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STEP 1: RESEARCH.
Do your research with the company that currently is selling the signature. Do a google search to see what their background is and if they have any feedback from sources other than their own website like maybe on eBay, Bonanza, Amazon, etc.
STEP 2: WHO CERTIFIED THE AUTOGRAPH?.
Authentication is tricky. In the many years of working in the memorabilia industry, we have never seen an autograph that does not come with a certificate of authenticity (COA). SERIOUSLY. Just because an autograph comes with a COA does not mean it’s real. First thing any forger does is provide a COA from a fictitious company they make up. Remember they sometimes go into real depth to make these COAs look high end to pass the fake signature off better. It all comes down to who’s name/company is at the top of the certificate. We always recommend sticking with the big wigs of authentication companies that are industry recognized as we like to call them “the gold standard of authentication”: PSA/DNA, James Spence Authentication, Steiner Sports, Inscriptagraphs, Upper Deck, Fanatics Authentic/Mounted Memories, Tristar Productions and Online Authentics. These companies have a historical great record with providing authentic autographs for years and years. If you want to reduce your chances of acquiring an unauthentic signature, then stick to these names and you will be fine.
STEP 3: KNOW YOUR LOCATION.
Do you live in Butte, Montana and looking to buy an autograph of Ben Affleck? If you are sitting in your local collectables shop in a small town, what are the actual chances that this place actually had access to Ben Affleck who lives in Boston, MA and does not come out to smaller towns most of the time? Realistically. Think of what the vicinity you are to where that team, athlete or celebrity is and ask yourself that question. If you live in South Dakota and you are looking at autographs from the Minnesota Vikings at your local shop in South Dakota, chances are you have a better chance of your item being authentic. If you in live in New York, chances are you have way more access to Knicks players if you are looking for an autograph of let’s say Walt Frazier. These players you can find at your local grocery store, local autograph signings for the Cadillac dealership, community events for charities, ect. You have a higher shot is what we are saying.
STEP 4: MISREPRESENTATION.
One of the biggest red flags is when you purchase an autograph from a local baseball card shop and they only include their COA. Remember they are only certifying the signature based off their opinion from what they believe is real. If they did not do an autograph signing with that athlete or celebrity, chances are they have not seen enough autographs of that person to truly recognize an autograph as authentic. Again, stick with the larger “gold standard authentication companies” to truly ensure your autograph is real. Keep in mind for value purposes, having a COA from a local card shop authentic or not is worth as much as 80% less money than having a COA from a highly recognized national authentication name.
STEP 5 : TRUST.
Trust: Buy from a reputable company you know has been in business for several years. Let’s say you did buy a signature of some football player and it comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the local shop. You want to be able to go back to them and say your autograph did not pass a PSA/DNA or James Spence Authentication examination. You want to know you can go back to that store and get your money back. Point of this is that many dealers in the sports memorabilia industry come and go so spend a little extra money if you need to ensure you don’t get ripped off and have nowhere to go because they took off or no longer in business.
STEP 6: SEEK ADVICE.
One of the best tools we recommend is using the PSA/DNA Quick Opinion Tool (http://www.psacard.com/store/t-quickopinionebay.aspx) that you can pay $10 ahead of time before purchasing your autograph and they will let you know if it “would be” something that they would certify. It is not a COA, keep that in mind. Remember they can not fully authenticate something until they physically see the item in person in their hands.
STEP 7: IF SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE GOOD TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.
Another great tool you can use to help you determine if your autograph could be authentic is the price you are paying. For example, at Inscriptagraphs we know if an autograph is real and we fully stand by our signatures which is why we charge a premium to own a guaranteed authentic autograph. The price of the item could be a huge help in determining if the autograph is authentic. We recommend you use eBay for this price checker.
Non experienced eBay users are not very aware that eBay had a sold listings tool that can give you pricing on what similar items have sold on eBay for in the past 90 days. To reach this tool, type in on eBay search bar the item that you are looking to compare. On the left hand side of the screen, are a whole bunch of other button to click to help you narrow your search down. Scroll down on this left side menu and look for the section that says “Show only”, under that section you will find a button that says “Completed listings” click this button and up will pop the sold items that you are comparing your autograph against. Look who certified these items and we suggest you look for the gold standard names like we recommended in Step 2. See what those listings are going for already certified by these companies and this may help you determine if the deal you are looking at, is too good to be true.
STEP 8: INSCRIPTAGRAPHS™.
Want the guaranteed real thing? Do you want it with no questions asked? Stick with a company that has over a combined 50 years of experience to lead you some of the best quality signed and framed signatures in the entire memorabilia industry! Contact Inscriptagraphs Sports & Entertainment Memorabilia (www.Inscriptagraphs.com) for your next athlete or celebrity signature you want to add to your collection.