I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even aware of this card a year ago, but I wish I was, as the 1985 Prism Jewel Michael Jordan Sticker has skyrocketed in value.
Recent sales of PSA 8 graded copies of the card have reached nearly $50,000.
The cards were inserted into vending machines, likely mostly outside of your local grocery store. And given that they are stickers, most kids that plopped the quarters into the machine to grab these were peeling them off to use them how a kid might actually use a sticker.
Hence, they are super rare to find intact and in good condition. PSA has graded only 87 copies of the card, with only 8 reaching a PSA 9 and only 1 garnering a PSA 10 Gem Mint.
I started to become more curious about the card when I started to get inquires from people that had one (or two) that they were trying to sell. Knowing how rare these are, to receive multiple inquiries on this issue, just seemed sort of strange to me.
Come to find out, someone was taking the original sticker and printing counterfeits, using similar dyes as on the original Prism card and selling on eBay for $50. The ad is no longer active on eBay, but here is a screenshot of the listing. They were selling the card as reprints.
However, I got in touch with someone who did purchase several of these counterfeit cards, second hand, and at a much higher price than the original counterfeiter was selling these for. Here's a photo of the cards they purchased.
Note how the cards even included cardboard protectors which would have been representative of how they came out of vending machines in 1985. So if you see a seller selling one with cardboard like this, run far, far away!
Now, I don't know if this card had been counterfeited prior to recently, but I can tell you that some of the grading companies (SGC and BGS) have graded fake versions of the Prism Jewel Jordan card.
So, how to tell a fake from an authentic?
There are a few telltale signs that I've identified in my examination of the fakes.
Here's an authentic Prism Jewel Jordan card. I've circled the two areas to focus on. Note how the 'M' in Michael's name is overlapping the hoop. Then in the other circle, notice the red above Jordan's arm.
Ok, here's the fake, with the same two spots circled. On the counterfeit, the 'M' is actually positioned here behind the basket. And in the other area, the red above Jordan's arm is actually missing.
I haven't had one of the fakes in hand, so there may be other differences that I can't spot from images. However it is quite scary that someone was able to make a fake card that was easily passed through some of the biggest grading companies.
I want to also note a few things that you might have noticed from the photos above. There are actually two variations of the original card---one with large squares and one with smaller sized squares. Here are two authentic copies side by side:
I will also note that I've seen some real cards that are missing the copyright symbol on the right hand side of the card, or it's very faded. Here's one authentic example--see the right side of the card where the copyright symbol is. So, just realize that a faded copyright symbol is not indicative of a fake card.
Just to sum up, there are still a lot of unknowns about this card--some have told me that are some back variations to look out for, but I haven't confirmed this.
Also, since it someone was able to create a fairly good counterfeit, it makes me think that it would be very easy to fake those two spots and have something that looks completely indistinguishable from the original card.
IMPORTANT UPDATE HERE: Someone pointed out to me that someone may have created a better counterfeit of one of these. There was a recent sale on eBay that had the aforementioned areas fixed....but the back of the card was a lot brighter than normal. Typically, a real card should be an off white that shows sign of age and not a bright white. Here's a comparison of a real back with one that seems a lot brighter and that someone noted to me MAY be a fake.
The problem here, is that there are some color variations with the backs of the cards. Typically, there is a bit of an off white color due to aging, however it could be feasible, that if protected perfectly for the last 35+ years, it may indeed look a bit brighter. THUS, I cannot confirm or deny that ones that are a bit brighter are indeed fakes. We do know that if the M and the jersey are off, it's a fake, but the back test is still unconfirmed at this point.
IT would not surprise me if that has been figured out by now. In a somewhat even scarier recent discovery, one Instagram card creator had created a near perfect replication of the Jordan Prism card. I will note that this one says '2021' in the copyright section and I do not believe this card is being reproduced (but cannot confirm this).
Thus, if you are on the hunt for a Prism Jewel Jordan, I'd probably stick with a PSA graded copy, as to date, I have not seen a fake that has passed through their graders.
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