I’ve made it a bit of a habit on this blog to call out fake unopened products, and it seems I need to do it again. Topps did not manufacture 12-card baseball grocery cello packs from 1970-1972.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of these fake packs that continue to pop up on the market. For example, the 1972 Topps Grocery Cello with Rich Chiles on top on eBay right now, listed for $995, is a fake pack.
Steve Hart at The Baseball Card Exchange (who is now PSA’s unopened authenticator) is on the recording saying to “stay completely away from these grocery cellos as they are homemade packs.” Many vintage unopened collectors suspect someone had access to an old Topps wrapping machine.
These 1970-1972 grocery cellos came to market in the early 2000s and were unfortunately authenticated for a brief period when Ryan Rutter was at GAI. Luckily they are easy to spot because of their size (12 cards) and because they all have certification numbers beginning in 102. Eventually, GAI realized they were fake and stopped authenticating/holdering them. PSA won’t authenticate them either.
Authenticate Topps cello packs from 1970-1972 came in cardboard boxes (1970 was green, and 1971/1972 were blue). The card count in 1970 was 33 cards and 30 in 1971 and 1972. Legitimate cello packs also do not contain gum.
Not only is the pack on eBay fake, but Mile High Card Company just sold two fake 1970 Topps Grocery Cellos in their most recent auction. A collector saw the packs listed and reached out to them, asking if they had 33 cards or 12. He was told approximately 12 and responded by telling the auction house that the packs were bad and that they should pull them from the auction. Unfortunately, Mile High left the packs up, and some unfortunate buyers paid $649 each for the two fake packs shown below.
The vintage unopened market is incredibly tough to navigate, so if you want to buy vintage unopened products, take the time to educate yourself on the items. Learn who the reputable dealers are, and investigate an items’ provenance before spending big dollars because there are so many fakes on the market.
If you have any other fake unopened product stories to share or that I should highlight on the blog, please leave a message down in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter.
Last summer I purchased a GAI authenticated 1972 Topps football cello pack which turned out to be a 12 card grocery pack as well. Although not as prevalent, it appears the scammers also created fake football cellos.
Steve, thanks for sharing. It makes sense that if Topps didn’t make baseball grocery cellos, they probably wouldn’t do another sport since baseball was always more popular. Still, I think football cellos were 28 cards and only exist for the first two series. But my memory is a little rusty on FB – I think they should also have a Topps football cards oval logo on the front.