LTC MEARS Auth, LLC’s excellent article on finding flaws on Hall of Fame flannels has inspired me to shelve what I had planned to write about for one installment and to instead follow his lead and detail some other warning signs on HOF flannels and knits, as well as NFL and NBA jerseys, that pop up with some degree of frequency in items MEARS has deemed U2A…Unable to Authenticate.

Students of flannels will know that, in the vast majority of cases, authentic, game-issued MLB flannels will have a specific number of buttons on the front. This was the initial clue that led MEARS to reject a purported Roberto Clemente Pirates vest…the number of buttons was right for most knits, but wrong for most flannels, including the exemplars in our database that showed authentic exemplars of Bucs vests by MacGregor.

One frequently encountered sign of fakery is re-sewn tagging…it can utilize strip tags, but is most commonly found with manufacturer labels. Stitch holes will exist on the tag edges from being removed from another piece and added to the fake. As Lt. Grob opined, measurements of chest sizing is often off when such an attempt at forgery is undertaken.

Now, though, we’ve found a new trend that one or more forgers is using to combat being exposed for their fraudulent work. MEARS recently was shown a Wilson knit of Jim Palmer and a Russell knit of Eddie Murray (both Orioles) which looked fine, at first glance…until Troy took measurements of the manufacturer labels, and found them to be noticeably smaller than exemplars from undeniably genuine jerseys of the same era. Now, the forgers are slicing the edges off the re-sewn tags (to eliminate the telltale stitch-holes) and re-affixing them without this telltale flaw because the flaw has been trimmed away. MEARS has been taking measurements of various styles of Wilson, Russell, Rawlings, etc. labels in an effort to combat this new trend.

MEARS has also seen NBA and NFL fakes that, among other things, have had collar retail tags removed to attempt to hide that telling sign. In the case of NFL garb, the fakes have gotten really good…many times, a rejection comes only after a photo search that unveils an inconsistency that one would likely not be aware of if examining the jersey without photo references. MEARS recently rejected a Tom Brady patriots home jersey based upon inconsistencies in the numeric font of the front and back “2” when compared with game images.

NOB fonts, sleeve lengths (as seen with many Peyton Manning Colts pieces), sleeve types (large, tight, cuffed, trimmed) are also some of the areas that can uncover the well-made imitations that the ethically poor have tried to foist on hobbyists.

Sometimes, the forger merely takes something that “looks close”, and successfully passes it of on an unsuspecting buyer. Recently, an eBay seller correctly advertised a pair of mid-1960s White Sox home minor league flannels as what they were. Before his ownership of said items, MEARS examined the two pieces, and the collector who had ownership of them (before his passing) had accepted them under the misrepresented guise of game worn Nellie Fox and Early Wynn Sox flannels, even chasing down Wynn to sign the #24 jersey. While the good news is that they’ve been dealt recently under proper identification pretenses, the bad news is that, years back, some well-financed but expertise-limited collector paid big bucks for purported Fox and Wynn jerseys that were, in reality, $200-level minor league pieces.

The forgers and crooks are getting smarter and more clever…we have purposed here at MEARS to keep ahead of them as much as is humanly possible.