The extensive list of valuable vintage cards that appear to have been altered continues to grow and some iconic cards are not immune.
On Thursday, a member of the Blowout Cards forum who has been researching potentially doctored cards revealed a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that was originally graded as Altered, purchased for $7,877 in July of 2017, soaked in something that resulted in the removal of stains, then re-graded to a 4.5 level and sold for over $20,000. While removing dirt and stains naturally isn’t generally frowned upon, Using a chemical solution to remove stains can impact the overall color and the photos showcased an obvious fading of the card’s face.
The purple circles are common identifiers, showing it appears to be the same card.
Among the other cards highlighted in the last few days that are encapsulated but nonetheless show signs of alteration:
- Multiple 1953-54 Parkhurst hockey cards that exhibit borders that were trimmed and undetected by graders, then sold later. There’s concern among hockey card collectors that a significant number of recently established high-grade cards from this popular series may actually have been altered including multiple copies of Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau’s rookie card, Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard.
- A 1950 Bowman Otto Graham with edges trimmed to land a higher grade. The effort was successful and the newly graded card sold for a $12,124 profit eight months after it was purchased in the lower grade.
- A 1966 Philadelphia Jim Brown that was purchased, experienced some minor re-coloring on its green back, re-graded and sold for a price $12,507 higher.
- A 1962 Topps Ernie Banks with a print spot that was purchased, had the spot disguised, was graded and sold again at an increase of $2,535.
- A 1971 Topps Nolan Ryan with a print spot that was purchased, had the spot disguised, graded again at a higher level and sold at a gain of $1,879.
- A 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card with print spots on the front that was purchased, had the spots disguised, graded again at a higher level and sold at a gain of over $4,800.
- A 1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle that was purchased, trimmed, graded again and sold at a gain of over $600.
- A 1948-49 Leaf Joe DiMaggio (the second one uncovered) was purchased in 2016, trimmed, regraded and sold nearly two years later for nearly $2,700 more.
Whatever method is being used to cover those print spots has apparently proven to be difficult for grading and authentication companies to detect. It’s an effort that seems far more sophisticated than someone using a black marker to color worn corners and edges of 1971 Topps baseball.
Love of the Game Auctions’ Al Crisifulli discussed the alterations issue in the company’s blog, stating “it is our hope that those responsible are prosecuted.” He also says after learning of the ongoing revelation of altered cards, his company will institute some new procedures.
I’ll be joining long-time broadcasting veteran John Clemens of 1160 AM KBDT in Dallas and the USA Radio Network each week for a segment highlighting stories from the sports collecting world. You can listen to the first installment below.
TriStar’s Houston show takes place Friday-Sunday at NRG Arena. One of the country’s largest events, the show includes dealers of vintage and current cards and memorabilia along with a few dozen autograph guests. You can get the info here.
NBC’s Today Show recently visited with MLB’s authentication team in Chicago for a feature. Watch below.