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In the News, March - June, 2005
Breaking News:
June 18, 2005
 
JFK Historical Mementos Returned
 
WASHINGTON, June 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced that the National Archives and Records Administration, on behalf of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, has reached a settlement with the estate of Robert L. White for the return of thousands of pages of documents and artifacts from the presidential and pre-presidential period of John F. Kennedy's career as a public servant. These materials were covered in a 1965 deed of gift from the estate of President Kennedy, which donated official papers and artifacts associated with the President and his life to the National Archives, in trust for the American people.

This settlement follows another important agreement reached last fall, in which a map of Cuba used and annotated by President Kennedy when he was first briefed by the CIA on the Cuban Missile Crisis was returned to the Kennedy Library. Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy's secretary, improperly removed the map from the custody of the United States. Mr. White obtained the map from Mrs. Lincoln and subsequently sold it. The National Archives was alerted by a researcher in 2002 that the map was for sale on the internet for $750,000. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Archives to stop the sale and seek its return, and the case was finally settled last fall.

Among the items that were recovered yesterday from Mr. White's estate are a rocking chair used by President Kennedy in the Oval Office; signing pens used by President Kennedy to sign Public Laws, Executive Orders and International Treaties; a piece of wood originally from the floor of the U.S. Senate that was incorporated into the platform for the 1961 inaugural ceremony; letters, notes, and schedules from President Kennedy and his staff documenting the official business of the White House, as well as important files from his years as a U.S. Senator.

Robert White also obtained this material from Mrs. Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln was entrusted with the responsibility of safekeeping President Kennedy's personal effects, historical items and writings. Rather than turning over all of these materials to President Kennedy's family and to the National Archives, Mrs. Lincoln kept a large number of these items and eventually gave or sold them to Mr. White.

In making the announcement of these settlements, Professor Weinstein said "I am very pleased that these important documents and artifacts are finally being returned to the Kennedy Library where they belong. It was the intent of the Kennedy family that the American people should have the fullest account of the Kennedy Administration, and these materials are essential in telling that story. I am very grateful for the hard work of all of those involved in making this a success story."

"Careful and excellent work by our archivists, curatorial staff and the National Archives General Counsel meant that these documents and artifacts are back home, where they belong. The Kennedy Presidential Library is committed to offering the full historical record of our 35th President, and these are important and welcome elements of our total collection, which includes 48 million pages of documents," commented Deborah Leff, Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is one of 11 Presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

 
Breaking News:
June 14, 2005
 
Recent Article in the New York Daily News on the infamous Christy Mathewson book Won In The Ninth that was withdrawn from Sothebys
 
"New York Daily News, Sunday May 12, 2005"
The Score Hears ...
Sotheby's auction forges ahead
Sotheby's and SportsCards Plus called the auction they conducted in New York on Friday "Important Sports Memorabilia and Cards" - no self-esteem issues here - and it indeed included some important memorabilia, including the five-page 1919 contract that sent Babe Ruth from Boston to the Yankees.

But the auction also included at least one real dog: A signed copy of Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson's 1910 book "Won in the Ninth."

The book, valued at $10,000 to $15,000 in the catalogue, was abruptly yanked on the eve of the auction. Sotheby's spokesman Matthew Weigman declined to provide additional information.

But The Score knows the real score. According to Ron Keurajian, a longtime collector of Hall of Famer autographs, Mathewson passed out hundreds of signed copies to friends and associates. However, Mathewson didn't sit down to autograph all those books himself, Keurajian says, but passed the job on to someone else, probably a secretary.

Last week, autograph expert Stephen Koschal contacted Sotheby's and SportsCard Plus to raise heck and although Koschal says neither company responded, the piece was withdrawn less than 24 hours before the auction.

The book was accompanied by a certificate from PSA/DNA, the nation's largest autograph authentication company, and president Joe Orlando says Koschal's gripes are just sour grapes from a less-successful rival. "There's no proof this was signed by a secretary," Orlando said Thursday. "What this sounds like to me is a bit of jealousy."

But Koschal had the last laugh when the book was pulled from the auction. He says PSA/DNA's staff lack experience and competence. "In our industry," he says, "they are a joke."

An Addendum to the story Autographalert.com follows: 

Mr. Steve Koschal was contacted regarding the comments made by Joe Orlando of PSA/DNA. His response was: "I can truly understand PSA/DNA's embarrassment regarding such a large error on their part. However their was no excuse for this comment as PSA/DNA was advised months ago regarding this error and they refused to correct it as well as others they have made. For Orlando to make this empiric comment that there is no proof that the signature was secretarial was foolish on his part. The autograph expert who wrote the signature study on Christy Mathewson is an acknowledged as an autograph expert by PSA/DNA's own CEO. PSA/DNA as a company who advertises they authenticate autographs, did not have (or refer to) the published signature study of Christy Mathewson. The study, which specifically mentions the secretarial signatures in these books was published by the leading sports collectors magazine in their December 17, 2004 issue. PSA/DNA representatives were certainly advised by me months ago of this study, where and when it was published and they did nothing to correct the error. This allowed this same item to go up for sale once again. At least this time an auction house did the ethical thing."


 
 
Breaking News:
June 9, 2005
 
 
Follow-up To Christy Mathewson Book
Sotheby's Does The Honorable Thing
Withdraws Controversial Book!


The infamous Christy Mathewson book Won In The Ninth that was sold in the March 16, 2005 R&R Auction for $10,655.19, plus the buyer's premium was put up for auction less than three months later in Sotheby's New York Auction ending tomorrow, June 10th.

The New Hampshire based auction house had been notified by several dealers before the March 16th sale that the book did NOT contain a genuine signature of Christy Mathewson. The book was accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticty by PSADNA. PSADNA was also notified of the error based on the knowledge of several sports autograph authenticators and a signature study that was published on Christy Mathewson in a December 2004 sports magazine stating that the signature of Christy Mathewson in these books were signed for him by a secretary.

There is no question that this is the identical book sold by R&R Auction less than three months ago as it contains a paper label affixed to the inside of the book indicating this is "Presentation Copy No. 4" and the name of the recipient has been erased from the label.

After several calls and emails to Sotheby's, Mr. Dan Imler, Auction Coordinator, the auction house confirmed to www.autographalert.com that this item is being pulled from the sale and will not be sold tomorrow.
 
Breaking News:
June 9, 2005
 
Autograph Collectors and Dealers Are Fighting Back!

It appears both collectors and dealers have had enough of the auction houses' "buyer's premiums"and are uniting in an effort to eliminate the "buyer's premium" charged by auction houses.

It wasn't that long ago the auction houses survived quite well simply charging a percentage of the sale of the item to the consignor. The gimmick of the "buyer's premium" was contrived to yield more revenue for the auction house because at that time in some cases the auction houses were charging as much as 35% to the consignor.

One New York City auction company stated "we'll give it a shot and start with 2.5% buyer's premium and see how the market takes it." Not long thereafter the same auction house said: "well, they are paying the 2.5% let's raise it to 5%." And so the story goes. At the time of this writing, some auction houses are milking their customers with a 20% "buyer's premium."

Any auction house can "spin" their justification for this charge. One major reason is when an auction house is having difficulty getting a choice "cover item" for their next sale they can ask a potential consignor for a quality item and not charge them a consignor's fee. As in the old days, the auction house will settle for just collecting from one side.

Some have asked "what is a buyer's premium?" One seasoned dealer's answer was, "when an item is up for sale at an auction and the whole collecting world has seen the item and you are the one willing to bid the highest, then the auction house slaps you with an ‘insult' called a buyer's premium."

It appears that many collectors and dealers are fighting back by participating in auctions in a much smaller scale and in some cases no longer bidding in auctions. Collectors have become verbal and have been writing letters of complaints as recently as the June 17th issue of Sports Collectors Digest. In a letter to the editor a collector states: "I for one have stopped bidding..." Apparently he is not alone, as some auction houses are starting to panic regarding the loss of business. A New England autograph auction house who recently raised their buyer's premium to 17.5% held their auction on May 19, 2005 and had almost 3, 000 items being offered. According to their own auction results seven hundred and seventy six items did not get a bid. That's over 25% of the entire auction that did not sell. Autograph auction catalogs are not as prolific as they were a few years ago. The autograph collectors and dealers are sending a strong message!

 
Breaking News:
June 8, 2005
 
European Dealers Band Together To Fight Forgers


Inspired by The F.B.I. "Operation Bullpen" European some of the more high profile European autograph dealers Markus Brandes, Rolf Ramseier and a few others have joined forces to fight the proliferation of those who forge autographs in Europe.

European Police now have their own department to handle forgery cases and have on hand autograph studies written by these experts.

According to Markus Brandes Autographs: "...we in Europe have the same problem with eBay as in the United States...millions of Euro's will be made with (selling) forgeries on eBay and in some cases people earned more than $100,000 within two years".

Mr. Brandes goes on to say: "...for this reason, it was necessary to inform people through television that more than 80% of all ‘more valuable' items sold on ebay are at least questionable and on Beatles. Elvis, John F. Kennedy and Pope Johannes Paul II we are talking about 95-98%. A German TV called ‘Pro7' which is one of the largest television stations was very interested in the story and made a report for their Boulevard magazine Prompt."

Brandes continues: "...I am sure this report will be a big shock and eBay will have to give a statement as well as our F.B.I. called BKA who is now invited in this case."

These autograph dealers want to educate the public and uninformed collectors about the sale of forgeries. They are working on building a new web site www.isitreal.com which will open soon and be a great educational tool for the autograph hobby.

 
Breaking News:
June 4, 2005
 
 
Important Christy Mathewson Update:
Fake Signed Mathewson Up For Sale Once Again


In the June 10, 2005 issue of Sports Collectors Digest, autograph expert Ron Keurajian writes a Christy Mathewson Update to his Mathewson Signature Study written in the December 17, 2004 issue of the same magazine. In this update Keurajian states that before writing his original article he examined 4-5 of these Mathewson books before stating they were signed by a secretary. In this update Keurajian states he has now inspected 10 signed copies and they are all secretarial signed.

Keurajian states he has come to the conclusion that all these signed presentation copies were ghost signed. This has been confirmed by several autograph authenticators as well.

One of these secretarial signed Mathewson books, copy number 4, was offered by rrauction.com, a New Hampshire based autograph auction house, in their March 16, 2005 auction. The book was accompanied by a COA from PSA/DNA. Before the end of the auction, this auction house was notified by a few autograph dealers that the book they were offering did not contain a genuine signature of Christy Mathewson. Knowing this, the auction house still sold the book for $10,655.19 plus a buyer's premium.

Just two months later, this identical book, copy number 4, is up for auction on ebay by Sotheby’s, New York. Item number 6534005244 starts at $5,000.00 with an estimate of $10,000.00 - $15,000.00. The auction ends June 10, 2005. As of this writing Sothebys has been notified by 5 autograph experts that the signature in this book is not genuine.

It will be interesting to see how Sotheby’s handles this situation!
 

 
Breaking News:
May 21, 2005
 
After Auction Sale?

Many collectors and dealers are asking about the reasoning behind what is being promoted as an "After Auction Sale".

To most, it just doesn't make sense! Some say the word "sale" implies that you are about to get a bargain.

According to many, you receive an auction catalog and look over the items being offered at auction. In many cases the item will start with a minimum bid. That is the minimum amount of money the auction will accept for this item, not to mention the very high "buyer's premiums" being charged as of late. Bear in mind, when you are the winning bidder and are willing to pay a higher price than anyone else in the world, in the end you are slapped (some say insulted) with a "buyers premium". In some cases the buyer's premium is nearly twenty percent. Many collector's stopped participating in auctions when this premium was introduced not that long ago.

The auction is now over and many items have not sold. It's a practice with some to hold an "AFTER AUCTION SALE." These are the items that every one of the auction house's mailing list sees but does not bid on them. In many cases it could be that the minimum bid was too high, or those who know may not have bid because the item was not genuine. After the sale, why would anyone place a bid on an item the whole world saw and didn't want? Now you have the opportunity to participate in a "SALE" by bidding the same price you could have before the "SALE" and still get slapped with the buyer's premium.
Makes one wonder!

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to have a real "SALE" by lowering the minimum bid by 10%-15% and eliminate the buyer's premium since the auction house is collecting 10%-25% commission from the seller? The overall feeling is if you are going to have a sale, why not have a real sale?

 
Breaking News:
May 20, 2005
 
 
Problems With An Autograph Dealer?
Problems With An Autograph Auction House?
You Have A Place To Go!

The International Autograph Sellers Information Services (IASIS) was established in 2002
This group works with all autograph organizations on an International level and especially with local law enforcement agencies, sheriff's departments, the FBI, Internet Fraud Complaint center and Interpol. The IASIS also maintains a list of autograph experts who are capable of appearing in court as expert witnesses. The IASIS has been very successful in helping some having old complaints that were ignored, to being settled. Forgers have been arrested in sting operations and some forgers are presently doing jail time in a Federal Prison because of the help from the IASIS.

In the past there have been too many instances when ethics charges or complaints have been filed with an autograph organization or trade magazine and the complaint has fallen on deaf ears or has not been accepted at all. Reasons for this could be that complaints are filed against a Board member or an active advertiser, so no record of these complaints exist. Much damage has been done in our industry because of these practices, and collectors continue to do business with autograph sellers who seem to have a protective coating.

IASIS asks all individuals who have had a viable complaint with anyone in the autograph industry during the last 15 years to send a copy of that complaint to the IASIS at the address listed below. We also request that in the future, anyone filing a complaint with any autograph dealer, autograph auction house, autograph organization, trade publication or seller on ebay that they also send a copy of the complaint to the IASIS.

Filing your complaint with the IASIS will ensure your complaint has a permanent record in the industry.

To send a copy of your complaint or to request a complaint form write to:
IASIS c/o IACC/DA, Post Office Box 848486
Hollywood, Florida 33084 USA


Breaking News:
May 19, 2005
The "Unknown Authenticator"
Can Anyone Explain Who The Authenticators Really Are?
 
Individuals who are labeled by companies as being "autograph authenticators", "autograph experts" and even going so far as to be being called "world-class authenticators" are coming out of the woodwork.
 
When PSA/DNA had been contacted on several occasions with requests about the background of one of their authenticators. Some extremely disturbing information surfaced about a person with the same name as one of PSA's "autograph authenticators". No one at PSA will respond to the questions addressed!
A recent newly hired "autograph authenticator" whose name has appeared on PSA Certificates is Jeremy Kraft. Trying to check into Mr. Kraft's expertise has not been fruitful. Autographalert.com checked the membership directories of all three autograph organizations and his name is not listed as a member of any. Supposedly his last place of employment was in the shipping room of Grey Flannel. We would be more than happy to make a correction to this if their information is proven wrong. Latest breaking news is that Mr. Kraft has left PSA and has joined Jimmy Spence and he will be the new "autograph expert" for Mr. Spence.
 
Rumors also say that the authentication service offered by Mr. Spence will cover only sports autographs. If this is true, that says volumes regarding the thousands of COA's in the marketplace that have previously borne Mr. Spence's signature on non sports items.
PSA Certificates are now signed by a new person whom no one can identify. There is no printed name under the signature and no title of who this person is. This individual is signing the Certificate on behalf of the six authenticators whose printed signatures appear below on the certificate. Recently one of those "authenticators" whose printed signature appears on the PSA Certificate was contacted and asked who the person is who has been signing these certificates on their behalf. The authenticator had no idea!
The newest PSA "autograph expert", Kevin Low, is listed on their website. Advertised as "...in person autograph collector for over 18 years......full time collector turned dealer......and began selling autographs to some of the nation's most well known dealers..."
 
Our investigative team checked the latest membership directories of all three autograph organizations. They checked regular memberships and dealer memberships and Mr. Low's name is not listed anywhere. Most importantly, four of the nation's top autograph dealers who handle a very high volume of celebrity autographs were contacted. For decades, these dealers have been well known to all who purchase or sell modern celebrity autographs. All four companies, Collectibles of the Stars, Deco Memorabilia, Todd Mueller Autographs (possibly the largest purchaser of autographs in the industry) and Star Shots all stated they are not familiar with the name Kevin Low.
 
Of the fifteen autograph educational courses given around the United States during the last 10 years Mr. Low has not taken a single course and neither has any of the other "autograph experts" at PSA who are salaried employees.


 
Breaking News:
May 13, 2005
 
Bill Miller, founding publisher of Autograph Collector magazine is suing Collectors Universe,
Parent company of PSA/DNA Authentication Services.
 
PSA/DNA is accused of printing Mr. Miller's name on 50,000 of their Certificates of Authenticity as one of their autograph authenticators without Mr. Miller's authorization. Mr. Miller has stated that he has never authenticated nor has he been asked to authenticate a single item for PSA/DNA.
 
On these certificates the "printed" names and signatures of Bob Eaton, Steve Grad, Bill Miller, John Reznikoff, Zach Rullo and James J. Spence, Jr. appear on the "Letter of Authenticity". Mr. Miller believes that with his name on the "Letter of Authenticity" it certainly appears that he, along with others have examined the items in question.
 

 
Breaking News:
April 26, 2005
 
Most People Hired As Authenticators Know They Can't Authenticate, And So They Don't Want To Be Called Authenticators.

How much more ridiculous can the autograph authenticating business get? The April 29, 2005 issue of Sports Collectors Digest contains an article by Rocky Landsverk "Verifying the authentication series." The author states: "One thing I've learned about the ongoing ‘Authenticating the Authenticators' series is that it has a bad name. Virtually every ‘authenticator' I've interviewed said they shouldn't be called authenticators."

Most collectors and dealers agree that many of the people offering an authenticating service should not be referred to as authenticators simply because they can't properly authenticate. They don't have the qualifications nor experience to be offering such a service.

According to the article in SCD, many of the persons who authenticate want to be called "verifiers" or "examiners." Why? Could it be because many of the people offering this service know they can't properly authenticate? That may explain the many thousands of mistakes made by the persons who are labeled authenticators. Real authenticators can and do make an occasional mistake. They are professionals who do not make the common errors of identifying "as genuine" printed signatures, secretarial, and forged signatures. Even worse are all the genuine signatures submitted to the authenticators which have been labeled as non authentic.

Isn't it odd that many of these same authenticators who examine an autograph for a fee issue a "Certificate of Authenticity?" Many of the advertisements will state how these "authenticators" are qualified to authenticate and how much they charge for an authentication. PSA/DNA otherwise known as Professional Sports Authenticator boasts in their own advertising as being the world's largest third party grading and authenticating service. They also state they issue a "Letter of Authenticity." The same brochure states PSA/DNA uses ".....two of the most experienced and highly respected autograph experts...." Another ad states their employees were called "three world-class authentication experts."

Everyone knows a brand name does not authenticate autographs, people do. The CEO of Collectors Universe, parent company of PSA/DNA was recently asked on several occasions, what makes his employees expert authenticators? Of several questions asked, one was "....of the 14 different autograph educational courses given by industry experts around the United States have any of your experts taken even a single course?." These questions were not answered and the reason is obvious.

Where does this misrepresentation stop? It stops when the collector and dealer no longer believes self promoting ads that have little or no documented backing. Collectors and dealers who want to know if their item is genuine should not look at brand names but pay attention to who the actual authenticator is who will examine their item. Do your own research and discover what if any are their qualifications to properly authenticate your autographed items. Genuine authenticators can and will gladly give you a break down of their documented autograph qualification. Answers such as "...I have authenticated over one million autographs...." is not a qualification. Company advertising stating "our experts are world-class" or similar phrases without backup should no longer be acceptable. The only thing that matters is the documented autograph education the authenticator of your choice has accrued.

Ask the right questions. With a little research on your part, you may not be surprised to find that 75% or more of all those charging a fee to authenticate should be called "verifiers" or "examiners."
 
 
Breaking News:
April 25, 2005
 
Has PSA/DNA Begun To Fall Out Of Grace?

That is the question many are starting to ask! A communication from PSA/DNA Chief Executive Officer, Michael Haynes states: ".....As a matter of public record, Collectors Universe paid over $300,000 in the twelve months ended June 30, 2004 for errors and any mishandled products."

To many, that seems like a huge amount of money. Others know how difficult it is to get PSA/DNA to even acknowledge they have made an error. The Christy Mathewson and Joseph-Ignace Guillotin errors are prime examples. There has been no response regarding correcting these errors by issuing a corrected Certificate stating the items are not genuine. With this in mind, the above figure would be larger.

The following is from a PSA/DNA financial statement: Units authenticated by PSA/DNA decreased by approximately 40% to 15,000 units, or 2% of the aggregate units authenticated and graded, in the third quarter of fiscal 2005 from 25,000 in the same period in 2004.

Many collectors and dealers feel this is an astonishing drop in support of the company.

 
Breaking News:
April 18, 2005

The House of Autographs is burning, and the fire is out of control...

However the house has not burned to the ground! Everyone is asking, what is happening to our hobby? More dealers are closing down and collectors fleeing the hobby.

Ask a handful of dealers, where's the new blood? You'll most like hear came and gone! What they mean by that is during the last few years more people (new blood) were introduced to our hobby through ebay. They bought, and many found what they bought was not genuine! Many of these new collectors were taken because they felt secure their purchases coming with COA's. Others felt for what ever reason that paying for getting and opinion from someone with a title "expert" or "authenticator" was the way to go. What they got for their money was a response that started with "Likely." In many cases they found out that many of those opinions were wrong as well. These collectors have had enough and many of them are gone. What the industry is left with is old timers who have most of what they need and are not willing to spend the high prices dealers need to sell genuine autographs. You can hardly fool one of these "old timers" with a half price Washington or Babe Ruth on ebay! These old timers know what the value is of a genuine item.

The situation seems to get worse every day. Many dealers will tell you the phone doesn't ring that often any more. One of the reasons is that the collectors don't know whom to trust. Many of these collectors are getting a quick education and they are not liking what they are learning.

The one thing almost everyone agrees, is that forgeries are flooding the market. Almost all areas of collecting are affected. Let's discuss and stay focused on just one area. A good example would be the field of art. Salvador Dali, Miro, Chagall, Picasso, Haring, Schulz, not to mention the hoards of sketches of "Harvey" supposedly drawn and signed by Jimmy Stewart. It is estimated that 75% of almost everything sold by these top names in the art field are not genuinely signed. Signed sketches, signed books and a never ending supply of color pictures torn from art books are still being sold in lots of 100 or more to dealers.

A Marc Chagall signature study was written and published during 1998. Thousands of signed First Day Covers, wine labels, color prints from books that were on the market were all determined to be forgeries. Because of this educational study, the forger's knew their mistakes and have since worked on producing a better signature. Twenty years after Chagall's death, folders of signed pages removed from books are still being passed around the hobby. This in itself is a huge problem, but it goes much further. Some dealers continue to sell these forgeries on a very regular basis and the collectors see these autographs month after month and are starting to believe they are genuine. Is the thought of the seller, show them enough garbage month after month and the collector will start to believe it. With that thought in mind, the problem continues to escalate. You continue to see the same style Harvey sketch catalog after catalog, and the same style Snoopy sketch and on and on along with the other names mentioned above and the fakes become somewhat believable and accepted. You say to yourself how could a dealer or auction house or anyone else keep making the same mistake? Let's take this to the final level, in comes the "autograph authenticator" who comes from somewhere no one will tell you. Can't locate his name in any old club membership lists, never saw him at an autograph show, never saw him take a single autograph course and some of the "authenticators" on the same team don't know who he is. So Mr. Authenticator contacts the dealer selling these "fake items" and requests examples of the signatures for his reference files. A collector willing to pay their good earned dollars for an authentication mails in their genuinely signed Chagall item to be authenticated. To the collectors surprise, it doesn't match the authenticators forged examples they have on file and you receive a turn down letter.

You have to ask yourself where will all this end, as the legitimate dealers who continue to want to do the right thing, are getting to be few and far between.


Breaking News:
April 14, 2005
An Unexplainable Common Occurrence
Authenticators offer two different opinions on the same signed item..

There is a strange occurrence among an authenticating service whose authenticators are offering two different opinions on the same signed item. It happens "all the time"with the same company! A recent discovery of this mishap was explained by a well known New England autograph dealer. In 1994 the autograph dealer purchased a Baseball Hall of Fame plaque signed by Goose Goslin from Jimmy Spence, a PSA/DNA authenticator for several years. Spence was also selling autographs while authenticating for PSA/DNA.

The autograph dealer sold the plaque to a collector who has recently decided to "pay the bucks" and have his signed plaque certified by PSA/DNA. The authenticators at PSA/DNA turned down the autograph. Their opinion is the signature of Goose Goslin is "not genuine!" How is this possible?

The dealer is trying to contact Jimmy Spence to see how this issue can be settled.. This double authentication with different decisions from the same company is by no means an isolated incident.


 
Breaking News:
April 11, 2005
 
Mickey Mantle, John F. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams,
Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali
All different names but the problem remains the same.

Who knows anymore whose signature is the most often forged? There are many thousands of each of the above names circulating within our hobby. What ads to this travesty is that many of these forgeries come with COA's from high profile "authenticating companies." Taking this one step further, how many of you really think about all the genuine autographs that have been labeled "not genuine" by these same companies?

The problem has become so virulent, one authenticating company ran a special in 2004 for baseballs signed by Mickey Mantle that were previously turned down by any other authenticating company. One free authentication per customer was the deal.

Everyone asks, how did the autograph hobby/business get so bad?

The answer is fairly simple. Of course, we need to place most of the blame on the forgers. The rest of the blame lies with "authenticators" who simply have no idea of what they are doing! There have been discussions with authenticating companies who look at this as just "a business." Their main focus is on generating revenue. Instead of concern for the authenticity and rendering proper time and experience they can give a "quick opinion" in order to do more volume faster to beat last years company revenue results. With so many mistakes being made by authenticating companies when they actually see the item to be authenticated, why would anyone want to pay for a "quick opinion" on an item the authenticating company has not physically seen (such as on ebay) and accept their opinion as "likely yes, or likely no." Has all this gone just too far?

Authenticating companies hire people to be authenticators. Do they have to have experience? What sort of credentials or background do these people have in the autograph industry? Go back several years and see if their names are listed in any club directories. You may be in for a big surprise. During the 1990's, 14 different autograph educational courses were given by many of the top autograph experts in the industry. You should not be surprised to know that nearly all the "authenticators" never took a single course!

Also it is very wise if you can get an authenticator to talk about their credentials, ask for proof. It's a legitimate question. If they have what they claim to have why not have it on display?

Bottom line, most authenticators shouldn't be authenticating. Collectors are starting to realize this as they begin to understand the authenticating business. One collector at a Chicago show became livid at one of the authenticating companies. The conversation got so heated that the company president told the collector to get out of their booth and ".......not to use us anymore." The incident was over a Mickey Mantle "in person" signed ball that was turned down. The collector demanded to see any one of the authenticators who turned down the ball. He was told "....all whose signatures appear on his Certificate saw the ball but they are too busy authenticating to come out." It was proven to this collector several minutes later that almost all the persons whose printed signature appeared on the Certificate were not even in the State of Illinois during the entire show.

The basic reason for much of the authenticating problems is the authenticators will most likely never know what is real or not. It has become more or less a guessing game for them. Almost all of them are new to the industry. Only a few of the authenticators have been around since the 50's and 60's and even 70's when basically all the Mantle's, DiMaggio's and Ted Williams signed items were genuine. These authenticators only saw genuine examples for decades. When the forgeries began to appear, they stood out like a sore thumb.

During the 1980's and 1990's 90's forgeries abounded in dealer's catalogs and at shows. The persons hired to be authenticators had to look at thousands of signed baseballs. Genuine signed balls came in as well as forgeries. Some of the forgeries were well executed causing the "authenticator" puzzlement. These newly created authenticators had to come up in their mind with a style of the signature that they felt was genuine and would stick with that style of the signature. However, they really didn't know for sure because of their lack of knowledge in dealing with only genuine autographs. The result is thousands of errors.

It turns into a guessing game ending with collectors "losing their cool" when the ball they held in their hand for hours, waiting in line for Mantle to sign, got turned down by the person hired to be an authenticator.

It's not easy to determine whom to use. Many letters have been written to CEO's of authenticating companies with specific questions about the background of their "top" authenticator. These letters don't get answered. Wouldn't any authenticating company want to brag about how qualified their authenticator is?

Next time you want to spend your hard earned dollars for an authentication do your own homework. Don't be mislead by full page advertising. Ask the intelligent questions, listen to response if you even get one.

A great first question would be, "if the item is stated fake by you and turns out to be good or vice versa will I get a refund for your incorrect opinion?" A second question could be "whose opinions do you accept?" Finally "of the 14 autograph educational courses available to the hobby, how many has your authenticator taken?" They should be proud to show you their certificates of completion. These certificates are not much different from all those documents hanging in your lawyer's or doctor's office. In the end, in many cases, it seems you are no longer getting what you pay for.
 

Breaking News:
April 2005

April 10, 2005
Via email and U.S. Mail

Mr. Michael Haynes
CEO Collectors Universe
POB 6280
Newport Beach, CA 92658

Dear Mr. Haynes,

The voluminous complaints regarding errors in judgment PSA/DNA authenticators have made fill a large file. Although all are important, some attract more public attention because of the high value of the item that has been erroneously identified and authenticated.

Such is the case of a Ronald Reagan item authenticated "as genuine" by PSA/DNA on January 19, 2004, PSA/DNA Certification B54833. This item was purchased by a collector's wife in Wendell, NC as a gift for her husband.

The PSA/DNA Certificate stated "...this letter will serve as a certificate of authenticity for a letter on Aboard Air Force One letterhead signed by Ronald Reagan...on behalf of Collectors Universe, it is our considered opinion that the signature is genuine." On the certificate is a very small illustration of a complete document that "appears" to be all by the hand of Reagan. It is the Presidential Oath Of Office. The PSA/DNA describes this item as a "letter" and the signature is genuine. This description appears as though the "authenticators" are describing another item had it not included the illustration on the certificate of authenticity.

Upon receiving the gift, this collector felt he needed a second opinion possibly just for the feeling of security. He contacted "PAAS" for a second opinion. However "PAAS" refused to do so until this collector had a properly worded COA from PSA/DNA. The collector contacted Steve Grad at PSA/DNA who stated the COA covers the entire piece just not the signature and that on Jan. 12th a top political PSADNA authenticator actually looked at the item. Grad sent an email to the collector on Sept. 14 stating he "...will have to ask Jimmy Spence about this" regarding issuing a properly worded COA. On September 16 Grad emailed the collector "...can you please resend the piece in to me. I would like to have another look at it...."

More absurd, later that day the collector received another email from Grad stating PSA/DNA's political expert "...just wanted me to take another look at it. As of today and the scan that he saw, he asked how much you wanted for it? He could change his mind, but as far as he's concerned it's Reagan."

Is it normal practice at PSA/DNA to ask a collector who is submitting an item for authentication if they would sell their item and how much they would want for it? Would you not consider this a conflict of interest? Are you even aware of these practices within the PSA/DNA organization?

On Tuesday, September 21 the collector received another email from Grad: "I am in possession of your Reagan piece. The entire piece is fine, please send back the original COA so we can re-word a new one. When we get the old one, we will re-send the new one with the item. Thanks, Steve (Grad)."

On September 27, 2004 PSA/DNA issued a new Certificate of Authenticity, Certification B93026. This new certificate stated: "This letter will serve as a certificate of authenticity for a letter on Aboard Air Force One letterhead written and signed by Ronald Reagan, which we thoroughly examined...." Once again, the new Certificate does not properly describe the item being authenticated. It is by no means a letter, illustrated is the presidential Oath of Office reportedly identified by PSA/DNA as in Reagan's hand and signed by him.

The collector now somewhat satisfied with his almost properly worded certificate from PSADNA more clearly describing his item can now go forth and get a second opinion.

On October 12 the collector sent and email to a representative at Professional Autograph Authentication Services (PAAS) stating: "I sent you the item today, I will certainly be devastated if it is proven not to be the real deal, after all PSA did look at it two times and the political authenticator told Steve it was good as gold....please don't tell me your decision through an email, I'll just find out when I open the box..."

The authenticators at PAAS examined the piece. After due diligent research and deliberation, determined the entire item was a forgery. It is my understanding that the collector has since contacted PSADNA regarding these findings and PSADNA has agreed with the finding of PAAS that his item is indeed a forgery.

Can you explain how the PSA/DNA authenticators reviewed this item twice and came up with the wrong conclusion? The fact that there was an entire piece consisting of forty words and containing two signatures of Ronald Reagan would seem to facilitate authenticating the Oath of Office and Ronald Reagan's signature. What action has your company taken with this collector since PSA/DNA agreed they have erroneously issued two Certificates of Authenticity against this Reagan Oath of Office?

I would also ask, what steps has PSA/DNA taken to authenticate items simply signed by Ronald Reagan since they were unable to properly authenticate forty words and two Reagan signatures on a single item?

Response from Michael Haynes, CEO, Collectors Universe, Parent Company of PSA/DNA:
"We have a policy that prohibits Collectors Universe employees from connecting any of our submitters with any of our outside experts. Accordingly, we have taken your report under examination and we will take appropriate action as may be required."

It is important to notice that Mr. Haynes did not address the issue of how their authenticators could make the same mistake "twice" on this authentication or what they will do to educate their authenticators so that they may properly authenticate a Ronald Reagan signed item in the future!


 
Breaking News:
April 8, 2005
 
A frightening autograph club request-
"We urge you to purchase from dealers who support this elite group..."

"Elite group" was what the Green Berets were called. Now some club wants us to believe their dealers are part of an "elite group." After reading this, they may be making a point but not the point they would like you to believe.

The following are quotes from the Universal Autograph Collectors Club's bimonthly tabloid.

"The UACC Registered Dealer program is made up of the finest autograph dealers world-wide. We urge you to purchase from dealers who support this elite group."
 
"These dealers have been rigorously investigated by the club and found to be knowledgeable in their field."

Who is rigorously investigating these dealers who apply for membership in this organization? Is it the members of the Board of Directors of the UACC? It is and has been suggested that the UACC publish all the complaints mailed to the UACC Ethics Board against Board Members of the UACC. That probably will never happen. Only one complaint has been accepted from a woman in Florida who filed some very interesting complaints against a member of the Board of Directors. Her complaint was accepted by the UACC Ethics Board, yet to no ones surprise it did not end in her favor. She took it one step further and went outside the UACC putting much pressure on the Ethics Board and bringing much unwanted publicity to her complaint. The Board Member/dealer gave the woman a refund for the item she purchased that was deemed not genuine. Everyone should read this complaint as it contains shocking details.

Since then several complaints have been sent to the UACC Ethics Board against members of the UACC Board. All were received, none have been acted upon!

Is this situation amongst the club members "out of control?" For years the Ethics Board had three members and then needed to increase the Ethics Board to four to handle the volume of complaints.

Has anyone paid attention to all the rigorously investigated Registered Dealers who have been expelled by the UACC? Does the UACC also want us to purchase from a full page advertiser who has had scores of complaints filed against them?

This club's Ethics Board is most troubling. What are collectors getting for their dues? A collector by the name of Pat Powell, Jr. of Texas purchased 15 baseballs signed by well known persons from a UACC Registered Dealer. Mr. Powell is handicapped with cerebral palsy and was unable to file the complaint himself. He gave a known autograph dealer power of attorney to act in his behalf and file a complaint with the UACC. Over a period of time Mr. Powell spent $5,200.00 on baseballs signed by Jimmy Carter (2), Gene Autry, Harry Caray (2), Billy Graham (2), Johnny Carson (2), Bill Clinton (2), Elvis Presley, Howard Cosell, Steve Allen and Walter Mondale. The dealer was also holding aside two baseballs signed by Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The collector has to pass on a signed baseball by Queen Elizabeth as it was just too expensive.
 

Forged Bill Clinton Signed Baseball Sold by UACC Registered Dealer #203

The autographs on these baseballs were some of the worst ever witnessed by professional autograph dealers who are not members of the UACC.

A formal complaint dated March 12, 2003 was mailed to Tom Solecki of the UACC Ethics Board with copies of the complaint, copies of the signed baseballs and copies of Certificates of Examination by two professional autograph authenticators plus the collector's letter writing a "power of attorney."
 
Copies of the complaint also were mailed to the other three members of the UACC Ethics Board and Paul Carr who was the president of the UACC, Autograph Collector Magazine and other magazines.

One of the magazines which was copied in on the complaint responded: "Thanks for keeping me posted on the Powell matter. Gosh, that Clinton isn't even close. I'm amazed like you, that the UACC is allowing this dealer to operate with their designation."

The UACC did not respond to this complaint. A second request was mailed to the UACC dated May 16, 2003. On May 29 Mr. Powell was notified that the UACC refused to acknowledge his complaint which allowed their dealer to continue operating and selling autographs to other members of the UACC and anyone else ignorant enough to be duped. The letter of complaint mailed to Paul Carr was returned marked "REFUSED." A frustrated Mr. Powell wrote a letter to the Registered Dealer stating he was getting an attorney and also filing a complaint suit against the UACC, Mr. Paul Carr of Rockville, Md.

Mr. Powell was forced to hire an attorney.

Shortly thereafter the dealer refunded the money to this collector. Registered Dealer #203 is no longer a member of the UACC.

It is interesting to note that this same dealer applied for membership in the International Autograph Collectors Club and Dealers Alliance on September 16, 2002 and was not accepted.

Take a look at just one of the signed baseballs this dealer who was "rigorously investigated" by the UACC sold. Remember as per the UACC: "The UACC Registered Dealer program is made up of the finest autograph dealers world-wide. We urge you to purchase from dealers who support this elite group." Of course, should you have the unfortunate situation that you have a problem with one from this "elite group" you can always file a complaint with the Ethics Board.


 
 
Breaking News:
April 5, 2005
 
UACC Problems Continue To Escalate

It is not difficult to understand or read between the lines and catch the spin on news that originates from the UACC (Universal Autograph Collectors Club.) The latest is typical UACC rhetoric: "UACC Installs New Registered Dealer Oversight Committee." "To better regulate the actions of UACC Registered Dealers, President Michael Hecht has formed a three-member oversight committee. The committee has been empowered to take action whenever a Registered dealer violates the UACC By Laws, Code of Ethics or Basic Business Practices.....Hecht will serve as Chairman...."

Wait a minute! Isn't this the same Michael Hecht who missed much of a UACC Chicago Board Meeting because he needed to be in the hotel hallway turning away members of the UACC who wanted to attend their club's meeting? They had attended their club's meeting in the past and traveled great distances to attend this meeting. This is the same Michael Hecht who earlier in this same meeting witnessed the Treasurer of the UACC write a check to an off duty policeman to ensure no one entered the room and possibly to keep order in the meeting. The travesty of this is that membership dues were used to pay the police to keep members from attending their own meeting!

A major recent UACC scandal many label "HechtGate" is named for the same Michael Hecht. It has much to do about a popular member of the UACC in good standing who was running for the office of vice president in a UACC election. Suddenly his membership was revoked, and he was notified he had no chance for appeal! Michael Hecht was on the Board of Directors during this scandal as a candidate for president of the UACC.

The UACC News Report goes on to state: "He (Hecht) will be joined by...... past president Paul Carr." Has anyone read the complaints of ethics violations against Paul Carr that were sent to the UACC Ethics Board? The UACC would not even accept nor reply to the charges! During the next UACC election, Paul Carr chose not to run for reelection.

The News Release also states: "Hecht sees this as a serious effort on the club's part to hold its Registered Dealers more accountable....we need to tighten up on those few dealers who don't measure up." It appears Mr. Hecht agrees that writing a complaint to the UACC Ethics Board doesn't work since he sees this Committee as a "serious effort." What happened to the supposed vetting of the dealers before allowing membership into the program? Why were so many problematic dealers allowed into the organization with the UACC blessing to buy from their own dealers?

This club continues to have serious problems which has lead to nearly a one third drop in total membership over the last several years. Hecht must have agreed, as he ran on a platform that he would try to rebuild the membership. One must also take into account that most of the members who have dropped out of the UACC, both collectors and dealers are from the United States. These are the educated persons who have knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes. It just takes a moment to look at the last several issues of the club publication and see most all new members are from outside the United States who are unaware of the past and current problems.

Mr. Hecht claimed that "we need to tighten up on those few dealers". What is/has happened to the UACC Registered Dealers? Did many quit the organization or were they removed? How bad is it when nearly one fourth the dealer membership is gone! Go to the UACC Registered Dealer Membership list and you will find that the following Registered Dealers are no longer members. Registered Dealer #10, 14, 15, 22, 24, 30, 31, 39, 44, 47, 54, 58, 60, 61, 62, 65, 68, 69, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81, 82, 83, 84, 90, 91, 100, 102, 103, 116, 121, 125, 127, 130, 133, 135, 136, 153, 154, 160, 161, 162, 163, 172, 174, 176, 178, 187, 193, 195, 197, 201, 203, 216, 225, 229, 232, 236, 238, 241, 243 and 267. It is even more embarrassing and obvious that many professional autograph dealers who have been in business 20 years or more will not join this organization. There are very valid reasons!

Many believe that the UACC problems will continue to escalate as long as basically the same people remain on their Board of Directors. A quote from a past president of the UACC Bob Erickson, stated: "I just can't turn this club over to anyone." A Board Members response was: "We hold elections and the membership is supposed to vote for the next president, why do we have to continue to count our own votes, why can't we have an outside accounting firm receive and count them for us. There is one who will do that for only $75." This was ignored and the Board of Directors harassed that Board Member. Years later, they still count their own votes and we continue to read about their in house problems.

 
Breaking News:
April 4, 2005
Has "Snoopy" Bitten You?

For several years numerous forged sketches of "Snoopy" have appeared for sale.
 
It is estimated that 60% of all Snoopy sketches offered for sale in auctions are not genuine. That figure may be conservative. If these numbers seem overwhelming, the study that is being undertaken on sketches of "Harvey" signed with a signature "Jimmy Stewart" may be even more enlightening.

Seeing Double, published in 1986 was a fine reference book. This is a wonderful title for a book about Autopen signatures. What you are about to view is that some clever, artistic person can almost duplicate a sketch of Snoopy and sign the creators name, "Schulz." You will be seeing more than double in the illustrations below.

The individual creating these bogus sketches has successfully duped many autograph sellers and auction houses in the United States and Europe for the past several years.

The forger obviously has copied a genuine "Snoopy" sketch as closely as possible, yet the forger has made a few mistakes in his original sketch, so when additional sketches are "traced" the same points continue to appear in each and every sketch. Why these nearly identical sketches continued to appear on a very regular basis with the same companies and were not caught also raises questions.

Attached are illustrated some of the sketches that have been offered for sale and sold. Not all the sketches on file are illustrated here, just enough to convince you of the large scale of this operation. View the damaging images here:
Snoopy-Gate

This spurious operation could be exposed if all sellers would forward with their source of these drawings. To report any information on these forgeries write to:

International Autograph Sellers Information Services
Post Office Box 848486
Hollywood, Florida 33084

 
 
April 3, 2005
How Can Any Authenticating Company Make Such A Mistake?

Memo sent to PSA/DNA and Parent Company, Collectors Universe.

Refer to your half page and full page PSA/DNA advertisements in trade magazines with the heading ‘We're intimately involved with some of the biggest names in politics." These ads contain one illustration. The illustration is a photograph of Bill Clinton which bears a signature of Bill Clinton. The signature of Bill Clinton is clearly illustrated. The International Autograph Collectors Club and Dealers Alliance (IACC/DA) took a survey of dealers who specialize in handling presidential signatures. All those who took part in the survey stated the signature of Bill Clinton in your ad was signed by machine. One would think a company who advertises as an "autograph authentication" company would at best illustrate a genuine signature in their advertisement. Some believe if you can't get the signature right in your own ad, how could you possibly render an opinion on those submitted to you by collectors and dealers?
 


For your guidance the IACC/DA published a Bill Clinton Signature Study in 2002. This study should be part of your reference library especially if you are going to continue to give your opinions on Bill Clinton's signature.

 
April 2, 2005
Better Business Bureau Report For "PSA," Professional Sports Authenticator, Newport Beach, California.

The Better Business Bureau serving the counties in Southern California has given a company rating of "D" for PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator).


"The highest rating assigned to a company is AAA, the lowest is an F. A rating of F means that we strongly question the company's for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaint's, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law's licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company's industry is known to us for its fraudulent business practices."

The BBB has given this company a rating of D which is one rating above their lowest rating. The BBB of Southern California assigned ratings are as follows: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C, D and F.
 
Breaking News:
March 30, 2005
Bidding at auction.........Beware!
The word is spreading like wildfire and autograph collectors and dealers are saying "enough is enough!"
 
The good word from the professionals is: "When you receive an auction catalog the very first thing you should do is read the terms of sale and read them thoroughly." Do this before even dabbling through the catalog. Many prospective buyers are simply "tossing" the catalogs in the trash after reading the "Terms of Sale."
 
When the auction house states in their terms "All Sales Final" you better believe they mean what they say. This statement is usually followed by "placing a bid constitutes acceptance of all conditions and terms of sale."
 
A noted autograph dealer in the mid west recently stated "you would have to be nuts to bid in any sale with those or similar terms."
 
Some may take this issue a bit further by trying to convince you in their terms how wonderful they are and how they have many experienced authenticators within their organization who they claim scrutinize all items accepted. For your entertainment they may even list ten or more names of their regular hired experts. Always bear in mind, the same experts are usually utilized during every sale. Working this close with any auction house ensures they will be chosen to view the 500 to 3500 or more items in the next sale.
 
Some may go as far as stating ".....it is our firm policy that any autographed lot sold with a Letter of Authenticity (from their chosen and hired expert) will be considered final. We will not engage in ‘dueling experts,' nor will we simply accept a contrary opinion as grounds for canceling a sale, regardless of the perceived qualifications of another expert. All Autograph Sales Are Final."
 
Why are the "opinions" of the "experts" hired on a continuous basis by the auction house the final word? The auction house states every other "expert" has perceived qualifications! Did you ever think or question why some of the other "experts" would not work for some these auction houses?
 
Based on the above, once these auction houses get your money, you have no chance of getting a refund for any reason.
 
The above scenario was tested when a document signed by the noted French doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin was sold in the MastroNet Premier-Americana Auction. This document came with a COA from PSA/DNA signed by their "authenticators" James J. Spence Jr. and Steve Grad. The COA goes into great detail as how the first decapitator bears his name. It goes on to state "The immortal signature of the creator of the execution machine is a "9". Few other signatures can conjure such immediate mental images as that of the good doctor." All this sounds wonderful but the document was NOT signed by Dr. Guillotin but by a family member who bore the same last name. How can these so called "experts" constantly employed by the auction house make such a mistake?
 
In the Manuscript Society Journal, Vol.XLVI, No. 2, Spring 1994 issue, beginning on page 141 there is a signature study entitled The Guillotin Mystery A Case of Mistaken Identity by noted autograph authority Earl Moore. This educational study with excellent illustrations clearly shows the signature of Guillotin sold by the auction house is that of a Bureau Official and has little value.
The auction house was advised of this after the sale and the response from Bill Mastro was in part: "autograph authentication is not an exact science. It is merely an opinion...why do you feel it necessary to make an issue of this?" He goes on to state who his "guy" is who authenticates much of his historical material. This ‘guy" was contacted and he denied seeing the Guillotin document. This brings up other major problems that need to be addressed. Those seeking a Certificate of Authentication from a company and sees several printed signatures of authenticators can be led to believe everyone whose signature appears on the COA physically handled the item and rendered an opinion. Such is not even close to being the case!
Three top officials at PSA/DNA were also notified of this Guillotin error by email, none of them took the time to respond.
 
When the auction house states "ALL SALES FINAL" they mean what they say. Educational published signature studies can't hold up to their hired/in house "authenticators." If the "authenticators" are not using published educational signature studies written by accepted authorities then what are they using to base their ‘opinions?"
 
If these auction houses and some of those who authenticate would accept documented studies as evidence and give a refund at that point of time or any point in the future this would no longer be the major problem it has become. Their unwillingness to do such only benefits them and leaves no protection for the bidder.
There are a few questions to be asked, one is, why didn't this high profile authenticator have this signature study readily available in their reference library, assuming they have a reference library?
 
The second question is, why didn't the autograph buyer throw the catalog away when they read the term "ALL SALES FINAL!" As Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!"
 
 
March 28, 2005
When Is A 100% Lifetime Guarantee No Guarantee At All? The deplorable state of where the "Autograph Guarantee" is heading!

Those in the autograph hobby/business need to have a fundamental understanding of an autograph sellers' "Guarantee," as those guarantees are becoming actually as useless as most Certificates of Authenticity. Some of the most cleverly worded guarantees may end up being no guarantee at all!

The March 2005 R&R Enterprise Autograph Auction catalog states that they offer a "100% Guarantee Without Time Limit." R&R goes one step further claiming "Guarantee Transferrable." Convincing yes. Sincere, you decide? In some cases these eye catching words in catalogs are simply worthless.

For example, in referring to the cover item of the above mentioned catalog, and the item illustrated was the book Won In The Ninth by Christy Mathewson. This book, item number 2524, contains a paper label/plate bearing an ink signature "Christy Mathewson." This auction item came with a Certificate of Authenticity from PSA/DNA. Bob Eaton, the founder of R&R is an associate of PSA/DNA. His printed signature is on all recent PSA/DNA Certificates of Authenticity. Many feel this is a blatant conflict of interest.

For years many dealers have known that these "Christy Mathewson" signatures were not genuine. Finally that information has been published. Ron Keurajian, the noted vintage baseball autograph expert who has written signature studies for several years in Sports Collectors Digest has written an educational signature study on Christy Mathewson. These signature studies are fundamental to the reference libraries of all legitimate dealers and authenticators. The long awaited Mathewson study was recently published in the December 17, 2004 issue of SCD and entitled "Mathewson Sigs Few and Far Between, So Beware." In this study which contains several Mathewson illustrations, it clearly states in part: "....a certain number of signed presentation copies [Won In The Ninth] were issued, usually signed on a bookplate....these signatures are very pleasing to the eye and appear more sharply angled and the letters are slightly larger and appear more uniform....In my opinion these plated signatures....are ghost signed and not signed by Mathewson...." What many knew privately, finally had been put in print in this educational study.

Anyone experienced in this business is also aware that when exposed, those secretarial, machine or forged signatures are usually rushed into the market place for sale after a signature study is published. It appears that is what happened here.

Days before the end of the R&R Enterprises Autograph Auction, several autograph dealers notified Bob Eaton that his cover item was not genuine. Within two days, a minimum of three well known dealers requested the item be withdrawn based on their knowledge and the newly published signature study of Mathewson. At that time the bidding on the item exceeded $8,000.00.

R&R's response was in part: "We appreciate your professional input on this matter...in light of your concerns we conducted a subsequent review of the Mathewson signature. Based on the findings with R&R and backed by PSA/DNA authenticators, we are confident in the validity of this autograph and back this item with our lifetime guarantee on authenticity."

Pay attention, as elsewhere in the R&R Auction catalog it states that to get a refund you must get an authenticator to state the item is not genuine and it must be an authenticator approved by R&R Auctions.

Throughout this ordeal, emails have been sent to R&R Auctions requesting the names of the persons or authenticating companies of whom they will approve. R&R Auctions has not responded to these requests!

It becomes quite obvious, that the actual sale of this book is basically a final sale, based on it being authenticated by the auction house's own authenticating company. The "100% Lifetime Guarantee" being simply words.

Michael Haynes, Chief Executive Officer of Collectors Universe, parent company of PSA/DNA, has been contacted regarding the authentication of this item. He has been advised of the various dealers' knowledge of this particular item and also of the published signature study. Most of the world wide interested parties involved hope that PSA/DNA will re-issue a new Certificate of Authenticity stating this item does not contain a genuine signature. As of this writing, Mr. Haynes has sent an email acknowledging Ron Keurajian as an expert and asking a few questions about the plated signatures. That admission in itself should have PSA/DNA revise their opinion. Mr. Haynes has not responded to additional emails.

This avoidable situation could be viewed as an embarrassment to have to withdraw a cover item from the sale and to stick to the decision of PSA/DNA with whom the auction house is directly associated. To complicate matters, it is difficult to determine who or how many PSA/DNA authenticators actually rendered an opinion on this item, as the signatures of their authenticators on the COA are preprinted signatures. However, many believe, that since the auction house decided to follow through with the auction and sale of this item, at best, they created a controversy.

Anytime an item to be sold becomes a controversy, who wouldn't agree that the item must not be sold as genuine. Based on the decision of this auction house, one has to believe that all the information published in signature studies and autograph reference books can be rendered useless, because an "opinion" from an authentication company, with whom the auction house is closely associated, over rules.

In this documented case, it certainly appears a "100% Lifetime Guarantee" is NO GUARANTEE AT ALL!


There is an interesting lawsuit that has just been filed by Indiana dealer, Bill Daniels. The lawsuit was filed against Mastronet (an auction house) and PSA/DNA. Click this link to read the lawsuit. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read this lawsuit. Bill Daniels Lawsuit



IACC/DA Board of Directors Votes on Autograph Authenticator

Based on a very high volume of complaints, many that could have been avoided by having available reference material, the Board of Directors of the International Autograph Collectors Club and Dealers Alliance has advised its membership of over 200 dealers that the dealer members of this organization are no longer required to make a refund for something they have sold based on an "opinion" made by PSA/DNA. For more information go to www.iada-cc.com

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