Friday, June 25, 2010

Updates on the Fake Babe Ruth Cut From 2009 Triple Threads

Fake cut signature cards have been a huge issue for everyone involved since the time card companies started using deceased players as a chase for their higher end products. In 2008, Upper Deck received a ton of criticism and negative press for releasing a quad cut signature card with fake cuts in the card. It was featured on HBO and eventually the owner received some cards as a repayment that many collectors would kill for, including a replacement for the actual cuts themselves.

More recently, Topps has had a very similar problem with a card out of my all time favorite set, Triple Threads. In the 2009 product, a dual cut of Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig made the rounds as a card that was featured as THE chase for the product. It was pulled by a collector and immediately posted on eBay, as expected. Within a few days, rumors were running rampant that not only was the Ruth cut featured in the card not real, but that Topps knew ahead of time and still released the card. The auction was pulled and the card was submitted to a number of grading services to determine authenticity of both cuts, with mostly negative results. Although the Gherig was determined to be likely genuine, the Ruth received "no comment" or "not likely genuine" across the board.

After all of this took place, the collector placed the card on eBay AGAIN with wording that commented on the authenticity of the card according to Topps, not any of the services that had returned their opinions. It was pulled again, and the collector was left with a pretty large problem. Keep the card knowing it contained a fake signature, or sell the card under false or truthful pretenses. From the explanation given by the collector, Topps eventually produced the original COAs, and forced the collector to send in the card for further investigation. After a number of days, they have made good on their promise to replace the fraudulent signature, and the collector has a new card.

Personally, the way this was handled by both the collector and the company was terrible. The collector should not have relisted the card after getting bad news from all those services, and Topps should have made good immediately instead of dragging out the process.

When it comes down to it, cut signatures will always be a venture into trust. You have to trust the company that made the card, you have to trust the service that originally authenticated it, and you have to trust that the opinions of those people are correct. I do not have that trust under most circumstances, especially those of services like PSA, JSA, and company. I get that they cant always be perfect, but people treat them as such. PSA seems to have just as many problems as JSA, and a lot of collectors have sworn off authenticated autographs simply because of their past experiences. I only own one piece authenticated by either service, and I still question it to this day. It seems to me that PSA and JSA (especially JSA due to their partnership with Beckett) are only out to make money rather than performing a needed service for collectors. In the end, it will always come down your eye versus theirs, your level of expertise versus theirs and both your and their abilities to outsmart the douchebags out there that live off of selling fakes.

Watch your ass.


  1. I once had someone offer me a Gehrig photo signed in purple sharpie and was offended when I told them there was no way it could be real.

  2. To follow up Rod's my experience with autos, the ones that try to pass off fake as the real deal tend to be the ones that adamently defend their authenticity. Sometimes even taking offense to the fact you would even cross that path of questioning their integrity. This is another reason why I think cut autos are a bad idea. If you have the original piece of memorabilia, why not just keep it intact and offer it up as is. It's much easier to authenticate when it's in the "original state". Don't mutilate a piece of history whether its a photo, personal check, signed document, or anything else just so you can re-brand it as your own with your own label.

  3. And then what, offer the full piece of memorabilia as a redemption? Everyone complains about those! It's sometimes a lose-lose situation for the companies, I think.

  4. Pricelesspursuit,

    As much as we all hate redemptions, how about a redemption to solve that! Something like:

    "Dear Collector:

    Congratulations! You have won a Babe Ruth autograph from 2010 Topps Triple Threads!

    This redemption gives you a choice of getting the autograph on its original item (index card) or you can elect to receive the auto as a cut signature card with three relic pieces. Please contact us at 1-888-xxx-xxxx to inform us of your choice.

    Sincerely, Topps"

  5. If I knew the answer to "and then what" I would probably have a job at one of the manufacturers.