3.2 Common alterations

Sometimes perfectly legit cards are modified in ways which can fool a buyer or trader into believing the card is worth more than it should be. The next few sections will go through some of the more common ways this is done.

3.2.1 Colored borders

Probably the most common way to modify a card is to color its border black. This is done to either cover up wear on the card, or to make a later, white bordered print of the card look like the original black bordered print. Below are some very obvious examples of what I'm talking about.

From a safe distance these cards look ok, but upon closer inspection, it was easy to spot them as altered cards. In all three cases, the borders of these cards were colored in an attempt (sad as it was) to make these cards appear to be the original printing. A white border around the Arabian Nights sword symbol can be seen on this Metamorphosis. A characteristic only found on the Chronicles edition of this card.

Even more obvious is the copyright line on the bottom of the card. "Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved." and the year did not appear on the original Arabian Nights cards. The black coloring that was done to this card was also very uneven.

The Revised Kormus Bell below was supposed to appear to be Beta. Regardless of the fact that the ink they used was shiny, there were other obvious clues the the card was not legit. All basic set printings except Revised had a beveled edge effect, but that does not appear on this card.

Furthermore, Beta cards all have a sort of "double border". The inner part of the black border is printed using the same halftone dithering that the main part of the card uses, and therefore doesn't look perfectly black. The outer portion is printed over the rest the card using plain black ink. The white dot you see in the corner is common among almost all Alpha and Beta cards.
Again the copyright line gives away this Elvish Archer. No dates appeared on the original Beta cards. The coloring on the card was also done with something sloppy like nail polish. This was a sad sad job, I really hope it was never intended to fool anyone.

When examining an suspicious card, also check the edges of a card very carefully. The ink will often bleed through and color in the otherwise white edge of the card. There is an example of this here

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