Bleaching Claims Among the Latest Alleged Pre-War Baseball Card Alterations

The latest alleged alterations being found are for pre-war cards that have been bleached

Blowout’s detective work to uncover altered sports cards continues. If you’re new to the scandal, start here.

While trimming was a big focal point of the early discoveries the most recent ones have focused on a different type of alteration — bleaching.

Bleaching is one way to clean a card to try to improve its appearance. It is popular on really old cards like those from the pre-war era because, well, cards that old have accumulated all kinds of stuff on them. Unlike soaking a card in water, which is mostly accepted by collectors, bleaching uses chemicals to help brighten a card’s appearance and remove things such as toning or dirt. The practice is frowned upon and most collectors would argue that a card that has been bleached should be labeled as Authentic or altered.

Ty Cobb 1914 Cracker JackBlowout’s latests posts allege that several cards have been bleached to improve their grade — ultimately, improving a card’s value. One is a 1921 Exhibit card of Babe Ruth, which reportedly saw its grade bumped from a PSA 3 to a PSA 4. Another was a 1915 Cracker Jack of Ty Cobb which, while it did not see a grade bump, has a cleaner appearance and resulted in a higher sale. A third was a Cobb E95 Philadelphia Caramel card, which allegedly went from an SGC 1.5 to an SGC 3.5. PWCC was again on all of the sales and the improved cards all sold for substantially more with increases seen in the four figures.

Other post-war vintage cards were alleged to have been bleached as well.

It is worth pointing out that, assuming these are all the same cards, the bleaching did not always have beneficial effects. A Honus Wagner E95 Philadelphia Caramel is said to have lost money as is this Honus Wagner M110 Sporting Life Cabinet card.

Still, bleached cards are just another thing collectors seemingly have to track as part of this mess. Bleached cards had indeed been called out by the forum in earlier posts but it is interesting to note that all of the most recent pre-war cards cited on the forum as altered have been bleached or cleaned. That could be merely coincidence but there seems to be a shift in looking for more altered cards with these characteristics.

And that could mean we see a lot more of them soon.

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