News-Antique.com - Aug 24,2010 - Some Things to Think About Before Buying Your Next Autograph
Last week someone who visited my web site contacted me asking about a very rare autograph of the “Rat Pack” members. Being an avid Frank Sinatra collector (and very skilled with his autograph ) for probably more than 30 years I suspected before even seeing them that it was highly UN-likely they were authentic. But I suggested he submit them to a third party authentication service like PSA or JSA. Not surprisingly they failed authentication. He told me he wasn’t concerned because the dealer in Las Vegas included her Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. What happened next is very important and what Everyone whoever buys a high value autograph should think about. The dealer responded with “oh I don’t think much of JSA”.
Now I wasn’t so troubled with the fact she didn’t like JSA, but what I found so unsettling is that this is a serious problem within the autograph memorabilia industry. And, it essentially makes almost every autograph Lifetime Guarantee COA WORTHLESS! Yes, I said worthless! Why? Because what this dealer did is completely VOID her responsibility by issuing a COA that had NO criteria, no standard. So, no matter WHAT or WHO authenticated this autograph, all the dealer had to do was disagree with the finding. I guess for the past 20 years I assumed other dealers issued COAs that protected the customer and NOT eliminate all responsibility of the seller. I thought all reputable dealers did what I have done for the past 20 + years and that is specifically state in the COA “what constitutes a non authentic autograph”. Anyone who has bought from us can see on our COAs that we state “if it fails PSA or JSA authentication”. Hence, there will never be a question, if such a scenario should arise. No room for interpretation, no wiggle room for the dealer, no scamming the customer.
Meanwhile, after this conversation took place, I started going through all my COAs from other dealers, reputable dealers. And guess what? NO ONE, NOT ONE dealer specifies in his/her COA what constitutes a non authentic autograph. So, are these other dealers honoring their Lifetime COAs? And who do they accept as the “final word” on the autograph? Do some say PSA or only JSA , or maybe reject ANY third party authentication? Who knows? But, unless the COA specifically states who and what authentication is acceptable in order to honor a refund, it is a guessing game. And, surely not in the favor of the buyer.
Now I know there are reputable dealers that WILL honor a PSA or JSA finding. But, why leave it open for interpretation? Why not employ a standard directly on the COA, so the customer will not have to worry should the above situation arise?
So, below I have added about Ten top concerns and my own opinioned advice when investing in autographs. I hopes it helps someone out there.