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.

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