I became a HUGE fan of this set once I learned of its existence, but there's a dearth of information out there about it. When I decided to start collecting them, I knew I had to do as much research as possible and share that knowledge with anyone else that might be interested. Star Pics autos are notorious for being easy to forge, but armed with this knowledge, collectors can make educated purchasing decisions. I hope to demonstrate how the forgeries differ from authentic copies, and how to tell the difference using known fakes as examples.
Please note, much of the info in this post is my opinion only, and I feel I've made educated conclusions. As Star Pics no longer exists, and there's so little official documentation out there, there is a certainly a chance I am incorrect about some things. Just had to put that out there, and hope to start a dialogue with anyone who's interested.
A little background. In 1992, Star Pics released a set covering SNL's history. As part of the set, there were 12 autographs released. Like other Star Pics autographs from other product lines, these cards were all signed on the back of base cards with an authentication sticker attached with the initials of the authenticator. A quick search on eBay and you can see these autos from a variety of sports and pop culture sets that Star Pics released in the early 90's.
The SNL autograph set contains the following signers: Tim Meadows, Chris Rock, Julia Sweeney, Ellen Cleghorne, Kevin Nealon, Phil Hartman (RIP), Chris Farley (RIP), Rob Schneider, Mike Myers, Al Franken, Adam Sandler, & GE Smith. There is still some debate as to whether these were packed out, or dealer incentives, and I've found no information to determine which of those might be true. There is an estimated dozen of each card in existence, but again, that number has never been confirmed. Another point of contention is how they were signed, with a specific signing party most commonly mentioned. All the cards were signed in the same color with the same thickness of pen, so it is likely they were all signed at the same time, possibly all at once in the same place.
A web search provided images of known authentic copies, posted many years ago:
You can see how the autographs of the same subjects are extremely similar on both sets, all signed with similar pens. They all have the same authentication sticker (with the exception of Kevin Nealon, more on that later), placed in the same general area on the cards. Comparing the autos to known exemplars (primarily through PSA/DNA listings on eBay, also a lot more on that later), they all seem to match as well. It is for this reason that I believe these copies to be legit and will be using them as exemplars moving forward.
The Chris Farley and the Phil Hartman cards are two of the most sought after, as we lost these legends too soon. The Farley is specifically forged frequently. Here are some obvious fakes that are floating around on eBay and elsewhere:
This one is too obvious. legit Star Pics autos are NEVER signed on the front, and certainly not with an authentication sticker. Also know that these stickers are apparently VERY easy to remove without any damage, which is one of the reasons why Star Pics autos are frequently forged. If you're looking to pick one up, I recommend purchasing a very low-end autograph on COMC or eBay that has no added value from forgery and using that to examine up-close and in person. I was lucky enough to have a pack pulled auto from their 1991 Hockey Draft Pick set that I pulled myself as a kid to use for comparison. So again: sig on front=forgery.
Here are two more front-signed Farley forgeries:
Both clearly signed in the same hand, but again, any Star Pics auto with the signature on the front is fake 100% of the time. Also a good time to mention that all the legit copies were signed on the same base card (with a possible exception, coming up), and the Farley's are always signed on the Chippendales card.
About 2 years ago, a very well known, ethical seller posted a PSA/DNA authenticated copy of the Chris Farley card in a blue flip. I immediately jumped on it and resubmitted it to PSA/DNA to get it in a red flip, as that's what I prefer in my collection. Here is a copy of that card:
When I got it back from PSA/DNA in the red flip, I took the time to closely examine it and it raised some concerns. First the autograph looks nothing like the two known copies shown above. The pen color and thickness is accurate, but there are many differences, such as the angle of the signature in relation to the card, the roundness of the loops in the last name, plus the sticker is crooked (although of the same initials), and covering the auto, which doesn't happen in any of the other examples. Plus when I had the chance to really get up close I noticed this:
Extremely difficult to see in the scan, there is a place in the Y in Farley where the pen was lifted up and placed back down. The arrow points to this mark, and you can kind of see where the Y begins to come down to toward the lower left and after about 2mm, begins to come straight down instead. It was very well placed, and easy to miss unless you look at it in the light where you can see the pen mark from being placed back down. It was because of this, I decided to move on from it.
As a personal aside, I have had a crisis of conscience about this card every since I moved it. It is still slabbed as authentic by PSA/DNA of course, and as I didn't see it signed, I cannot be 100% sure. But there were enough signs to me to think PSA/DNA messed up here, and I should have contacted PSA/DNA about it, but without proof, and no expert standing, I decided to sell it anyway. It still worries me to think I passed along a fake, but if this is a forgery, it's the best one out there, unfortunately.
A little over a year ago, another eBay seller posted a near full set of these, and I was went on to win the Sandler, Schneider, Nealon, Hartman and Mike Myers. Also for sale at the same time were Al Franken and Julia Sweeney. I lost those, and didn't save the images, but they matched the examples above almost exactly.
I went on to submit these four to PSA/DNA and they all came back as authentic except the Myers.
Note that the Kevin Nealon autograph matches the example pic almost exactly, although the sticker has different initials. So now we have established that maybe not all the cards that are real have "JB" initials, there might be an "RMR" out there too.
The Mike Myers card did NOT pass PSA/DNA, but the autos are strikingly similar to the examples. Plus, the sticker matches, isn't crooked, and is placed in the same general area. Except one thing, it's not on a Wayne's World card like the others, but rather a Dieter/Sprockets card. So now we have another mystery, if there's possibility of a legit version on a different card. All the others passed with flying colors, and all came from the same seller at the same time, so there's no reason other than that to believe it's not real. More obvious Mike Myers cards have shown up as fake since I purchased it, such as this one:
The auto is similar to the known legits, but streaky, and more importantly, without an authentication sticker at all! Lazy forger! I believe this one was faked after the Mike Myers was listed, as it's also on a Sprockets card, but perhaps the forger couldn't get a sticker. This is still being relisted on eBay even now, with no takers, which is a good sign.
Back to the Chris Farley. Another seller listed a raw copy about 8 months ago, and I grabbed that one too after it checked all the boxes:
Auto matches the others in angle, placement, color and thickness, and the authentication sticker is consistent and placed properly. This card was also sent to PSA/DNA as well, if only to match the slabs of my other cards, so I can display them all consistently. It failed. Twice. This leads me to believe that PSA/DNA is using the other card as an exemplar, and I believe that one to be a fake, it only makes sense they would fail mine, or any other legit version. I found a way around it though, and had a custom frame made where I have my Hartman with the flip covered, and the Farley in a one-touch.
I may one day submit it to BAS, but I'm in no rush to do so at the moment, especially with how BGS has been running their operation this year.
So there you have it. This is what I've learned so far, and I guess the conclusion is there are ways to tell obvious forgeries from the rest, but there are a couple of inconsistencies, even in seemingly authentic copies, that nothing is a sure thing when it comes to 1992 Star Pics SNL autos. But the ink always tells all, and if you're looking to collect these, do your research, look at other known exemplars of any subject's autograph, and make your own educated decisions. Happy to answer any and all questions you may have, and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability! Thanks for reading!
UPDATE (4/30/18): Just wanted to add a couple of pictures of the latest additions... I was finally able to get PSA to give my Chris Farley a thumbs up, I think the key was to submit at an in-person, take-home authentication event, as I dropped it off for same-day service at the Long Beach Expo. I have a full LOA for it now, but also had them slab it. Also slabbed was a new submission for the previously discovered Tim Meadows (thanks Rich!).
Note that PSA, in its infinite wisdom, has decided they will no longer slab these SNL autos with the auto facing forward. I tried to have them reslab them, after the request had already been approved, but their Operation Manager has decided that - to quote customer service - "The Sealing team is under strict orders to not consider this request." No other explanation given, and no apology either after they previously approved the request. Oh well.
UPDATE (11/16/19): eBay seller curveballsportscards2017, an LCS in Pinconning, Michigan recently had a Farley, a Hartman and a Myers for sale, listed as (they claim) consignments from sellers who used to own an LCS in the area in 1990's who claimed to have pulled these cards in their store at the time:
Comparing these three cards to the others in this post, and other known authentic autographs, I believe all of them to be authentic. The Myers is on a Sprockets card, like the one listed above that I had in my possession earlier, which failed PSA/DNA. That very same card ended up getting JSA authentication on it, and was sold on COMC quite some time ago:
Why they listed it as an "Aftermarket Auto" in the URL is beyond me, but comparing the two together, along with the earlier known Wayne's World versions, I now believe the Sprockets cards to be authentic, and that PSA/DNA clearly made an error here, which they have been known to do on far too many occasions. I purchased this new Myers discovery, and it now sits proudly in my collection as raw. I will not be sending this in to PSA/DNA, and quite frankly, with their role in the current trimming scandals, I hesitate to ever do business with them again until they clean up their act.
The Farley sold to a member of this board based my recommendation that it was authentic, and that member provided these images for further reference:
The Hartman did not sell by curveballsportscards2017, and is now back up for sale at a lower price by ebay seller cbcollect-47 in Saginaw, MI. This could be a second account for the LCS, or perhaps the original consigners relisting it themselves. If you're in the market for these, I believe it to be authentic, and if authentication is your jam, I'd be hard pressed to see how PSA/DNA would NOT slab this one, it's a dead ringer for mine that they did grade and authenticate.