Friday, November 30, 2012

Counterfeit Alert! 1972 Topps Venezuelan Stamps


I do not know much about this issue and I have not verified this myself, but there appears to be some counterfeits that have made it into the market.  As background, for several years now I have been slowly putting together a 1966 Topps Venezuelan Baseball card set.  I'm nowhere near half way done, but I figure it's likely to be a decades long project.  That being said, several years ago I decided to join a Yahoo Group called Venezuela Topps Baseball Card Forum to help me along in my quest.  Admittedly, I haven't been very active, but I do appreciate getting notices like the one I got today.

A Venezuelan Baseball collector going by the name JA just shared his discovery of some fakes.  Read what he said below.  A word of warning: I have not verified this and this set isn't something I chase after anyway, but I thought it was important enough to note.

As always, be careful out there.  And remember, "Buy the Card, Not the Holder!"
After a lengthy discussion on Collectors Universe, and then some investigating of my own, it has been determined with 100% certainty that the vast majority of the 1972 stamps that exist in high grade are indeed counterfeits. These high grade stamps were all introduced into the hobby via eBay by a seller named Gilberto Gil. Many of these stamps were sold over the years, and thousands of dollars were made by the counterfeiters. Since so few of these stamps existed in any condition prior to the introduction of these counterfeits, the major third party grading companies (Mainly PSA & Beckett) didn't even know what they were looking at, and subsequently graded each and every one of them.

The hobby is now proliferated with these stamps. I myself own several of them, my investment into the fakes is likely upwards of $2,000. I'm going to eat it rather than try to unload known counterfeits back into the market.

After examining some lower grade ones I knew to be originals, I gave a closer look to the mint looking ones from Gilberto. They were very well done, but I started to identify the distinct differences and came up with 4 significant things.

1) The entire green background is printed in half-tone when it was solid ink on the originals.
2) All of the green background borders are perfectly square with precision that only a computer could provide.
3) The black ink is indeed printed as a solid color, but the font does not match exactly.
4) The images are very grainy but printed with high density half-tone, which would indicate they were likely scanned off originals.

I also went through and scanned several cards, both originals and fakes and put together most of the alphabet so the font differences can be seen.
(pic link)


The above Pete Rose in a BVG holder appears to be one of those cards that is a fake.  As you can see from the font example above, the Pete Rose card uses the fat style font indicated as being counterfeits.  Below are three examples of these stamps that I believe are real.

BTW, I want to extend a big shout-out to this collector (JA) for not only notifying the collecting community, but also his willingness to bite the bullet and not sell his cards back to uninformed collectors.

UPDATE: A forum thread at Collectors Universe talks more about the fakes.  Check it out here.

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