Fakes, Forgeries and Counterfeits Abound

Watch out for fake antiques, especially copies of well-known pieces.

A Staffordshire figure of Ben Franklin, wrongly labeled General Washington sold for over $300.00

A Staffordshire figure of Ben Franklin, wrongly labeled General Washington sold for over $300.00

In about 1820, some potters in the Staffordshire district of England made portrait figures of famous politicians, actors and athletes to sell in local shops. Remember, this was a time when there were no color images of people except paintings and few black-and-white photos. Often the potters confused the personalities. A famous error was the figure of Benjamin Franklin made in about 1820. Some had the name “General Washington” painted on the front of the base. In the 1950s, when Staffordshire figures were again very popular, many copies of both the correct and incorrect Franklin were made.

Other old fakes still are around. Some are antique jokes, like “The Vicar and Moses,” which shows a judge sleeping in court. “The Tithing” is another faked figure, a group with a tax collector taking a percentage of the crop – and a new baby – as a tax from a farmer and his wife (sometimes the farmer was less cynical and brought a pig).

Other named copies show well-known men of the day, including Shakespeare, the comic Joseph Grimaldi, a bust of Washington or even a pair of cricket bowlers. Be careful. It is harder to recognize the 1990s Chinese copies than it was the 1950s copies.

Curt Flood’s monopoly man Why a mysterious collector chased a run-of-the-mill 1964 Curt Flood baseball card

So-called "Flood guy" Mike Hally shows off his extensive Curt Flood baseball card collection

So-called “Flood guy” Mike Hally shows off his extensive Curt Flood baseball card collection

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s September 15 Renegades Issue. Subscribe today!

BASEBALL CARD COLLECTING, like baseball itself, is a world governed by tidy metrics — achievement, timing, scarcity. But every now and then, an aberration throws things into disarray. Rich Klein stumbled across one such glitch a few years ago when he heard a rumor about a card that was confounding hobbyists. Klein, a mortgage servicer who moonlights as a collector, looked up the card­ — the 1964 Topps Curt Flood, a middling, widely produced issue — and saw that it was inexplicably overpriced. “I did a little research and thought, ‘This is fascinating,'” he says.

A low-quality copy of the ’64 Flood goes for about $30 — more than five times what it should, Klein estimates. A pristine copy costs upward of $1,000. Such prices defy logic; while the Cardinals’ center fielder was an exceptional ballplayer — Flood won the Gold Glove seven times — he was no Mickey Mantle. Flood is best known for challenging baseball’s reserve clause, spurring the creation of free agency.  The case of the ’64 Flood has befuddled card hounds for years.

A blogger who chronicled his pursuit of the entire ’64 Topps set called it “one of the more perplexing cards” in the collection. Numerous message-board threads pondered the riddle. “This card was a pain,” complained one collector. Others said they had heard a single buyer was gobbling up inventory. “Perhaps he’s just absent-minded and forgets to cross that card off his want list,” someone offered. Klein wrote about the ’64 Flood for Sports Collectors Daily, noting that it had attained “mythical status.”A low-quality copy of this Curt Flood card sells for about $30, but higher-quality cards can go for more than $1,000.

A low-quality copy of this Curt Flood card sells for about $30, but higher-quality cards can go for more than $1,000.

A low-quality copy of this Curt Flood card sells for about $30, but higher-quality cards can go for more than $1,000.

Many fans build collections around a single player. Very few, though, have sought out multiple copies of a single card. Reggie Jackson is rumored to have tried to buy every copy of his own rookie card; one anonymous collector owns more than 300 of the 1,000 copies of Albert Pujols’ 2001 Donruss Elite card. Cornering the market is not only difficult but also unlikely to be profitable; as soon as supply expands again, inflated prices typically plummet.

Chris Buckler, a dealer in Kentucky, says he’s sold about 10 cards to the so-called Flood guy. He’s met him at card shows, but he can’t recall his name. “It’s a weird hobby,” he says. The message-board threads didn’t reveal the collector’s identity, but one commenter wrote that an eBay account belonging to Madcardbuyer seemed to be a locus of Flood-related activity. The user’s avatar is a tiny photograph of two cats lounging inside a home office. His name, the site says, is Mike Hally.

A quick records search produces an address, then a number. When Hally picks up the phone, he chuckles. “You’ve found the guy,” he says.

Hally, 59, is a retired engineer. He spent 25 years at Atari designing games like Star Wars. He’s lived in California since 1969, when his family left tiny Centralia, Missouri. During the summer of ’64, Hally, then 9 years old, played center field like his idol Flood. “He could do everything,” says Hally, who smuggled his mom’s transistor radio into school to listen to games. That fall, St. Louis won its first World Series in 18 years.

Decades later, while working at Atari, Hally started collecting cards. When he first saw the ’64 Flood, memories washed over him. He was enchanted by the player’s grave pose — glove up, hand nestled inside. “He’s just got that look of determination in his eyes,” Hally says. He decided to purchase several copies of the card. Then he bought a few more. Eventually he had acquired so many ’64 Floods that dealers started setting them aside for him. Today he owns some 4,000 copies, likely close to a quarter of the population. He keeps them in special boxes, stashing the most valuable mint-condition ones in a safe.

Hally admits that his hoarding has created “a nightmare in the hobby.” He has seen the posts about the collector. “I thought, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me.'”

It’s easy to understand why Hally loves Flood’s card. It’s less clear why he decided to buy all of them. He doesn’t have a simple explanation. “Lots of people do things that some people think are weird,” he says. He has no plans to sell. Instead, he’s still chasing a dream that reminds him of his past while also pushing him forward. Every morning, he wakes up and checks to see if a new ’64 Flood is for sale.

“I bought one yesterday,” he says. “I’ll probably buy one today.”

Collection of rare triangular stamps set to fetch thousands at South African auction

Collection of rare triangular stamps set to fetch thousands at South African auction.

Collection of rare triangular stamps set to fetch thousands at South African auction.

A horde of rare triangular stamps which were among the first ever printed in South Africa are set to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

The stamps, made by London printers Perkins, Bacon & Co. in 1853, were produced in their unusual shape so illiterate workers could distinguish domestic from international mail.
Among the designs is a depiction of a reclined Lady of Good Hope – a fictional female figure who has a similar place in South African society as that occupied by the Statue of Liberty in America.
“That was our first stamp ever,” said Savo Tufegdzic, head of the stamp and coins department at Stephan Welz & Co, fine art auctioneers in Johannesburg.

The triangular stamps were used until 1864, after which square stamps were adopted.
Tufegdzic, who is overseeing the auction on Wednesday, said he expected to see people bidding on the stamps from all over the world. He has hopes of fetching over 800,000 rand (£45,158) for one lot of the scarce stamps.

“South Africa in comparison has a very small market, if you look at Europe, China, U.S. and Canada, they’re huge markets around the world,” he said. “Now people collect stamps just like art and gold, it’s an investment.”

Collectors scramble for world’s oldest egg

Expert Errol Fuller holds the egg of the extinct elephant bird, which will go to auction in November

Expert Errol Fuller holds the egg of the extinct elephant bird, which will go to auction in November

THE WORLD’S oldest egg is going up for auction. The extremely rare egg of the extinct elephant bird is expected to raise about £50,000 when it is auctioned at a sale of specialist natural history collectables in Billingshurst later this year. The giant egg, which is as big as 100 hens’ eggs and bigger than seven ostrich eggs, is one of only a handful of undamaged eggs left by the huge birds, which were native to Madagascar.

Summers Place Auctions is expecting the lot to be a cracker, as the egg is thought to be the only one in the world up for private sale.

Curator Errol Fuller, who has written several books on rare extinct birds and is an expert in the field, is particularly egg-cited about the sale.

He said: “The egg of one of these birds is simply a miracle. It’s over a foot in length. “There are probably only about 60 or 70 in existence in the world and almost all of them are owned by museums. “To see one up for private sale is very rare. It is the largest egg ever known – bigger than any known dinosaur egg.

Convention Brings Comics, Celebrities, Costumes to Houston Labor Day weekend Amazing Houston Comic Con brings Legendary Comic Book Artist JIM LEE to George R. Brown Convention Center

August 29-­‐31 HOUSTON, TX. – Thousands of comic book fans will descend upon Houston later this month for the inaugural Amazing Houston Comic Convention – an event that will bring the creators of many of this year’s blockbuster movies together under one roof, headlined by the best-­‐selling comic artist of all time, Jim Lee. The convention will take place at George R. Brown Convention Center August 29-­‐31, and will feature a show floor packed with more than 100 exhibitors, an exciting artist alley with more than 200 artists, and autograph sessions, which will give fans access to some of their favorite comic book creators.

Weekend passes are $60, Saturday passes are $35, and Friday-­‐ or Sunday-­‐only passes are $25. VIP tickets range from $150-­‐$200. Tickets are available at the door or online. Ticket information, VIP upgrades, and regular event updates are available at http://www.AmazingHoustonComicCon.com. “We are thrilled to bring our creative and exciting programming to Houston this summer, and know it will be an unforgettable event,” said Jimmy Jay, co-­‐owner of Jay Company Comics and promoter of Amazing Houston Comic Con. “We are thrilled to bring the ‘architects of pop culture’ together, which means that fans will be able to meet the creators of their favorite comics-­‐turned-­‐movie-­‐blockbusters in one weekend.”

Some of these guests include:

• Jim Lee – co-­‐publisher of DC Entertainment. Lee is one of the most revered and respected artists in all of American comics. His work on Marvel Comics’ legend X-­‐Men continues to hold the all-­‐time sales record for single-­‐issue sales at an incredible 8 million copies sold in one month. Jim Lee had popular runs on Batman, Superman and Justice League

• Rob Liefeld – creator of DEADPOOL, the most popular character in the Marvel Universe, and X-­‐Men mainstays Cable, Domino, Shatterstar and X-­‐Force

• Len Wein – creator of Wolverine and the X-­‐Men, popularized by this summer’s big film from FOX • Herb Trimpe – one of Marvel Comics’ most prolific creators, the man behind Wolverine, GI Joe, Godzilla, Rocket Raccoon, Indiana Jones and Transformers The event’s guest list is indeed one of the best of any comic convention in the west, sure to thrill the most die-­‐ hard comic book fans. But the weekend also offers entertainment for the general public, including:

• Costume Contest Saturday night – from Star Wars troopers to Captain America and other superheroes, ComicCon offers fantastic visuals from spirited costumed groups • Kids’ Day Sunday featuring Mat Nastos – a veteran of animation with credits on Disney Channel and more. Kids’ Day will feature a kids’ costume contest and parade, with all participants receiving a special prize, and Nastos will do free sketches for kids 10 and under that day.

• Giant video game arena with fan-­‐favorite games including Call of Duty, Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter and more.

• Stars of the SyFy Channel’s FACE/OFF will demo special effects makeup live, including fan favorites Alan Rose and current season’s Keaghlan Ashley

• Jordan Hembrough, better known as the Toy Hunter from The Travel Channel, will meet and greet fans and tell them how much their vintage toys are worth

• “Cosplay Family Feud” – this cosplay version of the popular game show will celebrate all of the great costumes at ComicCon, with great prizes for not only participants, but the audience as well.

About Amazing Houston Comic Con: The Amazing Houston Comic Con is a convention spanning the latest and greatest from the world of comic books. Hosted by family-­‐owned Jay Company Comics, one of the largest comic book dealerships in the country, the event will bring the best of popular culture to Houston. The inaugural event will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Tex., August 29-­‐31, 2014. The event will feature a show floor packed with more than 100 exhibitors, an exciting artist alley featuring more than 200 artists, and autograph sessions giving fans a chance to interact with their favorite creators. Amazing Houston Comic Con LINKS: Web: http://www.AmazingHoustonComicCon.com FB: http://www.facebook.com/AmazingHoustonComicCon Twitter: @amazingcomiccon ###

Ouija Board Collector Ends Family Feud

Who would have ever thought that collecting Ouija Boards could lead to the resolution of a century old family feud? Probably no one, especially the man who actually did it. Robert Murch is the guest on the Collectors Show this week, and his

Robert Murch is the world's leading authority on Ouija Boards.

Robert Murch is the world’s leading authority on Ouija Boards.

collecting has taken him places where few will ever go or be taken.

Robert Murch is the world’s foremost collector, historian, and expert on OuijaÒ and talking boards. His bizarre relationship with Ouija began after watching the movie Witchboard in 1986, a century after the talking board made its debut. Murch purchased his first antique Ouija board in 1992, and became obsessed with unraveling the mystery of its origins. Since then he’s devoted his life to researching the history of the Ouija board and its founders, with Murch often traveling the world to track down descendants of all those involved with the introduction of the Mystifying Oracle.

Murch showcases his research and knowledge on his websites williamfuld.com and the upcomingtalkingboards.com, which together provide the most in-depth Ouija history sites ever created. Murch often collaborates with Hasbro (producers of the Ouija board today) and on various films, including Ouija, What Lies Beneath, Sugar & Spice, and Drive-Thru. He has also consulted on or appeared in numerous TV programs featuring Ouija, including 30 Odd Minutes, TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, A&E’s Storage Wars and Paranormal State, Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and Ghost Adventures, Showtime’s Bullshit!, Smithsonian Channel’s Millionaire Made Here, HGTV’s Who’s Lived in my House?, and CBS Sunday Morning. The Smithsonian Magazine consulted Bob for a popular article on Ouija boards and featured him and his research on the topic.

Murch is an accomplished international lecturer, speaking at museums and conferences around the world. He is currently collaborating with Brandon Hodge to create the definitive history of spirit communication devices and serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Talking Board Historical Society Inc., which he founded.

But if you want to know how he ended this family feud, you will have to listen to The Collectors Show on Web Talk Radio (www.webtalkradio.net) or iTunes.

How To Turn Your Collection Into A Business

Brian Semling of Brian's Toys took his Star Wars collecting hobby and turned it into a successful business.

Brian Semling of Brian’s Toys took his Star Wars collecting hobby and turned it into a successful business.

How many people started a collection based on a nice childhood memory? How many turned that collection into a $5 million per year business? If you guessed Brian Semling who is the owner of “Brian’s Toys”, you were correct in both instances. Brian is also the guest this week on The Collectors Show with Harold Nicoll. The Collectors Show can be heard on Web Talk Radio (www.webtalkradio.net) or iTunes. Lots of people think about turning a hobby into a business, but Brian actually did it and at a very young age.

From Movies To Collecting

Brian Semling who is 37 years old, was born too late to experience the first three Star Wars movies in theaters. So it was during a visit to a friends’ house to watch “Return of the Jedi” and a look at his buddy’s impressive “Masters of the Universe” collection that he connected some dots from his early childhood. As he discusses with host Nicoll, his earliest memories of Star Wars were much earlier. He had owned Star Wars toys and Halloween costumes as a youngster but had sold those items at a garage sale. Seeing his friend’s collection, he then wanted them back. So he started his quest to recapture those remembrances of childhood and did so, very successfully.

From Collector To Business Owner

Semling’s collecting was so successful that later in high school he started his own mail order business from his parent’s home. Business was good. So good in fact that Semling dropped out of MIT to run his business full time. “I thought that took a lot of courage,” said Harold Nicoll, host of The Collectors Show. “Degrees from a prestigious school like MIT do not grow on trees. What Brian did took guts. I wonder how many of us have that kind of confidence in ourselves and in our futures to do what he did?”

In the time since high school, Brian transformed his hobby into a successful family business. He has expanded his enterprise to include more than Star Wars and now deals in other vintage and in some cases new toys that include G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe and other Comic Book, TV and movie themed action figures. He has customers in all 50 states and 100 countries.

The Future

Brian tells host Nicoll about an App he is designing that will allow collectors the opportunity to scan a barcode on one of their toys and receive a report on it. This replaces cumbersome Excel spreadsheets and bound price guides.

And if you are concerned that he sacrificed his education, fear not. Brian did finish college at Winnona State University in Minnesota with a degree in history.