CONTROVERSY! (part 2)

Four weeks ago now, as I reported on in my last blog post (CONTROVERSY! (part 1)), it was discovered that who knows how many autographed T206’s, Goudeys and whatever else have been slipping through the TPG/TPA’s and getting slabbed as AUTHENTIC!

The following is the first of many opinion pieces I plan on writing on the resounding question…WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

(photo courtesy of Manny on Net54)

I think one of the biggest revelations I have had from this whole nasty, grimey situation is how little effort the TPG’s and TPA’s put into documenting the items that pass through their hands.

I am a collector at heart. As a collector at heart, I am, also, and accumulator. And as such, if I were running a multimillion dollar TPG/TPA I would certainly have accumulated a database of every single item that has passed through the hands of my people.

Every item would have been scanned front and back and been assigned a number to which every item could be referenced at any given time.

Could you imagine if in the last 20 years of grading the database that would have been accumulated? It would be so easy for fraud and forgeries to be ferreted out. Trimmings, alterations, etc would pop like color on a black canvas.

It seems to me such a wasted opportunity for those in control of TPG/TPA’s to have documented their entire history of submissions.

I can’t imagine how much easier it would be for law enforcement to know who and what was submitted at any given time.

And talk about provenance? Their information would be worth millions alone!

Crossovers would be able to be tracked and pop reports across the board would be so much more accurate.

As it stands now, if one wanted to dump the market on a certain grade card all they have to do is keep cracking the same cards and resubmitting them to artificially inflate the population, thus, essentially, destroying a market for any individual card.

It would have taken seconds per transaction to have scanned and documented every submission, now it’s just been a wast of nearly 20 years worth of data.

Oh the hobby…always so slow to embrace technology.

*sigh*

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CONTROVERSY! (part 1)

For the last week the entire hobby has been marred with a controversy that many believe is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

It all started with a casual post on a Net54 Baseball forum.

For those of you who don’t know, Net54 is a forum run by Leon Luckey of Luckey Auctions that is very popular with the vintage collecting community. Though not exclusively a vintage forum, Net54 does have sections for everything up to and including present day releases, the base membership is a strong vintage community.

Last week, a simple question was posed by a member (MarsLife) as to the authenticity of a T206 Rube Marquard autograph he recently purchased lead to a tsunami of discoveries of blatant T206 forgeries.

Turns out that MarsLife (Cliff) had purchased the Marquard auto’d T206 in a recent Clean Sweep Auction. The card was accompanied by a JSA Letter of Authenticity.

Marquard has been known to have signed a number of T206 cards in his day as he had lived until 1 June 1980. Having lived much longer than many of his counterparts he had much more opportunity to sign, and as legend has it, he loved doing so.

The rub comes when Cliff sent his newly purchased auto to SGC to encapsulate his new prize. As fate would have it, this was the decision that would create a snowball effect in the hobby that will have effects for years to come.

SGC failed the authentication of the Marquard.

The failure lead Cliff to question the Net54 forum members as to what he should do next. Should he attempt a tie breaker with PSA or BGS? He even questioned if it was, in fact real!

SetBuilder (Manny) on Net54 “had a feeling” about the Marquard. He had found a somewhat recent sale on 7 FEB 2018 on WorthPoint.com of what appears to be the exact same card…UNSIGNED!

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1909-t206-sweet-caporal-150-25-rube-1913448029

picture courtesy of SetBuilder (Manny) on Net54

Thus began the snowball effect of the winter of 2018.

So, Manny, a Financial Analyst out of Florida, was able to discern, in a relatively short order of time, what James Spence himself, according to Leon Luckey’s reliable anonymous source, according to Luckey’s post on the original Marquard forum post (linked below), could not.

Since the original Marquard forgery has been exposed, Manny & fellow forum members at Net54 have uncovered 15 total T206 forgeries, all perpetrated in recent months.

As of writing of this article, these are the 15 confirmed forgeries of T206 autographs found in the last week:

  1. Rube Marquard
  2. Fred Parent
  3. Billy Sullivan
  4. Bob Rhoades
  5. Paddy Livingston
  6. Frank “Homerun” Baker
  7. Elmer Flick
  8. Heinie Zimmerman
  9. Wid Conroy
  10. Larry Doyle
  11. Jap Barbeau
  12. Red Murray
  13. Eddie Cicotte
  14. Nap Rucker
  15. Jesse Tannehill

You can follow the entire thread below (SetBuilder thread linked below).

Over the course of the thread, many have speculated as to when someone would begin to look into the recent influx of 1933-34 Goudey and 1952 Topps autographed cards that have all of a sudden enter the hobby.

Within the last 24 hours, several 1933-34 Goudey forgeries have been uncovered.

Forum member atx840 (Chris Browne) uncovered 3 examples (Bill Terry, Sam Rice and Rick Ferrell) of 1933-34 forgeries.

Sold 31 MAY 2018:

Recent eBay Listing:

Sold 10 JUN 2018:

Recent eBay Listing:

Original Card:

Recent eBay Listing:

pictures courtesy of atx840 (Chris Browne) on Net54

All 3 cards were recently available on eBay, with 2 of the auctions ending early, not long after the post appeared on Net54.

Obviously, there are far more questions than answers at this point.

This will be a multi-part series on the on-going discussion that these latest revelations have brought to light.

The next part of this series we will examine more in-depth the TPG/TPA’s, AH’s and collectors responsibilities in all of this ugly mess.

*Just before publication of this article, MarsLife (Cliff), has made it known that Clean Sweep Auctions has offered FULL refund on the Marquard and a refunding of all SGC/Authentication fees he has incurred.*

MarsLife original Net54 post:

http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=262580

SetBuilder original Net54 post:

http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=262673

Sorting for Answers

Everyone everywhere is looking for that end all beat all answer to make sorting cards easier.

Sorting cards into sets is one of those necessary evils in our business. In fact, it may very well be the most hated part of the hobby. In fact, I can’t think of anything that comes close. It’s mundane, a lot of times boring, and always endless…especially when breaking multiple boxes or cases for resale.

With a subject so unpleasant, you rarely hear good news. You don’t often hear others talking about ways to make sorting easier, either.

BCW Supplies and Ultra Pro both offer card sorting trays.

The BCW tray has 20 angled slots and 4 deep slots, with bottoms holes for easy card removal, and a small square for sitting cards while sorting. They can be had at the website below the picture for $10.65, with discounts for higher quantities.

Purchase BCW 24 Slot Card Sorting Tray

On the other hand, the Ultra Pro card sorting tray has 18 slots, tilted at a similar angle for ease of removal of the cards. They can be had at the website below for $6.99.

Purchase Ultra Pro 18 Slot Card Sorting Tray

Ultra Pro, also, offers a slightly higher priced alternative that comes shipped as 4 interlocking pieces of 8 slots each, that when fully assembled gives the option for up to 32 slots. The 4 pack can be had for $21.99.

Purchase Ultra Pro 4pc Card Sorting Tray

The issue remains that no one really tells you HOW to sort your cards. It’s up to the individual, in most cases.

Even the video on the BCW website doesn’t really tell you HOW to sort. The video more or less shows you someone using the tray, but in a couple different ways with no explanation as to what the collector is doing.

BCW Sorting Tray Video

Set collectors, team collectors, or player collectors, are just the tip of the iceberg to the number of collectors or ways to divide up your spoils from a few boxes or even a few cases.

Well…I have at least SOME good news for set collectors and dealers out there. I may have the answer for your long, wearisome nights and early morning hours of set collation.

Twenty plus years ago I came across the 3 touch method that simplified the process by leaps and bounds. Just as the description sounds, you only have to touch each card 3 times, and the cards are in number order.

Today, I would like to share that method with you.

Now you will need to follow me here…you need 10 piles numbered 0-9, ideally arranged as such:

0 1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9

First, you must sort the cards by the 1’s number (the last number of the card number). For example, card number 309 would go into the 9 pile, 204 into the 4 pile, 135 into the 5 pile, and so on and so forth.

Once you are through your card pile, you would pick up the cards from RIGHT TO LEFT 9–>0, with 9’s being on the top of your new pile.

Second sort, you would keep the same 0-9 piles, but this time you sort by the 10’s number. For example, card 309 would go into the 0 pile, 224 into the 2 pile, 135 into the 3 pile, and so on and so forth.

This time when you pick up your cards, you will pick them up from LEFT TO RIGHT 0–>9, with 0’s being on the top of your new pile.

3rd and final sort, same 0-9 piles, but this time you sort them by 100’s. For example, card 309 would go into the 3 pile, 224 into the 2 pile, 135 into the 1 pile, anything less than 100 into the 0 pile, and so on and so forth.

This final time when you pick up your piles, you will pick them up from RIGHT TO LEFT 9–>0 (or whatever your highest hundreds number is –>0).

If you check your numbers, you now have a perfectly collated set. The only thing left to do is go back through the collation and search for doubles & triples or needs.

There you have it folks. Set collation made easy…or at least easiER.

0-9

RIGHT-LEFT

LEFT-RIGHT

RIGHT-LEFT

Before you know it, muscle memory will take over and you’ll be sorting sets like a champion!

Wait a minute…isn’t there now a sorting contest at the National now?? Hmmm…

@biggsdaddycool

@bcwsupplies

@ultraprointl

@nsccshow

#BackyardDiamond

2018 Topps Gypsy Queen

Here we are again, another week another great new release to give a quick run through. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of quick run through that Kylo Ren gave Han Solo, but that’s neither here nor there.

Realistically, Topps has done it again with 2018 Gypsy Queen. A great, old feel design, mixed with a myriad of QG-type inserts, including Fortune Teller, Tarot of the Diamond, and the Glassworks Box Toppers.

I really like the feel of QG year over year, but this year seems to stand above others for some reason. I like to say that they have an old, dirty, carnival vending machine kind of feel to the set.

This year I particularly like the size and style of the Mini Rookie Autographs. I like that they are going outside the box with the square design, which I don’t think has been employed since the Fleer days, or at least Bowman Heritage relic inserts.

The big chatter on the Twitter Machine the last day or so seems to be the sheer volume of variations and how to even tell if you have a variation or not. The variations in GQ seem to be far more difficult to detect in some instances than even Heritage, which is known for numerous variations.

One case in particular revolves around the “hatless” variations. The Justin Upton regular base card shows Upton with hat in hand, and…*gasp*…hatless! Yeah, I know, super confusing, right??

Other variations/parallels are not being well received either. In particular the “team swap” variation, especially the Yankees’ Judge portraying his team name as the Red Sox and the Cubs’ Bryant being listed as a Cardinal, have not been well received by collectors.

Apparently, Topps decided to go off the deep end of the variation/parallel pool. For one thing, it’s got people talking. Love it or hate it, people are talking!

Circling back to the whole old carnival aspect of GQ…as P.T. Barnum once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity!” And he was right. GQ has always been a love it or hate it product, especially in recent years when it has come so quickly on the heels of Heritage.

There are many more variations, parallels and controversies to touch on than I have not mentioned here. We will save that for another day. Hell, we didn’t even touch box toppers, autographs, Jackie Robinson, black & white or missing black plates!

I for one love all the nuances of GQ. Is there any real future value with GQ variations/parallels? Probably not. People most definitely prefer Heritage to the quirks of GQ.

Like I said earlier, I like them because they are fun, they are grimey looking, and they are different. I, also, enjoy that they are great for in-person autographs at the ballpark or TTM. Not a lot of investment will pay huge returns in the fun aspect of this product.

Overall rating: 💎💎💎💎💎

Additional comments: Best GQ overall set yet!

@biggsdaddycool

#BackyardDiamond

Topps Living Set

So it begins.

I have had this page reserved for years without utilizing it. I wanted to be sure I had the time to devote to the vision I have always had for The Backyard Diamond.

Today it begins…

Today, also, begins Topps foray into it’s first ever “Living Set”.

The Living Set will be the first ever set that begins at card #1 but has no final card as, according to their promotional video, MAY continue on for years!

Topps announcement of the new Living Set has caused a lot of chatter on the Twitter Machine.

If you check out “the rules” Topps has laid out for the “Living Set”, you will find some very interesting points.

1. Set starts at #1, but had no final card.

2. Set is not tied to any specific era or season, but lives on “year after year”.

3. Claims to be the first “cross generational” product “that can be traded for years to come”.

4. Topps will only issue one card per player, unless that player changes teams.

5. 3 new players will be offered every week, and will only be available for that week.

6. Cards will be offered at $7.99 for any individual card, or $14.99 for the weekly set of 3.

7. Additional discounts available for quantity purchases.

8. Individual card discounts are 5 for $27.00, 10 for $44.00 or 20 for $74.00.

9. There are no discounts on quantities of the weekly 3 card sets.

10. All artwork will be done by renowned sports artist Mayumi Seto.

11. Card stock will be 16pt. card stock.

12. Card design is patterned after the 1953 Topps design.

A few interesting conclusions can be drawn from “the rules”.

For example, once this week is over, Judge will no longer be in play, unless he changes teams. As @thosebackpages points out on Twitter, this draws forth an interesting scenario, and limitation, if Topps ever decides to release autographed versions of the set.

At 3 new players a week, that is 156 players in a 52 week year. @DubMentality makes a great point in that one year of this set will cost a whopping $780 for 156 cards, of a set that never ends!

This set I’m sure will knock completists on their ear. It should have been named “The Impossible Set”.

I’ve had my go round with Topps On Demand products in 2016.

2016 was the year I attempted to complete the whole year of #TBT sets and all of the @Pirates #ToppsNow cards.

I successfully purchased every Pirates card from the #ToppsNow 2016 series. The few that I missed ordering from Topps directly I was able to pick up on eBay for a reasonable price.

#TBT was another story. I completed the entire year’s worth of #TBT, up until the Cubs won the World Series.

That week I purchased 3 of the commemorative sets instead of my usual 1. I never received the sets from Topps, and because it was an On Demand print run, there was nothing they could do.

Either way. I spent a lot of money that year to come up with an incomplete set, that to this day bothers me.

Unless @topps comes up with a weekly subscription model, how many people are going to miss ordering one week or another over time? And even at that, other issues will arise.

I love this set, love the idea, love the design and effort put into every aspect! Hell, even the card stock is what people have been after for years!

Will this set be “investment grade”? I doubt it. At nearly $800 a year, the set seems to have a market correction built into the purchase price. Unfortunately, I think that market correction only benefits Topps.

Only buy every week if you have the disposable income AND will cherish the set, because isn’t the latter really why we all #Collect anyhow?

@biggsdaddycool

#TheBackyardDiamond