When things aren’t always as they seem.
A few months back, we offered a very informative series about sports card alterations.
Kevin Saucier, who is a collector but also a sleuth when it comes to detecting doctored baseball cards, put together some stories about how it’s done, why it’s done, how many have even been authenticated and most importantly, what to look for when you’re buying expensive cards.
If you haven’t already, it’s worth a read, especially now that one vintage card has been the topic of some hobby message board discussion lately. It’s a card Rob Lifson of Robert Edward Auctions discussed in our Q&A last year.
The T206 set includes a variation on the Fred Snodgrass card in which the majority of the ‘s’ isn’t visible due to a printing flaw–maybe a dirty plate or improper strike. Who really knows? It was almost 100 years ago when they were printed.
The point is–the "Nodgrass" variation is rare and sells for a lot of money when legitimate cards become available. Several years ago, one unscrupulous dealer is said to have created several fake Snodgrass cards–with the ‘s’ completely gone– and distributed them into the hobby.
One major auction house was offering a Nodgrass variation–in a PSA holder– but serious T206 collectors quickly condemned the card as being from the stock of altered Snodgrass versions. The card was pulled from the auction once those knowledgeable collectors began expressing their opinions. Why PSA authenticated the card isn’t known. Maybe they still think it’s real. Maybe it is. But there is a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise.
Once again, however, it’s more evidence that doing your own research is crucial if you’re in the market for rare and/or valuable sports cards. There are counterfeit Michael Jordan rookies, rare error cards that were created with some creative use of inks, erasers and other tools of the trade. Big money is at stake and we shouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens in the hobby. Mistakes can be expensive for collectors–whether they made it or someone else did on purpose.
We even hear there may be other T206 cards with manufactured printing "errors" floating about.
The best thing is—information is still free. And there is more and more of it out there every day in a hobby that’s slowly joining the 21st century.