Fake display advertising pieces and other blank-backed items are appearing in pretty big numbers. Be careful out there.
They look great. A nice big sign of older vintage featuring a Hall of Fame player pitching a product. Perfect for your wall. Great conversation pieces. Great that is if you like stuff that’s made to just look old.
eBay is full of fakes. Good ones. Many are being sold in an area of the country that seems to stretch from near Indianapolis to the Cincinnati area. The pieces appear to have been printed with modern methods and "aged" somehow.
The items include blank-backed window display signs created from originals. From movie theater lobby cards to 1950s Topps advertising posters, they are clever copies that often sell for up to a few hundred dollars to unsuspecting collectors.
The sellers raise red flags by keeping all of their transactions private, which means item numbers are seldom available, nor is the contact info for the buyer which makes tracking the sales difficult for anyone looking to research the items being sold. Pictures of the items are removed almost immediately after the auctions close. The auction titles often include a date range but the description is often vague enough to allow the sellers to claim they weren’t guaranteeing that the item actually originated in that time period.
In a letter to it’s customers last week, Robert Edward Auctions reported the fakes to be an alarming trend. "Practically every day we are seeing fake items. Fake printed items. Posters that are actually reproductions of vintage posters. Stand-up cardboard counter displays that are not real. Babe Ruth Candy wrappers that are not real. Fans that picture baseball player portraits that are reproductions. Photographs that appear to be old but are not vintage."
So many of these signs have become available that either a treasure trove of has been discovered or the process of making them has become very lucrative. A very small number of dealers appear to be involved and that group may be smaller that it even seems. One item, a Jackie Robinson Bond Bread sign went unsold last month. It popped up again just a week later–same item–sold by "another" seller who just happened to have numerous similar items among his listings. It’s likely the two sellers are one and the same.
A Babe Ruth movie lobby card is a rare find today. Yet within six weeks, two showed up on eBay. One sold for nearly $70. A second one, sold by a different eBay ID–again selling similar items–then went for $100. An authentic Ruth piece such as that likely would have sold for significantly more.
A buyer in California contacted by SportsCollectorsDaily spotted a Ty Cobb fan in an eBay listing. He made an offer to the seller who ended the auction early. The buyer thought he’d gotten a great deal, but the fan was rejected by REA which quickly discovered it was a reproduction. Jello and Bazooka cards available through the same sellers, have also been reported by buyers to have been simply modern copies.
One Cincinnati area seller peddling fakes quickly racked up a string of negative feedback comments after his items were rejected by unhappy buyers and has since left eBay–at least under his original ID. A careful check of the feedback of the sellers who are suspected of selling fake pieces reveals numerous comments about reproductions. The auctions, however, continue.