We wanted to take a moment to educate you a bit about autograph collecting and eBay.
We are very sorry to have to say this but eBay can be a very hostile place. There are millions of registered accounts worldwide and most eBay users are trustworthy and are an asset to eBay. However, as in life, some people simply cannot be trusted.
The following information will help you make smart purchases on eBay:
There are some users who are anything but an asset to eBay. One example is the self-appointed autograph expert. This eBay user has a bit of knowledge on an autograph and maybe even met the celebrity once or twice but probably purchased most of their autograph collection from eBay and has looked at 1000s of bad autographs on eBay over the years and was duped into believing many bad autographs were good. They then automatically assume they are an expert and waste their precious time searching for what they think are forgeries and emailing the bidders on these items telling them they are an expert and collector for most of their life and that the item in question is a forgery.
Thanks to the wide reach of eBay auctions and lack of real enforcement, many sellers quickly realized that they could simply create their own autographed items at home and try to list them on eBay. All they needed was a sharpie marker, some photos or index cards and a printer to make a COA. Sadly, this fools a bidder who is unaware of how to recognize an authentic autograph. Every seller states his/her items are authentic. Why would they say anything different?
Unfortunately, this has become the norm on eBay. Ebay does police the autographs. A third party will but, predominately at the request of other eBay bidders. Ebay does have a Trust and Safety team and if they find something suspicions they will take action but most of it just slips on by. We assume a change will be coming in the near future in the eBay autograph area (we hope anyway).
We can assure you that the demand for autographed memorabilia would easily out pace the supply of authentic material. We search eBay daily for authentic memorabilia and we don't find that much of it.
We simply ask that you be careful and buy from us.
Sure, some sellers are trying to be honest and we applaud them. There is plenty of room for them in the market.
Unfortunately, many sellers collect their autographs through the mail. How is a seller who lives in places like Erie, Pennsylvania or Fargo, North Dakota going to meet a lot of celebrities? Sure celebrities might come to town but odds are it just will not happen. You really have to be in NY, CA, NV and The UK to meet these people on a regular basis. Simple as that. They must rely on via-the-mail requests (and of course other eBay sellers-dangerous at best).
It is true that there are many celebrity address databases and one can easily write their favorite star in hopes of getting an autograph.
Unfortunately, the world has changed and most stars no longer sign the items. If you get lucky and get an answer, the item was often signed by their secretary (hence the word 'secretarial') assistant, friend, sister or etc. It is true that some authentic autographs can be obtained in this manner but many sellers just list everything they get in the mail on eBay without any research or comparison to known good examples.
If you were in this business long enough you would find out who actually signs authentically through the mail and find that it is a very short ever evolving list. Plus, once a working celebrity address gets published they get overwhelmed with requests and soon after stop responding to them or start replying with 'preprints' or secretarials.
I am very good friends with a MLB pitcher and he told me that one summer he was playing in the Mexican baseball leagues. While he was gone he rented out his home to some college kids so that they could take care of it for him. While he was gone, they opened his mail in order to pay the bills and such and discovered autograph requests in the mail as well. Guess what they did? Yep, they responded to all the requests for autographs by signing the items themselves. He had no idea and when he found out he just laughed. What could he do? The people who requested these assumed they were real.
The last category of seller we want to discuss is the seller of so called 'pre-prints'. With the advent of cheap scanners, low cost ink-jet printers and even low cost photo lab processing, it has opened up the market to another seller to avoid. Although these prints are not a always a negative thing and we can appreciate the value they would have in certain circumstances the problem lies in the deceptive way in which they are marketed.
This type of seller scans an autographed photo (authentic or not) and then sells copies of it. They usually use very tricky language in their auction description and place it in odd categories. The quality can be quite good and fool and unsuspecting victim. Please see our eBay review page article for help on how to spot these. This practice fools a lot of buyers and they think they have obtained an authentic autographed photo at a bargain price. Sometimes not even at a bargain. We sometimes see pre-prints at prices above $100 when a celebrity dies. Often, the sellers never even admits its a copy. You have to be very careful and read every auction description very carefully (you should be doing that no matter what you buy at any website). Also look at what category the item is listed in. Ebay does have categories for these types of items. It is our opinion, that with the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright act, these copies are actually illegal. However, eBay (and other sites) do allow the sale of these items at this time. We hope that will change someday.
Third party authenticators
Even though we use third party authenticators we will come right out and state that we are not big fans of using these services. However, the collecting world has changed and these services are now an important part of the autograph collecting world for many people. We would rather not spend our time and money on these services but with many uneducated eBay buyers, our selling certified items on eBay makes sense for now. Authenticated items do offer buyers some comfort as there is a very good chance that the item is authentic and that some guy did not just sign it in his basement that night. Its a 'win win' situation for everybody- sellers, buyers and eBay. We have our own opinion about each of the authenticating companies after dealing with them and have settled on the ones with any integrity right now. The stories we could tell you about our experiences with these companies would blow your mind.
Some people are trying to expose the third-party authentication companies as of late. Even going so far as to create websites to try and embarrass them. Be very careful about what you read online. Verify everything for yourself. You never really know who is behind a site and just because it is written does not make it true.
The current list of eBay approved autograph authenticators:
- James Spence Authentication
- Beckett (BAS)
- SGC Authentic
If the autograph authentication company you are thinking of utilizing is not on this list you should ask yourself why. Some online research would be good if you plan to use any other company (or really any company).
Here are several companies that offer authentication services but are not approved by eBay (nor are they banned- yet):
AAU (Authentic Autographs Unlimited aka Drew Max), Autograph Pros, OE (Online Authentics), PAAS, Global Authentics (GA)
The current list of banned eBay autograph authenticators/sellers:
- ACE Authentic
- Coach's Corner Sports Auctions LLC
- Christopher L. Morales
- CSC Collectibles
- Donald Frangipani
- Forensic Document Services
- Hollywood Dreams
- J. DiMaggio Co. / J. DiMaggio Company
- Legends Sports Memorabilia
- Nathan's Autographs / N.E. Autographs
- Nicholas Burczyk
- Pro Sports / Pro Sports Memorabilia
- Rare and Signed.com
- Robert Prouty
- R.R.'s Sports Cards & Collectibles
- SCAA / Front Page Art / Angelo Marino
- Slamdunk Sportscards & Memorabilia
- Sports Alley Memorabilia
- Sports Management Group
- Stan's Sports / Stans Sports Memorabilia
- TTA Authentic (formerly STAT Authentic)
- Universal Memorabilia
- USA Authentics
The trust and safety department at eBay keeps a very close eye on these companies and if they have unacceptable practices they will not approve or even disapprove them.
The UACC, PADA and AFTAL Registered Dealer Programs:
We applaud any group who furthers this hobby and the UACC, PADA and AFTAL are doing their part and no blatant forger will be able to join their ranks.
However, just because a seller is a registered UACC, PADA or AFTAL dealer it does not automatically mean their inventory is 100% authentic. The odds are much much better with these type of dealers and you will do well to buy from them but remember that anyone can make a mistake.
These organizations do not guarantee the authenticity of the autographs that are sold by its registered dealers. What they do is investigate dealers and approve the ones that can be trusted and help anyone who purchases an item from them and needs help as well as responds to reports of any dealers that are listing forgeries.
Overall these organizations are a good thing for this hobby and I am glad we have them. However, you still need to do your research on each and every autograph you buy no matter the source.
We are AFTAL registered dealer #AD123.
When purchasing autographs on eBay or from any seller (including us) it is always wise to do research and ask questions before purchasing items and follow our suggestions from this article. This way you will improve your chances of obtaining authentic material.
Remember, autograph collecting is fun. However, once you get to know the main players in this business and realize how much money is at stake you will realize that it is a very interesting business and some due diligence on the part of buyers is required. We wish everyone could just walk down the street in LA and NYC and get the autographs they desire themselves. As that is impossible, we are happy to get them for you.
About World of Autographs:
We sell authentic autographs and collectibles. We have your best interest in mind and our autographs are authentic and speak for themselves. The collectors who know authentic signatures buy our autographed items and know they have made a wise investment. Also, many dealers from around the world buy from us. We have been in this business in one manner or another for over 14 years and plan to be here for many more years to come.