Prior to the digital revolution and home ink jet and laser printers most all printed material was produced with half-tone printing techniques. The counterfeits that are created today are produced on laser and ink jet printers. Ink jet and laser, at the microscopic level, drop very small dots of ink onto the paper which greatly differs in appearance to a print produced with the half tone printing method. If you have a card of questionable authenticity look closely at the card under magnification.
Other than the printing process of cards there are many other ways to detect a cards authenticity.
1) Size of the card:
Topps Cards produced 1952-1956 measure 2-5/8 x 3-3/4
Topps Cards produced 1957-Present measure 2-½ x 3-½
Bowman Cards produced 1948-1950 measure 2-1/8 x 2-½
Bowman Cards produced 1951-1952 measure 2-1/8 x 3-1/8
Bowman Cards produced 1953-1955 measure 2-½ x 3-¾
Goudey Cards produced 1933-1938 measure 2-3/8 x 2-7/8
Playball Cards produced 1939-1941 measure 2-½ x 3-1/8
T206 Tobacco Cards can vary but standard 1-7/16 x 2-5/8
2) Size of the image itself: Photocopiers typically enlarge or crop a little. Pay attention to the borders, size of image and text. Also the thickness/thinness of border lines and height and width of text, particularly on the cards reverse.
3) Thickness of the card stock. Reprints are generally thicker or thinner than originals.
4) Appearance of the card. Compare the questionable card with a known original. Look at the color, text, edge color, gloss and the texture of the paper.
5) Many reprints were made from using an original to start. Such as scanning a card into the computer and printing the counterfeit. Most reprints seem to be lower grade condition and show creasing. In some instances the original card may have been creased, so when reprinted the counterfeit shows a crease. Look close at the crease and feel for a raised area. Many of the creases on counterfeits are not really creases they are “printed” creases.
6) Use bright light or a black light. If you put a known original up to bright light the light will travel through the original differently than the counterfeit. Also, black lights can help reveal both counterfeits and restoration work done on an authentic card.
EBay is the best place to find vintage cards any day of the week. But, buyers must use caution when buying cards on EBay. I highly recommend only purchasing vintage cards that have been professionally graded or authenticated by either PSA, SGC or Beckett until you are knowledgeable of cards, counterfeits and alterations. There are sellers intentionally trying to pass off counterfeits as an original, sellers who do not know the difference between an original/counterfeit and sellers who sell counterfeits and openly disclose they are selling a counterfeit. Here are some tips to tell if an item is original verses a counterfeit when purchasing vintage cards on EBay.
1) Remember the phrase: If it seems to good to be true then it probably is.
2) Check the Sellers Feedback
3) Check the Sellers other auctions currently running and completed listings
4) Look at the Item Specifics, some sellers try to hide where they mention a card is a counterfeit
5) Avoid bidding or buying from sellers with poor quality scans or photographs
6) Compare the photos or scans with a known original already professionally graded. Compare, size, border, color, text and image clarity.
7) Ask questions and ask the seller for large front and back photographs or scans if they are not included in the auction.
8) Ask the seller if they will guarantee the card to be original and if they will accept returns/refunds. Click Here to Purchase 100% Authentic Baseball Cards