Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Ponderings of the Collector's Mind

This is a pretty slow time of year as far as collecting sports memorabilia goes, at least for me.  I find that collecting autographed baseballs and pictures looks the best, therefore that leads towards me tending to target baseball players for autographs more so than other sports.  Since there are no baseball games going on in this region, that means I keep an eye put on public signing events on the signingshotline website I mention now and again.

One thing I did want to mention though, is something you think would be pretty obvious but actually suckers a lot of people every year.  A lot of people out there who collect sports memorabilia do not have the time to go and get the players they want in person.  Instead, they purchase items online.  The problem is that there is a huge amount of forgeries out there, and they are so good you can't really tell any difference between what's fake and what's authentic.  I realize there are now third party companies (PSA/DNA, Tristar, JSA, etc.) that now exist to give authentication, but one huge tip if you're going to buy items online is to pay close attention to whether the certification of that company is an opinion or whether it was at a signing event as a witness.  There is a major difference between the two.  If it is the opinion that an autograph is authentic, they will certify it.  The problem is that no matter how much of a signature forensics background they have, it is still just an opinion.  They can't with 100% certainty tell you that it is real, because they in fact just think that it is.

Let me give one example...

Go to this website;

Enter this number into the verification entry: 4A19144

What comes up is a guarantee of authenticity.  This is an autographed baseball I got at a free signing by Heath Bell at Rancho Bernardo Sports Cards last year, an event in which PSA/DNA attended and authenticated items for you on the spot for a fee of $8.  The reason they can guarantee it is that they were there to witness it.  Here is a picture of that ball...

Just for something else to look at, here is a picture of an 8x10 I had signed at a payed event at OC Sports Cards in Anaheim by Gary Payton, who also inscribed it with "The Glove".  Keep in mind, PSA also attended this event and if you look up the authentication number it is also a guarantee.

Now, go back to the PSA authentication website that I mentioned and type in this number: L87953.  This number represents an autograph for sale on the internet that I randomly looked up.  It is supposedly an 8x10 photo signed by former Raider Napoleon McCallum.

Note the big difference in the way the authentication is worded.  It is of the opinion of PSA that this signature is authentic.  That does not mean that I think it is fake necessarily, but it is not guaranteed to be the real mccoy.

If you are going to go and buy something from eBay, or something along those lines, it is normal for the seller to put the authentication of the item in the description, along with a picture of the certification itself.  What I would do is then go and enter that number into the corresponding database to see how the authentication is worded.  99% of the time, it will only be an opinion.  If you are okay with gambling that the third party is correct, then by all means go ahead and make the purchase.

Now, third part authentication from places like MLB and the NFL are almost always legit, since those organizations will not put their name to something unless they were there.  Just be very careful when purchasing sports memorabilia from people you don't know.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Random Ponderings of the Collector's Mind

It has been quite some time since my last post, and that is due to being extremely busy.  Since I last went to Petco Park to collect some signatures from the Pittsburgh Pirates, I have done absolutely zero signing events or games of any sort.  That means I missed out on teams like the Giants and the Dodgers coming to Petco Park, as well as free signing event like the one Jonathan Quick did up in Anaheim a couple weekends ago at Living Spaces.  I really would have liked to get a picture signed by him with Conn Smythe 2012, especially since the Kings are my favorite team.

I realize some hobbyists out there go to a lot more events than I do, almost on a thrice weekly basis.  Frankly, I don't have the kind of time or want to collect most of the guys that are signing at these events.  Besides, the vast majority of anything going on with regards to sports memorabilia, and happening in Southern California, occurs in Orange County and LA.  That is too far for me to drive unless it is a player really worth getting.

I would like to take some time to talk a little bit more about an annual event that I alluded to in a previous post, and that is the Bay Area Tristar Sports Card Show.  I went to this in April of this year for the first time up at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.  I have to say, it was a well run event and it enabled me to meet some of the better players in baseball history.  The show is more of a card/collectible type of event, but they have athletes appear to sign autographs as well as have a lot of vendors/dealers who show up from around the country.  Although there is no announced date for the Bay Area show for 2013 yet, here is the website;

Last event I got to meet Frank Robinson, Jose Canseco, Pete Rose, Ferguson Jenkins, Johnny Bench, Steve Carlton, Carlton Fisk, and Chris Mullin.  Reggie Jackson was scheduled to appear but cancelled the week prior.  I also purchased a Matt Cain ball that was authenticated at a signing by MLB, as well as a Willie Mays ball that was authenticated by Mays' company as well as JSA.  I also bought a Magic Johnson signed 8x10 from the Hall of Fame Sports' vendor table (they do an annual signing with Johnson every year).  Here are some pictures of the loot...

All of these were from the Saturday of the event, as it is a two day event.  I did not even go on the Sunday, which featured many current and former 49ers and Raiders such as Jim Otto, Joe Montana, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Dwight Clark, Alex Smith, etc.  Also, Tony LaRussa made an appearance and signed autographs as well.  It is show that I would highly recommend to anyone who doesn't mind paying for good autographs.  Hopefully in 2013 I will be able to attend both days and add to my collection.