It's been a wild year. I've made some key additions to the collection but finding 90's gold is becoming less frequent and at a higher price. I hypothesized there would be a threshold where everything on my wantlist was going to cost a pretty penny, but had thought that point was several years off. There's been a recent abatement from the sky high prices of 2020 and early 2021, but the rare 90's cards will always carry a premium. Here are some recent sales of interest that hopefully you were lucky enough to pick up.
96 Select Certified Mirror Gold - $257 (I was second highest bidder, one of these days I'll get a gold.)
97 EX-2000 A Cut Above BGS9 - $236 (A very condition sensitive set graded a BGS9. Can't see the BGS pop report, but the highest grade at PSA is an 8.)
98 Bowman's Best Fusion Atomic Refractor (w/Manning) - $1,848 (Great rookie card with Peyton Manning numbered to 25.)
98 Fleer Brilliants Shining Stars Pulsars - $114 (Under valued and overlooked insert in my opinion, good to see this card finally getting greater recognition.)
98 Playoff Momentum SSD Gold - $243 (About par for Playoff gold's from 1998, I'd say they normally fetch between $180-220. I unfortunately was the second highest bidder.)
98 SPx Promotion - $81
99 Fleer Focus Glimmer Men Reflections - $52 (Undervalued and overlooked because it's not as iconic as some other designs, but still numbered to 100.)
99 Playoff Contenders SSD Blue - $95 (The parallels in this set are gorgeous, I absolutely recommend picking some up if you can.)
99 SkyBox Premium 2000 Men PSA9 - $366 (A very difficult card to find.)
99 Upper Deck Black Diamond Final Cut - $52 (Pretty cool card in hand, I'm surprised it didn't bring more. Although it appeared to have a slight dinged corner and a print line going down the middle.)
99 Upper Deck Strike Force Quantum - $103 (Tough 1999 card to find and harder to find in decent shape with all the jagged edges.)
00 SP Authentic Sign of the Times - $375 (Rarely seen. The seller listed it as a $700 BIN so I didn't even consider haggling on price, someone snagged it at $375 which would have been a much more attractive price.)
01 Donruss Elite Face to Face Autograph - $248 (I picked one of these up a long time ago, easily one of my Top 20 favorite cards. Top 20?... I have a lot to choose from!)
02 Playoff Absolute Absolute Ink - $133 (Not a big fan of sticker autos, but it's a nice early design numbered to 30.)
07 Topps Performance Hall of Fame Dual Auto Relic - $362 (Sweet card, but only if there were no sticker autos...)
Have you heard of the 1997 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Silver version? It's okay if you haven't, I don't know much about them myself and I've only ever seen a few for sale. According to Beckett, "Foiled and non-foiled versions of some cards were mailed as redemptions. While some player's cards have been found in both versions, others have only been reported as non-foiled." The problem is, every version I've seen I believe to be a fake. Here are the images that I've collected over the years.
Okay, so I haven't been able to find regular examples of Curtis Martin or Jerry Rice... but it doesn't take a certified forensic document examiner to compare the differences between the base version and the silver version. The only one I believe to be real is the Jerry Rice. I can appreciate athletics becoming fatigued after signing many autographs in a sitting and their signature having slight variations, but not wholesale changes that are shown above.
My guess is there was some production error, delay, or change in heart to get the foil versions out to the athletes or several real versions could exist in such limited quantities that they are rarely seen. But in any event, additional copies made their way out of the factory and into scammers hands. I wouldn't purchase any silver version unless the signature looks exactly like the regular version.
As a side note, Marino also has a fake regular version (middle). Surprise!
Arguably one of the most recognizable and groundbreaking sets of the 1990's, the 1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey set (released in both football and hockey) introduced us to the world of game jersey cards.
After collecting Marino for over 27 years, it always amazes me that stuff just miraculously appears for sale after searching for so long (e.g., 1996 Stadium Club Sunday Night Redemption) or not even knowing that it existed (e.g., 1997 Stadium Club Pro Bowl), but this case of the 1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Sample is an extreme curiosity.
Where to start...? I'll just be upfront and say I'm 50/50 on whether or not they are real. I'll lay out my observations and let you make your own opinion.
The provenance from the seller (maxxattackk) was 'got them from a guy who knew a guy.' The seller had five of these up for auction, but only two different sets of pictures were used. The first listing went for $362, followed by $275, $158, $100, and $72. Would a poor quality sample/prototype have at least five made? I don't know.
Real? Fake? Decide for yourself.
Haven't posted some of the nicer eBay listings in quite a while, so I'm sure a bunch of interesting finds have expired off of my watchlist.
95 SkyBox Paydirt Red - $76 (These do pop up occasionally, but not exactly easy to come by. Plus there are four different colors.)
96 Action Packed Sculptor's Proof Redemption - $100 (I wasn't going to pay that much for an expired redemption, but to be honest I can't remember ever seeing another one for sale. I think people figure expired redemptions are not worth anything and just toss them.)
96 Select Certified Mirror Blue (50 Made) - $148 (The set to have from 1996.)
96 Select Certified Mirror Red Premium Stock - $399 (I wanted to pull the trigger on this one, but I hate graded cards, I also hate the thought of breaking them out of the case, but I've done it before.)
96 Upper Deck Game Jersey - $483 (The original. These have always sold on the high end, but have gone up in price recently.)
98 Bowman's Best Atomic Refractor (100 Made) - $116 (Who doesn't like a little radiation?)
98 Metal Precious Metal Gems (50 Made) - $400 (You always see the checklist gems card a lot more than the base card, I'm not sure why.)
98 Upper Deck Black Diamond Quad - $71 (The auction title for this wasn't listed very well, didn't mention anything about quad in the title. An hour before the auction ended it was still at $2 and only had 3 page views. Thought I would get a nice steal. My $55 bid wasn't enough, even though $71 is still a damn good price in my opinion. 4 bidders, 13 bids. I guess all the page views were players.)
99 1999 Skybox E-X Century Essential Credentials (25 Made) - $1,275 (PWCC auction, BGS 9.5 so who knows.)
00 Upper Deck MVP Souvenirs Auto (25 Made) - $400? (Great low numbered card from 2000. Sold through BIN so not exactly sure what final price was, but less than $400.)
04 Upper Deck Immortal Inscriptions (45 Made) - $123 (Not a huge, rare, or overly expensive card, but I have always liked the design of this card.)
05 Topps Turkey Red Cabinet Auto (25 Made) - $231 (Probably a good price, love the design.)
So you have a bunch of money burning a hole in your pocket, which one of these two cards would you choose to buy? The one on the right? Eeeeeeh! Wrong answer! Unfortunately, some poor schmuck on eBay paid over $300 for it. In fact, there were multiple bidders at the top willing that pay that much.
The example on the left is courtesy of Joe Montana collector Don. The card on the right is not reprinted. The holographic stickers on the front are real. The authenticity sticker on the back is real, in fact the serial numbers are less than 15 apart (hard to tell exactly due to image quality) on these two examples which tells you it's from the same product and not removed from some miscellaneous card. It's hard to make out the serial number, but it appears to be 9/10 (it wasn't stated in the auction).
So in case you haven't noticed yet, the autographs are fake. I checked every 2008 Topps Rookie Progression autograph card I could find and every autograph had blue ink. The fake on the right has black ink. So you're asking yourself WTF... My best guess is the autographs were faded or damaged in some way (e.g., water damaged, smudged) that significantly reduced the value causing someone to erase three HOF quarterback autographs.
If we take a closer look at the top of the Elway sticker, ink is visible where it was hastily rubbed off and collected at the edge of the sticker. I guess we'll never know why unless the culprit steps forward. The only silver lining is had this been the real McCoy, it would have sold for x2-3 times the price, which tells me enough people realized it wasn't real, but unfortunately it was a costly mistake for someone.
If there's one thing completely unexpected from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's the amount of disposable income people seem to have buying cardboard (not toilet paper).
92 Finest Promo #NNO - $231 (This card has had a weird history. Up until about five years ago I would have believed that less than 10 existed, but there have been many more popping up for sale. This had driven down the price and you could have picked up this card for $60-75 last year. Why this went for $231, your guess is as good as mine.)
96 SP Explosive - $118 (Great early insert and design)
97 Donruss Preferred Precious Metals (100 Made) - $370 (Great rare card.)
97 Finest Atomic Refractor - $103 (I might have to add this to my wantlist. It wasn't originally pack issued, but enough examples exist people consider it mainstream.)
97 Topps Galley Peter Max Auto (42 Made) - $306 (Fraudulent examples exist out there but this one looked pretty righteous. My high bid of $300 wasn't enough, probably should have gone higher. Peter Max isn't in the best of health these days so who knows what will happen to prices when he passes.)
97 Upper Deck Black Diamond Title Quest (100 Made) - $241 PSA 9 (Probably the nicest example that exists in this condition sensitive set. Eldogofasticus picked this one up.)
99 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor (25 Made) - $160 PSA 9 (Seller had two of these for sale both graded. I would have pulled the trigger, but I honestly don't like graded cards and I hate paying a premium because it's graded just to break it out.)
99 Donruss Preferred Precious Metals (25 Made) - $598 (Great Scott!)
99 Score 10th Anniversary (10 Made) - $200 (I held off bidding because I knew my guy eldogofasticus was going after it. As big of a collection that I have, his is on another level. No point in bidding up each other, I'll get the next one).
99 Score Supplemental Zenith Z-Team (100 Made) - $183 (I've never seen this card go for this much, good for the seller.)
99 SkyBox E-X Century Credentials (25 Made) - $1,500 (Hard to tell if this is the actual price it sold for, but it's a doozy).
01 Quantum Leaf Gamers (25 Made) - $257
Sale prices for higher-end Marino cards on eBay continue to be strong. Here are just a few that I've kept my eye on the past few months.
96 ProLine Intense $1000 Phone Card (7 Made) #4 - $200 (had been up for sale for a while at a much higher price, not a significant appetite for dropping a lot of money on a ProLine card)
97 Donruss Preferred Precious Metals (100 Made) #13 - $175 (this was steal in my opinion)
97 E-X 2000 A Cut Above #3 - $155 (For a condition sensitive die-cut set, this was a mighty fine example)
97 Finest Atomic Refractor (Gold) #350 - $67 (I don't have this one on my wantlist because I'm still on the fence if this card should exist. By all indications it wasn't pack issued, so is it a floor scrap that was never embossed and die-cutted like it should have been?)
97 Metal Precious Metal Gems (Red) (135 Made) #140 - $3,400 PSA 8 (Sold by PWCC, if you can trust it)
97 Metal Precious Metal Gems (Green) (15 Made) #140 - $13,000 PSA 7 (Sold by PWCC. This is the same card ungraded that sold in October for $4,550. Did grading it really increase the value by $8,500? Doubtful.)
97 Pinnacle Totally Certified Platinum Gold (30 Made) #2 - $318 (Someone wanted it more than I did. Sadly, I was outbid.)
98 Collectors Edge Odyssey Holofoil (Correction) (Mail-In Redemption) (30 Made) #H215 - $102
98 SPx Finite Spectrum (50 Made) #163 - $73 (I forgot to bid, damn)
99 Pacific Aurora Complete Players Hologold (Hobby Blue Front) (25 Made) #6 - $52 (not surprising for a low numbered late year Pacific card, Pacific just doesn't command what other premium brands get)
99 Skybox Shining Star Rubies (30 Made) #186 - $280
00 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects Signature Piece 2 (13 Made) #SPDM - $250 (This was sold for $350 along with the regular auto version which normally sells for $85-100, so logically this is around $250)
Collector's today place too much trust in grading companies that are supposedly protecting the integrity of the hobby. One of their faults, aside from turning a blind eye to trimming, is authenticating items that are patently fake.
One such example is the 1992 Sports Stars USA card of Dan Marino, produced in an 'orange' version that says "All Time Best" on the left-hand side of the card and a 'green' version that says "Marino" on the right-hand side of the card. Images for both versions are the same and feature a blue facsimile signature on the lower portion of the card.
As far as I can tell, it's hard to believe deceit was intended by the creator to pass this off as an autograph card. With an ounce of scrutiny, one would conclude the image was an autographed 8" x 10" that was shrunk down to size in order to create the card. The dimensions of the signature are comically small, neatly fitting into a 1" x 1" box with room to spare. Marino's signature is fairly involved and never appears so compact. An easier surface examination would reveal there is no ink on the surface of the card.
No legitimate autograph examiner would certify this as authentic.
Sadly, I've yet to acquire the green version because they're normally bid up by unsuspecting buyers thinking they are authentic. An e-mail to PSA about the card they certified went unanswered.
If your wantlist had a wantlist, it would probably pick out a handful of cards that you've potentially never seen before or just too unobtainable unless you've hit the lottery. Over the past few months on eBay, there have been a slew of incredibly rare Marino cards that NEVER come up for sale, and they're reaching incredible prices.
Take for example, possibly the most recognizable and sought after card set of the 1990s, the 1997 Skybox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Green. Serial numbered to 150, only the first 15 were issued in green. It sold for $4,550 on October 17. I scanned my wantlist, there's no other card that would command this kind of money. This is the most expensive Marino card you can own, and certainly an investment piece.
Equally recognizable for its use of bright neon colors on acetate, are the 1998 Skybox E-X2001 Essential Credential Future and Now sets. Limited to just 61 copies between the two sets, 53 exist for Marino in the Future set and only eight in the Now set. Depending on the players card number in the 60 card set, the serial number decreases from 1-60 for the Future set, and increases from 1-60 for the Now set. A Futures version sold for $888 on 10/23. Although the Now version for Marino is rarer and would probably sell for more, I'm not sure if its neon yellow colors would look as sharp as the Future version. If I had a choice, I'd go for the Future.
Skybox continued the parallels the following year in its 1999 Skybox E-X Century Essential Credentials Future and Now sets. With slightly increased print runs for Marino--66 for Future and 25 for Now--and a change in design, the 1999 set does not warrant the sky high prices seen for 1998. A Now version recently sold on 11/3 for several hundred dollars (eBay hid the price since it was a BIN, but I would imagine it sold for $400-500). The Future version #/66 can be had in the $150 range.
Lastly, one of the underrated late 90's sets that doesn't get as much notoriety as the top two sets is the 1998 Upper Deck Black Diamond Premium Cut Horizontal Quadruple set. Most of the players in this set can be easily obtained--except for Troy Aikman and Marino. For them, the insertion rates were much harder at 1:22,500 packs. And according to my records, only 10 copies were made. The example below was snatched up by BIN on 10/7, and although the price is obscured I know an offer north of $300 was declined, so I'd estimate the final sale price was around $500.
Not an ideal way to kickoff a new blog, but I felt compelled to post this public service announcement after recent hoards of fake Marino autographs have hit the market and are fooling unsuspecting buyers.
Straight to the point, blank copies of the 1998 SkyBox Autographics and the 1999 SP Signature Autograph cards were backdoored and are now appearing with inauthentic signatures.
In my expert opinion, here are fake copies of these cards followed by real examples for comparison.
Fake 1998 SkyBox Autographics
These fakes began appearing in late 2015. All fake versions are missing the embossed SkyBox stamp near the signature. If the signature is missing the "13" it is fake. Some recent fakes have started to include the "13," but if you study Marino's signature you can easily distinguish the real deal from the fake.
Real 1998 SkyBox Autographics
Fake 1999 SP Signature Autograph
These fakes began appearing in early 2016, around the same time as the SkyBox Autographics. If the signature is in black ink, or is missing the "13" it is fake. The two fake versions on the left side are getting closer to replicating Marino's signature, but the angle of the signature and position of the "13" are dead giveaways that the signature is fake.
Real 1999 SP Signature Autograph
Keep in mind that just because the card stock was intended to have an autograph and has the stated 'Certificate of Authenticity' on the back, collectors need to be scrupulous about the items they buy. Even card grading services 'authenticate' fake cards from time to time. If it doesn't look right, walk away.
11/18/20 Update: The "World's Most Trusted Source in Collecting" provides us with another gift. Can't make this stuff up. Did they not read my blog!?
6/6/21 Update: SGC joins the clueless club.
8/5/21 Update: Trifecta. Thanks PSA.