Posts Tagged fake rings

The Fall of Salesman Sample Championship Rings Continue

October 26, 2014

Thanks to some unscrupulous people in the championship ring hobby, the value and desire of salesman sample rings continue to fall.

Pittsburgh Steelers Super BowlRing

Searching eBay for Championship Rings like I do throughout each day, I recently came across the ring shown above. It’s a beautiful, supposedly authentic salesman sample Super Bowl X ring made by Balfour.

I say supposedly authentic for two reasons:

1) Without an examination of the actual ring and it’s markings, it is possible it is a high-end copy, made to look like a salesman sample.

2) There are so many fake salesman samples in the championship ring collecting community that it’s realistically possible this is a fake super bowl ring.

What I find interesting about this championship ring is that actual salesman sample rings used to sell for $5,000 a decade ago. Then many from the 1970s-1980s fell to around $3,500 a few years back.

This particular ring has an asking price of $2,499 and a “make offer” opportunity. This championship ring is gold filled, not solid gold, so that could effect desirability too. But what I find very telling is that the seller has not received a single “buy it now” offer. Not a single one.

So, thanks to people like Irv Lerner, “The Ring Man”, the price of championship salesman sample rings have plummeted.

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Irv Lerner Continues To Plague The Industry With His Assortment Of Fake Championship Rings

September 11, 2014

I recently received an email from an auction-house winner who discovered his winning ring was not what he thought it was supposed to be:

(Click picture below for a larger picture)

another fake Irv Learner Championship ring

Here’s his email:


I read a post you wrote about Irv Lerner after I received three rings from the legendary auction from last week and realized quickly that the Columbus Clippers ring with Lerner on the side is fake. It even came with a letter from Jenkins showing that it was fake (they made this ’1987′ ring for him in 1993). I hope legendary auctions will do the right thing. I also received two other rings that Irv Lerner had but I am confident that they are real.


I wrote Josh back and told him to immediately contact Legendary auctions and see if they would return his money.

Legendary auctions is having their own troubles lately – with founders Doug Allen and Mark Theotikos pleading guilty in August to wire fraud and other charges.

Legendary auctions may have had no idea that Irv has a history of making fake rings. In fact, I have a copy of Irv’s newsletter where he boasts in writing he will sell any Yankee ring with any name on the shank.

I suggested to Josh that if Legendary won’t refund his money, he should threaten to contact the FBI or the local prosecutor in the district where Legendary’s office is. The FBI was quite involved in the investigation that led to the guilty pleas.

Furthermore, as I have done in the past, I sent the email to various auction house owners, and reminded them to please stay away from accepting auction consignments from Irv Learner.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Auction House Owner:

I received the email below in the middle of the evening based upon an unflattering blog I did on Irv Learner and his assortment of bad rings.

Why an auction house (in this case Legendary) would want to deal with Irv is beyond me.

He has hurt many collectors with his fakes (including me) and has destroyed the value of salesman sample rings since he makes so many copies of them and has fake Balfour and Jostens markings put in the rings.

Irv has probably faked some non salesman samples too.

He even boasts that he will put any name on any Yankee ring. Please ask, I’d be happy to send a pdf of his newsletter where he makes that claim in writing.

Hopefully Legendary will return the bidders money, and hopefully responsible auction owners will stay away from Irv and his assortment of bad rings!

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Advice to Those Wishing to Collect Championship Rings

Collecting championship rings can be a lot of fun, but also a struggle to keep from getting ripped off.

New York Giants Super Bowl XXI Ring and Fake Ring
Recently a reader of this blog asked for advice on getting started collecting rings.  I told him to be careful – there’s a lot of pitfalls to this hobby.

I would recommend potential collectors spend a lot of time learning and researching all they can about the world of championship rings before they start buying them.

If you want to collect baseball cards or game used equipment, there are plenty of resources such as books and websites to learn from.  Unfortunately, there aren’t books on collecting rings, meaning much of the research will be done on your own and take a lot of time.

Here are some basic things to be careful of :

Many “salesman samples” and some supposedly “real” rings are fakes.  Most fakes are made from unauthorized wax molds that are created from authentic original rings.  Many of these fakes are made with real gold and diamonds and then sold as “real rings”.  Since the value of a championship ring is it’s memorabilia value and not jewelry value, these fakes are worth a tiny fraction of a real ring and should be avoided at all costs.

New York Giants Super Bowl XXI Ring and Fake Ring
Could you tell a real ring from a fake?
How about if you didn’t have a real one for comparison?

Never buy a real championship ring without paperwork or proof that the original owner sold the ring.  The ring could be stolen or lost and if you try to sell it, you will be responsible to return the item to it’s original owner if the ring is discovered to be lost or stolen.  Rings have been returned to their original owner when the ring was “discovered’” by the publicity of being featured in an auction.  Buyers have lost tens of thousands of dollars when their prized possession was found to be lost or stolen.  Do you think the ring would be yours to keep if  it was lost many years earlier?  I’d suggest you research this matter too, as stolen property almost always reverts back to the original owner, and there’s no expiration date.

I can’t count the number of times I have been offered a ring and the seller explained that the ring they are selling was given to them by the original owner or that they won it in a poker game.  If you hear this when offered a ring, run from the sale as fast as you can.  I never met a player who gave his cherished ring to a pal or lost it in a game of poker.

Don’t pay “A” prices for a “B” or “C” ring.  Many front office rings are not as big, heavy, and full of diamonds as what the players receive.  “B” and “C” versions are worth much less than a player’s ring.  A front office ring that is truly the same size, and configuration as a player’s ring, holds it’s value much better than a “B” or “C” level ring.  Don’t even think of buying a ring, unless you know exactly what ring version you are offered.

The cheap rings made in China that you see for sale around $100.00 can be nice looking.  They display well as long as you never wear them since the metal can tarnish, pit, oxidize, and the fake diamonds will loosen and fall out.  These rings are near worthless and will be difficult to resell, however, they look great in display cases and can make a nice addition to your memorabilia collection if you don’t wear them.  If you are on a tight budget, these rings can be a great way to start collecting.

Good luck if you decide to start to collecting rings. I can’t stress enough that research and education is vital if you don’t want to get taken advantage of. I will try to write more about this subject down the road.

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Fake Salesman Samples Are Abundant on Ebay

An unsuspecting buyer purchased what he thought was a real salesman-sample NFC Championship ring and put it on ebay…..Then he got an earful from me.

Fake NFC Championship 1972 Super Bowl VII Salesman Sample Washington Redskins Ring

There’s a guy in the Philadelphia area who single handedly ruined the salesman ring sample market place. Literally all by himself.

Salesman sample rings used to be rings that were made by ring manufacturer’s and sold to salesmen in the field.

Jostens and Balfour employ hundreds of salespeople throughout the country. Most of these salespeople visit High Schools and Colleges and sell class rings. They buy rings from the manufacturers because showing a little bling never hurts when trying to impress potential customers. The sales people are not supposed to resell the rings, and the manufactures will usually allow them to return the rings for credit or refund.

Sometimes a real salesman sample ring will fall into the market place and in the old days they would go for a lot of money. More and more of the rings in the market place today are fake, and the guy in the Philly area has sold dozens (or perhaps hundreds of fake rings). To add insult to injury, “Irv”, has his fakes engraved with “Balfour” or “Jostens” or the famous “J” logo inside the ring.

This week on ebay, a 1972 NFC Championship Ring appeared. The seller claimed it was a real salesman sample. I contacted him to politely inform him it was not real. At first, he was insulted and sure it was a real ring. “Hey, the ring has a stamp inside that it was made for Jenkins.” The only problem with the ring was that it was not real, Jenkins was not authorized to make the ring, Jostens was.

Furthermore, the ring was too light to be the same size as a real ring and the Indian head has much less detail than a real ring, and the pony tail and shape of the hair-part were quite different. You will notice on the real ring, the hair-part is straight and it’s curved on the fake ring. On the real ring, the pony-tail has a lot of detail, while the fake ring has virtually none. The fake ring was probably made using a wax-mold process where a real ring was used and a wax mold was made. Typically this process results in a fake ring that’s 20% smaller than the original. After speaking with the seller, it was apparent that the difference in weight from the real ring to the fake ring was about 20%!

The seller refused to remove the word “Salesman sample” from the auction and disbelieved everything I told him. Finally I told him I would buy the ring on ebay using paypal and American Express. I own a real ring so a side by side comparison will clearly show it’s a fake ring. If I prove it’s fake I will alert American Express that the seller committed fraud and to please get my money back from Paypal. In the past American Express has done this and forced paypal to take the money back from the seller. I told him I would send the ring to the NFL or Jostens and he would lose his money and the ring. He finally backed down and agreed to take the words “Salesman Sample” out of the auction.

Folks, please don’t get fooled by salesman samples rings. I have never seen a real “Jeter” Yankee Ring salesman sample and I have never seen a real 1950′s or 1960′s Yankee salesman sample ring. I have seen plenty of fakes. Someday, I hope to write in detail about Irv and his fake Yankee rings.

Irv, if you are reading this, I encourage you to sue me for slander or defamation of character. Go ahead. I look forward to the discovery process where my lawyer(s) can ask away and get to the truth about all the rings you acquired, and how you sold them to unsuspecting victims.

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