Your Guide to Fleer Auction Bankruptcy Cards

April 8, 2013 |
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This short blurb is not intended to turn people away as Fleer and Skybox had some of the best looking insert sets in the 90s. The purpose is to provide awareness to new people to the hobby some of the risks associated with purchasing Fleer or Skybox, produced post 1997 and pre 2006 cards; in particular the final two years releases 2003-04 & 2004-05.

Firstly let’s look at a bit of history. On May 2005, the Fleer Corporation suspended its trading card operations. In early July 2005, the Fleer Corporation started to liquidate its assets to repay creditors. This led to the sale of the Fleer brand name, which the Upper Deck Company purchased for a mere $6.1 million.

Following the sale of the brand name, an auction was held on 9 September 2005 at New Jersey Radisson Hotel where many unfinished products, unique items, uncut sheets, spares etc. were sold directly to the public. Amongst the elite hobbyists in trading cards, this auction is notoriously known as the ‘Fleer Bankruptcy Auction‘.

Now that the history lesson is over, the result of this auction led to many of these public members trying to make a quick buck by reselling items won in the auction marketing them as unique items picked up at the Fleer Bankruptcy Auction. This introduced a risk and exposure as some people manufactured custom fakes from various fleer auction and regular cards to try and pass these off as genuine release items or items acquired at the auction.

Later on when collectors started catching on, some people started listing certain items as items they picked up via the “back door” before the auction sale. Fleer did indeed sell a lot of stuff via the “back door”, unfortunately no one knows what exactly was sold, and hence none of these items can be truly verified to be genuine.

Some notorious items that may or may not be genuine that have surfaced over the years include:

  • Print plates claiming to be 1/1.
  • Cards with missing game used patches.
  • Cards with patches that are too good to be true (i.e. really nice looking patches that were not present in official card releases).
  • Cards that are not official releases such as:
    • 1998-99 Fleer Tradition Playmaker’s Theatre, which should be embossed and serial numbered has two other unofficial versions circulating:
      • Not serial numbered and not embossed (most likely fakes or from an uncut sheet).
      • Embossed and not serial numbered (believed to be spares for replacement in case the genuine was damaged in a packet, meaning they would be stamped with the damaged card’s serial number and sent out).
    • 2004-05 Fleer E-XL Auto Logoman, which should be serial numbered 1/1 on the back has custom fakes created from spares:
      • Non serial numbered ones.
      • Low quality NBA patch.
      • Bad autos that don’t look quite right.
    • 2004-05 SkyBox Fresh Ink Game Breakers Patches 1, which should be serial numbered 1/1 on the back, has custom fakes created from spares:
      • Non serial numbered ones
      • Low quality NBA patches
  • Cards that have been hand numbered when they should be stamped, claiming to be buybacks are most likely fakes from spares/replacements or custom made.

The following pictures are some examples of the above points:

Missng Patches Example

Missing game used patches

Real Playmakers Theatre

Real Playmakers Theatre

Fake Playmakers Theatre

No Emboss & No Serial Number Playmakers Theatre

04-05 EX-L Real Front04-05 EX-L Real Back

2004-05 Fleer E-XL – Real Front & Back

04-05 EX-L Fake Back with No Serial Number

2004-05 Fleer E-XL – Fake Back No Serial Number

04-05 EX-L Fake Front & Logoman

2004-05 Fleer E-XL – Fake Front With Cheap Logoman Patch

04-05 Skybox Fresh Ink Real Logomen Front

2004-05 SkyBox Fresh Ink Game Breakers Patches 1 Front – Real

04-05 Skybox Fresh Ink Real Logomen Back

2004-05 SkyBox Fresh Ink Game Breakers Patches 1 Back – Real

04-05 Skybox Fresh Ink Fake Logomen Front

04-05 Skybox Fresh Ink Fake Logomen Back

2004-05 SkyBox Fresh Ink Game Breakers Patches 1 – Fake missing serial number and questionable front. Custom made from unofficial fleer card front that has been glued to real back from 2004-05 SkyBox Fresh Ink Game Breakers

The general rule of thumb is quite simple; if it is not listed as an official Fleer release in Beckett, stay far away from it, unless you are buying the item purely for the uniqueness knowing full well it may or may not be a genuine Fleer card.

Finally the one good thing is that at least the auction items can still be somewhat verified against the official listing, file linked here: Fleer_Bankrupcty_Auction.pdf. Alternatively, full details of each listing can be viewed directly at Randy L. Fridkis Auctions.