That’s One Way to Ruin a 2008 Upper Deck Exquisite Matt Ryan Rookie Patch Autograph

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By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor

Just before signing off last night, I did a quick scroll down Facebook. A picture of a 2008 Upper Deck Exquisite Matt Ryan Rookie Autograph Patch card jumped out among the various cat videos and other ramblings. At first I was in awe. That feeling quickly turned to disgust.

The Facebook post pointed to a thread on the Blowout Cards forums detailing the 2008 Exquisite Matt Ryan card. It closed on eBay on January 24 for $3,000. Upon first glance, it’s about as good as it gets. The patch has the head of the Falcons’ logo and takes up nearly the entire memorabilia window.

2008 Upper Deck Exquisite Matt Ryan Autograph Patch 99-19 Altered

The problem is, the patch has been altered.

Here’s the same card with the same 19/99 serial number. I found it by doing a Google image search for “Matt Ryan Exquisite 99.” It was one of the first hits in my search.

2008 Upper Deck Exquisite Matt Ryan Autograph Patch 99-19

Comparing the size and placement of the signature, it doesn’t look like the issue arose at the factory level when the card was made. It’s the same card only with the patch swatches switched out. From a collectible standpoint, it’s all but ruined in most eyes.

This isn’t about placing blame on who did what to the card. It’s almost a decade old. It’s possible it has had a few different owners, one of which switched out the patch. But since that happened, it may have been sold multiple times since.

I spoke with Ted Straka, the seller this time around. He said that he wasn’t aware that the card had been altered until less than 12 hours before the auction’s end. By eBay rules, it couldn’t be cancelled so the bidding had to play out but the sale was not completed.

Straka was selling the card on consignment and did what he could once he realized the issue. Straka returned it to the person he was selling it for. He said that it came from a long-time consignor who he has done lots of business with in the past without issue, either.

What this card does do is highlight a problem in the hobby. This isn’t the first time a jersey swatch has been switched out. It won’t be the last, either.

How to Help Protect Yourself Against Altered Patch Cards

Protecting ourselves against this type of thing isn’t easy. Except for a couple of rare instances, high-end cards like these haven’t been documented en masse at the manufacturer level. Leaf has done it with some of their cards. More recently, Upper Deck took a photo of all the 2015-16 The Cup Connor McDavid Rookie Cards together and posted it to social media. At the 2014 Industry Summit, Panini said they were working on database to document their high-end patch cards but it has yet to materialize.

All of the public ways to check patches come from the secondary market. That means that it’s possible a swatch could have been switched before it appeared for the first time. It’s also near impossible to gather everything in one place. Completed eBay auctions are only up for a few months. There’s also Sortsof, but items there are not archived forever, either. Worthpoint is another option for deep image searches, but it can be difficult to search and is far from complete. These all help, but it’s a lot of work in a lot of different places.

The best approach for collectors is probably common sense. If you come across a memorabilia card that has an amazing swatch but is part of a common tier, proceed with caution. For example, it looks like a lot of the 2008 Exquisite Matt Ryan cards /99 use pieces of letters. But this isn’t a foolproof method. I was only able to see a handful of the 99 cards.

Thankfully, a lot of today’s sets are open about using certain types of swatches for certain parallels. Again, not foolproof, but it can help.

Another thing to look for is any sort of damage to the area around the swatch window. A questionable patch paired with some dings can be a sign of trouble.

Of course, there’s the biggest piece of common sense out there — if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re thinking of spending a lot of money on something and you think you’ve found an amazing deal, wonder why that is. Use it as a sign to be even more diligent.

It’s sad that scams exist in the hobby. That’s what happens when there’s money to be made. Maybe one day there will be a way for every card to be documented. Until then the best we can do is watch out, look for clues and be as cautious as possible.

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

12 comments

  1. Jim 25 January, 2017 at 20:13

    It’s a frustrating issue, but happens from time to time. It’s a shame for buyers and sellers who might not be aware of the swapped jersey. I’m sure it’s also problematic for Beckett, which grades cards such as these (and probably slabs some of the cards with fake jerseys). All in all a disappointing aspect of the hobby.

  2. Joe altuna 25 January, 2017 at 21:40

    How is it that you guys post a story on 1 fake patch card when this has been going on forever. There have been thousands of threads. None of what you guys ever commented on. How about Bgs finally admits to grading fake patch cards

    Look at the Eli. There’s also 2 other Eli manning a that you guys graded that were fake also if you google it but it’s crazy how I have contacted you for 3 years about it seeing how I bought it and you guys just say we don’t look at the patch. Just the card.

    http://www.blowoutcards.com/forums/football/471116-5-fake-sp-authentic-rpas-w-proof-before-after-pics-ap-eli-rice-megatron.html

    • Ryan Cracknell 26 January, 2017 at 10:38

      Unfortunately, yes, it is a problem that is more far-reaching than a single card and has been around for a long time. Sadly, it’s impossible to do a story on every single bad egg. As I mentioned at the top of the piece, this one jumped out. There’s also the timing with the Super Bowl so interest in Matt Ryan is high.

      Personally, I can’t speak to things from three years ago because I wasn’t here then. And as for grading, I can speak for them. Staff can be reached through this page: http://www.beckett.com/grading/team

  3. RavenNSU 26 January, 2017 at 01:04

    That’s a nice catch, but a sad story. The picture of what is identified as the original card has a 3 color swatch. The multi coloring would have gotten a premium anyway. If the swatch was switched out, as it is depicted in your article, it certainly wouldn’t be with an actual uniform patch, just some made up bit. All of that, if confirmed, makes the card a counterfeit. There would be no other way to consider it and yet there is a certified Ryan autograph that should be quite genuine. Such a shame to see a very desirable card reduced to nothing if true. It used to be an issue years ago when single color swatches got switched out for multi color or patterned swatches that were given premiums. However it really isn’t that easy to do without leaving tell tale marks on the card. Very difficult to pick up anything from the pictures, but I’m sure it will be examined now.

  4. Tom Gaydos 26 January, 2017 at 10:05

    I got hit with a fake patch once, 2005 Absolute. Biggest clue was the description on thr face of the card did not read “prime” which was somewhat my fault for not being observant. That seller went on to scam a friend of mine though, sending a box of used top loaders in place of what should have been a case of the Cup. That lead me to believe this seller was the problem, unlike this Matt Ryan situation.

  5. joe altuna 26 January, 2017 at 16:19

    thats my point exactly though. i have been contacting beckett for years regarding the grading of fake patches and it was not a big deal then. all you guys said to me was “we do not decide weather a patch is authentic or not” but as a collector im thinking well if its in a bgs holder is has to be real. thats not the case. and its not just bgs, its psa as well. but when i call and email it gets me no where. then i see an article about a matt ryan and im like but what about all of the times i have emailed. what about all of the times that i called just so that i can get my money back from the original seller of the eli manning and asked for becketts help and got no where.
    its not right. this patch business has been going on forever and thats its own issue. i appreciate the article on the matt ryan, i actually do. its good to inform collectors. but no with one card. you should have take the time to do more research and put up a better story. like for example the link to blowout. why not talk about the other 3 matt ryans there that are proven fake, INCLUDING THE ONE SLABBED BY BECKETT. nope, cant mention that because it would hurt the brand.

    how about mention this fake brady with a fake autograph. the card is just a manu patch, not a auto.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tom-Brady-Upper-Deck-Auto-Autograph-Patch-Card-30-Patriots-Logo-SP-Rare-/232158416143?hash=item360db84d0f%3Ag%3AiLoAAOSwiONYPQI3&nma=true&si=7sy44d6u3ByOvyRbt72UOfPKMo4%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    or how about this one? horrible patch job – border is beat up and nfl logo would never be in this card

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tom-Brady-2007-SPX-Game-Worn-NFL-Shield-Patch-Jersey-Prime-SP-10-1-1-/222386279857?hash=item33c74155b1:g:JNQAAOSwZQRYhXBO

    there are issues all day. i guess i just wish that i could have got the help from bgs when i needed it. maybe i am a little bitter.

  6. joe altuna 26 January, 2017 at 17:18

    its a shame frank, personally it was nicer when you owned it. forgive me for my anger in my second post ryan. my anger is not towards you. thats a fact. but the other thing that kills me is why cant the companies do what they did for the mcdavid. or like what leaf did. i dont expect them to do it with every player or card. but the high end ones it should be done with period. there has been tal about it forever. but nothing gets done.

  7. Michael L Pereira 26 January, 2017 at 19:44

    Good story. Just shows how $11 to have it slabbed by beckett would save so much trouble. It’s hard to buy something worth $$$ on just a picture and good word from a seller. Keep up with the stories Ryan. Tired of the everything is perfect hobby stories. First time in years that I didn’t buy a box of anything this year because of the price to value just takes away any fun of hitting anything.

  8. Kevin P 29 January, 2017 at 09:38

    @Joe Altuna

    In all fairness, BGS’ job is to grade the condition of the card, not authenticate patches. Nobody out there is qualified to say with 100% certainty that a 1″X1″ patch is authentic. How could they? It’s next to impossible to tell otherwise unless it’s crazy obvious. For every “red flag” patch like the one in the Matt Ryan there are probably ten other fakes that aren’t at all obvious and thus slip under everyone’s radar.

    It’s a widespread problem in the hobby but it’s not really BGS’ responsibility to police it. Until the card companies implement some kind of patch database, which is incredibly unlikely considering the sheer numbers of patch cards produced and the costs of documenting every one of them, it’s up to collectors to be vigilant and do their homework before buying anything that looks suspicious. I’ve been a member on various hobby forums for eight years or so and have seen tons of fake patches, some reappearing with their patches swapped multiple times. The sad part is there could be hundreds or thousands of others that will never be caught.

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