Identifying modern reprints and forgeries
of antique sports cards, postcards, programs, documents and other
A black light is effective in identifying many, though not
all, modern paper stocks. This allows the collector and dealer
to identify modern reprints and fakes of antique trading cards,
posters, photographs, programs and other paper memorabilia. Many
people buy a black light specifically for this purpose.
Starting in the late 1940s, manufacturers of many products
began adding optical brighteners and other new chemicals
to their products. Optical brighteners are invisible dyes that
fluoresce brightly under ultraviolet light. They were used to
make products appear brighter in normal daylight, which contains
some ultraviolet light. Optical brighteners were added to laundry
detergent and clothes to help drown out stains and to give the
often advertised `whiter than white whites.' Optical brighteners
were added to plastic toys to makes them brighter and more colorful.
Paper manufacturers joined the act as well, adding optical brighteners
to many, though not all of their white papers stocks.
A black light can identify many trading cards, posters, photos
and other paper items that contain optical brighteners. In a
dark room and under black light optical brighteners will usually
fluoresce a very bright light blue or bright white. To find out
what this looks like shine a recently made white trading card,
snapshot or most types of today's printing paper under a black
light. If paper stock fluoresces very bright as just described,
it almost certainly was made after the mid 1940s. It is important
to note that not all modern papers will fluoresce this way as
optical brighteners are not added to all modern paper. For example,
many modern wirephotos have no optical brighteners. This means
that if a paper doesn't fluoresce brightly this does not mean
it is necessarily old. However, with few exceptions, if a paper
object fluoresces very brightly, it is modern.
Valuable 1880s tobacco card is shown to
really be a worthless modern reprint under blacklight (right).
A piece of 1930s vintage paper on top of
a larger piece of 1990s white paper.
counterfeit US currency
(c) david rudd cycleback, cycleback.com
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