How to spot fake sports cards


How to spot fake sports cards


For many people, sports cards are a way to relive their youth. They’re also a way for collectors and dealers to make money from the nostalgia of others. But with so many counterfeit sports cards on the market, how can you know if your prized possession is authentic? Here are some tips for spotting fakes:

Know the real thing inside and out.

The first trick to learning how to spot fake sports cards is knowing the real thing inside and out. If you have a Wayne Gretzky rookie card in your collection, you know what it looks like. If you don't, go through your collection and look at each card individually. Compare them with each other and make sure they're all from the same year, same team, etc., then compare them with other cards from those years (of course). That way when someone offers you their fake Gretzky for trade, you'll be able to spot it right away!

It's important that you actually know what these items look like so that when someone tries selling one as authentic but isn't quite right (like when I sold my mother an Eli Manning rookie card instead of a Peyton Manning rookie), then it's easy enough for us both without having to negotiate over details or anything else like that."

Look for a hologram on modern cards.

Holograms are a security feature and are relatively new, so older cards won't have them. They are usually found on the card's back.

Examine the card’s surface.

You've probably heard the phrase "the devil is in the details." That's especially true with sports cards, where even a slight variance in the card's dimensions can tip you off to a fake. To ensure that any you're buying are authentic and not knockoffs, look for these telltale signs:

  • Look for watermarks. Watermarks are images or text printed on the back of a card that can only be seen when held up to light. Most legitimate sports cards have them (and it's worth noting that some counterfeiters have copied this feature). If there's no watermark or it doesn't match what you know about your favorite player's jersey number, chances are good that you're looking at an illegitimate copycat.

  • Examine its surface. Another way to determine whether your new collectible is genuine is by examining its surface—particularly whether it has any raised texture or hologram effects (those aren't found in all sports cards but they do appear in many).

Study the details of the photograph.

If you see a photo of your favorite athlete holding up the Stanley Cup, it's probably not real. To spot fake sports cards, start by studying the details of the photograph.

  • Check for any signs of retouching and printing errors. If an athlete is holding up a trophy or celebrating on top of someone else's shoulders, look closely at his or her face to see if there are any signs that it was airbrushed or Photoshopped. If there are no wrinkles on their faces (or any other part), they're probably fake!

  • Check for any signs of fading or discolouration. The ink and paper used in manufacturing authentic cards have been tested to withstand heat, humidity, light and time—if you see evidence of fading or discolouration on an authentic card then this could be a sign that it's not real after all!

  • Look at how well-preserved each card is: does it seem damaged? Has its colour faded? Does it have folds in the corners from being kept too long in someone’s pocketbook? How about creases along its edges from being kept under another card? These all indicate age but only true collectors would appreciate those qualities instead opting for new ones instead which were made within last year rather than 20 years ago when they were first released onto market shelves after debuting online first because back then no one had access yet so might as well wait until now...

Check the size and thickness of the card.

As the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably not a real baseball card. A real baseball card will be about 2.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high (or about 6cm x 8cm for our metric friends), which is actually quite large considering how thin they are (about .005 inches thick).

Some fake cards are almost this size but are slightly smaller in width or height than their authentic counterparts. Others will be much smaller—perhaps half as big as an authentic card—but still have the same thickness as an authentic version of the same type of card (for example, a vintage 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle would be around 1/3rd inch thick). If a card looks too small or too thin compared to its counterpart in your collection then it may be fake! Be aware that some companies use thinner stock than others so don't rule out everything just because you find one that's lighter or lighter weight paper! You might just have gotten lucky with your purchase!

Check for spelling mistakes or other errors on the card.

  • If you see spelling mistakes or other errors on the card, it's probably fake.

  • Check for obvious spelling mistakes or typos in player names and stats, as well as incorrect serial numbers, release dates, edition numbers (or print runs), and so on.

Worn corners indicate that the card might be a fake, unless it’s an older card made in the 1930s or earlier.

If you’re buying a new card, the corners should be sharp and crisp. If they aren’t, that might mean it's been doctored up by someone trying to pass it off as an authentic collectible. Unless it's an older card made in the 1930s or earlier, which were known for their rounded corners, you can safely assume that any other kind of corner wear is fake.


Now that you know how to spot fake sports cards, you can protect yourself from counterfeiters and keep your collection safe. These tips are also helpful for those who want to buy authentic cards from reputable dealers.

Horror Stories of Shipping Sports Trading Cards: A Collector’s Nightmare

As avid collectors, we’ve all experienced the thrill of receiving a long-awaited package in the mail. The anticipation, the excitement—it’s like Christmas morning for sports card enthusiasts. But sometimes, what should be a joyous occasion turns into a nightmare. Let’s delve into the spine-chilling tales of shipping mishaps and learn from the mistakes of others.

1. The Dreaded PWE (Plain White Envelope)

Picture this: You’ve just completed a trade for that elusive rookie card. Your heart races as you tear open the envelope, only to find your prized possession bent, crumpled, and barely recognizable. The PWE strikes again! Plain white envelopes, designed for bills and letters, are woefully inadequate for safeguarding sports cards. They offer minimal protection, leaving your precious cards vulnerable to the whims of postal chaos. Avoid the PWE at all costs—opt for a small bubble mailer instead. Your cards will thank you.

2. Tape Troubles

Ah, the age-old practice of securing cards with tape across the top loader. It seems sensible, right? But beware—the wrong choice of tape can lead to disaster. Scotch tape, while commonly used, leaves sticky residue and can cause top loaders to stick together. Plus, it’s wasteful. Packing tape, on the other hand, requires a knife or scissors to open, turning the unboxing experience into a battle. Imagine struggling to free your newly acquired card from layers of stubborn tape—it’s a collector’s nightmare.

3. The High-Flying Package

At a card show in Texas, a witness watched in horror as a delivery driver hurled 30 to 40 packages from his vehicle, sending them soaring 8 to 12 feet into the air. Each package landed with a resounding thud on the unforgiving concrete below. The result? Mangled cards, crushed dreams, and a collective gasp from the collecting community. Remember, even the most robust cards can’t survive an Olympic-level toss. Let’s keep our packages grounded, shall we?

4. The Mystery of the Missing Card

You’ve meticulously packaged your cards, added tracking, and sent them on their way. But days turn into weeks, and your trading partner still hasn’t received their end of the deal. Panic sets in. Did the postal abyss swallow your card whole? Was it abducted by aliens? Alas, sometimes cards vanish without a trace. Always use tracking, communicate openly, and pray that your missing card reappears like a plot twist in a suspense novel.


Shipping horror stories serve as cautionary tales for collectors. Let’s protect our beloved sports cards with care, use proper packaging, and avoid the pitfalls that haunt our mailboxes. And remember, the next time you open a package, treat it like a fragile relic—because to us, it truly is.

Happy collecting, and may your cards arrive unscathed! 📦🔍🏀🔥