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In the News December 2008 - January 2008

 
Breaking News:
December 15, 2008
 
John Reznikoff, Please Stop Authenticating (PSA)

The mistakes authenticating autographs made by the self proclaimed autograph authenticators has reached epidemic proportions.

www.autographalert.com is bombarded with complaints from readers who have had their "in person" signatures turned down as non authentic by these guessers. Why anyone who received an autograph "in person" and would pay for an authentication is beyond our imagination.

The major problem is that private collections are filled with non genuine autographs that have been authenticated as genuine. Apparently after all the stories about authenticating mistakes we have yet to read anything where these companies are doing anything about improving the qualities of their service. What seems important to them is just getting submissions and watch the revenue hopefully grow.

Most of us know who are making these mistakes yet all the authenticating companies (who also know) keep on staff the same people who have made all these mistakes over the years. Www.autographalert.com would love to hear from any one of these companies why this remains so.

It is true, business has fallen off for most of these authenticating companies as collectors get educated. This doesn't help all those collectors who are sitting on bad items thinking they are genuine!

One of our dedicated readers of this site has alerted us to another inexcusable, embarrassing mistake in authenticating.

We are not picking on John Reznikoff, it's just that he has made so many mistakes authenticating autographs and many are in the field of Presidents of the United States. Many of his mistakes are not printed on this site because readers would be bored reading about the same person making so many errors. However every once in awhile, we need to remind our readers when a deplorable error in authenticating is made.

The latest tragedy can be found in the R&R Enterprises last sale of December 14, 2008. Item number 184 is identified as a document signed by Martin Van Buren. In the description it states: "...LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA." Both R&R (Bob Eaton) and John Reznikoff claim to be autograph experts.

Sadly, this item attracted 7 bids yet sold for only 198.00 which is below what a genuine "clipped" signature would sell of Van Buren. Why so cheap? All the educated collectors and dealers know this document is not hand signed by Martin Van Buren so they didn't bid on it.
 


Martin Van Buren secretarial signature sold as genuine in R&R sale
authenticated by both John Reznikoff and Bob Eaton

Worse is that so much has been written about Van Buren's signature and those of his secretary. As far back as 1990, A Lovell Elliott (autograph dealer) advised Charles Hamilton of these type documents being signed for Van Buren by Benjamin F. Butler. An autograph club printed in their journal a few pages just on these signatures and how to clearly tell the difference between both. Why, 18 years later does Eaton and Reznikoff (autograph authenticators) not know this? There is simply no excuse for this mistake. Shamefully, these authenticators lack the reference material on a subject they claim to have expertise.

Reznikoff is one of the authenticators for R&R Enterprises, PSA/DNA, JSA, James Spence Authentications and is also listed as a Registered Dealer in the Universal Autograph Collectors Club and one of their "Approved Appraisers and Authenticators".

The rule of thumb has not changed. Do research on the person or company before you purchase any autograph. Make sure you get a sales slip with the purchased item clearly and accurately described. For your protection make sure the dealer states, on the bill of sale, you get a lifetime guarantee and that you will get a full refund should the item be determined at a later date not to be genuine.

Our personal experience is if the item has been handled by an authenticating company, you should get a second opinion!

Once again, we have attempted to contact John Reznikoff to hear his side of the story, but as usual, no response.

John Reznikoff, our readers would love to hear your explanations.

 
Breaking News:
December 6, 2008
 
PSA/DNA - Another Strike-Out?

Those who will get a real kick out of this story are those who are familiar with the autographs of members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Take a look at the image below found in the last autograph auction of Nate D. Sanders. It was the auction ending Thursday, September 4, 2008, Lot #500.

Catalog description reads: "Signature of baseball great Cy Young. Dark blue ink signature framed beneath Perez-Steele card featuring a close-up drawing overlaid by an action sketch. Signature card measures 3.25"x2"; framed image measures 7.25"x75". Accompanied by PSA Certificate of Authenticity. Fine condition.
 


Oops! Do you see an extra "o" in Young?





Illustrated above is a genuine signature of Cy Young

www.autographalert.com would love to hear from the opinionator at PSA/DNA who authenticated the Yooung signature.

Breaking News:
December 1, 2008
 
PSA/DNA, How Do You Defend This?

Go to the PSA/DNA web site and read about autograph authentication. They state: "Have your autographs examined and certified by the world's foremost autograph experts."

Their authentication process includes a four-level authentication system. Level One being "The Authentication Process." The first step of Level One includes: "Ink/Medium Analysis, autograph structure analysis, object evaluation and also side by side comparisons (when necessary)".

This Level One step also includes the use of the controversial Video Spectral Comparator. PSA/DNA claims using this machine can tell "differences in ink types."

Several names are listed as autograph experts at the bottom of PSA/DNA Certificates. However we can find no instance where anyone of these so called experts will take the blame for a mistake.

By now, most everyone in the autograph collecting hobby should be well aware that "people authenticate autographs not companies".

Some questions need to be asked.

With so many documented mistakes, many being sophomoric, why would any company still claim they have "autograph experts" on their staff?

Why would any company who claims to authenticate autographs hide who the individual is that passed or failed any autograph?

Most interesting is why do some dealers and auctions houses continue to use the same authenticating companies that have made in the past and continue to make so many inexcusable mistakes?

An inexcusable blunder made by the "experts" at PSA/DNA could be found in a Heritage/Odyssey Auction #612. Lot #22262. Cataloged as a Mary Pickford Signed Photograph. "RARE, vintage photo signed by the ‘Pollyanna' star, one of the greatest actresses of the silent era." This supposedly RARE item is accompanied by a COA from PSA/DNA. See illustration below.
 

Item # 22262 from Heritage/Odyssey catalog #612
 
These photographs are by no means rare. They have been around for nearly 100 years and any dealer with the slightest experience most likely has come across these photographs. With a little effort a collector and surely an "autograph authenticating expert" can go to the educational web site of www.isitreal.com, click on the Reference Directory, type in Mary Pickford and voila, an identical photograph with the same signature comes on screen. On this site, the photo is accurately described as a photograph bearing a rubber stamped signature of Mary Pickford.

Can you imagine, someone paid for this quality of service?
How could such a mistake be made by the "experts" at PSA/DNA?
Who is the one or more "experts" at PSA/DNA that passed this as a genuine signature?
How can an autograph "expert" not be able to tell a real ink signature from a rubber stamped signature?
PSA/DNA's website states they do a side-by-side comparison (when necessary). Wasn't this case necessary?
Who was at the helm of the controversial Video Spectral Comparator which PSA/DNA claims can tell "difference in ink types?"

Lastly, why oh why, do these embarrassing mistakes continue to happen?
 
Breaking News:
November 10, 2008
 
AUTOGRAPHS 101

Just when you think you have a handle understanding the autograph industry, something new comes along.

One of our dedicated readers has advised us of at least one auction house who sells autographs has established a new rule.

The rule is: "Buyer responsible for shipping." These words may be overlooked as many bidders don't read all the auction house rules. Many collectors are more concerned about how much the auction house charges for a "Buyers Premium" In this case the auction house charged a whopping 20%.

What does "Buyer Responsible For Shipping" actually mean? It means exactly what it says. The auction house will not pack or ship the item! The auction house gives the winning bidder the phone number for the local UPS store and tells the buyer they have to arrange everything through the store.

The auction house will only call the store to say that the item is ready to be picked up.

Breaking News:
October 28, 2008

JSA James Spence Authentication
Looking Very Foolish!
 
Ask most anyone in the book business and sports autograph business which is the most common recent book in the sports industry where each copy contains a pre-printed signature? The answer is hands down Bo Knows Bo by Bo Jackson and Dick Schaap. Printed in 1990 this extremely common book has been around for eighteen years.  Each copy is signed with a pre-printed signature. For those who are reading this and are new to the hobby a pre-printed signature is not a genuine hand signed signature. The signature is printed in the book just like the rest of the text.  Naturally, each book contains the same identical printed signature.
 
Bricol Enterprises, based in Florida,  runs an occasional auction.  Lot #1738  which ended July 10, 2008 listed one of these books. One day before the sale ended they had a current bid of $25.00.
Illustrated was the page which contained a pre-printed signature of Bo Jackson. The auction house's description stated: "Striking black pen signature on the first inside title page of this 218 pg. book. Sig(nature) is mint! JSA (James Spence Authentication) LOA!"
 
This extremely common pre-printed (non genuine) signature of Bo Jackson has been authenticated "as genuine" by JSA, James Spence Authentication.
 
Most interesting is that Bricol Enterprises listed this book or another copy just like it the year before but was notified the signature was not genuine by a reader of www.autographalert.com.  The book was pulled from that auction.  Could it be that same copy was sent to JSA, James Spence Authentication and JSA passed the signature "as genuine?"
 
Auction house's  can  sell an item that is not genuine yet comes with a COA from an autograph authenticating company. Many of them will take no responsibility for their action.  When confronted, they will simply blame it on the incompetent company they used to authenticate autographs.
 
At the time this article was being written, we went on eBay and found 27 identical books being offered.  Not one of these books was being offered  by an autograph expert. They were being sold by average sports people and book dealers. Not one was offered stating the signature in these books were genuine!  Since the sellers were not autograph experts their terminology describing the pre-printed Bo Jackson signature were dissimilar, yet accurate.
 
The following are just a handful of descriptions from non autograph authenticating persons:
eBay item # 110288115148...."this book has Bo's signature printed...."
eBay item # 370098803350...."facsimile autobiograph...."
eBay item # 200202859625...."it is not signed by Bo Jackson. It contains a printed signature that is in every copy of the book. They are all identical pre-printed signatures."
eBay item # 230283047374...."signature of Bo Jackson on front endpaper appears to have been signed before printing. This is not an original."
 
You have to ask yourself why did 27 non autograph experts easily identify the Bo Jackson signatures in these books as not being genuine?  Yet the company who tells you to "Follow The Leader" cannot  tell a pre-printed signature from a genuine ink signature signed using a pen.
 
Www.autographalert.com has tried with no success on several occasions to address this and similar  issues with James J. Spence, Jr. who runs this company.
 
The JSA website states there are nine individuals on staff who they claim are autograph experts.
 
The following names are members of the Spence gang:
James J. Spence, Jr.
Larry Studebaker
Kip Ingle
Tom Kramer
Frank Kukla
John Reznikoff
Roger Epperson
Scott Stimell
J.D. Bardwell
 
One or more of the persons listed above has authenticated the pre-printed, non-genuine signature of Bo Jackson as genuine. "People authenticate autographs, not companies" and from any JSA LOA  you cannot determine who actually made the wrong decision.  Basically the autograph authenticating companies have made it impossible for you to pin their mistakes down to any one individual.
 
Some collectors/dealer believe the existence of incompetent autograph authenticators have already done as much harm to the hobby as the autograph forgers.  After all millions upon millions of dollars have been spent by collectors who purchased non-genuine autographs based on COA's issued by authenticating companies. The average Joe will complain about being ripped off by being scammed by an auto repair shop yet there are still some people who want you to look the other way after you paid for an autograph that came with an inaccurate autograph authenticating companies COA.
 
Www.autographalert.com recommends collectors/dealers read the book Busted! The author is Thomas J. Riccio of O.J. fame.  In this book the author states that a popular  autograph authenticator at the time: "....was the number one authenticator on eBay, and any item certified by him sold for a great deal of money." The book goes on to say: "That guy (authenticator) is a quack: every crook uses him to get their forgeries passed. He doesn't know a Mickey Mantle autograph from a Mickey Mouse autograph!"
 
This same autograph "expert" authenticator examined several forged items for Real Sports. The reporters posing as customers had a hidden camera. The autograph authenticator passed all seven forgeries and provided seven certificates of authenticity.  The customers told the authenticator the items he authenticated "as genuine" were actually forged.  The authenticators response: "If these are items that I passed and they're known to be fake, again, I gave an opinion on these items."
 
When confronted about their mistakes, is this the best lame excuse that comes from one who claims to be an expert on autographs?   This may be the reason why most authenticating companies refuse to respond to requests to discuss some of their horrific errors.
 
Which one or more on the JSA team will step up to the plate and admit they gave their opinion that this pre-printed, common, non-genuine signature of Bo Jackson was in their opinion genuine! 
 
 
 
                                   Pre-printed signature (not genuine) authenticated "as genuine"
                                   by JSA, James J. Spence Authentication "Follow The Leader"
 

Www.autographalert.com has attempted to contact James J. Spence, Jr. for a short interview regarding this incident.  Spence was told the interview should not take more than 2-3 minutes. As in all the requests for an interview in the past, there is no response from Spence or his company.
 
Some dealers and auction houses of autographs continue to use companies that were created  to  claim to authenticate autographs.  Most will take no responsibility for what they sell, using the excuse that  the "autograph experts" said it was genuine. Fewer collectors are falling for this gimmick and many purchasers of autographs now advise the seller/auction house that they are aware of this game.  If the seller/auction house continues to use their chosen authenticating company then you know  they are well aware that their choice of authenticator is incompetent.
 
One dealer told us that authenticating companies have gotten away with this for so long because there is no law against stupidity.  Big brother isn't watching and why should he if someone is willing to pay dearly for someone's opinion. In most cases the collector doesn't even know whose "opinion" he is getting.  The "phantom opinionator" has a 50% to 50% chance of being right or wrong. Now, how much is that worth?
 
On the plus side, there are still many sellers and auction houses who "unconditionally guarantee" what they sell with "no time limit" for returns.  That's kind of a no-brainer!
 
Of the several professional  autograph organizations in existence, Internationally, at this time not one has taken an advertisement from a company who claims to authenticate autographs. That alone speaks volumes. There is only a very few autograph or sports related autograph publications or news letters that continue to take their ads. In all cases these publications are well aware of the  incompetency and the plethora of errors made by the authenticating companies. This does not speak well for the publications.
 
Some professional autograph dealers will no longer take ads in these same publications. They just don't want their names associated with the autograph authenticating companies. Advertising is down with all these publications. 
 
Slowly but surely collectors are educating others and fewer collectors are spending their hard earned dollars for someone's "guess" or "opinion" especially in cases where autograph authenticators won't respond to  intelligent questions about their "opinions."
 
What are they afraid of?
 

Breaking News:
October 21, 2008

Ringo Starr, Former Beatle Drummer
Warns Autograph Collectors

 
The following information was sent to www.autographalert.com from a dedicated reader of this site. The following is partly from a video on Ringo Starr's web site and information printed by the British Broadcasting System.
 
In the video on his web site, Ringo dressed in black clothes and wearing dark glasses made the following comment: this is "a serious message to everyone watching".  "....I'm warning you with peace and love I have too much to do.....please do not send fan mail to any address you have...nothing will be signed after the 20th of October.  If that is the date on the envelope, it's gonna be tossed".

Breaking News:
October 7, 2008

Autograph Collecting's Latest Reference Book

 


Ronald Reagan and Nelle Reagan Autograph Mystery Uncovered
  by Patricia Claren, Stephen Koschal and Ron Werntz is taking the hobby by storm.  One book reviewer stated: "Hot diggity! Much to my delight, I received in today's mail the copy of your newest work.....which I truly appreciate. It will of course become a valued addition to our reference library....I hope your study will help scale back the incredible shenanigans taking place on the autograph market with early Reagan material....I'm thrilled to see a worthy book out on this neglected topic....Bill Butts, Galena, Il."
 
In deed it already has! The 70 page study written by veteran autograph dealers Patricia Claren, Stephen Koschal and collector Ron Werntz has already changed the autograph community.  Of the five collections/items discussed in the study, three have already basically been removed from either sale or from display. The fourth is privately owned and the fifth is in the collection of author Ron Werntz.
 
One dealers who read the book stated: "after finishing this study there is no way anyone would ever be fooled purchasing a Reagan letter that was written for him by his mother.."  Another reader commented: "this study is going to save a lot of collectors and dealers a lot of money...."
 
This book has been carefully laid out as an educational study.  The authors begin with several pages of handwritten letters by Nelle Reagan. This gives the reader an excellent chance to get familiar with her handwriting.
 
In Chapter Two,  illustrated is a handwritten letter being offered by a dealer as written and signed by Ronald Reagan.  The letter has excellent content and is being offered for $10,000.  Readers of this study should now be able to determine that all the letters in Chapter One were written by the same hand as the $10,000 letter.  The $10,000 letter has been on the market for two years.  Since this study was published, the letter has been removed from the dealers web site.
 
The next few Chapters describe different collections of letters which were believed to be  written by Ronald Reagan, one which was purchased for $500,000.   Chapter Seven illustrates genuine letters, documents and signatures of Ronald Reagan that have been signed over a span of 40 years. This gives the reader a chance to be familiar with Ronald Reagan's handwriting.
 
Chapter Eight, a most important chapter, covers a seven page handwriting comparison and analysis of the writing of Ronald Reagan and Nelle Reagan.
 
Chapter Nine covers the handwriting of Ronald Reagan's sister-in-law Bessie Reagan. Bessie was answering mail for Ronald Reagan as early as August 1949 and was still answering some of his mail during the late 1950's and early 1960's.
 
One collector who has read this Reagan study said it best: "No one should by a letter reportedly written by Ronald Reagan until they read this study."
 
The study was published only in a limited, individually numbered edition, hand signed by all three authors.  Cost is only $13.00 which includes shipping to address in the United States. This invaluable study can be ordered through one of the authors.
 
Patricia Claren
P.O. Box 311061
Miami, FL 33231 USA


Breaking News:
September 27, 2008

Collecting Human Hair
Buyer Be Educated!
 
This is not this first educational article on this site regarding the collecting of human hair. Our other article which exposed the extremely questionable authenticity of Beethoven's hair was well received.

www.autographalert.com took a seller of autographs description of the Beethoven hair and the description includes the word "probably." Beethoven died in 1827. The best the catalog description can come close to this date is that the hair is housed in a frame that can be dated to 1845, eighteen years later.  Even today, anyone can go to an antique shop or show and find a frame from 1845.
 
The few strands of hair came with a Certificate of Authenticity  from a  John Reznikoff of University Archives. His certificate was backed by a another Certificate of Authenticity from PSADNA.  One has to wonder where they got their exemplars to match the so-called Beethoven's hair? 
 
Two years ago some hair from Mary Lincoln was being offered by University Archives which claimed to come with "credible provenance."  Twice we attempted to contact John Reznikoff regarding the provenance of the hair and he would not respond to our request.
 
Collectors who thought of possibly adding some hair to their collection have asked how can they be sure the hair they may want to purchase is genuine?
 
The only way to do this is to watch the hair being cut from the celebrity's head and make sure it doesn't hit the floor and mix with others!
 
If you are going to play the game of collecting hair and purchase it from anyone,  it all gets down to  how much you trust the seller!
 
Not long ago, one major distributor of celebrity hair was asked: "If you have what you truly believe  may be a genuine sample of genuinely well documented celebrity hair,  while examining the sample, a few strands of your own hair fall into the pile and get mixed in, what can you do?"  The answer was: "well shit happens!"
 
Another red flag should go up if you discover the person selling hair has a long tradition of selling  contrived items. That would be a genuine signature on a card, where later, a typed quotation was placed above the signature.  Hundreds are items of this sort are sold such as a Nixon signature with "I am not a crook" typed above it or an LBJ bookplate with the presidential Oath of Office typed above it.  Persons who create or handle this type of contrived item may have no problem switching genuine hair with others.  Problems also start when the seller only has a few strands of original hair  and they need to build on it in order to make it into a limited edition.  Many seasoned collectors have watched the celebrity hair being sold for many years, by multiple sellers,  and we cannot find one instance where any seller has stated they are sold out of that particular hair!
 
Hair raising stories about Neil Armstrong's hair have appeared in newspapers around the country. One of the articles was in the July 20, 2008 issue of the New York Times by Jerry Guo. This article says in part: ".....Though Reznikoff says he collects (hair) mainly for personal enjoyment, his hobby has occasionally gotten him in trouble.  In 2005, he paid $3,000 to Neil Armstrong's barber for some of the astronaut's hair. A furious Armstrong threatened to sue..."
 
www.autographalert.com believe's this was an amazing historical find. Hair from an American icon who shun's collectors.  We decided to dig a little deeper into this story only because of our past experience with descriptions that were very questionable.   
 
We were successful in obtaining an article from a Colorado Springs newspaper. In the June 2, 2005 issue of the Gazette a story written by Andrea Brown. In part the story says: "As far as local memorabilia wheeler and dealer Todd Mueller was concerned, all he bought was some trash' off a barber's floor. But the first man to walk on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong, wants it back. After all, it was once attached to his famous head. Armstrong, 74, is mad at Marx Sizemore, his now former barber in Ohio, secretly sold clippings from a haircut about a year ago to Mueller for $3,000."
 
Wait a second, didn't Reznikoff  different newspapers including the New York Times he bought the hair??????? 
 
Reznikoff continues:  "...a furious Armstrong threatened to sue..."  We discovered this is true but Reznikoff  did not say who could be sued, making it appear that Armstrong would be suing Reznikoff. We discovered who could  really be sued.  The following illustration is the top portion of Armstrong's attorney's letter to the barber. The letter goes on to state that Armstrong wants his hair back and if that is not complied with Mr. Armstrong "indicated his willingness to pursue all claims and remedies afforded to him by the law."  So the drama and spins end here as although it could appear from Reznikoff's own words that he could  be sued we discover the truth and it was  the barber who was threatened.


    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

But this is not the end of the story, we are still trying to find out who is the credible purchaser of Armstrong's hair.   Reznikoff clearly stated he is the one who purchased Armstrong's hair for $3,000 yet the article in the Gazette stated Mueller was the purchaser.    This twist also bothered the reporter from the Colorado Springs Gazettte.  In an attempt to try to get to the truth, the reporter called Reznikoff however according to the June 02 article "Reznikoff did not return a phone call Wednesday."
 
Upon further investigation we have discovered that there was only one sale of Armstrong's hair by the barber.  Read the first paragraph of the legal letter. It is written to Marx Sizemore owner of Herald' Barber Shop.  It clearly states: "This firm represents Neil Armstrong, who has advised us of your transaction with Todd Mueller......sold that hair to Mr. Mueller at a price you have indicated to Mr. Armstrong to be $3,000..."
 
Something here is starting to smell. We have attempted on more than one occasion to contact John Reznikoff of University Archives about his claim to be the purchaser of Neil Armstrong's hair.  Once again, when it comes to questioning the credibility of celebrity hair,  he will not respond to us.
 
Because of Reznikoff's refusal to respond to those questioning his claim,  we contacted Todd Mueller of Todd Mueller Autographs.  Mr. Mueller confirmed he is the only purchaser of Neil Armstrong's hair.  In an interview with Mr. Mueller he stated: "Reznikoff was not aware of the negotiations between myself and the barber.  Matter of fact Reznikoff was not aware of the purchase of the hair until it was bought, paid for and in my hands."
 
We were shocked about our findings.  We still wanted to do  a little more investigating even though we were pretty much convinced who was telling the truth. We had a copy of the lawyer's letter and the interview with Mr. Mueller yet we still wanted to give everyone the benefit of doubt.
 
Illustrated below is a copy of the original check from Todd Mueller Autographs made out to Marx Sizemore for $3,000 and in the upper right corner in Mueller's hand it states: "Armstrong Hair."  This copy of the check was sent to the Gazette as proof that Todd Mueller is was the only purchaser of Neil Armstrong's hair.
 
   
There can be all kinds of spins regarding the content of all the newspaper articles such as "the press got it wrong" or "that's what they wrote, I didn't say that."  Nowhere in all the newspaper articles and stories to be found on the Internet can you find one article where Mr. Reznikoff states "Todd Mueller bought the hair directly from the barber for $3,000."
 

Breaking News:
September 2, 2008



   www.autographalert.com
August 2008
A Record Breaking Number of Visits
 
The folks at www.autographalert.com would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers and supporters for an amazing record number of visits to this site in August 2008. We call this amazing because most know that the summer months are traditionally slow during the summer season.  The record number of visits is more than the combined membership of the three American autograph clubs.
 
www.autographalert.com  would also like to thank all those who have sent in their emails of support for this site.  Part of the success can be attributed to all those dealers including our International friends who have requested to add a link to their web sites.
 
www.autographalert.com will continue to bring you educational autograph information on a timely basis with no advertisers to offend.


Breaking News:
August 28, 2008
Autograph Authenticators In Hiding???????
 
A few weeks ago www.autographalert.com emailed separate invitations for an interview to three persons whose names appear on PSADNA Authentication Services Certificates (COAs).
 
Invitations were sent to Steve Grad, John Reznikoff (University Archives) and Zack Rullo.  It was explained in the request that only about a dozen questions would be asked of each and that the interview would not last more than 20-25 minutes.
 
Not one of these persons honored the request for an interview!
 
What is there to be afraid of?
Are there questions they are afraid to be asked?
Why are they afraid to be publically accountable?
What dont they want you to know?
 
A story touching on this invitation, including the embarrassment of passing as authentic a well know stamped signature of Andrew Johnson was posted on www.autographalert.com
 
www.autographalert.com was advised by someone in this industry that they got a call from one of the above three individuals.  We were told the authenticator seemed like a raving lunatic when asked about the
story posted on www.autographalert.com   The authenticator stated that they are going to spend some money in an attempt to find an internet hacker, break into www.autographalert.com and take down the site.
 
Sounds like a second request for an interview would be fruitless!
 
Should this site be taken down, we will contact our readers and let them know who the authenticator is that made the threat.

Breaking News:
August 23, 2008

PSA/DNA
One More Very Unhappy Customer!

 
www.autographalert.com receives many emails on a regular basis from those who have used third party authenticators and ended up extremely unhappy.  We cant print them all, but keep them on file.   The following is a sample just received.
 
Hi autograph alert,
I submitted 18 Muhammad Ali signed items to a PSA authenticator in New Jersey (Bob Zafian). All the items were signed at shows between 1986 and 1993. They include photos, a bat, two gloves, and a few signed Cassius Clay (We were told not to ask but my girlfriend at the time asked him and he signed a book and a 16x20 photo Cassius Clay).  
While no great fan of P.S.A. I felt that the amount spent on the letters (COAs) would bring me greater resale value.  The agreement I had with Bob Zafian was I was to pay him $25.00 for any item turned down.  As I had all the items signed in person I agreed.  I was shocked when he told e that 16 of 18 were no good.  When I protested that they were all good he told me in a condescending manner I should get P.S.A. quick opinions before making a purchase. I told him how I went to shows and spent at the time big money to get these items signed. He talked to me as I was a liar, these guys are running a big scam and one day the public will find out. They are incompetent. You may publish this letter in your newsletter if you would like.
Thank You, Mark. 

Breaking News:
August 18, 2008

Third Party Authenticators Quickly
         Falling Out of Grace!
 
Third party autograph authenticators continue to get more bad press!
 
There is a record number of professional autograph dealers who will no longer issue a refund based on the opinion of most third party authenticators.
 
As collectors become educated more are realizing that if a signature comes with a COA from a third party authenticator, that signature most likely needs to be re-examined. More importantly the money spent on the authentication is basically wasted.
 
Collectors have found that when it comes time to sell, usually because they wanted to upgrade their signature or signed item for a better item,  they were advised their autograph was not genuine and was as worthless as the opinion or guess made by the autograph authenticator on the Certificate of Authentication that came with the item.
 
We have talked with more major autograph dealers who are presently editing  the wording  on their websites that no refunds will be made based on 3rd party so called autograph authenticators.
 
In the recent edition of Autograph magazine, September 2006, the editor/publisher takes on this subject in his article,  Be Careful Out There. This article names some names but in our opinion others could be added to the list.
 
Autograph magazine goes on to say in part: .....another clue is that many of these companies use forensic document examiners as authenticators.........I am not aware of one respected dealer in the industry who uses forensic document examiners for certificates of authenticity, and to most, its a sign that the item is likely fake. Others offer certificates of authenticity from authentication services that are known in the industry to regularly certify forgeries as genuine.....
 
Another major sign that third party authenticators are struggling is when they have a sale. Consumers realize when a business has a sale, things are very slow.  A business is usually slow because consumers are not supporting the business or have lost respect for the business.
 
James Spence Authentication (JSA) has had a long list of bad publicity both in print and on television news stations.  According to a recent article in Sports Collectors Digest, August 20, 2008 issue: JSA had a weekend special.......for any item signed anywhere in Cooperstown during the weekend, JSA authenticators studied the signature, considered the situation where it was signed and offered their opinion on its veracity for only $5.00.  JSAs usual fee is $20-$40.00.  Some we have talked to think even $5.00 is too much for someones guess especially from someone who has a very long history of making so many documented mistakes and still has trouble telling a printed signature from one that was signed with ink.
 
You may be reminded of another article on this site where not long ago JSA offered the same service at a show held in the Northeast. The news media forged some baseballs of a celebrity who was attending the show and JSA authenticators passed the forgeries as genuine.
Most collectors and dealers with experience in the autograph business will tell you that legally everyone has the right to their opinion and theres no law broken for being ignorant when authenticating autographs. Judges dont want to see COAs, they carry little or no weight. What a judge wants to see is your bill of sale, your only legal document.
 
Www.autographalert.com says there is a solution to this modern dilemma. Collectors must purchase from known professional autograph dealers or auction houses that have valid credentials.  Should they ever make an honest mistake, they should make good. 

Breaking News:
August 8, 2008
Steve Grad, John Reznikoff & Zack Rullo
 The Mistakes Just Keep Coming

 


Www.autographalert.com openly requested an interview with each of these three persons who claim they can authenticate autographs.   The challenge includes a representative from www.autographalert.com asking each of these gents about a dozen questions. The interview should not take more that 20-25 minutes.
 
Many of our readers are concerned about the people at PSADNA who claim to be autograph experts. Questions about their actual backgrounds in autographs, their autograph education and several other questions need to be answered.  Many collectors now somewhat educated  no longer believe in self promoting full page advertisements. Collectors now want to hear from the authenticators themselves.
 
We want to take this opportunity to thank those dealers who have contacted us regarding not giving refunds based on the guess of any 3rd party autograph authenticator. All dealers have to do is refer your customer to the stories on www.autographalert.com
 
Here is one more reason to understand why 3rd party authenticators are incompetent. Read the following.   Again we can refer to the current Mastro Auctions. Lot number 2071, Andrew Johnson Military appointment.  That short description alone sends up a red flag to anyone who has even limited experience handling signed presidential items.  Who doesnt know most of these documents are not hand signed by President Johnson?  It appears only Steve Grad, John Reznikoff and Zack Rullo at PSADNA dont know!
 
The following is a condensed version of Mastros catalog description of this lot. ...offered is an 1866 military commission certificate, signed by President Andrew Johnson....Johnsons black fountain pen signature is a full name example....and rates an 8" in strength......LOA from Steve Grad & Zack Rullo and John Reznikoff/PSADNA.
 
 Andrew Johnson Stamped Signature
Andrew Johnson Stamped Signature being sold as Genuine

Once again, www.autographalert.com would like to hear from the boys at PSADNA how this got passed them?  The only possible excuse, even for these gents is that none of them saw the document. But we would like to hear that from them.
 
Yet, there is a COA from PSADNA from these three passing this item as genuine.
 
Lets take this one more embarrassing step forward. Worse, is that not one of these three can tell a signature signed by a pen using ink verses a signature placed on a document by a stamp. THE SIGNATURE ON THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS A VERY COMMON STAMPED SIGNATURE.
 
Now, if someone cant tell a real ink signature from a stamped signature, why should any collector submit their autograph for authentication? Why should ANY dealer make a refund based on one of their guesses? Why are these people authenticating autographs?
 
Steve Grad, John Reznikoff, Zack Rullo, send us an email and lets set up an interview!

Breaking News:
June 4, 2008
 
PSA/DNA Trio
Grad, Rullo & Reznikoff Botches Mastros Lot


What autograph auction company doesnt have something signed by President Theodore Roosevelt?
His signature is very common in all forms.

Mastros current auction is no exception. Lot number 2092 is what their cataloger describes as a signature of President Theodore Roosevelt. They even go one step further and give it a grade.
    Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th President of the United States, employed black fountain pen to neatly script "Good luck! / Theodore Roosevelt" ("10") on the 3" x 5" page offered here. The paper presents at the NM level with a small area of residue on the reverse, likely from past display. LOA from Steve Grad & Zach Rullo and John Reznikoff/PSA DNA.
    Mastros Lot Description

 

 

Mastro continues to use the company PSA/DNA who claims to authenticate autographs. The trio of so-called experts who authenticated this signature are Steve Grad, Zack Rullo and John Reznikoff.


Illustration of what they call President Theodore Roosevelt
 
We are not here to educate those who want to be called autograph authenticators however as a hint these three bloks can start by researching signatures of Roosevelts secretaries or family members.

Mistakes such as this are totally unacceptable and speaks volumes of the experience of these experts. WWW.autographalert.com would love to hear from one of these experts regarding their research of this Roosevelt signature!

Its anyones guess why Mastro continues to use this company after all the times this auction house has been advised of PSA/DNAs history of sophomoric mistakes.

Breaking News:
May 31, 2008
 
Victor Morenos American Memorabilia
Getting Slammed!


A horror story that has been around for some time! Victor Moreno and his sidekick Susan Kieta have been holding auctions out of the Las Vegas home for a handful of years. Our files indicate numerous problems with this company over the years. From complaints to the Better Business Bureau in Las Vegas to Mr. Moreno having his membership in a major autograph organization terminated for his failure to respond to ethics complaints during March 2004. In August 2004 Susan Kieta received a delinquent letter from First Data demanding a payment of over $1,800 for default in a lease agreement for their electronic credit card machine.

Many of you may remember the fiasco of 2005 when American Memorabilia attempted to sell the famous mass produced Columbia Records Bruce Springsteen album that contained a preprinted signature of Bruce Springsteen authenticated as genuine by PSA/DNA.

American Memorabilia has had their share of problems in the past with regard to authentication as well as making payments. One autograph authenticator who worked for American Memorabilia still has outstanding invoices for non payment dating back to 2003.

Moreno and Susan Kietas latest problems are now exposed on the following link
1. http://www.network54.com/Forum/567138/thread/1207348547/last-1209435357/American+Memorabilia

Statements from consignors state: it is now almost May and still no consignment check or any other compensation for lots sold in AMIs November auction. No return communication either.

Another consignor states: I should not have believed they were truthful the first time around...

And yet another consignor says: What auction house gives their buyers 5+ months to pay. My guess is that the buyers paid long ago and the auction house kept your money.

Another says: I didnt even realize they were still holding auctions.

And another: I was given the same standard answer..the winning bidder has supposedly not paid for the items...the trouble is that this was the excuse given me the time before. Shame on me..

One disgruntled consignor writes: ..I had to actually threaten Kieta with legal action to get paid on my last consignment.....AMI is quickly getting to the point where they cant even be taken seriously....

One more consignor states: For anyone considering consigning to American Memorabilia, a word of caution...count on it taking a minimum of 5-6 months to be paid for your consignments. This is a trend that has grown progressively worse...there is only one person who oversees consignment checks (her initials are K) and she is rarely present. She is readily accessible however, if you have a payment due....or are considering consigning something...

Victor Moreno of American Memorabilia

This auction house is a supporter of 3rd party authenticators who they obviously pay for certificates of authenticity. For autographs they utilize PSA and JSA. American Memorabilias website states you only receive a standard authentication letter. However those winning bidders have the luxury of upgrading the standard letter for an additional fee. Their most interesting statement is : (American Memorabilia) reserves the right to refuse any item that comes from any authentication company.

Breaking News:
May 17, 2008
 
R & R Auction Takes One Giant Leap Backwards

Remember the good ole days? That was when incompetent third party authenticators would pass preprinted, rubber stamped, secretarial or forged signatures as genuine? How about the countless number of times they all turned down genuine signatures as not genuine. These are the calamity of errors of the good ole days.

Its no wonder www.autographalert.com cant get a single so-called authenticator to return a phone call or answer an email with regard to an interview.

Many in this what use to be called wonderful hobby of ours said because of third party authenticators, our hobby has hit bottom, it cant get worse.

Wrong!

Along comes the new R&R Auction catalog. Bob Eaton, owner of R&R is also a PSA/DNA autograph authenticator. Item # 873 is described: Danny Kaye. Minimun Bid $100.00. Vintage matte-finish 8 x 10 photo, signed and inscribed in blue ballpoint Cee: What can I say? Im grateful, Danny. In fine condition, with mild rippling along bottom edge. R&R COA.

A genuine autograph authenticator should easily be able to determine from all the writing and signature on this photo whether the writing is by the hand of Danny Kaye. Given the benefit of doubt, mistakes can happen, but not when the image on the photo is one of the most recognize faces in the entertainment field. The photo is clearly an image of DANNY THOMAS. The handwriting and signature is clearly by the hand of Danny Thomas. So this PSA/DNA authenticator is not only not familiar with the handwriting of Thomas but from the image thinks hes Danny Kaye.

The lucky winning bidder of this item would have also received the priceless R&R COA that accompanies this photograph. Luckily for the hobby, R&R was educated with an email from an www.autographalert.com reader advising them of their inexcusable error.

Incidents like this is just one more reason to keep the boycott going and not support any company that still use third party authenticators.
                                                                                                                                                  Illustration of item #873
 
Breaking News:
May 14, 2008
R & R Auction Office Manager, Confirmed Suicide

Karen Kay Burris, 51 passed away in her home in Amherst, NH on Wednesday, April 2. She left three children and a husband behind. Karen began working for R&R in March 2001and was the former office manager for R&R Auction. She was in charge of all company finances which includes payroll, accounting and checking accounts.

Karen Burris earned her B.S. Degree (with Honors) in Architecture at Sheffield University located in England. She received her Masters Degree in Urban Design at Virginal Tech. Karen was actively pursuing a second Masters degree in Management at the Harvard Business School.

According to Karens sister, Annette Donnelly, Karen was trying to leave R&R and pursue a career elsewhere. She also stated that Bob (Eaton) reads all of his employees emails and on March 5th, upon her return from a second interview, she was fired and allegations of embezzlement were made against her. Annette continues the last month of her life was lived in abject fear of R&R. Kay knew a great deal about the inner workings of this company.

As late as today her name is still the contact point on items listed by R&R and a call to her extension #297 reveals that she is still electronically answering her telephone extension.

The lawsuit remains pending in the Hillsboro County Superior Court in Manchester, New Hampshire.


Breaking News:
May 8, 2008
 
Third Party Autograph Authenticators
Boycott Under Way


Many of our readers are coming forward with serious complaints they are having or have had with third party authenticators. Every possible mistake imaginable has been made by these companies who claim that they can authenticate autographs. One high profile authenticator totally got it wrong on a complete limited signed edition and was running around the USA trying to get back their Certificates. Authenticating forgeries, secretarial, rubber stamped signatures, machine signed signatures as genuine is commonplace. Worse are the monumental amount of genuine autographs that are deemed not genuine. This is not hearsay, these are facts. Television news stations of a high profile authenticator passing forged signatures as genuine is starting to seem common place.

Most of these authenticators will not return phone calls or answer emails with regard to discuss their authentication abilities. They chose to go into hiding. Should someone leaves a message regarding having an autograph authenticated, then the call will be returned.

Many collectors and dealers we have had correspondence with have chosen to avoid all third party authenticators or those associated with these companies. The autograph educated are well aware of the high percentage of non genuine items being passed as genuine by these companies.

Many sellers of autographs, we can no longer refer to them as autograph dealers, are knowingly selling autographs that are not genuine but passed as genuine by a third party authenticating company. For instance, the last story on this website was regarding a very common secretarial signature of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was being offered on eBay by Strike Zone located in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina. The Eisenhower letter came complete with a COA from JSA or James Spence, Follow the Leader.

STRIKE ZONE WAS NOTIFIED IN WRITING TWO DAYS BEFORE THE END OF THE SALE THAT THE LETTER BORE A SECRETARIAL SIGNATURE OF EISENHOWER.
They were advised by one of the leading recognized experts on presidential signatures in the United States. Strike Zones only reply was you have a right to your opinion and did not remove the item from eBay. They sold it two days later.


The word is out that 3rd party authenticating is easy money. Very little investment, a computer, some letterhead and the ability to make a guess. Two new authenticating companies have just been formed and it wouldnt surprise us if in the next year or so more will emerge.

It has now become the opinion of many to avoid any of the companies, stores, auctions and card shops who utilize third party authenticators! A collectors best protection is to purchase your autographed item from a reputable autograph dealer who will guarantee what they sell. The dealer must give you a receipt describing the item in full and stating a 100% money back guarantee if the item is ever determined to not be genuine. This is your legal document.

Guesses from third party authenticators have proven to be worthless! According to what we are hearing, an official boycott has begun.
Breaking News:
April 28, 2008
 
JSA, James Spence Authentications
Cant Get It Right!


Enough has been said just on this site alone regarding JSA and the outrageous mistakes made in authenticating rubber stamped signatures, secretarial, forgeries and preprinted signatures and calling them genuine. Twice has Spence appeared on television authenticating forgeries as genuine. Sadly, all this just in the area of sports autographs.

Spences expansion into other fields of collecting are beginning with the same incompetence.

As of the writing of this article, item #370045746835 is being sold on ebay. The item being sold is a typed letter by Dwight D. Eisenhower and the sale ends April 28. The seller is Strike Zone, listed in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area. The item has twenty-five bids and the high bid is at $177.75.

Strike Zone presently has an unbelievable 130 negative feedbacks. In the past, the owner of this company has been told on numerous occasions, by more than one autograph professional, regarding the use of 3rd party authenticators. The usual response is an autograph seller does not have to know a thing about autographs, the authenticator says its real, we sell it. This way the seller feels they can safely sell anything as long as it comes with a COA from a 3rd party authenticator, which they hire.

Collectors have to understand when they read the self promoting qualifications of any authenticator the words of hype are usually just that. Words such as ...our extensive database of known exemplars we have examined throughout our hobby and professional careers..

What is considered extensive? How does the so called authenticator know if what they have in their database is genuine exemplars? If the so called authenticator is telling the truth, then why do they continuously make such pathetic, inexcusable mistakes on a regular basis?

The latest blunder to come to our attention is the item mentioned above. It can be said that the most novice of presidential autograph collectors can tell at a glace the signature of Eisenhower being sold has been signed for him by a secretary. If you are not as fortunate as JSA to have the so called extensive database ( which obviously didnt work in this instance and in numerous others), there is an entire book written with over 200 pages on just the signature of Eisenhower. There are three pages in this book on just this same secretarial signature.

How does JSA, James Spence Authentication explain this latest inexcusable blunder? What possible spin or excuse can be given for such an outrageous error? What thorough examination did Spence and his flock of authenticators do on this specific item? How is Spence capable of authenticating an Eisenhower letter when he obviously doesnt have the book on authenticating Eisenhowers signature?

The JSA COA that accompanies this letter clearly states: ...it is our considered opinion that this signed item is genuine. He is clearly leading you to believe more than one of his staff has examined this letter! So, who is our?

If you go to the JSA website and look up who they claim to be their experts you find only one name whose claim is to be a specialist authenticating history and politics. The name is John Reznikoff.

 
Will John Reznikoff admit he authenticated this secretarial signature as genuine? Will John Reznikoff say he never saw the item? If that is the case then why does JSA say our considered opinion...? Is something starting to smell?

Over and over again, many collectors have learned if the autographed item comes with a COA from a third party authenticating company, red flags must go up. It is our opinion not to support those card shops and sellers who use third party authenticating companies. We recommend doing business with companies/auction house and shops who guarantee what they sell with a lifetime money back guarantee.

Many of our readers are requesting a list of those shops, auction houses and autograph sellers who support third party authenticators in order to avoid these endless problems. We are in the process of compiling a list!
 
 

Breaking News:
April 17, 2008
 
PSA/DNA
Autograph Authentication Services
How Will Collectors Know When You Hit Bottom?


Readers of www.autographalert.com have read many horrendous stories of the autograph authentication services of PSA/DNA. Hard to believe things can get worse.

Whatever happened to quality of workmanship, pride in the job? We all read the self promoting statements made by all those who claim they are autograph authenticators. We are this and we are that and we have a large reference library and our qualifications are second to none. If thats the case, how does anyone explain the following?

Someone paid PSA/DNA to have a signature on a check certified to be genuine. One has to ask themselves who are the experts at PSA/DNA that took the time to research this item. Go to their supposedly large reference file and have the gall to certify the following as genuine.

 
Check Laurel Tape & Film Company




We can only assume this is how it went. The expert or expertsat PSA/DNA looks at the check and thoroughly examine it. The company name on the check is Laurel Tape & Film, Inc. The signature on the bottom of the check (in the eyes of the PSA/DNA expert) looks like it could read G.A. Laurell (it does look to have to lls to any untrained eye).

The PSA/DNA expert now has the name G.A. Laurell to work with. Where did the expert go to do his research? Where did he find exemplars for a G.A. Laurell? They didnt, it cant be done!

Next step is for you to go to the PSA/DNA website and verify the unsightly sticker number that they affixed to a original document (basically defacing it.) Up comes the page confirming the PSA/DNA Authentication Process and clearly states it is a check and signed by an athlete/celebrity Laurell, G.A.

What PSA/DNA experts are telling us is that a Mr. G.A. Laurell from Laurel Tape & Film. Inc. signed the check and they verify (through their extensive research) that his signature is genuine.

We are sure the owner of this check was pleased to find out his item was certified genuine.

However, the owner was even more pleased when he went to sell his Certified Genuine signed check. The person buying the check told the owner that the check is actually signed by George A. Romero, movie director, who is famous for his 1970's film Dawn of the Dead.

This authentication work was done by the pros at PSA/DNA in June of 2004. It is time that someone at PSA/DNA like Joe Orlando has to be held accountable for this incompetence. The PSA/DNA lead autograph authenticator was James Spence. James Spence needs to be held accountable for this and should have to explain publicly for this shoddy authentication.

Once again, we also have to look at the handful of dealers and auction houses who still support these 3rd party authenticators. They are all aware of these problems. However they continue to use these 3rd party authenticators as an excuse so they can always fall back and state we sold it because the authenticator said it was good. Some of these sellers will not give you a refund. Its time to avoid these sellers and support the sellers who do their own homework and guarantee what they sell.

There is absolutely no excuse for this type of unrelenting lack of quality workmanship.

The following is a list of what PSA/DNA calims to be their autograph authenticators. We would all like to know how many of them examine the check illustrated above.

Steve Grad
James Camner
Herman Darvick
Bob Eaton
Mike Gutierrez
T.J. Kaye
Kewin Low
John Reznikoff
Zack Rullo, Senior Authentictor
Bob Zafian

www.autographalert.com takes its hat off to all those card stores who emailed us or told us in person about the 3rd party authenticators visiting their shops trying to get authentication work and were told to go home.

Breaking News:
April 12, 2008
 
R&R Auction Official Response to the Scott Cornish Debacle

Like you, and so many of the professionals and hobbyists in our trade, I am both surprised and concerned by the words written by Scott Cornish to Florian Noller. They do convey a strong, hurtful, message that is truly unwarranted. In short, we firmly denounce the harmful words used in Scotts message.

Although, we believe Scott has provided a valuable service to R&R and its customers in the past, under the circumstances, we cannot continue our relationship in light of these published remarks. R&R had no advance knowledge that apparent words of dispute were being exchanged between Scott and another dealer. Likewise, R&R would not encourage that a dispute or difference of opinion be negotiated or debated in terms that are insensitive or demeaning. For these reasons, R&R will immediately cease our relationship with Scott Cornish.

Our decision is based on the unfortunate circumstances at hand and not because of lack of confidence in Scotts knowledge or authentication services. Nevertheless, we feel compelled to take the action outlined herein and we regret the circumstances that compelled us to do so.

Sincerely,

Bob Eaton
R&R Enterprises

 
Breaking News:
April 2, 2008
 
R&R Auction Astronaut Authenticator
Goes Berserk!

WARNING

The following story will be offensive to most all who read it. Read it at your own risk and act accordingly. It is a bizarre story which is just unfolding.

The name Scott Cornish is basically unknown to autograph collectors unless you collect or deal in the autographs of astronauts. Little is known of this man's background associated with the collecting of astronaut autographs. However, he is the person who R&R Auctions of New Hampshire uses as their authenticator for items signed by astronauts.

Www.autographalert.com is aware of a genuine expert on the autographs of the astronauts. His name is Florian Noller and he is based out of Germany. He is known and respected Internationally by those who collect the autographs of astronauts.

The following email is posted here in its entirety. It was sent on April 2, 2008 by Scott Cornish to Florian Noller.
     
    From: cscornish@comcast.net (Scott Cornish)
    To: Florian Noller <florian@spaceflori.com>
    Subject: Re: Armstrong
    Date: Tue, 01 Apr 2008 18:45:41
     
    No wonder Hitler took over your country. If its current hobby
    "leaders" won't even combat astronaut forgery occuring there, how
    could a dictator ever be stopped? But that's not to say things
    haven't improved since then. I mean - it's not like y'all are
    still making lampshades out of human skin or smashing babies' heads
    against brick walls.
     
    Remember what I said, little boy. You have no clue how ugly I can get.

 

 
www.autographalert.com has been in touch with Mr. Noller and assured him that these horrific statements are NOT the feelings of the American people. It is the comments from a person obviously deranged.

Mr. Noller believes Scott Cornish does not deserve to remain in the astronaut autograph collecting community. www.autographalert.com strongly believes Mr. Cornish does not belong anywhere in the autograph collecting community.

R&R Auctions has a long history of not responding to emails from www.autographalert.com
and it is up to the entire autograph community to rid our hobby of this individual.

Those with an interest in removing Scott Cornish from this hobby should email:
Bob@rrauction.com


Breaking News:
April 1, 2008
 
Autograph Club Goes International

Finally some good news for the International autograph community. A club, free of the usual politics with a main goal towards educating collectors and dealers around the world. Many serious collectors and long time dealers are no longer members of an autograph club and if you are looking for some fresh ideas moving in a positive direction www.autographalert.com recommends you consider joining this International Autograph Organization.

The following is their press release.


German Autograph Club (AdA) establishes a homepage in English. The German Autograph Society (AdA) was founded in 1986. We were the first autograph organization in Continental Europe that organized meetings with collectors and dealers. We have designed an English version of our homepage effective April 1, 2008. The club is aware that collectors and dealers worldwide have a desire for an International organization where they can exchange ideas, educational information and find ways to protect themselves from acquiring forgeries. Additional plans of the club are to notify the membership of future autograph events and the publication of autograph educational material such as reference books and signature studies. These are the main goals of our organization. Members who publish their field of collecting will be able to exchange information with other members who have similar interests. Log onto www.autograph-club.org and see for yourself how this club has expanded. For just 10 Euro (about $15.00) members have the ability to publish autograph related articles and much more. Those who write the most interesting article will win a monetary award. The website also offers the ability to discuss autograph related topics and exchange successful addresses in a moderated forum. A membership application will be found on the homepage. The German Autograph Society is a non profit organization and is looking forward to your support. Join today and help keep this wonderful hobby of autographs alive!

Breaking News:
March 27, 2008
 
 
Autograph Collecting-More than a Hobby
by El Fraley
www.ehistorybuff.com

Freedom is but one generation from extinction.
-----Ronald Wilson Reagan

If the government were put in charge of the Sahara Desert there would be a sand shortage in less than five years.
-------Anonymous ( for fear of reprisal)

He who controls the past, controls the future; and he who controls the present, controls the past."
----------George Orwell

There is much depressing news these days concerning the dishonesty and outright fraud in the autograph and manuscript hobby. In fact, it sometimes seems like there are no limits to the mendacity of many individuals in our field. But there is another, more important and more uplifting side to this hobby that at least in part motivates some very good people in the world of manuscripts. Autograph collectors and dealers should understand clearly that they have a potentially important role to play in preserving the history of our country separate and apart from institutions and that function may help to ensure the long term survival of our freedoms as discussed herein.

Since there is no American Race our country is defined entirely by its history which includes from its inception our founding documents. Those documents encompass not only the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution but also the written and printed records of early commerce, literature and science. The importance of this material was recognized by congress in the 1800s and that is why Peter Force was commissioned to collect and thus preserve as much of the early written record of American history as possible which resulted in his nine volume work entitled American Archives***. It is tragic his effort was terminated before it was completed because of a lack of funds.

Orwell wrote in his classic novel 1984 that to establish a tyranny you first need to destroy a countrys history. Remember, the protagonist in 1984 was Winston Smith whose job in the Ministry of Truth was to keep rewriting history so that the government would always be right. If you accept the argument that America and American exceptionalism is defined by our history it follows that each new generation of Americans must be afforded free access to the pristine letters, newspapers and documents that define our beginning history accurately so that they will understand and appreciate how important it is to perpetuate our founding principles and why they stand in part as a barrier to tyranny. One of the best ways to ensure Americans have access to their written and printed history is to keep as much of our history as possible in private hands and that is where our field comes in. Our role as historical conservationists will make certain that government never has enough credibility to proclaim that history is what they say it is. Just as environmentalists work to preserve the physical environment autographists must work to conserve our political environment including our inalienable rights and freedom. We can well do without another Ministry of Truth.

One thing is clear, today the government is not the only threat to our freedoms and rights. It is now apparent that neither the American academe nor the mainstream media any longer serve the function of watchchdogs of government. They now function more like cuttlefish squirting ink to obscure the aims of those who really are trying to scuttle America or at least transform it into European-style social democracy. The evidence is now overwhelming that the majority of mainstream media is thoroughly corrupt and has become nothing but a cheerleader for socialism and the destruction of America as we know it.

America has many governmental and private institutions that collect and preserve our history and many of those entities are in fact well known-The Smithsonian, The National Archives and The Presidential Library System to name a few. But it is my contention that these and similar institutions should not gain complete control over our recorded history for reasons already cited as well as the following: First, the record is now clear that many institutions have done a deplorable job in archiving and preserving the items they have been given. Thus, a recent audit of the Presidential Library system by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)** showed that several of the libraries including the Reagan Library had inadequate staff, poor techniques of record keeping and below standards for preservation. The Reagan Library staff was given a list of 20 items they were alleged to have in their possession by the OIG and they could only find 20 per cent of them. Along the same line the OIG has launched a major criminal investigation of alleged thefts from the National Archives the exact extent of which remains unknown at present. And who can forget Sandy Berger being allowed to stuff documents in his socks and underwear and walk out of the National Archives in broad daylight only to proceed to destroy what probably were very important records of the National Security Administration effort, or lack thereof, against terrorists by the Clinton Administration. Furthermore Berger received a mere token punishment for stealing from all Americans and he is already back in the mix in national affairs. Another example of governmental incapacity and neglect surfaced recently when it was revealed by the national media that the Supreme Court had misplaced one of the Stone vellum Declarations of Independence which was only found recently behind a row of filing cabinets. Before it was found it was alleged to have been stolen. A second reason for not giving historical material to institutions is that it often becomes sequestered and thus unavailable to average citizens without something akin to an Act of Congress. Third there is the danger that the more these institutions acquire the more they want and some have shown, especially at the state level, that they will use the legal resources of government to launch replevin actions to recover items that are now in private hands but which they claim, but often fail to prove, actually belong to them. Fighting replevin is very costly to all concerned but especially for collectors and dealers. Finally as this article previously argued that the more the government controls our recorded history the more power it has to revise that history to its own ends. When President Reagan was asked how he thought he would be treated by history his response wasIt depends on who writes it.

So, to end this where we began, autograph and manuscript collectors may play an important role in preserving our history and thus the long term survival of freedom in America. Autographists can function in a sense like worker bees pollinating the next generation of freedoms. Autographists can not guarantee the outcome of the perpetual battle against government usurping our rights and freedoms but that does not negate trying. Original historical materials kept in private hands can be used by citizens to teach and educate and thus stimulate an interest in and appreciation for the importance of our history. Understanding that history gives the citizens the ammunition to oppose any public policy initiative that diminishes our political or religious freedoms. A historically literate citizenry should be able to deter government or even the academe or the media from attempting to rewrite history to advance their political ends.

***Peter Force, ed. American Archives 9 vol 18371853, major compilation of documents 17741776.

**http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/NARA_OIG_Audit_Report_No._08-01.pdf

Breaking News:
March 20, 2008
 
Rick Gidding,
Global Authenticator known as Mr. Midget,
is exposed...

Anyone ever hear of Rick Gizmo Gidding? He is the owner of Gizmos Sports Cards near Rockford, Illinois.

We never heard of him (until a few days ago) and all those we contacted in the autograph world never heard of him.

However very recently www.autographalert.com was contacted by email from someone who refused to add their name to the email. The email was from the email address: MIDGETWITAPISTOL.

The March 10th email from the midget was extremely unprofessional not to mention crude and obviously coming from someone who was not that familiar with the autograph industry. The midget referred to other 3rd party authenticators and another who is not but has a very good reputation. Proving his lack of intelligence he not only drops names with negative comments he was unable to back up, but he copies in several others in his hateful email.

The anonymous midget continues with his wrath with another email dated March 12th. This email was not only imbecilic but extremely foul and appearing to come from a deranged individual. The sender used no less than three different four letter words. In this email he trashes one of the authenticators on his own team at Global Authenticating, Inc. stating the other Global authenticator dont know sh.. It is now know that the midget has also placed undesirable comments on a sports related blog. The readers on that sight discovered who he was and many stated on the blog they will never purchase from his sports trading card store.

The influx of unknowns in the autograph hobby becoming instant expertscreated by 3rd party authenticating companies has become a phenomenon during the last decade. Starting with a mat cutter till now all have been exposed either on Fox News, in newspapers or on website.

During the course of the last few years, almost every email to www.autographalert.com has been extremely supportive and professional. There have been only one or two from half-wits who were exposed on this site.

From the content of Rick Giddings emails we have to nominate him as the first quarter-wit to contact this site.

PS: www.autographalert.com has just been advised from a good source that Rick Giddings has admitted that Justin Priddy (who is presently attempting to start his own 3rd party authenticating company) is the author of the disgusting email and had his friend Rick Gidding send it to www.autographalert.com anonymously.

 
Breaking News:
March 19, 2008
 

Beware of forgeries, authenticating companies!

Almost every one who is a serious collector of autographs of those enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame know the name Ron Keurajian. He is considered by many to be one of the foremost experts on the signatures of the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx and all the other members of the Hall of Fame. He is presently writing a book on the signatures of all the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and this long awaited treasure should be completed by years end. The following story is a rare interview with Ron Keurajian.

March 12, 2008 - Would it surprise you to learn the vast majority of autographs on the market from baseball's early legends are fakes?

It doesn't surprise Oxford resident Ron Keurajian, but then again he's an expert in this field.

"There's a lot of forgeries out there, especially with the vintage material," he said. "Ninety percent of the Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Cy Young autographs out there are forgeries."

Since the early 1980s, Keurajian has been collecting, studying and writing about vintage baseball autographs, the real ones and the fakes.

"Baseball has such a hold on the American psyche. It's our national past-time," he said. "There's such a need to possess something signed by people like Ty Cobb or Lou Gehrig."

Between 2001-06, Keurajian wrote 50-60 articles on vintage autographs for Sports Collectors Digest.

Keurajian also coedited sports memorabilia guide published in 2003 by Krause Publications. He wrote the sections on vintage autographs from baseball hall of famers and professional golf's early legends.

"I'm working on my first book, which I hope to have completed by Christmas," he said. "It's a study of every member of the (baseball) Hall of Fame and their signatures."

For about three years, Keurajian's been collecting specimens and illustrations, trying to get multiple signatures from each player at different times in their lives.

He's now down to probably seven or eight names, some of which he admitted he's never going to find like pitcher Rube Waddell, who played from 1897 to 1910 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

No known examples of Waddell's signature exist, so "it's impossible to complete a hall of fame set," Keurajian said.

It was a 1982 meeting with former Detroit Tiger Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer that sparked Keurajian's interest in vintage autographs.

"He's generally considered one of the five greatest second basemen ever," Keurajian said. "He used to live down the road from me (in Southfield). I lived at 12½ (Mile) and Evergreen. He lived at 13½ (Mile) and Lasher."

Keurajian called Gehringer to interview him for a high school report he was writing. The old Tiger, who played from 1924-42 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1949, invited him over for a face-to-face meeting.

"He gave me a couple signed picture postcards and I was hooked," Keurajian said.

Collecting autographs is about preserving history and owning something once handled by a legendary figure.

"You're holding something that was actually touched by them and that's very powerful that's something you want to possess," Keurajian explained.

Vintage baseball autographs come in many forms, from cancelled bank checks and photographs to letters and gum cards.

"The single signed baseball in good condition is the most desirable of any medium," said Keurajian, who noted the only problem is they're difficult to store.

At one point, Keurajian had a large collection of autographs.

"When I started collecting back in the early 1980s, stuff was worthless," he explained. "You could pick up a baseball signed by Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth for $50 to $100."

Today, that same baseball sells for $50,000 to $100,000, if the ball is a "museum-grade specimen," meaning it's a "cream white ball with a nice bold signature."

It was this meteoric rise in values that forced Keurajian to store his collection in a safety deposit box.

"The problem with this stuff is it gets so valuable, you can't really enjoy it," he said. "I was seeing my collection one or two times a year. That's not a collection anymore."

So, Keurajian sold most of it, but did hang on to a few specimens. He said "probably the only piece of consequence" he has left is a 1924 baseball signed by Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth at Navin Field in Detroit.

"Cobb was the greatest ball player of all time and Ruth was the greatest slugger," he said. "To have those two on a baseball is a great combination."

These days Keurajian is more into doing research, collecting information such as examples of autographs whether they're scanned or photocopied and writing about it.

"I'd say I probably have 10,000-15,000 illustrations in my files," he said.

Keurajian's focus is on the physical construction of the autograph, known types of forgeries in the market and counterfeit documents, and how to spot forged signatures as opposed to genuine ones.

"A signature's like a fingerprint -- no two people in the world have the same handwriting," he said. "No forger can copy handwriting perfectly."

"If you have somebody that's really good with autographs that understands handwriting they can spot even the best forgery," Keurajian noted. "I've seen thousands of Ty Cobb autographs, so with a Cobb signature you can just put it in front of me and bang, in a second, I know whether it's either real or not."

When it comes to well-known legends like Cobb and Ruth, Keurajian said, "Nine out of every 10 signatures you see for sale of those guys are fake."

"The demand for these autographs is just huge," he explained. "There's literally 100s of thousands of people collecting these types of autographs who are willing to spend big money on it."

The chances of an autograph being a forgery increases with the hall of famers most people have never even heard of before.

"When it comes to the really rare names like the (Christy) Mathewsons, the Willie Keelers, closer to 99 percent are fake," Keurajian said.

Mathewson was a pitcher from 1900 to 1916 and part of the first class of players inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936. Keeler, an outfielder from 1892-1910, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.

But the biggest problem in vintage autograph collecting is the so-called authentication companies who supposedly examine signatures and issue certificates of authenticity for forgeries.

"Even if it comes with a certificate of authenticity chances are they're still fake," Keurajian said. "There are no good authentication companies in the market today that know what they're doing. Certificates of authenticity carry about as much weight as the Hitler-Chamberlain peace accord of 1938."

He's seen big items sell for between $50,000 and $150,000 which "are nothing but high quality forgeries that have been wrongly certified."

It's the people who don't know much, but want to invest in vintage autographs that are getting "burned" by these so-called authentication companies, Keurajian said.

"A lot of big money's being paid for forgeries by unsuspecting collectors," he explained. "It's really become a problem."

Keurajian urged current and potential collectors to visit www.autographalert.com to "see all the mistakes these companies are making."

Printed from the Oxford Leader


 

Breaking News:
March 7, 2008
 
Global Authentication Inc.
Global Authenticators Speak Out!
 
Appears that Global Authentication, Inc. has re-appeared after their sudden and mysterious closing.

The new Global website states: Global authenticates autographs of sports, entertainment and historical memorabilia using top industry authentication experts.....by using exemplar signatures and expert analysis we confirm they are genuine and rendered authentic.

Www.autographalert.com has been contacted in writing by a few of their former and a present authenticator.

This is partially what these insiders had to say:

Global Authenticator #1

I am...and currently being used as the lead authenticator by eBay even over PSA and their Stupid Quick opinion.

If you want the real inside story on GAI, I talk to the disgruntled employees everyday!

I have been one of GAIs major thorns even though I was (or am) used by them. I butted heads with Justin Priddy for years over his Global Express service. There were items that would come in for me to see and Justin would slap a COA on them without sending them to me for my approval....He was a little stunned that I knew each item that he stickered without going through me. Im sure you guessed that over 70% of his authentication were forgeries.

Justin pretty much just offered COAs in bulk to dealers who needed quick and cheap COAs. He was a pathetic excuse for an expert.

Justin having so much power with so little education and experience was a major problem.

What about Mike Bakers name appearing on the new GAI COAs? The guy knows nothing about authentication.

I know I am a target because I am with GAI. however, I can show that I was working against them just as much as with them.

I really do think that GAI will maintain a presence. Unless we decide that they are too big of a risk for eBay. If that happens, I will come to you 1st as I want all of the customers to know. They deserve to know if their COAs are worthless.

I have to say, that I have not been given free reign to attack any dealers on eBay. I have worked hard to at least give dealers a fighting chance against PSA. Their quick opinion fails countless GOOD items that I am now allowed to counter.

Global Authenticator #2

I have been an autograph authenticator for Global for a year now, my name and photograph was being used on their website however I have never been asked to authenticate a single item for them....

Global Authenticator #3

I actually worked with Global as their.....autograph authenticator for about six months. I did it as a service to the hobby I did not receive payment from them. I had to quit because the head authenticator, Justin kept passing non-authentic autographs. I kept pointing out the forged autographs they were passing and they would not reply to me. I even contacted his boss Steve, the president of Global and he would not contact me back.....

My last communication with them was with Steve Rocchi, the President. I told him via email and voice mail, that I thought Justin was passing tons of fake....autographs and it was ultimately going to give them a bad name and kill their business. He never bothered to respond to me...

Breaking News:
February 26, 2008
 
PSA/DNA
A joke is a joke, is a joke , is a joke
Autograph Authentication Team


There seems to be no end to the 3rd party autograph authentication errors. Many think the errors are way beyond epidemic proportions.

Remember The Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight? The gang of autograph authenticators at PSA/DNA are making them look like sharpshooters.

Once again we go to the PSA/DNA website. What fabulous self promotion! Have your autographs examined and certified by the worlds foremost autograph experts. The worlds leading third party autograph authentication company using state of the art technology. Foremost autograph experts? Has anyone read the autograph credentials of their lead authenticator?

You have to love state of the art technology! Whatever that piece of machinery is, they need to return it for a refund.

Proof of the pudding. PSA/DNA was created in 1998. They have been in business ten years. Lets repeat their claim...the worlds leading third party autograph authentication company....worlds foremost autograph experts...state of the art technology. WOW! Impressive self promotion.

Can anyone tell us why after 10 years in business the geniuses at PSA/DNA still cant tell a printed signature from one signed with real ink? To those in the know, and that group is increasing rapidly, it comes as no surprise that they still unable to do so.

The recent PSA/DNA embarrassment refers to one of the most common printed signatures in the sports collecting hobby. Common, because the signature has been around since 1990 and the book and sports industry is deluged with copies. Anyone who has been to a library, thrift store, book store, sports collectible shop, or sports collectors show should have seen a copy of the book Bo Knows Bo by Bo Jackson. The first edition has been printed in hundreds of thousands of copies and each copy has the identical printed signature of Bo Jackson on the half title page. For those novices reading this article, a printed signature is one that is a copy of a genuine signature printed on the page by the publisher. It is NOT a genuine ink signature hand signed by the celebrity.

For the average collector it is generally easy to spot a fake, printed signature verses someone who took a pen and signed their name in ink.

Ebay item #140204459126 lists one of these extremely common books which has the printed (non genuine) signature of Bo Jackson on the half title page. Every copy of the book has the identical printed signature. This copy was submitted to PSA/DNA who would like you to believe they are the worlds leading third party autograph authentication company, who has the foremost autograph experts, who use state of the art technology, and they deemed this fake signature as GENUINE! PSA/DNA Certificate F51344. Go to the PSA/DNA website and verify the Certificate number. Experiencing this are you in disbelief, denial or does it simply confirm what you already knew about 3rd party autograph authenticating companies outrageous guesses/opinions?

Printed signature of Bo Jackson that PSA/DNA
has wrongly authenticated as genuine

Listed on PSA/DNAs website as their worlds foremost autograph authenticators are:
Steve Grad
James Camner
Herman Darvick
Bob Eaton
Mike Gutierrez
T.J. Kaye
Kevin Low
John Reznikoff
Zack Rullo

Now, what does one do when they require an autograph authenticated? How could you possibly think of using PSA/DNA? Who is PSA/DNAs competitor? The answer is , Global Authentication, Inc. (GAI). Now lets go back to eBay and look at item number 260127895153. Its a different copy of the same book Bo Knows Bo. You have already learned that this copy will also have the identical printed signature of Bo Jackson on the half title page. This additional copy is being offered by Northridge Sports Collectibles in Northridge, California with a Buy It Now price of $169.99. This copy comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from Global Authentication Inc. (GAI).
 
Bo Knows Bo, printed signature of Jackson authenticated
as genuine by Global Authentication, Inc. (GAI)

Gertrude Stein wrote A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose...
Hemingway wrote A bitch is a bitch, is a bitch...
Autographalert.com says a joke is a joke is a joke, is a joke...but this joke isnt funny using third party authenticators.
 
The use of many 3rd party authenticators has become the premier method of having fake autographs passed as good and some unethical dealers and auctions houses are knowingly taking advantage of this conundrum.

Collectors must also take into consideration the handful of people, usually dealers who support these authenticating groups. These dealers are well aware of the severe damage that has already been done to this hobby and their continued support of the market being flooded with authenticating guesses can no longer be acceptable.

It certainly appears if an autograph item comes with a COA from a third party authenticating company, it may be best to have the item examined by a professional autograph dealer who specializes in the field of the autograph you need authenticated.

 
Breaking News:
February 21, 2008
eBay Lowering Their Fee.....Yea Right!

Before you sellers on eBay get excited about the big news, you better dig a little further as all the information is not easy to find.

ebay announces on February 20, 2008 their will be a reduction in their fees for insertions. What an enticement to start listing items for sale on eBay. Prices are coming down.
 
Starting or Reserve Price

 

Current Insertion Fee
  Insertion Fee (effective 2/20/08)
$0.01 - $0.99

 

$0.20
  $0.15 Lower Fee
 $1.00 - $9.99

 

$0.40
  $0.35 Lower Fee
 $10.00 - $24.99

 

$0.60
  $0.55 Lower Fee
 $25.00 - $49.99

 

$1.20
  $1.00 Lower Fee
 $50.00 - $199.99

 

$2.40
  $2.00 Lower Fee
 $200.00 - $499.99

 

$3.60
  $3.00 Lower Fee
 $500.00 or more

 

$4.80
  $4.00 Lower Fee

The above announcement was printed right at the beginning of the notice. Cant miss it. How many sellers will rush on to eBay the 20th of February and start listing their items and enjoy the new lower fees?

Most sellers did not read further, however if you made it to the very end of the notice you may have seen: and were balancing that change by adjusting some final value fees. Maybe we better go to our dictionaries and look up the meaning of balance before going forward.

What is eBay talking about? What about the final value fees? If your curiosities got the better of you and you decided to do some research you might hit a link to the overview page of new fees. Nothing mentioned on this page. How about trying Basic Fees? WOW, at the very bottom of this page under all the details about the lower insertion fees is a statement about their planned adjustment (remember their word balance) for their Final Value Fee.

For items under $25 your fee will jump or can one say will catapulted from 5.25% to a whopping 8.75%, or a 67% INCREASE.

THANK YOU ebay for the WHAT ORIGINALLY APPEARED TO BE LOWER FEES!

 
Breaking News:
February 14, 2008
 
PSA/DNA
A Wretched Saga Continues


Its just sickening that some third party authenticators still dupe collectors into spending their hard earned money for a guess. Lets look into the PSA/DNA crystal ball and see what was submitted for a autograph authentication.

It was a fairly COMMON signature of a very popular sports celebrity Lamar Hunt. Lamar Hunt is well known as the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. He is a founder of the American Football league and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His signature is quite common and known to almost anyone who collects signatures of members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It is now apparent that not everyone is familiar with the common signature of Lamar Hunt.
The signature of Lamar Hunt illustrated on the right was submitted to PSA/DNA for authentication. Someone was actually foolish enough to pay for this signature to be slabbed and authenticated.

The signature of Lamar Hunt was authenticated as a genuine signature of Leon Hart, a totally different person. Shouldnt the management of PSA/DNA hold their heads in shame?

PSA/DNAs website lists the following names as their autograph authenticators.

Steve Grad
James Camner
Herman Darvick
Bob Eaton
Mike Gutierrez
T.J. Kaye
Kevin Low
John Reznikoff
Zach Rollo

 

Lamar Hunt Signature Submitted to PSA/DNA



Breaking News:
February 13, 2008
Press Release

Autographalert.com announces the creation of the Autograph Award of Honor. The recipient of this annual International award of gratitude will be announced each year on the 15th of April. Everyone in the autograph community is eligible to receive this award. This International award of recognition will be presented to an individual, a trade magazine, a business or auction house or a club or organization who has shown an outstanding vision, dedication, contribution and commitment to excellence in the hobby of autographs.

Those who have a suggestion as to whom should be eligible for the first annual award can email www.autographalert.com with their recommendation.

 
Breaking News:
February 7, 2008
Heritage Auctions, Dallas Texas
Sold Fake Hollywood Memorabilia, Now Offering Refunds


Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas has agreed to give refunds to those who purchased collectibles from their $360,000 sale of items reportedly to be from the Ann Sothern Collection.

However, an expert on Hollywood memorabilia says ....its not just the Ann Southern collection.....

For more details on this breaking story go to:

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa080206_lj_schechter.967a997c.html

Breaking News:
February 4, 2008
R&R Auction & John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA
You Need To Get It Right!


Theres hardly anything more important than an autograph dealer or auction house describing an item correctly that they are trying to sell.

Many collectors, especially those who cannot personally attend a sale, depend on a dealers description and trust that description is accurate before bidding or ordering.

In the current rrauction.com, deadline February 13, 2008, item #129 is described as a Theodore Roosevelt White House card. The item actually illustrated is a Theodore Roosevelt The White House card.

Illustration from R&R Catalog

There is a difference in a Theodore Roosevelt White House card and a Theodore Roosevelt The White House card especially in rarity and price.

There is really no excuse for anyone to make such a mistake in cataloging. The difference between these two cards has been described in published articles and in autograph reference books.

What is described in this auction catalog is actually illustrated below.


    Illustration of a Theodore Roosevelt White House card

For those who collect these popular cards, Roosevelt signed three types of cards. For a short period of time, Roosevelt signed Executive Mansion cards. Very few are known to exist. TR changed the name to White House and signed White House cards. The ONLY president that signed White House cards is Theodore Roosevelt. Later Roosevelt changed the name from White House to The White House. Collectors need all three signed cards to complete their collections.

It is imperative that these cards be described properly to avoid confusion and a costly mistake. Both John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R wrote a COA based on the above erroneous catalog description.

 
Breaking News:
January 30, 2008
 
PSA/DNA Autograph Authentication Services
Another Inexcusable Blunder

Read Sellers Return Policy

Collectors have to ask themselves how can anyone who claims to authenticate autographs make so many mistakes when autograph references are available?

The following PSA/DNA blunder refers to a very common secretarial signature of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The following illustration is a signature Franklin D. Roosevelt slabbed by PSA/DNA. It is Certified Authentic, see illustration below.
.
Secretarial signature authenticated as genuine by PSA/DNA

It is apparent no one at PSA/DNA has done any research regarding this very common secretarial signature. One of the most basic and popular reference books on autograph collecting is Charles Hamiltons Collecting Autographs & Manuscripts. On page sixty, Hamilton lists seven proxy signatures of FDR and illustration #6 clearly matches the signature PSA/DNA has authenticated as genuine. It appears obvious that PSA/DNA does not have this basic autograph reference book.


Illustration from Charles Hamiltons book
clearly showing the PSA/DNA signature of FDR is secretarial


There are other places where information on FDRs signature are available to avoid this most embarrassing mistake. We refer to the four page signature study of FDR by presidential autograph expert Andreas Wiemer. On page two of this popular study, seven examples of this same secretary FDR signature are illustrated.

Seven illustrations of the secretarial signature of FDR from the Wiemer study
that PSA/DNA authenticated as authentic.


How can a mistake like this be made by anyone who claims to authenticate autographs when so much reference information is available?

This item as of January 29 is being sold on eBay. Item #320212695224 and has a whopping Buy It Now Price of $1,499.00. Most interesting the seller clearly indicates his faith in 3rd party authenticators. The sellers return policy is: No Returns on PSA, JSA or GAI Authenticated Items.

The person on the PSA/DNA team who is supposed to be the authenticator for presidential autographs is John Reznikoff of University Archives.


Breaking News:
January 26, 2008
PSA/DNA Authentication Team Fails Miserably, Again

One has to believe some of the self created authenticators of autographs have been simply guessing with regards to authenticating. In the following case it appears...if they dont know....they just make up names as they go along.

The latest PSA/DNA embarrassment, that has come to light, has been sent in by one of our readers. It refers to PSA/DNA certificate # E37171 dated Friday, September 29, 2006.

The PSA/DNA Letter of Authenticity clearly states that the letter will serve as a certificate of authenticity for...a multi-signed album page, which WE thoroughly examined. It goes on to state Signed on reverse side by April Chadwick. They continue: the signature(s) is/are consistent considering slant, flow, pen pressure, letter size, and other characteristics that are typical of the other exemplars that we have examined in our hobby and professional career.

Has anyone ever heard of a person or celebrity named April Chadwick?

Yet this group was able to authenticate this signature which they claim is typical of the other examples they have examined.

For the record, there is no such celebrity as April Chadwick. The statement about studying other exemplars is absolutely false. The autograph authenticating geniuses at PSA/DNA could have done nothing else but attempt to read the name as it appears to be spelt. No authentication work or research could possibly have been done!

For the collector who may own this piece, let it be known that the celebrity who signed your album page is actor Cyril Chadwick. Cyril Chadwick was a very popular English actor who appeared in 70 films.

The names of the PSA/DNA authentication team that appear on this Letter of Authenticity are:
Bob Eaton
Roger Epperson (no longer with PSA/DNA)
Steve Grad
Mike Gutierrez
John Reznikoff
Zach Rullo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Actor Cyril Chadwick's Signature
 

Breaking News:
January 21, 2008
 
MISSING GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is engaged in recovering historical documents and manuscripts that are missing and which , in some instances, are presumed to have been stolen from the National Archives.

America is defined by its history in general and by its founding documents in particular. This article should alert autograph and manuscript dealers and collectors to the fact that certain documents are missing from the National Archives (NARA), and many of us would argue that it is every citizens obligation to assist in the recovery of such items if the opportunity presents itself.

The contact persons in the OIGs office of NARA to whom reports of suspected missing or stolen government documents should be made are:

Kelly Maltagliati (Special Agent) OR
Mitchel Yockelson (Investigative Archivist)
Office of the OIG
Telephone (301) 837-3715 or (301) 837-3153
Fax (301)837-0879
Email: kelly.maltagliati@nara.gov

mitchell.yockelson@nara.gov

The OIGs office also has a brochure with color illustrations that, at least in part, instruct one on how to identify stolen government documents. That brochure is available upon request.

There is at least a partial list of missing documents listed on the web site of The National Archives at the following link:
http://www.archives.gov/research/recover/

 
Breaking News:
January 18, 2008
 
 
MORDECAI BROWN - A CASE STUDY
By Ron Keurajian

"You haven't space enough to tell of all the grand deeds of Brown on and off the field. There was never a finer character, charitable and friendly to his foes and ever willing to help a youngster..."

Baseball Hall of Famer and teammate; Johnny Evers.

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown was born on October 19th 1876 in Nyesville, Indiana. Brown, who began his career with the Saint Louis Nationals, was one of the greatest pitchers of the Cobbian era. In a career that lasted 14 years Brown won an incredible 239 games against only 130 losses. A six time 20 game winner Brown posted a lifetime ERA of 2.06 a number that today seems impossible to attain. Brown died on February 14th 1948 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.

Browns signature is considered rare, albeit borderline. Signatures are typically limited to index cards, government postcards, and business related material (discussed below). Premium items are extremely rare and border on the non-existent. I have never seen a single signed baseball, tobacco card, or equipment of any kind. I have examined only one genuinely signed 8x10 photograph.

Team signed baseballs from Browns playing days do not exist.

Brown signed in choppy hand. His signature has many breaks in the first name. Browns habit of letter separation results in a signature that is quite easy to forge. It goes without saying that there are many well executed forgeries in the market. Unfortunately, many fake signatures have been wrongly certified as genuine by the major authentication companies so caution is warranted. Examples 1 thru 3 are genuine Brown signatures. Note: They have good eye appeal but his hand is not eloquent.

Example 1
 
Example 2
 
Example 3

Example 4 is a poorly executed forgery, note the excessive shakiness of hand. This type of forgery has been floating around for years so caution is warranted (see secretarial signatures discussed below).

Example 4, Forgery

Brown was said to have the most pronounced curve ball in history. "It was the most devastating pitch I ever faced," lamented the great Ty Cobb. When Brown was seven years old he lost parts of two fingers in a corn shredder on the family farm, hence the odd nickname of Three Fingers.

Locating a Brown signature on a baseball is a daunting task. In my 25 years of collecting I have only seen two genuine examples. Both were multi-signed balls, likely autographed in the 1930s-40s and contained many signatures of players from various teams and eras. A single signed baseball is a true rarity. I have never seen a genuine example though many forged single signed balls exist.

Letters of Brown are also very rare. I have examined only a handful of genuine typed letters signed and maybe two or three handwritten specimens. All letters were business related.

Also known as Miner Brown for his work in the coal mines of Indiana, Brown became an accomplished business man. After baseball Brown owned and operated a full service gas station in Terre Haute. The fact that he owned a business correlates into many signed documents but there is a caveat&.


MORDECAI BROWNS SECRETARY

Throughout the decades certain ballplayers have been known delegate signing duties to secretaries, family members, and club house attendants. The so called Ghost-signers. Today, these authorized forgeries wreak havoc in the world of vintage baseball signatures, both among unknowing collectors and lesser educated authenticators.

Lou Gehrig, Chirsty Mathewson, Cap Anson, Joe Jackson, and Earle Combs were notorious for this. Add to the list Mordecai Brown. Unfortunately, Brown employed the use of a secretary or more likely his wife or an employee to sign business related documents, receipts, and endorsements on checks. The majority of signed Brown documents are not signed by Brown at all. They have been circulating for years and have been sold too many unsuspecting collectors.

There are essentially two variant secretarial signatures to watch for. The first is a very legible and plain signature, Some are signed Mordecai Brown while many check endorsements are signed simply M. Brown. These signatures are easily spotted and in no way resemble a genuine Brown signature (see example 5). There is no attempt, in any way, to copy Browns handwriting.
 
Example 5, Secretarial

Another secretarial signature (commonly found on check endorsements, and bluish/green station receipts) resemble a genuine signature but are labored in appearance evidencing a slow methodical hand. With careful examination these secretarial signatures should stand out. A genuine Brown signature will exhibit no shakiness of hand and one that does should be considered suspect and avoided.

LIMITED EDITION CARDS

Over the past couple of years the autograph market has been overrun with a new type of phenomenon. Limited edition baseball cards with a signature inserted within the card. I know many people collect this type of item and to each his own. I personally dont understand the concept but collect what you like. I raise this point because I have seen two limited edition cards that featured bogus signatures of Brown. Both were poorly executed forgeries.

It seems that forgeries are prevalent everywhere. These limited edition cards, and I have seen hundreds, contain many nice signatures but a lot of them contain forgeries. I have come across fake signatures of Cobb, Johnny Evers, Cap Anson, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, and the list goes on. These limited edition cards should be studied like any other signature. A collector should not allow high gloss and slick colored cards to replace careful examination in determining the authenticity of a signature. These cards simply contain too many forgeries as inserts so proceed with caution.

As to a price guide for Three Fingers: A Signature of Brown is valued at $600-800. A government postcard will sell for $1,000-1,200. A typed letter signed should sell for $1,500 while the elusive autographed letter signed will start at $3,000. Signed book pictures of Brown are rare but do exist, expect to pay $1,500 for one. A signed 8x10 photo is a true gem and would start at $4,000. Values of other mediums are generally not known


JAMES L. HIPPO VAUGHN

While Brown may have been one of the greatest Cubs pitchers (if not the greatest) he was not the only star hurler for the Cubbies. James Leslie Vaughn began his career with the New York Highlanders over on Hilltop. In 1913 he was traded to the Cubs. While pitching for Chicago his career blossomed. He was a five time 20-game winner and recorded 178 kills against only 137 losses, good enough for a .565 winning percentage.

Like George Mullin, it is often said that Vaughn was one 20-win season away from the Hall of Fame. Nicknamed Hippo because of his girth, Vaughn would retire in 1921 ending a 13-year big league career. He died in Chicago on May 29th 1966.

For years a Vaughn signature had little value but recently the demand for his signature has increased markedly. In general, demand for Cobbian era signatures has jumped over the past two to three years and values of even minor stars have escalated.

Vaughn is an uncommon signature but I would not classify him as scarce. He is generally limited to index cards and government postcards. Premium items are considered rare.
 
James "Hippo" Vaughan Signature

Vaughns signature is illustrated above. His hand is very legible and plain. His signature is easily forged. Fortunately for collectors Vaughn signed many items through the mail so his signature can be purchased for a reasonable price.

A Vaughn signature generally sells for $50. A government postcard will run close to $100. Signed letters are rare and will sell for $300-400. I have examined only two genuine signed gum cards. I have never seen a signed 8x10 photo but single signed baseballs do exist, they are extremely rare and should sell for $2000.

FACT: On September 4th 1916 Brown and New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson faced one another in what would be the final game of their long and illustrious careers. Today they stand side by side in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Breaking News:
January 12, 2008
 
 
The Long Pen
by El Fraley, The History Buff

A Canadian science fiction writer Margaret Atwood has developed a device she had dubbed the the Long Pen that allows authors to sign books by remote control at a distant location without leaving home. The advantage for the author is that it obviates rigorous book tours. The device consists of a control console with a pen with which the author can carry out a pseudo signing AND THE LONG PEN DEVICE imparts electronic (digital) instructions to a remote pen that replicates the authors signature ( and inscription) on a book placed on a platform in a store where the book was purchased or at a book show. The signature produced by the Long Pen is therefore slightly different than an autopen signature because the actual signing requires participation by the author and video interaction between the fan and the author is possible since the device also has video streaming that allows the author to converse with the book owner as their book is being signed. So this format almost replicates a conventional book signing: except, of course, the book buyer never meets the author in person. What is produced by the Long Pen is not a real autograph (Auto-self, graph-write) nor is an autopen signature. Rather, I would call the resulting signature and inscription a ROBOGRAPH since the author is using a robotic device to create the signature. Thus, welcome to the new age of the virtual robographs.

Harry Truman once said, The only thing that is new is the history you do not know. The concept of the Long Pen was put forth by Gernsback over a hundred years ago:

She hesitated, and then, impulsively, "I wonder if it would be too much to ask you for your autograph?" Ralph then attached the Telautograph to his Telephot while the girl did the same. When both instruments were connected he signed his name and he saw his signature appear simultaneously on the machine in Switzerland.
From Ralph 124c 41 +, by Hugo Gernsback.

The Long Pen is not unlike the robotic daVinci Device, produced by the Intuitive Surgical Company that is used by modern surgeons to perform surgery sitting at a console either in the same room as the patient or at a remote location. The devices, daVinci and Long Pen, are in principle almost one in the same.

The implication of the Long Pen for the field of autographs in general and collectors of signed books in particular is obvious. Clearly, signed book collectors in the near future will have to be able to distinguish between authentically signed books , outright forgeries and the new kid on the blockvirtual robographs.

The next step in the evolution of this technology might be to create a robotic signer with a memory cache of signatures of infinite variation that were originally created by a major political figure or other celebrity. Such proxy signatures that might have a thousand or so different iterations may well turn out to be much more difficult to detect than autopen signatures. Time will tell.

There are three things certain in life, death taxes and change. Autographists must be committed to study and scholarship in order to stay current and to avoid the costly mistakes of the unwary or uninformed collector.

More detailed information on The Long Pen is available on this web site:

http://www.longpen.com/

El Fraley is a long time autograph dealer who spends his time between Minnesota and Palm Beach Florida. More educational information can be found on his Internationally known website www.ehistorybuff.com


 

Breaking News:
January 7, 2008
 

PSA/DNA Autograph Opinionators Fail Miserably Again

Www.autographalert.com wants to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers who have submitted so many of the mistakes made by third party authenticators. We have not published most of them, but need them for our files so keep them coming. We feel the autograph collecting community has read enough of third party authenticators mistakes on this site and others that they have made the educated decision as to the value of their guesses or opinions.

Many of our readers have advised us they will not support auction houses and sellers of autographs that use 3rd party authenticators. Also of interest we find that many legitimate sellers of autographs will no longer issue a refund based on an opinion from a third party authenticator. To take it one step further, these autograph dealers will not offer a refund based on an opinion of an individual whose name is listed as an expert with one of the third party authenticators. Professional autograph dealers and collectors have seen the horrible, inexcusable mistakes made by these autograph opinionators.

We have avoided publishing the many mistakes that our readers pass on to us however once in a while we will publish a story for new readers who may have not been following this site.

The latest 3rd party authenticating debacle is over one of the most common signatures in baseball. Anyone, and we mean anyone who collects the signatures of members of the Baseball Hall of Fame is familiar with the signature of Willie Mays. Apparently the handful who dont are employed by PSA/DNA.

The illustration to the right is of a Willie Mays baseball card. His face is one of the most recognizable in baseball. The card is signed Willie Mays! The autograph experts at PSA/DNA identify the card as being that of Baseball Hall of Fame member Hank Aaron. Take it one step further and take the PSA/DNA ID# off their description and go to the PSA/DNA website and type the ID# in their search and you will confirm they claim this is a Hank Aaron card.

The autograph opinionators at PSA/DNA not only failed to properly identify the player but failed to recognize the common signature of Willie Mays.

This documented example is so unbelievable it defies an explanation or spin!

Newsweek magazine published The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and Willie Mays was listed as the second greatest player of all time.

Who are the individuals at PSA/DNA responsible for this unbelievable error in authenticating? You are given a list of names who PSA/DNA considers to be autograph experts and the company states one or more of these experts has examined the item.

Steve Grad
James Camner
Herman Darvick
Bob Eaton
Mike Gutierrez
T.J. Kaye
Kevin Low
John Reznikoff
Zack Rullo
Bob Zafian

As an added insult, can you imagine, someone paid PSA/DNA for this authentication?

As a courtesy, www.autographalert.com illustrates a genuine signature of Hank Aaron because some of the opinionators at PSA/DNA are also on the authenticating team of ebay. The Quick Opinion. Oh My!

 


 

 

 

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