How to Identify Fake Pokémon Cards

Introduction: Why Identifying Fake Pokémon Cards Matters

Pokémon cards can hold a great deal of sentimental and financial value to collectors, it is therefore important to ensure the legitimacy and integrity of your collection. With the continuing rise of the Pokémon Trading Card game, comes the growing prevalence of counterfeit cards, identifying these is crucial in ensuring you're not deceived. This guide endeavours to arm you with the knowledge required for avoiding pesky fakes, identifying their features and solidifying the authenticity of your collection. 

Common Features of Fake Pokémon Cards

  • Incorrect Colours and Fonts: Fakes can be quite easy to spot when you know what you're looking for, one of the key features to consider is the cards font and colour. Poorly considered fakes often demonstrate incorrect shades and fonts that differ from original versions. 
  • Blurry Images and Text: Poor print quality can also be a key indicator of a fake, though there is variance in official cards, this is usually print lines and how cards are cut. Poor print quality in fake cards can instead result in blurred images and misaligned text, two factors to look out for. 
  • Discrepancies in Card Dimensions: Counterfeit cards can have variations in size, thickness and dimension, this is not the case with legitimate Pokémon TCG products. 

Material and Texture Differences

Genuine Pokémon Trading Cards are made from high-quality cardstock, featuring complex designs, gloss and texture. Not only do counterfeit cards feel cheaper and significantly more flimsy, but they usually fail to replicate the texture and quality of genuine ones. Texture is a central aspect of what makes Pokémon cards so attractive, and high quality, complex textural designs that are unique to each card is particularly difficult to match in cheap knock-offs. Pay attention to these aspects when determining whether a card is fake, or legitimate, the contrast can be quite stark. 

Inspecting the Print Quality

  • Colour Saturation: Authentic Pokémon products are almost always of the utmost quality, and feature nicely saturated colours. Fakes conversely, can appear washed out, or overly bright. 
  • Printing Techniques: Printing isn't always spot-on in authentic Pokémon cards, due to printing methods you sometimes see cards card that aren't entirely aligned, or even feature two halves of cards in one. Though this is the exception, not the rule, real cards though, always feature high-resolution images, with precision and detail. 

Holographic and Foil Differences

  • Holo Patterns: Holographic cards are generally, by nature, rarer and more sought after than commons, and thus many counterfeit card manufacturers attempt to emulate these types. They are however difficult to replicate, genuine cards typically stand-out in a side-by-side comparison. 
  • Shine and Reflectivity: Legit holo Pokémon cards reflect light in a unique way, sometimes with rainbow or cosmos type effects. Counterfeit alternatives can appear dull and inconsistent in their shine. 
  • Foil Layers: The foil in authentic Pokémon cards is embedded, high quality and consistent, the card should feel as one, not component parts. Uneven and poorly applied foil layers are common features of knock-off cards. 

Examining the Card Back

  • Colour Consistency: If you've ever seen a counterfeit Pokémon card, you'll know what I mean when I say that the colours on the back of cards can be a dead giveaway. The distinct blues, whites and reds are seemingly difficult to match and fakes can sometimes be determined easily this way. 
  • Design Accuracy: Ask yourself, what does the back of a Pokémon card look like. You probably have a pretty good idea right? That's because it's iconic, and chances are you'll have a hunch or suspicion if something looks off. The back of card designs on fakes can often be off-centre or incorrect in their proportions. 

Weight and Thickness

Using a precise set of scales, we recommend giving any suspected fakes a weigh, with a known authentic card for comparison. Fake cards can be heavier, or lighter than their real counterparts due to discrepancies in materials used. Thickness is also a consideration, genuine cards are all of the same thickness, any variation here can be an indicator of a counterfeit. 

Light Test

  • Translucency Check: Counterfeits may not go through the trouble of sandwiching layers of materials together, meaning under a light source fake cards can appear translucent and uneven.  
  • Ink Layers: Under some light sources counterfeit cards may appear inconsistent or uneven in their ink layers, you may even be able to see different materials on close inspection. 

Font and Spelling Errors

  • Font Style:  This one is probably one of the more obvious giveaways, perhaps your first test in determining a cards authenticity should be studying fonts used. Counterfeits often use incorrect fonts, you can tell this by running a side-by-side comparison. 
  • Spelling and Grammar: Authentic Pokémon cards rarely have spelling or grammatical mistakes, though error cards do occur, mistakes of these type usually are an indication of illegitimacy. 

Comparing with Known Authentic Cards

  • Side-by-Side Comparison: In terms of methodology, this is a great means of determining a cards authenticity. Take your suspected fake, and a known authentic card, ideally an equivalent, but any will do the job. Look closely for details enclosed throughout this guide to determine it's realness. 

Serial Numbers and Set Symbols

Keep an eye on unique identifiers, set codes and symbols, these are used for card identification and can sometimes offer insight into a cards authenticity.  Some fakes can have incorrect, or missing features. Symbols should be correct, and continuous with known authentic equivalents, correctly placed and without discrepancies. 

Trusted Sources and Purchases

  • Verified or Trusted Sellers: Purchasing Pokémon cards from online marketplaces can be difficult, identifying fakes without having them in hand can be even more difficult. We recommend ensuring you purchase from sellers you feel you can trust, or have a provable track record of happy customers. Keep an eye out for reviews and ratings relevant to the seller. Better yet, prepare to browse our range of Pokémon Singles coming very soon, or shop some of our sealed Pokémon TCG merchandise. Guaranteed to be 100% authentic, no exceptions. 
  • Avoiding Scams: Sometimes deals can be too good, significantly lower than market value prices may be an indication of fake cards, bare this red flag in mind. 

Conclusion: Protecting Your Collection

By following these steps, and maintaining a diligent methodology when shopping for Pokémon cards, you can protect yourself from falling for scams and counterfeit, illegal cards. Maintaining the integrity of a collection is important to any avid collector, apt identification will ensure you feel safe and confident to collect, and enjoy the hobby we all know and love. 

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