Hobby Outposts from the North: Beware Fakes! – Like many hockey fans, I spent some time following the NHL Entry Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday sourcing some cards to add to my collection. After all, earlier breaks had not netted me new Winnipeg Jet Cole Perfetti.
The want is understandable. Without any NHL cards available of these draftees you still want to get in on the ground floor for cards of young superstars in wait, particularly if you’re a team collector like myself.
The good news for me, of course, is that Perfetti is part of the 2019-20 Upper Deck CHL series. Other draft picks though came from across the ocean, so you’re dependent on the likes of finding Sereal cards that feature KHL action.
Here’s where card shopping gets murky, if not all-out poisonous. Looking for a few players, I came across suspicious cards from sets I’ve never heard of. Now I don’t claim to know each and every company that operates overseas or all their products, but some jump out right away as being fake cards.
“Companies“ creating illegitimate cards is, sadly, nothing new. Go back to the hobby’s boom era in the early 1990s and you’ll see what are commonly referred to as Broder cards. These cards looked flashy on the front, often incorporating some cool (for the time) designs and NHL or junior league photography. The backs, however, were the definition of bland, and more importantly showed no indication of being licensed.
Yup, these were fraudulent.
Thankfully, for hockey collectors, the hype around these fake cards died rather quickly, particularly after they weren’t indexed by the likes of Beckett, and largely died off; that is, until circa 2005. That year, Sidney Crosby was picked by the Pittsburgh Penguins first overall in the NHL Entry Draft after being touted for a couple years as the next big thing in hockey. Not since Eric Lindros had a prospect been so highly touted.
And boy howdy, did this bring out the frauds. Cards depicted Crosby in Team Canada gear, his Rimouski Oceanic uniform and even his high school jersey. And yep, none of them were legit. Sadly, in a recent search I even found a card that was not only signed by El Sid, but was also PSA/DNA certified. Maybe a lucky in-person sig? Who knows?.
From Crosby on, with a re-ignition of the hockey market and a new generation of hobby heavyweights coming up like John Tavares and Connor McDavid, the fake cards didn’t stop coming. Other “companies” started to produce cards of players who never had a legit NHL card with a particular team.
So how do you know if the card you’re looking at is good or not? Here are a couple telltale signs:
1> Are they made by a licensed manufacturer – To be clear, Upper Deck is the only company licensed to produce cards for not only the NHL, but also, currently, the AHL, CHL and Hockey Canada, along with the NHLPA and the PHPA. If any card has one of these logos and is not Upper Deck, they’re fake.
2> Are they made by a major manufacturer – Take a step beyond and look at companies who lack league licensing but instead work directly with players. A perfect example is Leaf, who have signed on with the likes of Jack Eichel in the past. These companies won’t show team logos because of the contract situations, but still create some very cool cards. These companies are often known by name and are talked about within the hobby frequently.
3> Is anyone talking about them – Outlets like Go GTS, Beckett and other hobby news sources will, as par for the course, discuss upcoming products or review sets that just hit. Even overseas products like the aforementioned Sereal will get mentions here and there, because of their legitimacy with international leagues. Also talk to your local hobby shop or browse trade boards. If no one has heard of the company or set you’re looking at, chances are they’re fake.
Here’s the bottom line – if you have any suspicion, don’t buy. The money spent will not come back.
Hobby Outposts from the North: Beware Fakes!
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