Collecting baseball cards is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable hobby. Unfortunately, like anything else where money is involved, there is a dark side to the hobby. Throughout the years, many cards, especially the well-known valuable cards have been counterfeited and passed off as authentic cards.
This guide has been put together to help collectors spot some of the more common fakes that are in circulation. It will be impossible to exhaustively show every possible version of the counterfeits, but here are some general rules of thumb that could prove to be invaluable when buying high dollar cards.
- Consult a knowledgeable collector – there are several online forums (Collectors Universe, NET 54, etc) that have many several collectors who will willingly share their expertise (as long as you can put up with their wit and sarcasm)
- Compare to an original – granted more likely than not you will not own an original, but try and find a high resolutions scan online to compare to, it is better than nothing.
- Understand the printing process of that era – cards from different eras were produced by different printing techniques. Most counterfeits use modern printing techniques and can be differentiated rather easily under magnification.
- Know the physical properties of the card – be familiar with the dimensions, weight and paper stock used for these types of cards. It can be helpful to buy a common from the same set so you can get a feel for the card and analyze it’s physical properties.
- Buy from a reputable source – For high dollar cards, buy from well known dealers or auction houses. Usually if the price is too good to be true, there is a reason. Be very careful from buying off Craigslist ads, as this is a popular venue for counterfeiters to move their material.
Here are some of the most well known counterfeits and how you can spot them:
Also, here is a useful article on being able to spot counterfeit cards in PSA holders.