PSA’s Issue With Authenticating Autographs On Counterfeit Cards

PSA’s Issue With Authenticating Autographs On Counterfeit Cards

When you go to authenticate an autograph with PSA/DNA, you have a plethora of options to choose from. The most basic is whether you want dual-grading, which means the card and the autograph both get authenticated, and potentially graded if you choose that. No matter what option you choose, though, if you get it encapsulated it looks like every other PSA slab, with the red label.

Take, for example, this card below. This appears to be the famous (and extremely rare and valuable) “No Name On Front” error on the Topps Frank Thomas rookie card from 1990. Except the card is almost certainly a counterfeit. So why is it slabbed by PSA? Because the person who sent it in — the alleged counterfeiter, in all likelihood — only wanted the autograph authenticated. And for good reason! So PSA slabbed it, authenticated and graded the autograph, and called it a “Card.” You might see “Trading Card” or “Sticker” there in similar situations.

Another problem with this is that it’s listed on Goldin’s Marketplace as a Frank Thomas Rookie Card (“rookie card” is mentioned twice in the listing title) and it even says that it’s a 1990 Topps #414. But it’s none of the above! There have only been 11 of these cards autographed and authenticated by PSA. And no one with the card would not get dual-grading.

According to Hobby Champs on Twitter, one of these counterfeits (with legitimate autograph) recently sold on Goldin Marketplace for around $1,400. Churning out these fakes can be very lucrative. A Frank Thomas autograph is only $99, and he does signings frequently. The card itself costs next to nothing to print, get the autograph all-in for $120 maybe? Pay $20ish dollars to authenticate and slab the autograph. And then 10x your investment by selling it because it looks legit.

And no, a Frank Thomas rookie card autographed doesn’t sell for $1,400. They can be had for well under $100 consistently on eBay.

I understand that anyone can place anything on Goldin Marketplace and name their item what they want, but there should be some oversight on this. eBay is riddled with similar listing issues (at least that one says it’s a “reprint”) as well, but no one is named eBay and no one at eBay has a reputation that gets ruined when this type of thing becomes prevalent on their platform. Ken Goldin is a marketing guy and cares about his name.

I’m going to say something nice about Ken Goldin for the second consecutive week, so I feel obligated to promise that I am not currently, never have been, and likely never will be sponsored by Goldin. But when TiffanyCards.com tweeted about this issue, Ken once again responded and took care of it.

Making a case for change on big social media platforms can work. It doesn’t always, as evidenced by PSA’s normal lack of a response on big issues. But check this out:

PSA responding publicly?

Ryan Hoge is the President of PSA. Most people will tag Nat Turner, the head of Collectors, who owns PSA, because he’s responsive sometimes. Maybe the play is to tag both of them, as TiffanyCards did.

I’ll reserve judgment on policy changes until they’ve been announced, but what might they change? For starters, they could follow their own policy put in place for cards:

But Mike, that’s difficult, and if someone isn’t paying the extra $10+ for dual-grading, PSA has no obligation to authenticate the card! True, but if PSA has a list of frequently-counterfeited cards, maybe they should check those as a courtesy, and as a way to keep brand credibility.

Similarly, @35auburn on Twitter shared this PSA policy:

This is, again, for dual-graded cards. But you’d need to know the terminology and nuances of their many options to understand that. Is it possible that they’ve gone too far? That they should limit the types of things that can skip card authentication?

You be the judge. PSA authenticated this autographed sticker on a “custom” 1 of 1 patch card. The label says it’s a sticker, but that distinct red label lends credibility to this “custom” card that seems intended to pass as a legit card with what is likely an improperly-applied Panthers logo and a photo of an athlete the creator probably doesn’t have rights to.

How many people don’t realize PSA hasn’t authenticated the card and patch? Probably a lot.

You might say, “That’s the buyer’s problem!” and sure, you’d be right. But if PSA wants people to trust their slabs, they need to engage in a little brand damage control and eliminate these problems.

For fun, here’s a legitimate NNOF autographed that recently sold for $5,005:

YouTube Comment Of The Week

I mentioned that there was speculation that Geoff Wilson had sold a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan to help fund his new CardsHQ store opening, and this comment killed me:

Upcoming Videos

I’ll be in Dallas all week, so limited content. I travel home on Friday and it’s my birthday, so no Attic Find Friday.

But I finally recorded the video where I share my subscribers’ holy grails! Now I just need to edit it and release it. Hopefully this week.

And hopefully a livestream with Baseball Collector Mike from his hobby room!

Channel Highlights From the Past Week

I talked about buying 0 cards in the month of January.

I had a fun PSA/DNA blind reveal of current and future Hall of Famers, including one card that immediately goes into my list of top autographs.

My Attic Find Friday may have been my first one about hockey cards! And it was quite popular. Unfortunately I messed the math up pretty badly:

My Pickup Of The Week

After not buying a single card in the month of January, my first February card was $20 shipped. I think Kenny Lofton is overlooked as a Hall of Fame candidate. I’m not saying he should be in, but he didn’t get the look he deserved. So here’s his rookie card autographed.

1991 Bowman

Unfortunately the seller seems to have gotten cold feet over the low price I paid, and they canceled my order and claimed I requested to cancel it. When I asked what happened, they told me they lost the card. Is there any risk to my eBay reputation if I am falsely blamed for an order cancellation?

Subscriber Pickup Of The Week

No nominations this week! I like this feature but won’t include it again if I don’t receive any this week.

To nominate your card for next week, reply to this email and include why it should be included and a photo. Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply.

I always appreciate Victor’s passion for rookie card definitions. He wrote a great article for Hobby News Daily about Panini’s new Prospect Card designation.

Fanatics will start producing UFC cards this month.

For other Red Sox fans: Welcome back, Theo Epstein? I was enjoying the work he was doing to improve on-field watchability in baseball, so I hope that work continues with someone else.

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