Recently I saw pretty cool post on Reddit, where a guy's aunt sent him some cards that her son used to own. For a player just getting into Magic, it's pretty darn exciting to have Scrublands and Karakas and the like show up your door.
But an important lesson was learned here, and that's that cards we think are sweet from old sets aren't always what they appear to be.
Even "bad" cards like the one above can be worth real money if you find them from Legends. But Wizards did this thing in the '90s where, while trying to address card availability, they massively reprinted cards in a set called Chronicles. It kept the set symbol for cards but changed some other stuff around, making them fairly easy to distinguish if you know what you're looking for.
And what are you looking for?
- White borders. This is the main one, and easy to spot.
- Chronicles cards also have a copyright date, which the prior sets typically did not.
So there you go. If you're interested in learning more about how to determine different sets on old cards, I highly suggest looking at this page.