I recently found the freedomcardboard.com message boards and found a very interesting thread on a little-known card issued with the 1993 U.S. Playing Card Aces decks. The U.S. Playing Card Co. did a promotion where they issued four autographed cards in the decks: Greg Maddux, Fred McGriff, Terry Pendleton, and Cal Ripken, Jr. Shown below is a store display where apparently 1 autographed card was issued per display:

store display
1993 U.S. Playing Card Co. In-Store Display

In the price guides, only the McGriff, Pendleton, and Ripken are mentioned. The Maddux card is left out, although it does exist.

What makes the Ripken autograph card interesting is both its rarity and the fact it can't easily be authenticated, that is, until now. I have two different Ripken autograph images shown below. Can you pick out the card that didn't come autographed out of the original deck?

93 us playing cards1
Card #1
93 us playing cards2
Card #2

If you chose "Card #2", you are right! Card #1 was signed after-market and card #2 was signed before being included in the U.S. Playing Card deck.

Here are the tell-tale signs of a real, deck-issued autographed card:
93us playing cards WILD

  1. The finish covers the autograph. You can determine this by viewing the card at an angle under good light.
  2. The autograph is always in black ink.
  3. The autograph placement is always directly under Ripken's chin and right above the name.
  4. The authentic autographed card is the older version of his autograph with "Ripken" in full rather than the shortened version "Ri" you see on today's cards. Also the "C" in "Cal" and the "J" in "Jr." are not nearly as pronounced on the authentic card as they are on the fake.
  5. The photo cropping is different between a regular card and an autographed card. Essentially, the image has been moved further to the right on the authentic card, causing some of the design elements not to line up the same. This is most obvious when looking at the "W" in "WILD" and its placement relative to Cal's helmet.
  6. There is a small, maybe 1 centimeter long, vertical scratch running under the first "L" in BASEBALL and after the "s" in Aces on the back of the card.

The following images show several examples of this card. Based on the signs listed above, can you pick out the fakes? The answer is at the bottom of the post.

93 us playing cards3
Card #1
93 us playing cards4
Card #2
93 us playing cards5
Card #3
93 us playing cards6
Card #4

Answer: #1, #2, and #4 are authentic. #3 is a fake due to the cropping. The autograph also doesn't look the same as the others. The "C" and "J" are different than the other 3 cards shown.

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