Archive for tips

Are your card packages being received? A reminder for buyers and sellers.

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago I had two eBay purchases arrive on the same day. As soon as I got notification via eBay that they were delivered I went straight home to retrieve them. When I arrived, I found them sitting on the porch, atop a box of Similac samples my relative had received.

These packages were pretty standard card packages — bubble mailers that could have been shoved into the secure mail slot in the garage door. However, the postal carrier decided to leave them on the step, in plain view of the street — available to any person who wanted to take the items.

Fortunately for me I got to the cards in time. But not less than a week later I received a message from a buyer who claimed that he did not receive a card I sold him last month.

The buyer told me that he never received his card, which he had purchased for more than $150. I promptly checked the delivery confirmation number and it showed that it had been delivered some 30 days before I received this message.

The buyer and I went back and forth, and the buyer opened a EBay case against me, which automatically tied up my PayPal account until the case was resolved.

I provided the buyer and eBay any documentation I had. And after calling eBay myself, the auction site took my side and agreed that I followed the right steps. I won the case and my PayPal account and funds were unlocked.

While I had come out on the positive end of both cases discussed above, it is unfortunate that things even had to get to this point. Mail theft is so rampant these days that it’s common for pieces to go missing, and sometimes the bad guys winds up with someone’s $150 Card.

But these examples prove that it’s a good time to share these precautionary tales with fellow collectors.

If you’re buying something, keep an eye out for mail. Use the tracking numbers, and if it’s expensive ask the seller to consider using a signature confirmation service — at YOUR expense. And do all you can to provide a secured area for a postal carrier to safely deliver your package.

And If you’re a seller, make sure you document your tracking numbers and keep your records (I.e. postal receipts and customs forms, etc) for several months. If you can show eBay that the item you sold was delivered to the confirmed address you should win your case should one be opened against you. Whether or not it actually was received by the buyer isn’t your problem.

Obviously this system would work better for everyone if thieves didn’t exist, but that’s not the case. And whichever side of the buyer-seller relationship you fall on, you have to do what you can to protect yourself.


Former Beckett Baseball columnist.


Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at

Collectors have to be careful when buying vintage

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

1939 Play Ball Ted Williams rookie -- 100% authentic. The "signature" ... not so much.

I’m not going to sit here and proclaim to be an expert on vintage cards, but I buy a fair amount old, smelly cardboard to know a fake or reprint when I see one. Have a look at this auction that ended earlier today.

I am in the market for a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth rookie card. And while searching for said card, this auction popped up. The seller is not offering this lot with over-the-top salesmanship. He has not advertised this as a Babe Ruth rookie with three other cards. Moreso as three other Goudey cards with a Babe Ruth.

But here’s what really pisses me off: The Ruth is a fake, a reprint — not authentic. Whether the seller knows it or not, what he is passive-aggressively selling is a lot of cards highlighted by a highly sought after, but very questionable Ruth rookie. And sadly, someone is going to get burned in a bad way.

Sure, at first glance the card looks authentic. It looks like a bar of soap with rounded corners and a brutal surface. But I would be willing to bet that the card is not authentic.

How can I tell? Well, for starters, look at the group of cards it is with. The Ruth is lumped in with three other 1933 Goudey cards to add an aura of authenticity. As a buyer, we’re supposed to feel as if the seller has found the Ruth along with these other three Goudey cards in some attic, his grandfather’s collection, an estate sale or whatever. But look at the Ruth. It looks NOTHING like the other three. Assuming the other three Goudey cards are real, the Ruth should share some characteristics, i.e. similar wear patterns along the edges. Instead what we have is a Ruth card with fabricated worn corners and surface scratches. Secondly, look at the image of the card backs. The Ruth is many shades darker that the counter parts.

The problem with reprints and fakes in vintage segment of the hobby extends much further than the Ruth card shown here.

Over the weekend I did a lot of eBay searching for old rookie cards for my collection and it became increasingly apparent that there are a growing number of fake vintage and “old-looking reprints” on the market.

Some sellers are selling the cards as reprints, which is a legitimate way to sell them, I suppose. But I really look down upon those who go out of their way to note that the ‘”card does not say reprint anywhere!!!”

The only reason a seller would say something like that — especially when they ad 5,000 exclamation points — is to show you, the buyer, that you can buy this card and possibly sell it to someone else as being authentic and make a huge profit.

So it has been asked me how can I be so sure that what I am buying is authentic. Here are a few tips.

*Know what card you are looking for, and know the history of the card — If you’re looking for a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth, you should be familiar with what the real deal looks like. All you’ve got to do is spend a few minutes looking at authenticated ones in eBay’s “completed auction” section. Know what real ones look like and know what they usually sell for. If a card like this routinely sells for several hundred dollars but you got yours for much less, then you know something is wrong. Also, is the card you are looking at one that has been prone to being reprinted? In the case of the Ruth, the answer is yes. There have been many versions of reprints.

*Take a look at the seller’s other items — Is the seller offering other old cards? Does he deal in only new cards, but seemingly has this awesome vintage card available? Does he have multiples of this old, rare card? If the seller has other old cards, what are their condition? Do they share similar characteristics? Sometimes this can be a way to spot a fake right away.

*What kind of feedback does the seller have? — pretty self explanatory.

*Does the seller offer returns or refunds? — Not always a dead giveaway, but a seller who is willing to offer a refund at least allows you the chance to hold the card before the transaction is completed.

*How many people have viewed the auction versus how many have placed bids? — There are tons of guys on eBay 24/7 looking at vintage card auctions looking to grab true attic finds. If an auction has been viewed 564 times but has two bids with a day left, odds are the card isn’t real. Even in a day and age of  sniper bidding, people will throw an early bid on a card just for kicks.

*If the card is in great shape, why is it not slabbed? — True, not everyone believes in grading or has access to said services. But you and I both know that if a vintage card is in great shape it will command a huge premium on the secondary market. While some great deals do exist, I cannot stress how important it is to find out what the return policy is when dealing in this market. Your heart will sink if your package arrives and it’s clear to you once the card is in hand that it is not authentic.

*Know that some people are jackasses — There are a lot of ways someone can make a card look old. They can crumple a card, write on it, stick it in mud, let tea bags rest on the surface, burn it, etc. Know this before you buy anything.

*If the deal is too good to be true, then you know damn well then it probably is — Know this: You will not find an authentic 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card for just a few hundred dollars. Even if the card survived a fire — which some fakes have purposely been made to look like — a real one will fetch a good chunk of money.

*Buy low-grade authenticated/slabbed vintage cards — Even if you dislike the thought of a third-party grading system, they can be invaluable when it comes to dealing with vintage. Just make sure the grading company is reputable. PSA, SGC and Beckett Grading are the best — 99 percent of the others are bogus. If you don’t care for the plastic holder, just break it open and remove the card. Just be careful.

*Writing on a card doesn’t make it worthless — Lastly, have a look at the Ted Williams rookie shown above. Soneone has written his name in cursive along the bottom. I don’t think someone was trying to forge his signature. What I think the previous owner was doing was adding a key element that was missing several decades ago — the player’s name on the front. Ink on a card doesn’t make it worthless. Does it make it worth less? Yes. But far from completely worthless. Know this. Embrace it. If an authentic vintage card is what you desire, don’t be automatically turned off by a little ink.