Buyer Beware!

Buyer Beware! Auction Tips Resources A Short History

Knowing the Difference Between Real or Reprint...

REPRINTS of cigarette card series are quite common, although on occasion one must ask why, as with the series on the right which is not scarce and whose originals can still be had at reasonable prices.
As long as such cards are sold as "reprints" or "nostalgia editions" they will probably continue to find buyers, but knowing how to tell the difference can help protect you against the unscrupulous.
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FORTUNATELY, when given the chance to examine the cards before purchase most of the Commercially Produced series have clear indications of their nature. The face of the above reprint lacks the original company's name, but you would need to be aware that this is an omission to begin with. The back has a clearer indication when you know what to look for - a faint cross hatching effect and, if you have good eyesight, the small print at the bottom admits all and replaces the original maker's address. Of course if the cards are framed or the backs cannot otherwise be viewed, seek a guarantee of authenticity if cards are being sold as originals, rather than admitted reprints. If you want to avoid buying reprints altogether buy  SOLELY from a dealer with a good reputation and/or one that has chosen as a matter of policy not to sell reprinted series.

...and Between "Reprint" and Outright Fake!

WITH the advent of quality color printers at affordable prices, scanners and digital cameras and so on, many "entrepreneurs" have tried their hand at producing "reprint" series of cigarette cards - which, by their nature, do not even have the grace to carry the giveaway signs noted above and often turn up in antique stores - and increasingly at on-line auctions such as eBay - and are offered as originals. As such these are not Reprints they are simply FAKES - and the seller is subject to criminal law redress if they fraudulently pass them as originals. Surprisingly, the feeling of anonymity the web affords engenders a certain forgetfulness and security and often such felonies are perpetrated by otherwise law abiding people who simply haven't stopped first to consider their actions!  
Conveniently, the common excuse given is that the dealer in question knows very little about the subject, it usually turns out, and they "bought them in good faith". Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law of course but with so many dealers knowing "very little about the subject" it makes sense to BUY FROM A SPECIALIST DEALER with a good reputation, such as "cardking" at Cigarette Card Central - - and "kingcard" at Cartophily Kate's - - or the wholesale seller "queencard" - all of whom sell at eBay too - and all of whom have policies of selling originals only and choose not to stock repros of any kind, even the legitimate ones.
  If you can't resist an apparent bargain anyway, you may still be able to get your money back after the sale - as long as the seller is otherwise reputable and did not offer them in the full knowledge of their origin. Hopefully the Seller is also in the SAME COUNTRY as the Buyer, if recourse needs to be taken to consumer protection laws. Examine the cards carefully for such signs as the minute ink drops from an ink jet printer, modern, thinner paper or card stock - especially with a glossy finish - and lack of any aging. Many fake examples being circulated just look too "new" anyway and despite the advances of technology simply cannot match that distinctive print quality exhibited by most of the pre-1940 series.
A regular turn up at eBay, offered by apparently successful and reputable sellers, even has evidence of perforations along the edges from certain modern inkjet card stocks! Unfortunately blowing the whistle by warning eager bidders on these bargain price auctions can lead to accusations of "auction interference"! Another regular turn up at auctions lately are reprints falsely described as "rare" i.e "Rare reprint set of cards" instead of the correct description "Reprint of rare set of cards". Don't be caught by this obvious one, although many are, judging by the extra bids such fraudulent auctions tend to attract.
Again, the answer is to buy ONLY from dealers who guarantee authenticity - and be particularly wary of pre-war offerings described as "MINT"! Such cards of this age are extremely scarce and worth twice the book value. To find them being offered at an on-line auction regularly, and by the same sellers - and for next to nothing - should immediately ring all kinds of loud alarm bells...!

Even Century Old Fakes are still Common!

ALTHOUGH 19th Century tobacco cards may occasionally be plain backed - notably the series produced by Ogden's under their Guinea Gold Cigarettes label, most have text printed on them - either in the form of a simple ad., a list of subjects in the series or occasionally informative text. Be a little cautious therefore when you are offered "tobacco cards" with plain backs - even though they were obviously printed 100 years ago.
The reason for this is that American tobacco companies in particular often advertised their latest series of cards by producing posters with the cards reproduced on them, but of course with a plain back. Occasionally the cards were displayed at various angles, sometimes overlapping, and this is often a sure giveaway of such cut out "cards" of the day in that when they were cut out sometimes a corner or edge had to be trimmed away for no apparent good reason other than to avoid giving the game away. Printed albums featuring the same subjects as singly issued cards were also produced by several companies, and these too were a prime source for such cut-outs.
Such pseudo-cards are sometimes offered as "proofs" etc, which they are certainly not - and they are surprisingly common. For some reason a wide variety of these can usually be found at many postcard shows, where the dealers do not specialize in cigarette cards and sometimes offer them as a sideline without apparently knowing too much about them, when asked. Even after being informed of their true nature, one dealer's stock of "proofs" was still being offered month's afterwards during a return visit - until the organizers were told he was bringing their show into disrepute.
At the time of writing three such lots were also  currently on sale at eBay - by an apparently reputable "antiques dealer" who advertised them as "Duke's Tobacco Cards". In fact even the real cards of the subjects featured were not from that company and the seller was just guessing as no name appeared on the backs. The seller (who had good high-numbered feedback) was informed of the true nature of the cards which, despite the condition being given as "fine", were obviously trimmed at odd angles and had plain backs (the actual series had printed backs).
She promised to withdraw them - but ultimately failed to do so and fraudulently went ahead with the sales anyway. The cards in question were basically worthless, but to inform the buyers would have been "auction interference" and against eBay rules! The moral therefore is to be informed yourself - and to ONLY deal with sellers who really know their subject - perfectly sound advice which is sadly More Often Ignored than Heeded in the hunt for an apparent bargain.
P.S. After writing the above, dubious Lots have been turning up for sale regularly. It is now more important than ever to heed the advice given here. NOTE: Due to increasing time constraints we are no longer able to offer individual opinion on authenticity or otherwise of the cards sold by others.

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