2011 Leaf – Muhammad Ali  2/26/11

Set to come out in late February / early March is a new product by Leaf Trading Cards, 2011 Leaf Muhammad Ali. This is exciting news for Ali collectors and boxing collectors in general.

This 100 card set will be released in packs (boxes), with each pack (box) containing 8 cards. The cards break down as the following: 5 base cards, 2 autographed (non Ali) cards, and1 Ali themed insert (which could be autographed). Each case contains 12 boxes with each case individually numbered to 399.

You are guaranteed two autographs per pack. The non Ali autographs include ‘Fans of Ali’ with signatures from people such as Donald Trump, Magic Johnson, and Nolan Ryan. ‘Opponents of Ali’ which include fighters that Ali faced like Joe Frazier. Also inserted are ‘Associates of Ali’ where you will find autographs of Angelo Dundee and the like.

There is a total of 200 Muhammad Ali autographs inserted into the packs, 150 cut signatures and 50 on card autos. All 50 of the on card autos are numbered 1 of 1’s. So with this amount of Ali signatures, your odds of pulling one is one in every two cases.

The Ali insert could also be a Printing Plate (400 total), and event worn memorabilia. There will also be ‘Fight Worn’ memorabilia cards which include a piece of fight worn trunks from the Ali / Oscar Bonavena fight. This fight took place on December 7th 1970 in New York. Ali won this fight with a TKO in the 15th round. Unlike ‘Event worn’ cards of the past these were actually used in an Ali fight. While I don’t like cutting these trunks up for cards, it is probably the closest most collectors would get to owning fight worn memorabilia. There are even autographed ‘Fight Worn’ cards.

This product has no official release date other than late February due to the fact that Leaf doesn’t want to put redemption cards in their packs. This is a good thing.

Throughout the process of gathering information about this product, I exchanged emails with Brian Gray, President of Leaf Trading Cards. He was kind enough to answer the questions I had concerning this release.

He even took a few minutes to answer a few questions that I wanted to post for the readers of Aliautos.com.

AliAutos.com: How excited are you about this release?

Brian Gray: This is by far the most exciting release I have ever been involved with. We fully expected the item to be well received, but we are now completely sold out and continue to hear only positive excitement form our customers.

AA: I assume you met Ali. What was that experience like?

BG: I definitely had mixed feelings. I love ALI. He is truly “the greatest”. I was deeply saddened by his health and felt very moved to support causes such as Parkinsons. It was very hard to see ALI like this.

AA: What are your feelings about cutting up fight worn trunks for this product?

BG: I am completely ok with this. To me, for 100’s of collectors to get to enjoy this memorabilia, rather than just the one who owns the whole item. Soon, we will be cutting up a MUCH BIGGER item for one of our products.

AA: What does the future hold for Leaf - Ali products?

BG: Metal is our next set later this year. It is much like the cards most collectors call “Chrome”. It is the most beautiful item I’ve ever produced.
We showed these cards off at our Atlanta show this week and people’s jaws dropped at these stunning cards.

I would like to thank Mr. Gray for his help during this article and hope to see more great Ali related products released through Leaf.

The Numbers
Cases: 399
Total boxes in cases: 4,788
Total cards in boxes: 38,304
Base cards in boxes: 23,940
Total non Ali autographs: 9,576
Total Ali autographs: 200
Total Ali Printing Plates: 400
Total Ali memorabilia: unknown

Here are a few pics of the 'Fight Worn' autographed cards.  These are the big hits of the set.

                                                       

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TTM Responses  7/5/08

Back when Muhammad Ali signed through the mail (TTM) and someone wrote him requesting an autograph, there were several responses that could be expected.  It was almost guaranteed that you would receive a signed Islamic pamphlet even if other autographs were sent.  It was common for Ali to sign the bottom or the back of the request letter, usually personalized and dated.  He would also add one of his famous quotes most of the time.

If you requested a photo, there was a good chance that you would receive one of five different photos.  There was the 3x5 photo of him in a black suit, this is the same photo currently being used for the autopen.  There is also a larger version (8x10) of the same picture.  Another photo in the black suit from a different angle could also be received in 8x10 format.  A B&W photo of Ali from his boxing days was another option.  This photo has a white border around it and comes in both 8x10 and 5x7.  If Ali didn’t have any photos at the time, he would sometimes add under his signature “Sorry, out of pictures”.

Sometimes the requester would receive a nice treat, a signed note on Ali's own stationary.  These autographs are a little more rare than the others but can still be found with some looking.  Even more rare was the return envelope made out in Ali's own hand.  Most of the envelopes weren't signed but some of them have Ali's signature in the return address area.

Although your chances of receiving a hand signed Ali signature TTM at this point are slim-to-none, I still believe that Ali signs several autographs for his fans but I have no proof of this.

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GAI Authenticated Forgeries?  5/18/08

Recently a flood of (in my opinion) obvious forgeries which have 'authenticated' by Global Authentication have hit the market.  Many of these have been selling on ebay for hundreds of dollars.  There seems to be several different styles of forgeries, so they're not all from the same forger.  How so many phony Ali autographs from different sources could be found 'authentic' by GAI is a mystery to me. What exemplars were used by GAI to examine these signatures?  The answer has to be none.

One example is ebay item #300217636183.  This auction was for a Muhammad Ali "signed" gloved complete with a COA from GAI, cert #GV322890.  The only problem with this auction is that the glove was not signed by Ali, it is a forgery (see photo).  This auction ended on April 30th with a final price of $565.89 with 16 bids.  This is only on example from over 20 that I have noted in the last several months.

                        

                                                                    GAI cert # GV 322890                                                                                                   GAI cert # GV 336001

It doesn't take an expert to see that these are not authentic, so why can GAI?  I understand that these companies are giving their opinions and nothing is 100% but over 20 mistakes showing up in such a short period?  Either they don't know Muhammad Ali autographs or they don't care.  How can they call themselves "The leader in authentication" if they can't tell the difference between blatant forgeries and the real thing?

Aliautos.com hopes that its readers keep this in mind, just because they call themselves "The leader" doesn't make it so.

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Hologram Stickers and COA's  2/22/08

Recently forgers and unscrupulous sellers have found a new tool to help them pass their bogus autographs, hologram stickers.  All throughout the internet you can find these holograms used on COA’s and on autographed items from sellers you never heard of.  Or worse yet, from sellers you know that you can’t trust.  Do a google search for ‘custom holograms’ and see what you find.  There are hundreds of companies that will make you hologram stickers with any picture, name, or number you want, including those dual serial numbered stickers that you see on COA’s and the item. 

Quite a few times now I have received an email or spoke to someone who said that the item came with a hologram sticker and COA, which made them feel more comfortable with purchasing the item.  (That's exactly what these sellers want you to think.)  In all of these cases, the autographs that I looked at were fake.  The fact is still the same; most COA’s aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on.  Even if they now come with a shiny sticker on them.

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Changes to the autopen 12/1/07

I'm not sure exactly when but sometime within the last couple of months, Ali's autopen has changed. All they did was make the existing signature smaller. I have already seen several for sale on the secondary market. Many uneducated collector's still believe that the autopen is a real signature and refuse to accept the facts. This recent change is the first alteration to the autopen that I have seen.

Below you can see the previous (large signature) autopen and the New (small signature) autopen.

                              
                                                                     Old autopen.                                                                                                   New autopen.

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Ali Photo File 8x10's 2/22/07

There are an alarming amount of forgeries on the market but there is one kind that we can avoid without question.  Within the last few months Photo File, a large photo printing company has started to print licensed Muhammad photos.  You can see the Photo File logo along with an ALI logo the second you look at them.  The sellers will advertise clear, big signatures on these photos.  Ali hasn't signed in the manner that these forgers are signing in years, let alone a lot of these fakes are terrible. 

If you go to Photo File's website you will see the examples of photos that they sell.  Also, go to the aliautos.com forums for more examples of forgeries on these photos.

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