By: Andrew Harner, Editor-in-Chief

Collectors from all over are always excited to add a multi-colored patch card to their collection. However, some of the nicest multi-colored patch cards on the market may be too good to be true.

A growing epidemic in the collecting industry is fake patch cards. A fake patch card is a jersey card that originally held either one color or a simple patch which is then altered or replaced to create a premium patch card oftentimes by using a prime piece of a team or league logo. 

Why do people do this? Money is the simple answer. Greed may be an even better one.

Multi-colored patch cards are valued based on the look of the patch. For example, a card featuring the NFL logo will catch a far higher price than a piece that includes two colored stripes from an NFL uniform.

Thus, the shady collectors, patch artists, who doctor these cards will (presumably as I have never have/will perform the practice) cut out the original jersey piece and replace it with a multi-colored swatch from a replica jersey or a purchased patch.

A good rule of thumb: if it looks to good to be true, there is a good chance it is. But there are many ways of protecting yourself. And I urge you all to take some, if not all, of these steps when you consider buying an exquisite patch card.

Is your patch card serial numbered?

If so, take the time to look on eBay or other auction sites for the same card and see if you can find the same number. For example, you are planning on buying a C.C. Sabathia patch card that has Chief Wahoo’s eye on it, and it is serial numbered 101/199. Do a quick search for the specific card and see what you can find.

You may find that the exact card #’d 101/199 originally sold as a two color patch. If this happens see if the original buyer is the current seller and then bust them.

Serial numbers are one of your best friends in discovering fake patches. They don’t lie, and many patch artists overlook this when creating their cards. This is especially true on high print runs.

Exquisite patches like these are also usually serial numbered to 25 or less. To find an exquisite patch numbered to 199 is rare.

Is your patch card autographed?

How many times does anyone sign their name exactly the same? Signatures on cards tend to have a slight, but noticeable degree of variation. So while this search may be more tedious, it could save you a lot of money in the end.

Let’s say you have the same Sabathia patch, but it is autographed with no serial number. Do a search for this card and compare the autographs. You may find that a plain patch card has an identical autograph on it. And just like serial numbers, autographs don’t lie.

Does your patch simply say “Game-Used Jersey” by the swatch?

If so, avoid the card all together. This is a dead giveaway that you are looking at a fake. Patch cards almost always will say patch or prime somewhere on them.

Is your logo patch serial numbered?

Logo patches are always serial numbered to a low print-run, usually 1/1. If you see anything but this, it is almost guaranteed to be a fake.

Is your patch card of a superstar?

Patch artists are more likely to alter patch cards of superstars because they have more collectability which means more money for the patch artist. Anyone looking to buy an exquisite patch of a superstar should definitely do their research before making a significant purchase.

Is the patch area of the card chipped or damaged?

This is a strong indication of a fake. Patch artists have to cut out the old jersey piece to insert their piece, and if they aren’t careful, the patch area may get chipped or damaged.

Does the patch appear as other patches from the manufacturer?

If the patch is visibly bubbly or way off-center there is a good chance you are looking at a fake.

Can you see the ID of the eBay bidders?

If a seller on eBay leaves the bidders private, DO NOT BID. This is another sure sign of a patch artist. They do this to prevent people with knowledge of fake patches from alerting bidders what they are really bidding on.

If you ever see this and suspect you are looking at a fake, go to the bottom of the page and report the listing as a fake.

It’s also a good idea to check eBay feedback on any patch cards just to see if the seller has a reputation for selling stellar patches.

Consult with other collectors or websites before buying a patch card.

A great site was launched recently to help discover fake patches and the people who create them. The site has a database that tracks fake patch images which can greatly help in learning what to look for. The site also allows the everyday collector to submit what they think may be fake patches.

You can also ask the members of SCF for their opinion of a card by posting in the General Sportscard Talk section of the website. There will be plenty of members there to help. You can also PM me (intelliracer) or any Mod, and we will gladly assist you in any way we can.

Post any patch you find that you think is suspect.

Most trading sites have a General Sportscard Talk area that you can make a post in. Post a link and other information you may have about the card’s authenticity to every trade site you are a member of.

Other things to be wary of.

Cards with large patch windows, cards with serial numbers on the back, un-serial numbered cards, cards that usually have space between the card surface and the top of the jersey swatch and cards that just plain look too good to be true.

If all collectors take some of these simple steps, it should start to clear out these frauds from the industry. Please do what you can to help solve this epidemic.