The “Fantasy Card” Fraud


The fantasy card.

It’s not a counterfeit card but a card that never actually existed. I personally hate these more than any other fraudulent card on the market. The fantasy card preys on collectors that do not have the knowledge to protect themselves from such junk.

A search on online auction sites will show there are a growing number of these junk cards out there and some sell for hundreds of dollars.

When these come through grading, I can’t help but think someone is about to find out they were taken simply because they did not do enough homework before making the purchase.

There is an unknown amount of fantasy cards circulating on the market. While there are some that are seen on a repeating basis, there are new types popping up all the time. Since fantasy cards aren’t based on reality, the fraudster is only limited by his or her imagination when it comes to designs and images.

An example of a fantasy card that has been around a few years now is the Babe Ruth card below.

This terrible looking “card” features a cropped down image of a well known photo of Ruth.

The image of Ruth has been printed on a piece of modern stock that has been artificially aged to give the appearance of being a vintage issue. This card has been soaked in a liquid like coffee or tea and it is painfully obvious by the splotches and stains on the surface. The liquid has collected in the creases and cracks of the surface which is a big red flag as well.

The print quality is nothing like a card from the 1920s or 30s with a photoengraved image. It is very muddy and not well defined.

It is obvious that this was created with modern printing methods and not any method that existed nearly 90 years ago. All these things tell us that this is not a vintage card. But if we flip the card over, we really do not have to examine anything else.

This supposed “One free drink” promotion card is laughable. Besides the obvious grammatical errors, my favorite part is that whoever created this junk used Times New Roman font to create it. Times New Roman wasn’t created and released until 1932.

I will give the fraudster this: the address used is a real building that was built in 1910.

But how many collectors have fallen for such a fantasy piece? To the casual observer, it seems like it could maybe be an uncatalogued 1927 card of Babe Ruth. Some of these have sold for over $200.00. It isn’t even worth the price paid for shipping.

What can you do to protect yourself from falling victim to garbage like this Ruth fantasy card? Learn more about what vintage card issues are catalogued. The Beckett card database can be referenced both here online and in print.

Not finding a card in our database doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or isn’t a new discovery, but it does mean that precaution should be taken in researching the card to verify if it is a real card issue or not.

Real, previously uncatalogued vintage cards do still appear today, even brand new Babe Ruth cards like the recent 1922 Schapira Bros. Big Show Candy card of Ruth that Beckett Grading recently authenticated and graded.



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  1. Richard 12 April, 2018 at 16:43

    Yeah, those cards are problematic.
    That said, take a look on Ebay at some of the reprint cards for sale. During the superbowl a ton of Tom Brady autograph reprint cards appeared and some were selling for good money.

    While I have no idea how good a fake they are in person, I do find it alarming that they are allowed to be sold at all when they don’t even have a reprint stamp on them to prevent “mistakes” from happening.

    Given that at first they were commons, I can see someone salting a collection of “junk” cards from that era and some collector/dealer thinking they are pulling a fast one buying the collection at a bargain price from some “idiot” who “inherited” a collection somehow and has “no idea” of the value, but wants $X, etc.

  2. Tom 16 April, 2018 at 11:14

    The baseball card collecting community is sufficiently deep enough and sophisticated enough to warrant the existence of “reprint” cards (modern paper versions of actual vintage cards) and “art” cards (modern paper versions of fantasy vintage cards). A Joe Jackson collector is a good example, in that vintage cards are too expensive and modern cards don’t include banned players. Beckett is biased in that they neither catalogue nor grade “reprint” or “art” cards.

    • Ryan Cracknell 16 April, 2018 at 19:43

      @Tom – Beckett does not catalog reprints and art/homemade cards because anyone can make them. In a lot of instances, they not only fringe collectibles at best, but can break copyright laws. As something that someone wants to do for themselves as a hobby it’s one thing. To sell homemade cards is another.

      Joe Jackson does have current cards from Panini. In fact, he’s in their Diamond Kings set that came out last week. He has lots of real cards that are affordable.

  3. Bob O'Brien 10 November, 2018 at 11:10

    I have no problem buying these types of cards as long as the following conditions exist:
    1. The seller is explicitly honest about their origin and describes them accurately.
    2. They are printed on a press (inkjet cards degrade, and are too easily reproduced).
    3. They are not reprints of existing cards.
    4. The price is low. No one should ever pay $200, or even $20 for something like this.
    If those conditions are met, I see no problem at all. As Dave Bancroft might have said, some of the cards are beauties.

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