Maybe the most disturbing thing about spending a lot of time keeping up with the hobby outside of my own interests is seeing the number of purported fakes, especially in the realm of jerseys….
I say ‘purported’ only because it’s a dicey process to try and actually prove something is not game-worn. There are always gray areas and few absolutes. Nonetheless, some of the evidence is pretty damning if you take time to read the analysis done by some of the more respected authenticators. Yet it persists. You see fakes on eBay but also in some auctions conducted by companies who should know better. And it’s not getting much better.
You can buy a replica jersey that looks so much like the real thing it takes a serious collector or authenticator to disprove the claim that it’s been worn by a famous athlete. Money is the big reason. Sellers know the less-educated fans will pony up big dollars just because they trust someone with a nice catalog or ability to turn a phrase and sound authoritative. A person who only wants a nice piece to hang above their bar or in their den at home–or a Mom or wife shopping for a special gift– may get snookered into a jersey that isn’t actually the real deal simply because they don’t know about the resources available to better educate themselves before making a purchase. It’s sad but that’s where the market is. Novice collectors with a little money and no desire to do any research. It’s making some folks very rich.
The best way to buy something with no worries is to do your research. Match the item with the era by seeking out photos, talking with those in the know and searching the internet for relevant information. It takes work, sometimes, but it’s up to all of us to keep the "used" in "game-used".