Saturday, September 15, 2012

Are Card Companies cutting corners with Game Used Cards?

I've seen it everywhere in the card community, a story about a guy who knowingly sold fake game used items to card companies for them to put into their memorabilia cards.

I just wanted to throw my own opinion out there on this issue. This is an issue a lot of us card collectors have always been curious about but honestly really don't want to know the truth to an extant. It's been the big elephant in the room for years, ever since the creation of game used memorabilia cards. Just how 100% sure are we that the cards we have in our hands contain actual game used material from the player on the front of the card. When game jersey cards first came out, Upper Deck used to be very specific on the backs of their COA. Look at the back of the UD Gary Payton Game Jersey card

Back of Gary Payton's 97-98 UD Game Jersey Card. Not only does it note it's a swatch of a game worn Gary Payton Jersey, it specifically lists it was worn in the 96-97 season.

The back of the card is clear that not only is the swatch on the front a Gary Payton Game Used Jersey, but it's from the 96-97 season. That's how a lot of early issued game used memorabila cards are. They specifically state what the swatch is, and some of show pics of the memorabilia that was cut up to make the card (Early Donruss products do this). Fast forward to now and this is more or less what you get

  Memorabilia card from 10-11 National Treasures. The back only states the game worn swatch is guaranteed by Panini. Nowhere does it specifically say it was worn by Gasol nor what kind of material it is.

Now of course the common sense thing to assume is that the swatch is a Pau Gasol game used jersey. Why won't Panini or other card companies divulge this information anymore? I'm not trying to jump on the "all game used cards are fake" bandwagon at all, and I'm not bringing up the legitimacy of game used cards just because of this story. Every since the switch to vague COA's, I've always wondered why card companies switched to that format. Being a little more educated in the game used market, I know a ton of fakes circulate in that hobby, so you'd have to be naive to think 100% of the  cards you hold in your hand are really game used relics from the players they claim to be from. I'm not even just talking about using fake jerseys, what about mix-ups, you're talking about little swatches of material and people are human and make mistakes. What if your Babe Ruth bat chip card is really one of a lesser hall of famer or even a lesser player? What if you think you have a Pau Gasol Game Used Jersey card, but in reality it's Kareem Rush? We put a lot of faith in these companies to do the right thing and not screw us over and mislead us. We want to believe that we have is an actual link to that player. Again, I don't think it's an epidemic, I believe real game used stuff has been used in cards, I just don't think that we should just say "ah this guy has an axe to grind, he's just trying to plea down" and act like card companies are 100% innocent in all this. I really wish companies would be more willing to divert information on to where they got their memorabilia and would be willing to revert back to the old COA's where you knew exactly what you were getting. At least collectors wouldn't feel like the card companies were trying to deceive their customer if they went back to the old wording. Stuff like this feeds the paranoia that yes indeed, card companies are just out to make money, any means necessary and they don't care if you or me get screwed. The overproduction and vagueness of game used cards is one of the main reasons I got away from collecting those cards. I'd rather sell my 4 color sweet patch of what I think came from a Kevin Durant and buy a full Meigray certified jersey that I 100% know came from the NBA. I know that's an extreme example and not everyone can just buy a Durant jersey at the snap of their fingers but as long as card companies continue to be vague about their memorabilia cards and refuse to discuss their methods of obtaining memorabilia, I'm staying far away as possible. I do honestly think, like many others, that if you want your game used card fix, older cards are the way to go. At least you have some idea of what you really have in your hand.


  1. I hear ya. I wrote a similar post a while back:

    Anyways... I think they're vague to cover their butts legally. But in the long run, they're shooting themselves in the food. At the rate we're going, memorabilia cards will be nothing more than cool novelties that player and team collectors need for their collections. Values will surely fall, since there's nothing guaranteeing their authenticity.

  2. When Donruss and Fleer fell in around 8 years ago, Upper Deck and others bought them out. Do you really think Upper Deck when buying Fleer and moving it's items to their location were 100% sure what was what. I think there needs to be a mandatory way if a card company used game used relics. Each piece attached to a card is cataloged from what jersey it came from. Yes it could cost a few extra cents to make but it would create a better sense of worth to these cards...Thanks for the rant, I love relics...I love they way they look, still wish I knew they were real.

  3. I agree, if you're gonna insert relics then have the responsibility to know what exactly putting in your cards. If it costs a few extra cents, make jersey cards rare and coveted again, and don't put so many into one product.

    1. Check out my relic solution on my blog! Let me know if you like it.