- June 18,
- JFK Historical Mementos
- 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.
- June 14,
Article in the New York Daily News on the infamous Christy Mathewson book Won In The Ninth that was withdrawn
York Daily News, Sunday May 12, 2005"
- The Score Hears
Sotheby's auction forges
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."
to the story Autographalert.com follows:
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."
- June 9,
- Follow-up To Christy Mathewson
Sotheby's Does The Honorable Thing
- Withdraws Controversial
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
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
- June 9,
- 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!
- June 8,
- 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
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.
- June 4,
- Important Christy
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 Sothebys, 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 Sothebys handles this
- May 21,
- 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?
- May 20,
- Problems With An Autograph
- Problems With An Autograph
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
IASIS c/o IACC/DA, Post Office Box 848486
Hollywood, Florida 33084 USA
- May 19,
- The "Unknown
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
- 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
- May 13,
- Bill Miller, founding publisher
of Autograph Collector magazine is suing Collectors Universe,
- Parent company of PSA/DNA Authentication
- 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
- Most People Hired As Authenticators
Know They Can't Authenticate, And So They Don't Want To Be Called
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
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"
- 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.
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
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.
- 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
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.
- Mickey Mantle, John
F. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams,
- Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad
- 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
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
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
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
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.
April 10, 2005
Via email and U.S. Mail
Mr. Michael Haynes
CEO Collectors Universe
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
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!
- A frightening autograph
"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
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
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.
- UACC Problems Continue To
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
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.
- Has "Snoopy" Bitten
For several years
numerous forged sketches of "Snoopy" have appeared
- 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.
- Better Business Bureau Report
For "PSA," Professional Sports Authenticator, Newport
The Better Business Bureau serving the counties in Southern California
has given a company rating of "D" for PSA (Professional
"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
- 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
- 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
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