1987 fleer jordan

How To Spot A Fake 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan Card

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With Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card sales continuing to break records on a weekly basis, collectors priced out of Jordan rookie card ownership have turned to his more affordable 1987 Fleer second year card

And while the 1986 Fleer Jordan is heavily counterfeited, the 1987 Fleer card fakes are not as common.  However they exist, and would expect more sophisticated scammers to start firing up the printing presses again to try and take advantage of novice collectors.

Thus, this guide is here to help you know the ins and outs of detecting a fake 1987 Fleer Jordan second year card.

Please, do let us know if you come across any fake ’87 Fleer Jordan’s, as your assistance can certainly help us in aiding fellow collectors.

Feel free to reach out to me at chris@allvintagecards.com

Examining An Authentic 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan #59 Second Year Card

As we always like to do in the guides, let’s first take a look at an authentic 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan #59 card.  It is this step that it one of the most important in helping identify any fakes—understanding everything about the authentic card is key to not getting scammed.

1987 fleer jordan

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An authentic 1987 Fleer Jordan card

The print used to create these more modern era cards consists of a combination of halftone and solid ink printing.  

Here we can see at the top of the 1987 Fleer Jordan, the halftone (dot like printing) in the gray background in the typical sort of checkerboard fashion.  In other areas–namely the ‘Fleer’ and ‘Bulls’ text, we can see how the print is a standard solid ink with no screening pattern.  


Side note – this is a great article about printing of the 1985 Fleer baseball set

Here are two more closeups of the bottom border, and Jordan text:

Closeup of authentic 1987 Fleer Jordan–see the solid Yellow ink for ‘Michael’ versus the halftone printing in the grey backround


Closeup of an authentic 1987 Fleer Jordan, note the Grey halftone, checkerboard printing in the background

Ok here’s a view the back of a 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan card.

Note this image is shown in a very bright scan, helping to detail some of the areas of the card.


Back of an authentic 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan

I think the most noticeable thing here is how the ink looks a bit faded especially in the top blue background and on the bottom where there is red ink.  

I wasn’t sure of this reason initially and found this nugget from Nick Vossbrink over at the Sabr Cards blog:

Up until Score in 1988, card sets were printed on what’s called C1S (for coated one side) card stock. The coated side is white and doesn’t absorb ink as much.

Thus, on the 1987 Fleer basketball cards, the front of the card is the coated side (glossy side) and the back of the card is the uncoated side (no gloss).

Anything that is printed on an uncoated paper will be absorbed and the ink will bleed/saturate more into the paper.  This is why on the 1987 Fleer card, the backs of the card have a blotchy look.

Ink does not get absorbed into the fronts (or the coated part of the paper) since it “sits” on top of the coating of the sheet and will therefore have a much cleaner and refined glossy look.

This is important in trying to recognize a fake card.  I’m showing the top and bottom photo of the backs of this card as well.


Top half of the back of an authentic Jordan 87 Fleer card

Bottom half of a real 87 Fleer Jordan card.

Here’s a view of a different authentic 1987 Fleer Jordan, and we can see that the print is a little bit darker on this one, mostly due to the fact that the scan used normal light and didn’t brighten the colors.  

Beware of this when looking at eBay listings–scan quality and lighting can sometimes make a real card look fake, or more importantly make a fake card look real.   Still we can see how the ink, although it looks darker, is still a bit faded.   Also to note, Fleer had a lot issues with clarity and registration in the 1987 set.


Another back of a real 1987 Fleer Jordan


Note the halftone checkerboard in the red background in the stats area on an authentic 1987 Fleer Jordan

Key Print Areas To Examine On The Back Of 1987 Fleer Jordan

Oh how history repeats itself!  You might be familiar with some of the key areas to examine on the 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie card.  Well, get ready, because the 1987 Fleer card has many of the same distinguishing features that we can examine to help identify a fake.

The basketball on the bottom right hand corner should have clear defined borders with white lines inside the ball, just like on the 1986 Fleer.  Fake cards will not have this sort of clarity and often are missing the lines inside the ball.  


You might also recognize the bull logo from the 86 Fleer card—once again, the same logo is used for Jordan’s 1987 Fleer card.  We should see consistent, bold print in the lettering and we should see clearly defined lines in the bulls eyes.  If that white space in the pupils is missing, it is clearly a fake. 


And again, the NBA logo in the bottom left order.  See the clean bold blue used for the player background and text.  Any fakes will have a clear fuzziness to the lettering without the same sort of clear definition.

Examining Known Fake 1987 Fleer Jordan Cards

Based on the fakes that I’ve seen, the easiest tell is going to be with the back of the card.  Here’s a common one I’ve seen on eBay.  Just take a look at that dark print on the back of the card.  That tells us that this was probably printed using a different paper which was more absorbent of the ink. 


A fake 1987 Fleer Jordan card

Back of a fake 87 Fleer Jordan card. 

Sad to say, but as I was writing this piece, I came across an eBay auction for what appears to be the same Jordan counterfeit.  The card sold for $1899!!! This makes me sick to my stomach…..and this my friends is why I write these resource guides.  


You can just see it a mile away on this one—the front picture quality is quite poor compared to an original and if we zoom in on the front text in Jordan’s name we can see how dull and fuzzy it is.   If you looked at this under a loupe, you wouldn’t see the consistent bold print in text that we do on the original.  


Fake card, zoomed text on Jordan

We can also see a similar lack of quality in print on the back of the card:


A fake 87 Fleer Jordan, note the low quality of the print where the text is on the top of the card.

Let’s again compare this to the original card.  Unfortunately, the picture quality on the fake card is poor, but one of the biggest tells is a lack of quality print in the text area.  Under a loupe, the fake card text will look extremely fuzzy- whereas on a real card, you will be sharp, bold print with well defined borders. 


Another back of a real 1987 Fleer Jordan

Here’s the back of a sloppy fake, look at the top in the blue where it seems like they tried to recreate the faded ink, but the red at the bottom of the card is way too dark.  It’s hard to see too, but the print is really sloppy.


Back of a fake Jordan 1987 Fleer

This is where a loupe becomes your best friend

I have some reprints I ordered and will be posting some more closeups for comparison soon.  At the very least I wanted to start a discussion on this card, since I feel like there isn’t much known about 87 Fleer Jordan reprints. 

I am asking any fellow collectors with a known Jordan 87 Fleer reprint to please send it over to me at chris@allvintagecards.com.  Or feel free to leave a comment about any experience you’ve had with 87 Fleer Jordan fakes.

My fear is that with the price increases and the lack of knowledge surrounding 87 Fleer counterfeits, many collectors are going to get duped into buying fake cards. 

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One Comment

  1. Appreciate the resource to help spot counterfeits. One more detail to note, the stats printed on the back of the last counterfeit you show the text is black instead of blue.

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