T206 Autograph Scam Continues to Grow with More Affected Cards

The number of autographed T206 forgeries doubles with more discoveries

Yesterday, I wrote about a pretty big deal in the hobby with regards to autographed T206 cards. Net54 uncovered four fakes at the time I wrote about it (Rube Marquard, Fred Parent, Billy Sullivan, and Bob Rhoades). I’m not going to rehash the same tired points again here, so if you want the full rundown, I’d start with that link.

At the time I wrote, I indicated that was not likely to be all. Turns out, it was not.

Since yesterday, four more fake T206s have been all but proven on Net54 with previous, recent scans of the cards in their unsigned form. That, of course, is double what we had yesterday with the original four. Others are suspected and this is not likely to be all as several others are being suggested in the linked thread. The four new ones are Paddy Livingston, Home Run Baker, Elmer Flick, and Heinie Zimmerman. Baker and Flick, of course, are Hall of Famers and the two most high-profile ones in the group.

One thing of note here is that PSA is now one of the authenticators that have missed on at least one of the cards. Prior to today, JSA and SGC were the ones that had apparently graded others that were found to be not legit. According to that Net54 thread, the Baker seems to be PSA’s gaffe. This is widespread and affecting more than one outfit.

Forging with a Twist

Elmer Flick Forged T206 AutographA somewhat new twist was revealed today with one of the cards and that’s the autographed Elmer Flick. The Flick is particularly intriguing because the forger likely had the foresight to increase the damage done to it in an effort to distinguish it from its former state.

Shown here are pictures of the card. On the left, we have the card in its unsigned form. On the right, we have the same card with the newly added autograph.

There’s clearly a little bit of manufactured damage that seems to have been added. I’ve tried to highlight that a little with the red circles. Most notably, there is quite a bit of damage added in to the bottom left corner. Stuff in blue circles is shown to indicate the same damage, identifying it as the same card. So, why would a forger purposely damage the card? First, adding that damage isn’t harming the value much. It’s still a low-grade card so the price isn’t really affected. Second, and more importantly, it likely would have been done to give the intention that it’s not the same card.

Now, that seems kind of silly to me. All of the other damage shown on it lines up pretty identically. If you’re really trying to make this a different card, I’d think you would need to create significantly more damage. My guess is that future forgers would go that route with card missing significant paper, etc. Nevertheless, though, it’s pretty clear that it was incurred later and, while the card could have been legitimately damaged otherwise, I would be surprised if that was the case. Looks like a pretty clear attempt to deceive in my book.

This was a pretty sloppy one in particular. That’s because the Flick already was heavily damaged with numerous creases that make it easy to identify from earlier scans of it. A better idea, obviously, would have been to work with a card in nicer condition without all the telltale signs this card had. Not that I’m in the business of giving scammers ideas, it’s just pretty common sense.

Again, this is a big deal because we’re not talking autographs of Mike Greenwell and the like. These are legitimate four-figure (and in the case of Baker) five-figure cards). Compound this with the fact that there are plenty of these types of autographs out there and, well, you’ve got yourself a real problem.

More to Come?

Speaking of real problems, collectors should consider this. This is likely a tip of the iceberg type of deal. That’s not to say that all autographed T206 cards are fake and I don’t say that merely for the sake of overdramatization. But I say that for two very specific reasons.

First, this work has been uncovered by people who do not specialize in autograph authentication. These discoveries are being made by everyday collectors armed with little more than Google, Worthpoint, and a desire to weed out this kind of stuff. Eight autographs have been already proven fraudulent in only about 24 hours. Can you imagine what can be done with more resources and more time?

Second, and equally important, consider that the only stuff currently being uncovered are autographed T206 cards. The reality is there are tons of other types of autographed pre-war cards floating around. Tobacco cards. Caramels. Goudeys. Play Balls.

If you think that none of that stuff is affected, well, I’ve got an autographed T206 you might be interested in.

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