Check out this cool video showing collectors exactly how a memorabilia card is made.

One less mystery…

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William Mastro, a sports memorabilia auctioneer, was indicted by a U.S. grand jury for defrauding bidders through actions that included hiding alterations to a rare Honus Wagner baseball card.

Chicago’s Acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro announced charges today against the former Mastro Auctions principal and three other men. The portrait of Wagner, who played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates a century ago, is “the world’s most expensive baseball trading card,” he said.

“Mastro allegedly failed to disclose that he had altered the Wagner T-206 card by cutting the sides in a manner that, if disclosed, would have significantly reduced the value of the card,” Shapiro said.

Mastro and two other defendants deceived prospective bidders about the fairness and competitiveness of the company’s auctions, according to the indictment unsealed in federal court in Chicago.

Other items that Mastro, 59, and former Chief Operating Officer Doug Allen are accused of auctioning while knowing their condition was misrepresented include hair from Elvis Presley and “a purported 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trophy baseball,” according to Shapiro.

Michael Monico of Chicago, Mastro’s lawyer, said his client will take responsibility for his actions.

“That card is nicknamed the Holy Grail of our hobby,” said Bill Goodwin, president of the St. Louis-based auctioneer Goodwin & Co., which sold one in April for $1.23 million. “It’s the ultimate sports collectible.”

According to legend, Goodwin said today in a phone interview, Wagner opposed having his image included with tobacco products, which is how the cards were circulated at the time.

The card was pulled from production, accounting for its scarcity, he said. About 45 to 65 are believed to exist in varying degrees of preservation, according to Goodwin.

Wagner, who played Major League Baseball from 1897 to 1917, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936. He died in 1955.

“Everyone that’s purchased a Wagner card that I know of has made money on it,” he said.

Mastro, a resident of Palos Park, Illinois, is charged with a single count of mail fraud, according to prosecutors. He owned Mastro Auctions until 2004 and was its chairman and chief executive officer from 1996 to February 2009.

“We expect this matter will be resolved relatively quickly without a trial,” Monico said in a phone interview. The attorney, who called his client “a pioneer” in the sports memorabilia industry, declined to say whether a plea agreement had been reached or whether there was any specific time-frame for doing so.

Allen, 49, of Crete, Illinois, faces 14 counts of mail and wire fraud. He is accused of making false representations about the “authenticity of the purported Elvis hair.”

Mark Theotikos, 51, of Addison, Illinois, a former vice president of auction operations, is charged with six counts of wire and mail fraud.

William Boehm, 63, of Baldwin, Missouri, the company’s former director of information technology, is charged with a single count of making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

“We are in the process of reviewing the allegations,” Allen’s attorney, Michael J. Petro of Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Theotikos’s lawyer, Allan A. Ackerman of Chicago, said his client will plead not guilty when arraigned. “We look forward to his vindication,” the attorney said by phone.

No arraignment date has been set for Mastro, Allen or Theotikos, Shapiro said. Boehm made an initial appearance today in federal court in St. Louis.

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Need something shiny?

Every box of 2012 Bowman Platinum will feature 20 packs and 5 cards per pack. With autographs from some of the hottest prospects in the game, it promises to be one of the hottest products of the baseball collecting season.



Each box will contain 2 autographed refractors as well as one autographed relic card. In addition, collectors may also find redemptions for full game-worn items from the Arizona Fall League. Not cut-up items and put into cards but full size items!


With parallels galore and tons of autographed content, this is definitely a Bowman product. The new Purely Platinum autographs contains 1/1 autographs of metal cards with a gold autograph on them.

2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball is just out for sale and can be ordered at Canada Card World.

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From The Fresno Bee:

To a baseball card collector, nothing beats the allure of an unopened pack.

The Fresno Grizzlies are taking this to the extreme with a unique promotion that also will benefit their community fund.

The Triple-A baseball team is raffling a sealed, unopened package of 1909-era Piedmont cigarettes. Inside could be a T206 series baseball card, including the Honus Wagner card that is considered the Holy Grail of all sports collectibles.

The value of any T206 series card easily recoups the cost of a $5 lottery ticket. But if that card happens to be a Wagner, it could be worth a small fortune.

In April, a New Jersey man paid $1.2 million for a T206 series Wagner in an online auction. Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick paid a record $2.8 million in 2007 for his Wagner, partly due to the card’s extremely high grade. Fewer than 60 of the cards are believed to exist, and many of those in circulation are in poor condition.

Christopher Cox holds up a pack of Piedmont cigarettes, circa 1909-11, that could hold a card from the valuable T206 baseball card series. It is being raffled off as a fundraiser for the Fresno Grizzlies.

Brad Stoops, owner of Clovis Sports Cards & Collectibles, called the frenzy over T206 Honus Wagner cards “a crazy phenomenon.”

“I don’t know why everyone chases that card,” Stoops said, “but the big collectors will tell you that if you don’t have a Honus to brag about, you don’t have a collection.”

Before 3-D holograms or pink chewing gum, baseball cards came in cigarette packs.

Piedmonts were among 16 brands of cigarettes owned by the American Tobacco Co. From 1909-11, many packs included one of the roughly 2-1/2-inch by 1-1/2-inch baseball cards that became known as the T206 series. One side had a lithograph reproduction of the player. The other had the stamp of the cigarette brand.

Wagner, a .327 career hitter who spent most of his 21 years (1897 to 1917) in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is among the players depicted in the 500-plus card series. Other highly valued cards in the set include Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Eddie Plank.

Only about 200 Wagner cards were issued because the player was anti-tobacco and didn’t want to encourage kids to smoke.

At least that’s one theory. The other is that Wagner demanded his cards be pulled because he wasn’t paid for his endorsement.

Some Piedmont packs from that era contained cards that depicted flags, flowers and birds.

That’s all part of the fun.

Chris Cox, a Grizzlies ticket sales rep and lifelong card collector, said the unopened cigarette pack was donated to the team by a local collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

In fact, the collector had two unopened packs and chose to open one. Inside was a near-mint condition Hal Chase, a slick-fielding first baseman who played from 1905-19.

“Pretty remarkable considering it’s been sitting in the pack for 100 years,” said Stoops, who has the card on display at his store.

Of course, it’s possible whoever wins the unopened pack just leaves it that way. Which keeps the intrigue flowing.

“I know guys that if they win, they will refuse to open it,” Stoops said. “Let the legend live. Once you open it, the mystique of that pack is gone.”

The raffle runs through Sept. 3, and a winner will be drawn during the Grizzlies’ season finale at Chukchansi Park.

Tickets can be purchased on the main concourse during home games or at Clovis Sports Cards & Collectibles, 442 Pollasky Ave.

About the raffle:

  • The prize: An unopened, professionally graded 1909-11 Piedmont cigarette pack that may include a valuable trading card from baseball’s early years.
  • Cost: $5
  • Where: Tickets available at Fresno Grizzlies homes games; Clovis Sports Cards, 442 Pollasky Ave.; or by calling (559) 320-2552
  • Benefits: Grizzlies Community Fund, which supports causes throughout the Central Valley.
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From Panini’s The Knight’s Lance blog:

It’s coming.

2011-12 Dominion Hockey — the high-end juggernaut that’s easily one of the most anticipated products of the entire 2011-12 season — will be here before you know it. (The crowd erupts.)

And here’s one surefire way I know it’s getting closer: Last week, amid the frenzy of activity surrounding 2011-12 Prime Hockey and getting that beauty ready for, well, prime time, I noticed a most sublime shipment of cards delivered hot off the presses from the Panini America printing facility.

The contents of those boxes — subtly labeled “Dominion” — were absolutely stunning: The set’s Rookie Card “jersey number” variations graced with goose bump-inducing prime patches and enough wow factor to last weeks. All that’s missing now are the on-card autographs — and that process began in earnest the minute the cards arrived in house.

2011-12 Dominion Hockey from Panini will be available for pre-0rder soon from Canada Card World.

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