QUESTION: I was looking through my Football card collection and I noticed that one of my Joe Namath rookie cards has a weird print mark on his hand but the other one I have doesn't. Is this an error card?
ANSWER: There are two versions o f the 1965 Topps Joe Namath rookie card. The one with the so-called strange print mark is what is known as the "butterfly" variation and this card carries a premium over the regular version because it is slightly tougher to find. It is a black mark by Namath's hand that has a shape similar to a butterfly.
1914s Jacked Up?
QUESTION: I noticed that the 1914 Cracker Jack cards are more expensive than the 1915 cards. Besides being one year older, is there a reason why the 1914s are worth more?
ANSWER: Both sets are very similar and very difficult to find in high-grade because the cards were found inside the boxes o f Cracker Jacks. The key difference is that, unlike the 1914 cards, the 1915 cards were available through the mail as part of a "send-away" promotion. The result is that the 1914 cards are almost never found in nice shape. That is why there is a premium on the 1914s.
Will the Real Mac Reveal Himself?
QUESTION: I have two Mark McGwire autographs in my collection but they look different. I am worried that one might be a fake. Do you know which one is real and how can you tell?
ANSWER: To begin with, obtaining authentic McGwire autographs can be a real chore. McGwire used to sign at shows and privately in the late 1980s, but he has not been seen on the show circuit in years. With the increased demand for his signature, it opens the floodgates for unethical individuals to fake his signature. Trust me, there's a lot o f bad stuff out there. Big Mac himself came out in the media last year to warn collectors o f the high volume o f fake autographs. One fake example was printed on the cover of a hobby magazine and McGwire responded quickly. Now, here's the good news.
McGwire has changed his signature slightly a few times in his career so both o f your autographs could be real. Big Mac, currently, uses an abbreviated version o f his name (authentic autograph #1 pictured on game used bat above) but beware! Even though it is abbreviated, it is also very distinctive. There are a lot o f fake McGwire signatures out there that are abbreviated but, if you look at them closely, you will notice inconsistencies in the "M's" and in the "cg" combination in his last name. During the late 1980s, McGwire would only occasionally sign his full name or, at least, come close to signing his full name. I would be very careful if you are contemplating the purchase of a McGwire autograph (authentic autograph #2 pictured on photo below). Hope this information helps.
Does Jose Have a "Mini-Me"?
QUESTION: Why are two of my 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco rookie cards different sizes? Does that mean the smaller one is trimmed?
ANSWER: Not to worry. Donruss baseball cards can come with a factory set cut or a wax pack cut. The factory set examples are slightly smaller in size than are the wax pack examples. The factory set cards also tend to have more gloss and better clarity to the picture. Chances are the smaller one is not trimmed, but is probably a factory card. The demand for the 1986 Donruss Canseco rookie is fairly strong because of his run at 500 homers, but many forget that this was once the single hottest card on the market during his years with Oakland. For this reason, trimmed examples do exist (I bought one of them, unfortunately).
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
QUESTION: I found a few Babe Ruth signed checks in my grandfather's collection but I noticed some differences between them. They all have the same endorsement signature but it seems like, on some of them, that someone else may have filled out the rest of the check information. Will this affect the value? Are they fake? Please advise.
ANSWER: You don't have to wont' Some Babe Ruth personal checks are filled out entirely in his hand and some are not, it's not a problem. You may be wondering why this is. Well, Babe Ruth was a very busy man as you can imagine. For this reason, the Babe would endorse a bunch of blank checks so his wife could withdraw money when she needed it. He would also sign blank checks and leave a stack with his secretary so she could make payments for him; the Babe's time was precious. As far as value is concerned, the checks made out entirely in his hand go for a slight premium over the checks that are not. Also, some checks exist that are made out to cash and endorsed on both sides! These carry even more of a premium. Unfortunately, some people decided to cut the endorsements from the double-signed checks so they could sell two Ruth autographs, so make sure the check is intact. You may have seen these Ruth checks made out to cash for $50 or $100. Ruth used these checks to get spending money for nights on the town. That's a lot of money for that era. Hope this helps.
If you have any questions for the SMR staff, please e-mail all "Sports Treasures" questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail the questions to PSA, attention Joe Orlando, P .O. Box 6180, Newport Beach, CA, 92658. The staff looks forward to hearing from you and helping collectors with their hobby needs.