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In the News, January 1 - May 31, 2009
Breaking News:
May 29, 2009
 
PSA/DNA - Just another embarrassing mess

Many thanks to one of our readers for sending us the following information. It’s nothing more than the same ole repetitive incompetence.

The following item was up for auction at Historical Auctions based in Florida. The auction house based their catalog description on the information provided for them by the so-called authenticating company.

Here’s just another example of money well spent by someone who paid a 3rd party authenticating company to do what they do best.

PSA/DNA slabbed and certified “Authentic” a signature of James Earl Jones. As most of you know James Earl Jones is an American actor of stage and screen. He may be best known for being the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars.

Take a peak at the autograph, gasping for air, inside the plastic holder. It is a signature of James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of the civil rights leader Matin Luther King, Jr.



Illustrated above according to PSA/DNA James Earl Jones 3x5 card
How much money did someone waste for this authentication?
This is a perfect example of another auction house looking awful by offering an item “thoroughly examined” by a third party authenticating company.

The PSA/DNA”s web site states they have the “world’s foremost autograph experts.” If this is so can you imagine what’s left to work for the competing authenticating companies? PSA/DNA’s “Step 1" process includes an autograph structure analysis. Step 1 also includes a “side by side comparison.”

STEP ONE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T WORK!

The autograph “experts” at PSA/DNA have done another fine job of looking foolish. The PSA/DNA web site also states: “Occasionally our experts cannot express an opinion on an autograph. These will be designated as inconclusive.” The James Earl Ray signature was not designated as “inconclusive.” The “experts” expressed their opinion and that is it is the signature of James Earl Jones.

Those who allow their name to be listed as autograph experts on the PSA/DNA web site are:

James Camner
Bob Eaton
Steve Grad
T.J. Kaye
Kevin Keating
Kevin Low
John Reznikoff
Zach Rullo
Bob Zafian

Breaking News:
May 26, 2009
 
Sports Collectors Digest, R.I.P.?

Today our mailbox was filled with emails from readers upset with Sports Collectors Digest (SCD). There are just too many emails to personally respond to so we will just group some of the comments together with our reply.

“Autographalert.com we can really use your help...I have been shut out at SCD’s web site, as T.S. O’Connell (SCD Editor) has shut down his blog comments from frustrated readers who find him to be wrong....”

It is our opinion you are wasting your time with O’Connell. Several years ago, O’Connell and his merry band of men was told by one on the staff of autographalert.com that if he continued along the path he was taking, SCD will implode. Since then SCD has lost nearly all it’s advertisers and it’s latest issue has been reduced to a measly 42 pages. Not thick enough to open and let our dog use it for a latrine.

The “Voice of the Hobby” is gagging for breathe of air yet your voices are not heard. We strongly suggest all of you express your dissatisfaction to Dean Listle, the publisher @ dean.listle@fwmedia.com. Another one you can contact would be David Nussbaum, Chairman & CEO of F+W Publications.

We gave up with SCD a few years back. Seemed like we were paying $29.95 for a bobble head and getting a free weekly newsletter was no longer worth it.

As far as some of the things sold through auctions advertised in SCD we no longer feel sorry for those who purchase an autograph worth $3,500 and pay only $500 for it. There is enough printed on the internet to educate those who are foolish enough to think they got a bargain and not smart enough to realize they got it at such a low price because those who have expertise know the item was not genuine and did not bid.

Some of our readers have emailed us stating they are so outraged they have created blogs on their sites “to allow their voices to be heard.”

Some have requested www.autographalert.com tell our readers about their problems with SCD on their blogs, such as
www.sports-rings.com (Go to Sitemap and click on Sports Blog).

It is our opinion that SCD’s latest actions may be the final nail in their coffin. Talk about a possible conflict of interest, they have gone into associating themselves in the auction business with a June 2009 debut. They are dealing with a depressed and vanishing readership have made the decision to go up against some of the few advertisers they have left. A legitimate competing auction house and advertiser would have to pay up front about $1,000 to get a full page ad in SCD. To get the attention of readers the auction house may want to follow up with a few additional ads. SCD can publish all the full page ads they want for the mere cost of ink and paper. The few auction houses, to date, that remain with SCD can no longer be competitive.

To put a lid on this, we stopped complaining when it fell on deaf ears and no responses. We no longer subscribe, so have no desire to complain.
 
Breaking News:
May 21, 2009
 
UACC - Hello, anybody home?

Can anyone tell us what’s going on with this outfit? How about starting with what recently happened to Registered Dealer #301?

Yes, a dealer was registered as #301 but most of the membership in not aware of this. The story behind this may be juicer than anything published in the last several issues of the club’s booklet. It includes some very high profile names. This is not for us to tell, but interested members of the UACC might want to put pressure on their Board of Directors to get the story. Believe us, it’s well worth the effort! We would love to hear the UACC spin on this one.

Some of our readers have asked us about he UACC so we decided to do a little update by going to their website. They claim to be the largest club in the world; this is very questionable. During the last several years the club’s membership has diminished. Some old timers in the autograph hobby may remember the club’s Membership Directory. One was issued in 1993 and the last in 1998. Add up the names and you knew how many member’s they actually had. Can’t do that today.
 
Growth in membership has been a disaster over the last decade. Even the club’s president ran on a platform of building up the membership. The Directory was also handy for members to see which other collectors might live in your area. Dealers could use the membership list to mail catalogs. Membership directory’s were always nice for interaction. Just another thing that got derailed.

What about the UACC shows? What shows? The website now list other club’s or peoples shows like book fairs. No UACC show is listed. Not long ago the club was active and had yearly shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Florida, Washington and New York. At one time the members of the club seemed to getting something for their membership fee. The club now has their one event a year where the Board of Directors get to choose any place they want to hold the meeting and it’s all at member’s expense. Member’s dues pay for the airfare and hotel rooms for the Board of Directors. What does the membership get?

UACC eBay Store????? Nothing on it. Nothing! The last auction ended on May 2. Thirteen insignificant items were listed and apparently the membership and autograph community agreed. Only one item was bid on for a measly minimum bid of $9.95.

Now for their so-called award winning magazine. Has anyone liked the new look of the magazine besides the Board of Directors? Not one of the collectors we spoke to. Matter of fact it’s not even missed by many. Has anyone received their May/June issue of the club booklet which is quite late??? May/June! You haven’t even received your March/April issue.

Ridiculous, the UACC website states it was updated on May 8, 2009. The UACC had the chance to tell the membership what happened to Dealer #301. How about explaining where nearly half the registered dealers have gone? How about the courtesy of explaining to what’s left of the membership what they are getting for their $35.00 a year? How about telling the members when they will get their March/April and May June issue of the Pen & Quill? How about a few shows a year so collectors can interact? Hello, hello, can you here us? Anybody there?

Breaking News:
May 11, 2009
 
Autograph Authenticators Continue To Be An
Embarrassment to the Hobby!


We understand that most of you reading this site are not and don’t claim to be autograph authenticators. Trust us when we say that most of those who claim to authenticate are also not autograph authenticators.

The following example is from what we can call a good example for “Autograph Authenticating 101". Unfortunately there are still some uneducated persons who are still willing to squander their money and pay an authenticating company their hard earned money for a worthless opinion or a guess. The only explanation for the following is of the three who issued a Certificate of Authenticity, the first one was simply incompetent. The other two just went along with the first and not a one did a second of research and for certain all three has no clue understanding handwriting.

The following illustration is from the recent RR Auction which ends May 13, 2009. We refer to item #1461 entitled Joe Louis. R&R totally embarrasses themselves with a lengthy description of this being a “rarely seen example of the Brown Bomber’s given name, Joe L. Barrow, is penned on the back of this..bank check...” The description continues with such wording that they make it appear they know what they are talking about....”on the back of the instrument, Louis’ flowing, black fountain pen inscription reads....”

The description borderlines on being hilarious. Part of the description reads: “Accompanied by a full PSA/DNA letter of authenticity.” If you want to feel more secure bidding on this item, the bank check is also backed by another COA: “JSA (James Spence Authentication) Mike Gutierrez Auction LOA.” Just for good measure they tack on a third COA from RR Auction. Sure wish PSA/DNA would mention on their Certificate who the "wizard" was that certified this item. Always seems like no individual is ever held accountable.

Item #1461 Joe Louis



Three COA’s, and the item is finally withdrawn due to what the RR website states is a “description error?” How about being honest and saying a major authenticating blunder!

For those few who may still want to defend the authenticating companies (for whatever your personal reason), you need to continue reading. The rest should continue for entertainment and educational purposes.

Autograph Authentication 101. You don’t even have know what Joe Louis’s hand writing looks like. Why should you, the three authenticator’s didn’t know? Let’s just assume the person who filled out the check was Marshall Miles like the catalog description states. It’s simple, just examine Marshall’s handwriting. Look for an unusual shaping of a certain letter such as the “F” in February and the “F” in Five. Class, now look at the back of the check and notice the “F” in the word For. Does something jump out at you, who are not authenticators? Let’s go one step further, and look at the signature of Joe Barrow on the front and compare it to the signature Joe Barrow on the back. Even those with no autograph experience can see the name “Joe Barrow” written on the front and back of the check are by the same hand. You passed the test, class dismissed. The three who claim to authenticate have failed, miserably!

That was easy, however a genuine autograph authenticator would know the words “For deposit only” is not the handwriting of Joe Louis the boxer.

What more proof do you need that the authenticating companies didn’t do any research, did not check exemplars and have no clue about hand writing? What more proof do you need to realize that RR Auctions also has no clue and continues to simply issue their own COA based on the others?

Many of you may now understand why the list of autograph sellers grows that will not even consider giving a refund based on “guesses” or “opinions”, backed by nothing, from these incompetent so-called autograph authenticating companies.

Shame on the handful of auction houses who support the third party authenticators. Shame on the few shops who allow them to come on their premises and shame on the handful of shows who rent these people booths. They won’t rent a booth to a forger but will rent one to an authenticating company who floods the autograph hobby with non genuine items declared genuine. It’s still all about greed!

If some people had a dog this blind, they might consider putting it to sleep!

Breaking News:
May 5, 2009
 
Third Party Autograph Authenticators Spark talks of a Class Action Lawsuit?
1899 Ed Delahanty Secretarial Letter sells for $30,000, Ignites Debate

The buzz on the street is that some collectors and autograph dealers are talking about a class action lawsuit against companies who claim that they can authenticate autographs. The talk is not only against the companies but also against the individuals who are willing to have their names listed as “experts.” It is said that even if one of the so called “experts” never authenticated an autograph for the company, they have offered the use of their name which can mislead collectors into thinking the authenticator is active with the company. The listing of a person’s name as an expert who is not used for authenticating is more common than you would think.

Some collectors have been duped into purchasing an autograph based on the belief it was authentic because of certain people being listed as an “expert.” In many cases the “expert” was never aware the autograph was submitted to the company for examination. Several “experts” we have talked to have confirmed they have never been asked to authenticate an autograph from the 3rd party authenticating company which lists their name.

The list seems to be endless with just the major errors in autograph authenticating these companies have made. Some of those, associated with third party authenticating companies, have made $100,000 plus mistakes even authenticating celebrity hair which was offered at auction. When proven later the hair was not from the head of the person described, the auction was forced to make a refund.

Fifty thousand dollar plus mistakes in mis-authenticating rare autographs by third party authenticators common. Frequent errors in all fields of collecting are made whether it be sports, entertainment or political autographs. In rare cases refunds are made by the seller or auction company but usually with an agreement that the person getting the refund does not make the incident public.

It is beginning to appear collectors have had enough of 3rd party autograph authenticators who accept payment to offer simply a guess or give an opinion and offer absolutely no guarantees. Many feel it is past due, when errors in authenticating are made, the individuals who agree to be listed as “experts” need to be held accountable.

The following example is what has happened in the now complicated world of autographs. It was a sports item that appeared in a Nov.10/11, 2006 Hunt Auction. Listed as item #474, it was described as a handwritten letter by Ed Delahanty, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The letter was dated, Phila, Pa Dec.27, 1899. The item sold for a whopping $29,900. The letter was accompanied with an LOA from James Spence Authentication.
 
WWW.autographalert.com declared the letter as NOT GENUINE in the article: "James Spence of James Spence Authentication Hits A Foul Ball," dated December 23, 2006 . The story can be found in the archives of this website: September- December, 2006

Some other hobby veteran’s got on board and notified Hunt Auctions questioning the letters authenticity. Attempts to contact James Spence by www.autographalert.com over this issue was fruitless. He just doesn’t respond!

To continue, the owner of the same Delahanty letter recently consigned it to Robert Edward Auctions. It appeared as item #913 and the auction was scheduled to end May 2, 2009. This time the Delahanty letter comes complete with what is called “Full LOA’s from both James Spence Authentication, Certificate #B49257 and PSA/DNA Certificate #G56541.” Both James Spence Authentication and PSA/DNA are also authenticators for eBay.
 
The persons named below have chosen to be listed as autograph authenticators for these companies.
PSA/DNA
  • Steve Grad
  • James Camner
  • Bob Eaton
  • T.J. Kaye
  • Kevin Keating
  • Kevin Low
  • John Reznikoff
  • Zach Rullo
  • Bob Zafian
 James Spence Authentication
  • James Spence
    Larry Studebaker
  • Scott Cornish
  • Bob Eaton
  • Mike Gutierrez
  • Kip Ingle
  • Tom Kramer
  • Frank Kukla
  • John Reznikoff
  • Roger Epperson
  • Scott Stiwell
  • J. Bardwell
Catalog description stated in part Delahanty’s “...signature in any form is one of the most significant and rarest of all Hall of Famers. It is one of the true Holy Grails of Hall of Fame signature collecting, a virtually impossible-to-obtain stumbling block to any complete Hall of Fame signature collection...only a few examples of Delahanty’s signature are known to exist...”

Immediately upon receipt of the auction catalog, two hobby veterans notified Robert Lifson, President of Robert Edward Auctions that the Delahanty letter was not genuine. The industry recognized experts are Ron Keurajian who has been dealing in autographs since the 1970's. Mr. Keurajian has written nearly 40 signature studies on members of the Baseball Hall of Fame for Sports Collector's Digest. He has also written signature studies for Autograph magazine and is presently completing a book on the signatures of the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The other autograph expert is Steve Koschal who has studied autographs since the 1960's. He has maintained one of the largest autograph reference libraries in the world and his article on autograph reference books won him a first place award by an autograph organization. He is also the author of several books as well as over 200 articles that have been published on autograph collecting. Koschal also represented the United States of America and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as their autograph expert in Federal Court for “Operation Bullpen.”

Mr. Lifson was very responsive with the two experts in an exchange of several emails regarding the Delahanty letter. Keurajian and Koschal both advised Mr. Lifson that Delahanty’s signature on the letter was mis-spelled, "Delehanty" (see below), a common mistake to this day by those who write about Delahanty. However, Delahanty, a graduate of St. Joseph's University, presumably could spell his own name correctly.
 
 
In the meantime interested parties were placing bids for the letter. Bidding reached $15,000 the day before the end of the sale. Mr. Lifson, still accepting the decisions of the two authenticating companies did notify Kerujian and Koschal that he will do and his own research. This is the research the 3rd party authenticators should have done before they charged someone for the costs of the COA’s they issued. Mr. Lifson was successful finding information about Delahanty and “requested that PSA/DNA and JSA review the authentication of the item in great detail armed with the research we (Lifson) has provided.” In the meantime, a little discouraging was that Mr. Lifson stated: “...we will go with what our authenticators decide....” this was the day before the auction would end. It was not clear with all the prior documented mistakes made by these two companies why Mr. Lifson would be interested in what they now had to say.

In the meantime Mr. Lifson discovered through Delahanty’s biographer that Ed Delahanty was not in Philadelphia in December 1899.

On the last day of the auction, Mr. Lifson sent an email to Steve Koschal indicating “the Delahanty letter has been withdrawn from the auction....”


The Ed Delahanty letter, right (note the mis-spelling: "Delehanty")
 
Mr. Lifson continued (referring to a response he received from James Spence): “...is no longer comfortable with their previous authentication, and believes the letter appears to be a vintage secretarial version. I appreciate your communicating with us about this item.”

Robert Edward Auctions did the right thing not only by willing to work with Keurajian and Koschal but going the extra mile and doing some of their own research.

This does not end here. James Spence was contacted about the authenticity of this Delahanty letter shortly after the Hunt sale. Because Spence was unwilling to discuss his decision on this letter with experts, the winning bidder paid for the item not knowing the letter's authenticity was in question.

Robert Edward Auctions will be returning this basically worthless letter to the consignor.

If the consignor had bought the letter from a professional dealer who “guarantees” what they sell, he would have received a refund long ago.

Who will admit or take responsibility for the original sale of the Delahanty letter? The auction house or James Spence Authentication?

This $29,900 authenticating error could be added to a class action lawsuit!
Breaking News:
May 1, 2009
 
3rd Party Authenticators Stupid?

The following is quoted from an email received from one of our readers:

Date: 4/30/2009, 3:45:26 PM
To: Autographalert.com
 
“....I failed to mention a conversation I had awhile back with a third party authenticator of the two remaining companies [JSA & PSA/DNA]. The subject of third party came up. I stated they either guess incorrectly to intentionally harm certain dealers or they are just stupid. The way I saw it those are the only two options. His response was they are more stupid than you would ever believe, it's not intentional. So here is the confidence from a member of the only two remaining third party jokes left.”
 
As the song goes: "Just another brick in the wall..."

 


Breaking News:
April 28, 2009
 
JSA AUTHENTICATION
One Customer, Three Strike Out’s


It is no exaggeration when we say our files are bulging with complaints from collectors about their experiences with the 3rd party autograph authenticators. We manage to answer each email and from time to time print one so that our readers can see for themselves what others are experiencing.
 
The following was recently received and we print it in its entirety:
 
4/21/2009 10:42:11 PM
Autograph Alert,

Good Evening. A friend of mine from the Toronto area has turned me on to your website and I must say, I am absolutely appalled (but grateful) at what you have been able to dig up on these companies. This website is a fantastic tool to keep us informed of the ongoing scams in the industry. Thank You!

I have forwarded my recent story on to you. I have no idea if this can be used on your website or not, but it just adds to the lists of mistakes these companies are making. I apologize if it’s a little long, but I think it’s very informative. Feel free to use at your discretion.

To set the stage, I am fortunate enough to have a good friend (Jack Johnson) who plays in the NHL, and I have pictures, emails, family friends, etc. to support this claim so it’s not just one of those ‘yeah right’ instances. My wife and I were asked to join the Johnson family for their annual trip up to the Magog Hockey Tournament up near Montreal 2 summers ago. This is a tourney in which Sidney Crosby has been known to participate, and one that he participated in this particular year. My wife and I were able to obtain some autographs from Crosby first-hand, as he and Jack are high school friends from Shattuck’s and frequently room together. I also have an ‘05 Draft picture that I had both Jack and Sidney sign for us. I decided to submit the 2 pucks I got from Crosby to JSA. Surely they’d be passed, yes? Much to my dismay, they were deemed ‘likely not genuine’ and what’s worse, they came back damaged! Smudged, and basically worthless to our collection! Thankfully I still have my pictures, but now I have ruined pucks. Included is the email conversation I had with one of their representatives...and needless to say, I have never heard back from them or James Spence regarding the submission, despite my trying after the fact. If you can use this, great....if not, then I hope it was worth the read. Enjoy, and keep up the wonderful work!
Samuel & Sabrina Behrens.
 
One unfortunate deal with three strike outs.
  • First, you pay for a worthless “opinion” or “guess”. Money just thrown away.
  • Second Strike Out, the “opinion” or “guess” is without question wrong. So much for all the so called self proclaimed knowledge and the massive supply of reference material these companies all claim to have.
  • Third Strike Out, you get your items returned damaged.
Your bonus, and icing on the cake....you can’t get a hold of James Spence!
Breaking News:
April 27, 2009
 
Authentication Stickers
Affixed by Morons?


Much has been said about affixing unsightly self-advertising autograph authentication stickers to autographed material. Nothing said about it is positive. One of our last articles had someone who is a member of one of the high profile companies that claim to authenticate autographs returning an autographed photograph because it had one of these stickers affixed to it. The company he is listed as an authenticator places these type stickers on original autographed items.

No one to date has come to us advising how these horrific stickers can be removed form an autograph without damaging the original item. Many collectors would like to know?
 
This sticker fiasco begs the question of all our readers. PSA/DNA has added this sticker to the original 1930's card and basically has ruined the originality of the 80 year old collectible card. What happens if some person wanted to submit the card to PSA/DNA for grading? Maybe, they'll just grade the front of the card!

The following is a copy of a email from one of our educated readers and how he feels about the sticker atrocity:

Subj: More PSA/DNA Stupidy
4/25/2009 9:13:14 PM
To: autographalert@aol.com

From their new 2009 Goudey baseball product, they have inserted original Goudey cards that were autographed. As you can see, PSA/DNA has attached their sticker to an original 1934 Goudey card. What a bunch of morons!
 
   
Original 1934 Goudey Baseball Card Defaced by PSA/DNA Authentication Registration Sticker
 

Breaking News:
April 23, 2009
 
 
The 100 Day Volunteer Certificates &
the Proliferation of Facsimile Abraham Lincoln Signatures

In the fall of 1864 thousands of Union volunteers who served a hundred days of service that summer were issued a certificate of thanks by the War Department --an impressive looking, partially-printed, engraved document, bearing the signatures of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and the President, Abraham Lincoln. Other than clerical editing and transcription on the document, all text on the document is printed, including the signatures of Stanton and Lincoln.
 
In the century and a half that's followed the issue of the certificate, perhaps no Civil War era document bearing Lincoln's signature has been the source of more confusion and fraud, and subsequently, bought and sold as authentic by seasoned dealers, auction houses, and collectors. Even more disturbing is the trend over the past decade of destroying the certificates for Lincoln's, and to a lesser extent, Stanton's, signatures. Authentic American Civil War documents have been routinely mutilated by a handful of unscrupulous dealers-clipping the facsimile signatures from the documents and selling them as real.
 
A Hundred Day Certificate for the Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin Volunteers
 
The Hundred Days Men, or 100 Day Volunteers, was the nickname for the short-term, volunteer enlistments mustered in the summer of 1864 for 100 days of service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. These lightly trained troops were intended to free veteran units from routine duty to allow them to go to the front lines for combat purposes.
 
The concept of the hundred-day volunteer was first proposed by the Governor of Ohio, John Brough, in the spring of 1864. Brough was concerned with Confederate incursions and invasions of the North, such as Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry raid into Ohio in 1863. Brough's idea was to federalize the state militia into service for a period of 100 days to provide short-term troops that would serve as rear echelon guards and laborers to free veteran units for combat duty. This would increase the number of fighting men in the Union armies campaigning in the South, which, ideally, would achieve victory for the North within one hundred days.
 
Brough contacted the governors of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Jersey to do likewise in an effort to raise 100,000 men. They submitted their plan to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and the proposal was immediately approved by President Abraham Lincoln.
 
In total, approximately 81,000 men were mustered for a 100-day period. Over 35,000 were federalized from Ohio alone. The remaining numbers were primarily from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. These veterans became known as Hundred Days Men. Unfortunately for the North, the primary objective of the Hundred Days Men-defeating the South within one hundred days-fell short by a few months.
 
Nevertheless, in recognition of their efforts, at the end of their duty the Hundred Day Volunteers were issued a certificate of service by the War Department. These documents, a "Certificate of Thanks," were issued to the tens of thousands of men who had volunteered. They were partially-printed, with "THE UNITED STATES VOLUNTEER SERVICE" arcing across the top margin over an ornately engraved eagle clutching the American flag. There were at least two versions of the document printed. One version recognized the men who volunteered from the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin inclusive; another was issued exclusively for the men of Ohio (presumably because of the high volume of volunteers from that state). Signatures of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and President Abraham Lincoln appear at the bottom of the document.
 
A Hundred Day Certificate for the Ohio Volunteers
 
Like other partially-printed, original, presidential documents from the Civil War, personal information--names, dates, rank, etcetera--was filled in by a clerk's hand. However, not original are the signatures of Edwin M. Stanton and Abraham Lincoln. Their signatures were prepared from traced engravings onto the printing plate as part of the form document.
 
The Engraved Signatures of Edwin Stanton and Abraham Lincoln
 
Over the years copies of the Hundred Day Volunteer certificates have gradually entered the autograph marketplace as authentically signed Lincoln documents. It's understandable why. To the trained or untrained eye, at first glance, without several certificates to compare with, the signatures of Lincoln and Stanton appear to be original. On close inspection, however, what stands out is the contrast in ink between the clerical writing and the rest of the document. The iron-based ink from the clerk's hand has rusted and turned brown and relatively faded with age. Secondary is the uneven flow and impression one would expect from handwritten script. In comparison, the facsimile signatures of Lincoln and Stanton, perfectly imprinted onto the document, are the same color ink and age-toned as the printed text of the document.
 
Though naïve, unsuspecting, and yes, unscrupulous dealers and collectors alike have bought and sold the volunteer certificates as original Lincoln Documents Signed, in recent years awareness of the printed signatures on the document has grown. The practice of has been stemmed in large part by the informative efforts of honest dealers and auction houses, and websites like the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency <http://www.illinoishistory.gov/signature.htm>.
 
The practice that does continue, and what dealers and collectors need to be aware of, is the printed Lincoln signatures that have been cut from the document and sold as authentic full Abraham Lincoln signatures. These signatures were sold into the marketplace in the late 1990s and early 2000s by a handful of unscrupulous dealers via the web. The rise of online auctions, in particular eBay, with no checks, standards, or independent, qualified authenticating authority, allowed for the proliferation of the facsimile Lincoln signatures.
 
The telltale signs you may have a facsimile Lincoln signature cut from the Hundred Days certificates are:
a) Lincoln placed a period at the end of his name for the engraving
b) The dark, even flow of ink which is common of printed text
c) The faded, browned text common of iron-based ink is absent
d) The full Abraham Lincoln signature
 
 
If you're still uncertain check for traces of possible dot removement. There may be instances where a dealer may have tried to remove the dot to make their signature look different, or may have clipped the period off which would render the "n" in Lincoln at the very edge of the right margin.
 
It is certain that there are many presidential autograph collections with the facsimile Lincoln signature in them. It's only a matter of time before the generation of collectors who acquired these signatures as authentic begin to return them to the marketplace. Every effort should be made to trace back to the originating source of the signatures to compensate the victims down the line. If your Lincoln signature matches the one above return the signature to the dealer for a refund. It is important, at this juncture, for the autograph community to recognize and weed out the facsimile Lincoln signatures from the marketplace. Whether intentionally or innocently, the continued selling of the facsimile Lincoln signature by anyone at any level is a discredit and blow to the hobby.
 

Breaking News:
April 20, 2009
 
Baseball Autograph Expert
Hits the Nail on the Head!


Ron Kerujian, is one of the few baseball autograph experts with documented credentials. He has been interviewed by The Oxford Leader. His observations and comments based on unequaled experience ring true.
 
Autograph collectors of members of the Baseball Hall of Fame look forward to his new 500+ page book hopefully later this year. It will become the industry bible. Log onto the following link and learn from a genuine expert.
http://www.thecitizenonline.com/

 
Breaking News:
April 14, 2009
 
Third Party Authenticating Stickers
How Dumb Is This?


Anyone with half a brain knows to never affix a foreign matter to an original autograph or document. Everyone seems to know this except the companies who claim they can authenticate an autograph. Over time, these unsightly stickers can also cause damage to your precious collectible depending on the adhesive used.

What an eyesore it is to see a bright and shiny advertising sticker affixed to your original George Washington letter or document. What’s even more unattractive is the damage that can be done to your item when you try to remove one of these stickers.

The autograph challenged individuals who affix these stickers are now being held accountable by their own authenticators.

Recently an autograph authenticator/dealer called Todd Mueller Autograph Auctions. This individual wanted to return a Jane Russell signed photograph because affixed to the photo was a GAI (Global) Authentication sticker. The authenticator/autograph dealer wanted to know why there was no mention of the sticker in the description of the item? He also stated if Mueller could replace the image without a sticker that would be acceptable? The autograph authenticator/dealer also said that these stickers should be mentioned in descriptions as “they detract from the value of the item.”

The authenticator is presently on staff with James Spence Authentication. This is also is an outfit that affixes these asinine stickers to autographed items.

Breaking News:
April 10, 2009
 
Farrah Fawcett Needs Your Help

Farrah Fawcett hardly needs any introduction. She is a noted pop culture figure whose hairstyle was emulated by millions of young women, and a sex symbol for millions of young men in the 1970s and 1980s (Wikipedia). She went on to become a critically accepted actress, one of America’s favorite Angels (Charlie's Angels), and her famous 1976 red bathing suit poster graced the door of millions of boys and men across the world.

Farrah Fawcett’s signature is highly forged. For over two decades a secretary would sign most autograph requests by mail. Many of these have since been authenticated as genuine by the 3rd party authenticators. Miss Fawcett is well aware of how many forgeries appear on the internet and on websites such as eBay. In 2007-2008, Miss Fawcett agreed to do her first ever private signing. She did such with Todd Mueller of Todd Mueller Autographs. Up until this signing she stated she would occasionally sign autographs for fans but never for commercial use.This signing brought out what her genuine signature actually looked like causing some to destroy sales records and photographs they previously thought were genuine.

Back in 2006, when Farrah Fawcett was diagnosed with cancer, her records were sold by an employee at UCLA's medical center to the National Enquirer. This was before Farrah could even inform her son of the news. As recently as a week ago, the press once again passed information that was simply not true. They claimed that she was in a coma and her family was at her deathbed.

Farrah Fawcett, through her agent and Todd Mueller is asking for those of us who collect autographed photographs and who also have an appreciation for her or any celebrities, to please express that appreciation by joining the Paparazzi Hall of Shame on facebook. This site is dedicated to calling out those photographers and tabloid style reporters who go too far for the picture. Such has been the case with Farrah Fawcett during her battle with cancer.

Every reader and collector can help by joining the Paparazzi Hall of Shame on facebook lending their support not only to Farrah Fawcett but to anyone else whose privacy is exploited in a time of illness by the tabloids and paparazzi. This is your chance to make a difference. The link to this site is:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=160909980528

Thank you to everyone for lending their support by joining this site and expressing their support to Farrah Fawcett during her difficult battle with cancer.

Breaking News:
April 8, 2009
 
SCD “Sports Collectors Digest”
Where Have You Gone?
 
The April 10th issue of SCD has been published and it does not come as a surprise to many that this magazine has been reduced to a mere 38 pages. That includes the two covers which counts for 8 pages.

This collapse was predicted years ago and SCD management was advised how to correct their obvious problems. Recommendations from seasoned hobbyists were basically ignored.

Just a few years ago it took an entire afternoon to read the publication which can now be read in minutes. Of the 38 pages, 27 are advertisements and that is with the disappearance of many of the advertisers (which was also very predictable). The Vendor’s Stand is down to an embarrassing three-quarter’s of a page.

One thing hasn’t changed and that is the $4.99 Cover Price or $6.99 in Canada.

Emails to Dean Listle, Publisher, requesting the number of paid SCD subscriber’s remain unanswered.


Breaking News:
March 30, 2009
 
American Memorabilia:
Same Ole Problems


The amount of emails we have received during the last two weeks about American Memorabilia, a sports autograph and memorabilia auction house operating out of a private home in Las Vegas is astonishing.

Consignors to this auction house are begging www.autographalert.com to post a story about how poorly run this auction house is operating.

Our response to most was that you have read about this auction house on www.autographalert.com before, you have read articles warnings about those businesses who use third party authenticators yet you still consigned your material to one of these businesses. Can't say you weren't educated and warned.

American Memorabilia is basically run out of the first floor of a private home in Las Vegas. The principal of this business is Victor Moreno however a gal whose name is actually Susan runs much of the day to day operation. She will tell you her name is Kieta.

The Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) gives them an "F" rating. The BBB has a listing of 13 ratings and the "F" is the lowest. If you want a bird's eye view of what consignors are complaining about (including one suggesting a class action lawsuit) we suggest you go to this website for a most interesting read.

http://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=american+memorabilia

Be sure to read all the complaints on both pages. Thanks to reader Dan Drue for alerting us to this website.

Breaking News:
March 19, 2009
 
 
CEO of Collectors Universe
Parent Company of PSA/DNA Stepping Down


Michael Haynes, CEO of Collectors Universe, parent company of PSA and P.A./DNA will be stepping down and departing later this month.

This move comes less than a week after a major investor suggested the company be sold. Shamrock Capital Advisors, Inc. Headed by Roy Disney asked directors to put the company up for sale.

It appears Hayes will pursue other opportunities. Michael McDonnell, a member of the Collectors Universe Board of Directors has been appointed the interim CEO.


 
Breaking News:
March 16, 2009
 
 
PSA/DNA
Our Readers Speaking Out

The following information has been very recently sent to us by dedicated readers of this site:

Shareholder group seeks sale of Collectors Universe

Shamrock Capital Advisors, a private equity firm that lists the family of Disney among its clients, has sent a letter to the board of directors of Collectors Universe asking them to immediately begin the process to sell the company.

Shamrock, founded in 1978 owns more than 8 percent of the company, Roy Disney is the nephew of the late Walt Disney.

Ten years ago at its initial public offering, the stock went for nearly $22 per share. According to Dennis Johnson, managing director of Shamrock, Collectors Universe has gone through a period of "lost opportunities, frequent changes in strategy, near delisting from NASDAQ, incurrence of a series of operating losses, and the board's pathetic recent adoption of a poison pill we believe only serves to entrench management and this board."

In another email from a New Jersey reader states Mike Haynes (CEO) reduced his ownership by 57% and several of their institutional and Mutual Fund Investors have been dumping their stock.

Collectors Universe hit a 52 week low of $2.05 and is presently at $3.53.

In a recent autograph auction house catalog they state that PSA/DNA no longer issues an Auction COA.

Earlier this month, Collectors Universe - parent company of PSA/DNA -announced it was discontinuing its diamond and gemstone authentication service after three years of unprofitable returns, saying it would focus on its sports and numismatic grading services.

Sports & Grading Services?

Just two days ago this is what one of our readers from Hawaii had to say about PSA/DNA's grading services.

"Aloha Autographalert Staff,

First off, I'd like to say thanks for giving ALL of us your insights and findings. I'm so amazed of the things that are going on in this hobby and can't trust anyone (except you guys) now days. I've spent hours reading through your threads and find it VERY helpful. Thanks! Here is another mess up from PSA, it's not regarding an auto(graph) but rather a ‘grading' topic. Not only is PSA's authenticity messed up but, so is their grading side. Long story short...a packed pulled 86/87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC is pulled and 3, yes 3, graders have said that there is ‘evidence of trimming'. A pack pulled card caught on video and it's trimmed? So, the guys who sent in the card contacts Joe Orlando (President of PSA) and it now automatically turns into a PSA 9 card. Here's the link, page 15 is where the OP states that Joe Orlando gives it a PSA 9 grading.

http://forums.collectors.com/messageview.cfm?catid=11&threadid=710371&STARTPAGE=1

I've experienced the same problem with a 93 SP Derek Jeter Foil card, busted it open at a local card shop and had it sent in (years later) only to come back as ‘didn't meet minimum qualification'...so what does that supposed to mean? I checked the base cards from this 1993 SP product and guess what, mostly every card did NOT match up and had different lengths from top to bottom. If those monkeys would only take a bunch of base cards, they would've known this.

Please keep up your hard work and let it be known that it's much appreciated. Aloha from Hawaii...."
 
 
 

 
Breaking News:
March 12, 2009
 
Mastro Auctions
Folds Under an FBI Investigation
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/2009/03/11/2009-03-11_bill_mastro_folds_sports_memorabilias_la.html
 
 
Bill Mastro folds sports memorabilia's largest auction house amid FBI probe
BY Michael O'Keeffe
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Thursday, March 12th 2009

Mastro auctions chairman Bill Mastro boasted in a Jan. 21 article in the Chicago Daily Herald that his auction house would not be damaged by the recession because it caters to high-end clients.

"When we do our big auctions we're typically dealing with well-heeled guys, and this is what gives them pleasure," Mastro said. "If anything, I think guys are getting more choosy and discriminating about what they buy and how they buy it. But at the end of the day a Mercedes is a Mercedes, and if you want and have the means, you'll pay for it."

Less than two months later, Mastro Auctions is apparently out of business.

Sports memorabilia's largest auction house is at the center of an FBI investigation into shill bidding, card doctoring and other allegations of fraud that have damaged the company's Mercedes image. While Bill Mastro said in the January interview that the company would continue to generate $50 million in annual sales, industry sources say it had crippling credit-line and cash-flow problems. Consignors have complained that they were not paid for items sold at Mastro's December auction.

Three Mastro executives, including president Doug Allen, have purchased Mastro Auction's assets and will launch a new company called Legendary Auctions. The new business has taken possession of computer software and client lists, sources told the Daily News. Allen did not return phone calls for comment, but in a press release, the new company said all outstanding Mastro Auctions business will be "seamlessly facilitated, processed and completed through Legendary Auctions." Industry sources told the Daily News they expect Mastro's consignors will all eventually be paid.

Allen had told potential investors that he is not a target of the FBI probe, according to sources, but the new company appears to be taking steps to avoid shill-bidding allegations and other problems that damaged Mastro's credibility with collectors.

"The principals employed by Legendary Auctions will put their own collecting interests aside and concentrate solely on providing opportunities for our customers," Allen said in the press release. "There will be no mixing of business and pleasure at Legendary Auctions in terms of our own collecting pursuits. This will really be all about our customers."

The Daily News reported last year that sports-memorabilia officials have testified before a grand jury in Chicago that is investigating Mastro Auctions and fraud in the collectibles business.

The grand jury deliberations are part of an investigation into memorabilia fraud initiated last year by the Chicago division of the FBI, whose "Operation Foul Ball" smashed a multistate autograph forgery ring in the 1990s. Other sports-memorabilia businesses and individuals may also be under investigation.

Bill Mastro will not be associated with Legendary Auctions. "Circumstances make it clear to me that the business needs to move in a different direction at this time, and Legendary Auctions is a positive step that allows everyone to be taken care of, especially our customers who have been so loyal," Mastro said in the press release. "I am looking forward to taking some time off for now, and wish Legendary Auctions only the best as they move forward."


Breaking News:
March 12, 2009

Third Party Autograph Authenticators Costing You More At Auction

We have yet to hear one legitimate positive reason for anyone using a third party autograph authenticator. We have tried endlessly to interview some who call them selves "autograph authenticators." No one will step up to the plate and answer intelligent questions. The only time you can pin one of these guys down is at a trade show or when they occasionally appear at a baseball card store. Even there, the principals of the authenticating companies hide behind a curtain or stay in the back ground as so many times they just don't know and fail a genuine autograph and won't face the in person signature collector.

The amount of mistakes these companies make is immeasurable. It's a great business, if that's what you want to call it. Anyone they desire to hire and put on their authenticating staff can offer simply their opinion and get paid dearly for it. All this with NO GUARANTEES. When third party opinions are questioned in court the judge will usually say, everyone can have an opinion. There's no law against being stupid!

Collector's are becoming educated. Our mail is overwhelming. Each month this site seems to have a record number of visits. The following are clips from emails from just the past several days from readers of www.autographalert.com

"...one of the sources I have bought from in the past has been @#%&*. It appears that some of the items being sold by @#%&* have been to say at the least a bit questionable." The writer is referring to an auction house who uses a third party authenticator.

"...keep up the good work!! I no longer purchase from any of the PSA/DNA crowd and work diligently with private dealers..." "....just one more reason not to bid or consign with them..." The writer is referring to an auction house who uses a third party authenticator.

"..I enjoy your site and the investigative work you do on the authenticators. Keep on digging!"

"...I was amazed at what stuff gets passed off as genuine by third party authenticators..."

".....I love your website www.autographalert.com...."

"...just finished reading through your entire web site's news history, and it was tremendously informative..keep up the good work...."

"...keep up the great work, I always start my day by first checking your site...."

"...why this site is not mandatory reading for every collector is beyond me...."

Who pays for these 3rd party authenticator opinions? You do when you bid at a handful of autograph auctions. First you have to ask yourself why would any auction house use a third party authenticator. Most of the collectors we talked to come up with the same answer. The auction house sells the autographs based on some third party authenticating companies opinion. An opinion that was made where in most cases the authenticator never personally saw the autographs. Yet, the auction house can state, we put it up for sale because the authenticator said it was genuine. How sad is this?

Again, we ask who pays for these opinions? Answer is YOU DO!

We have looked into some of the autograph industry's active autograph auction houses and their charges. Each auction house charges a buyer's premium. That's a charge over and above your high bid. The auction's are listed in alphabetical order.

Alexander Autographs, Connecticut Buyer's Premium 18.5%
Todd Mueller Weekly Auctions, Colorado  Buyer's Premium 10%
Raynors' Historical Auctions, North Carolina Buyer's Premium 17.5%
RR Auction, New Hampshire  Buyer's Premium 20%
SignatureHouse, West Virginia  Buyer's Premium 17.5%
Christophe Stickel Autograph Auctions, California Buyer's Premium 15%
The Written Word Autograph Auctions, New Hampshire  Buyer's Premium 18%

What stands out is RR Auctions has the highest buyer's premium in this group. They are the only one of the above listed auction houses who uses a third party authenticator. Who pays for the service of authenticators who don't even physically see the original autograph to be auctioned. You do!


Breaking News:
March 8, 2009
 
Upper Deck/Razor Entertainment
Update #2


No question, our original article has opened some eyes, educated some collectors and others (who had an open mind) and rattled the cages of others.

Desperate people do desperate things. Some of those who make mistakes and get exposed post stories on the internet they actually create, usually untruths, others usually shills for the exposed, post stories they are dumb enough to believe because they are fed by those associates who have been exposed. This is being done to one of the officers of this website. The fact is anyone with half a brain can read in between the lines and see the lack of substance and details in their unfounded messages. In most cases the name of the person listing the fictitious stories cannot be traced.

If the Upper Deck Eisenhower machine signed signature being sold as a genuine signature was not serious enough for them to respond to our request to discuss the matter maybe we can add one more Upper Deck slabbed signature to the pile to get their attention.

We received an email from one of our readers asking for guidance. Most of the content of the email follows:
 
March 5, 2009
Hi, I opened a tin of 2007 Sweet Spot Classics Baseball last week and pulled a Classic Cuts Autograph of Eliphalet Remington. The card is numbered 1/6. After doing some checking of his signature I noticed that the autograph was actually from Samuel Remington and not Eliphalet. I called Upper Deck to see what to do and they said they could not do anything because the product was past their 8 month replacement time frame...."

Illustrated below is what's called Sweet Spot Classic, Classic Cuts, Eliphalet Remington 1/6 Rifle maker, Upper Deck collector's card.


Upper Deck Eliphalet Remington cut signature 1/6

The signature of Eliphalet Remington (1793-1861) is quite scarce and worth several hundred dollars if one can be found. Take a closer look at the signature in the plastic case. Without question, the slabbed signature is of his son Samuel Remington (1819-1892). This signature has very little value. His checks can be found on the internet selling for $50, sometimes less.

Again we have tried to find out who the person is at Upper Deck that handles the purchase of autographs in order to discuss these errors with the hopes they may want to change who they purchase their autographs from and certainly suggest that they change their authenticator of choice. The following was the reply from their customer service which does not address the issue.

    That information is not available to the public and will not be given out. Upper Deck does not buy autographs directly from the public. Please contact any auction or authentication houses.
     
    Thank you
     
    Upper Deck Customer Service
    Sports Cards: 800.873.7332
    Memorabilia: 800.551.8220
     
    Upper Deck's Response

Breaking News:
March 8, 2009
 
RAZOR ENTERTAINMENT, FURTHER UPDATES

Unfortunately, Brian Grey is one other who has fallen into the trap of believing stories told to him by others who have been exposed and he has posted some hurtful messages on the web.

We were told by Mr. Grey that he has been able to contact the two who bought the Nixon and Van Buren cards. He still states he will do his best to make good on the mistakes.

More importantly, Brian has stated to www.autographalert.com that the original article was most helpful in educating himself. He has already notified John Reznikoff, one of his sources of presidential and historical signatures, that he will no longer purchase form their company. Brian Grey is now very much aware of the downside of utilizing third party authenticators. According to Mr. Grey, the Nixon signature was part of the inventory when he purchased the company and he may not be able to find the purchasing papers to identify the autograph dealer who sold them the machine signed signature. We still expect to hear from Mr. Grey advising us which dealer sold him the Van Buren signature and also which 3rd party authenticating company authenticated the item as genuine.

 
Breaking News:
March 6, 2009
 
Razor Entertainment Update

Less than 24 hours after the story regarding Upper Deck and Razor Entertainment was published, a member of the www.autographalert.com team was contacted by phone by Brian Gray, President of Razor Entertainment, Dallas, Texas.

The conversation lasted over an hour and Mr. Gray appeared to be very concerned about some of the cards he has produced. He believed he was purchasing presidential signatures from who he thought were reputable sellers of autographs. He went extra lengths to have those signatures authenticated by third party authenticators.

The very next day Mr. Gray called once again and spoke to us for another hour. He stated he was receiving an ernomous amount of negative emails regarding the story about his company on www.autographalert.com. Mr. Gray wants the autograph community to know of his willingness and desire to stand behind every signature.

He has assured www.autographalert.com that he will follow up on both the Nixon and Van Buren signatures, try to locate the persons who won the items on eBay and make it right by replacing the signatures with genuine examples. Mr. Gray has also stated that he bought the Martin Van Buren signature from a well known dealer at a Washington, DC autograph show. As Mr. Gray goes through his records he will alert us which dealer he purchased the signature and which authentication company he utilized.

In addition, to show good faith, Mr. Gray went one step further. He is willing to put up a $20,000 bond that will not be touched until the wrongs have been made right. We don't think that will be necessary but appreciate his good faith.

We have to say, if Mr. Gray follows up on his statements, we have to take our hats off to him. He will have set an example for the industry. We look forward to hearing from Mr. Gray in the near future, as we believe our readers will be interested in his findings.
 
Breaking News:
March 3, 2009
 
Upper Deck Company and Razor Entertainment
Do the Unthinkable to Presidential Signatures
 
Read the past stories on www.autographalert.com and you realize it's almost the same names appearing over and over again with regard to problems within the autograph industry.

Most of these stories come from our dedicated readers. From time to time new names will be exposed however even with that said the old names are tied to the new stories.

Isn't it bad enough that some of the authenticating companies are affixing unsightly stickers to autograph items? Anyone with an ounce of knowledge dealing with historical material will tell you never to affix a foreign item to an original piece. How attractive is it to see a colorful authentication company sticker affixed to a signature of Thomas Jefferson. Not to mention the potential damage that can be caused over the years by the material that was used as a bonding agent.

The latest autograph atrocity can be witnessed in the April 4, 2009 auction held by Memory Lane Inc.Com. Lot #1021 consists of a 2008 Upper Deck Historical Cuts John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy signatures. To fit the John Kennedy signature in the silly plastic holder, Upper Deck has trimmed off the top of the "J" in John, cut the bottom of nearly the entire signature basically touching it and have removed the entire lower loop of the "y" in Kennedy. This destruction of the Kennedy signature has removed much of its value.

In the next lot, Upper Deck repeats the atrocity. Lot #1020, 2008 Upper Deck Historical Cuts John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Once again the top of the "J" in John has been trimmed off as well as the lower loop of the "y" in Kennedy. The signature of Marilyn Monroe has basically been chopped up. The "M" in Marilyn has been trimmed in two places, the bottom of the "y" has been trimmed, the top of the "M" in Monroe and the "e" in Monroe has also been trimmed.

The eye appeal of these signatures is basically nil not to mention what has been done to the value of the signatures should they even be genuine.

As for the John Kennedy signatures, both were removed from typed letters. Most knowledgeable collectors and dealers will tell you that signatures of JFK on letters can easily be signed by a secretary or by the Autopen signing machine. An entire book has been written on this subject not to mention additional signature studies.

The plastic holder containing these mutilated signatures have labels stating PSADNA has certified the signatures as authentic. We went to the PSADNA website to find out who their so called historical expert is. Listed is none other than John Reznikoff.

The largest sale of forged John F. Kennedy signatures in the history of autograph collecting took place in the late 1990's. The collection comprised of over 300 items where about 140 investors were duped. The man who claimed he found the papers was Lawrence X. Cusack 3d. In a New York Times article dated March 17, 1998 it says in part: "the Government based its charges against Mr. Cusack on evidence including what it described as a tearful confession in August by Mr. Cusack to one of his partners in the sales of the documents, in which he admitted forging the papers. Later, in another conversation with the partner, John M. Reznikoff, a Connecticut autograph dealer hired by Mr. Cusack to help authenticate the papers....." The article continues: "....Mr. Cusack appeared to have hidden most of the $5 million in profits that he was believed to have earned as his share of the $7 million in sales. The rest went to Mr. Cloud and Mr. Reznikoff..."

In a New York Times article dated April 15, 1999 it states in part: "It was in 1993, he said, that Mr. Cusack told Mr. Reznikoff of the Kennedy papers, convincing him, that they were real..." (Where in autograph authenticating does a forger convince an authenticator that forgeries are real? Only here!)

Mr. Cusack went to prison for several years. Adding to this lunacy John Reznikoff is still authenticating John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe signatures for PSADNA and JSA.

As we were putting the facts of this story together another one of our readers alerted us to eBay item 250369698672. A Dwight D. Eisenhower President Cut Signature Autograph. The signature is encased in one of those plastic holders and was produced by the Upper Deck Co. The description reads: ‘This card was a redemption from the Upper Deck Company and their promotional ‘Signs of History' Set. Numbered to only 9, this is a fantastic example..."


Illustration of Upper Deck's Eisenhower signature.

The signature of Eisenhower illustrated above is a well known and very common signature signed by the Autopen machine. Thousands of these signatures were signed and examples of this signature can be found in many autograph references including Presidents of the United States Autopen Guide by Stephen Koschal and Andreas Wiemer.

Five uninformed collectors bid as high as $655.00 for this absolutely worthless signature. Lucky for them, the $655.00 did not meet the sellers Reserve.

Our attempts to contact the management of Upper Deck Co. regarding all the above issues were fruitless.
Razor Entertainment

This company was founded in 2005 and claims to be the innovative leader in the trading card industry. They created the Oval Office Edition, 99 packs were made.

The first card we were alerted to was a 2007 Razor Richard Nixon Presidential Cut, ebay item #150324763330.


Razor Richard Nixon Presidential Cut

Www.autographalert.com has contacted a handful of professional autograph authenticators and everyone agreed the above signature is without question signed by the Autopen machine. Copies of this example can be found in many signature studies of Richard Nixon and in the book mentioned above. Amazing the quasi autograph authenticators who work for these authenticating companies don't use basic reference material.

The seller of the Nixon signature was notified the signature was not genuine and that the plastic holder it was in had more value than the signature. Before the sale ended, Ebay was notified the signature was machine signed. They did not remove it. Ebay had plenty of opportunity to remove this item and not allow this worthless and mis-identified signature to be sold. Thirty bids were placed on this machine signed and it sold to some ignorant bidder for $418.00.

One week later, again appearing on ebay is item number 400030641978. Another Razor blunder. Described as Razor Oval Office Martin Van Buren Auto 1/1 1840.


Razor Martin Van Buren Cut

The seller of the above signature was notified by at least two presidential autograph experts that the signature being sold was not genuine. Ebay was also notified the signature is not genuine. Ebay allowed the sale to continue, 18 bids were placed and the worthless, secretarial signed signature of Van Buren went to some uneducated collector for $811.50.

We went to the website of Razorcollectibles.com. It clearly states "call President Brian Gray at 214-393-4510 for more information." We did so and actually spoke to Brian Gray for a few short moments. The connection was quite clear but when Mr. Grey realized where the conversation was going (we asked who authenticated his signatures) he stated and we heard this clearly "we have a very bad connection, I have to go, email me your questions." We emailed not once but twice. No response! Appears Mr. Grey has gone into hiding regarding these issues.

Several attempts have been made to contact card company executives regarding their suppliers of autographs and their poor choices of authenticators. They refuse to respond. Result is some unscrupulous sellers of autographs have found an outlet for secretarial and machine signed signatures.

This is not the end of the story, we need to shock you with more details.

One of the dealers (bet you could guess who he is) who goes around buying clipped signatures for these card companies said to a dealer he was buying from "The card company will not pay for these signatures I'm taking until they are passed by so and so authenticating company. Send these signatures I'm buying and put my name and return address on the package. This way they will all get passed as genuine!"

This is something a handful of us have known for some time. The so-called 3rd party authenticating companies are authenticating the individual submitting the autographs (especially when it is one of their own), not the actual autographs.

 
Breaking News:
March 1, 2009
 
 
PSA/DNA Continues to Decline and Reports a Loss

Shortly after Global Authentication filed for bankruptcy protection, Collectors Universe of Newport Beach, California and parent company of the sports card grading and autograph authenticating company PSADNA reported a loss for the second fiscal quarter which ended December 31, 2008.

A ten percent decline in net service revenues in the second quarter was due to a $781,000 or 10.4 percent decline in grading and authentication services.
 
 
 

 
Breaking News:
February 14, 2009
 
Autograph Collectors
Who Have Been Harmed
You Have A Place To Go


For decades collectors have been complaining about autograph dealer abuse, autograph club mischief and auction ripoffs. Unfortunately many of these collector's complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

In many cases, complaints were not even responded to including those to organizations who would not act or even respond to serious ethics complaints against one of their favorite dealers, board members and even those filed against their presidents. General membership would not be made aware of what was actually going on behind the scenes.

Collectors who are unable to settle a complaint now have a place to go and publish their unfortunate situation.

Log onto www.ripoffreport.com

In the search box type in autograph. Begin to read complaints about some dealers and auction houses you may already be familiar with.
 
 

Breaking News:
February 4, 2009
 
 
 
 
IN MEMORIAM
Michael Minor of Lone Star Autographs, Kaufman, Texas
passed away on December 23, 2008
 
A true autograph professional who will surely be missed!

www.autographalert.com

Breaking News:
January 26, 2009
 
 
When Choosing an Autograph Dealer
Learn to Dig Deep!

Some of the most frequent questions we receive are from collectors who are perplexed on how to choose an autograph dealer.

This is a major decision everyone has to make at one time or another should they decide it is time to purchase or sell an autograph.

There are many different avenues to travel however it's best to start asking questions. Many collectors see attractive full page ads and many of those ads may say "we pay the highest." Collectors say "Who can we believe?"

How many of the different companies who advertise state that they are one of the leading dealers in autographs? How many leaders does this industry have?

Collectors need to do their own research and start asking intelligent questions. From all the ads if you think you have found a dealer that appears good to you it's time to check them out. Start by asking those in the field who have experience what they think of your dealer of choice. Talk to as many collectors and dealers that you can.

Www.autographalert.com did some research on who may be at the top of the list of being a high profile dealer. We found one dealer that has a full page ad in every trade magazine. They boast that they are "prepared to do battle for your autographs." They also claim for having "the fastest check in the business." This seems like the perfect company to contact and ask for their opinions on the subject of choosing a dealer.

We attempted to contact John Reznikoff of University Archives on multiple occasions to request an interview on this subject. We were able to confirm from other sources that he received our multiple requests but refused to reply. This arose our curiosity so without the help of Mr. Reznikoff we decided to dig a little on our own.

"The fastest check in the industry?" Not according to one major dealer we spoke to. They advised us that on multiple occasions University Archives owed them money for several months. We would have loved to hear Mr. Reznikoff's reply to this dealer's claim before putting this in print.

Probably the next best thing to do before choosing any dealer is to go to their website and see how they promote themselves. Always keep in mind this is the dealer talking about themself. You should read what they have to say and ask questions.

We went to the website of University Archives and clicked onto "Curriculum Vitae for John Reznikoff."

The very first thing he writes about himself is his "Education."
"Fordham University, double major of political science and anthropology, 1978-1981."

Impressive 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981, that reads four years and do we assume after 4 years graduation and a degree comes with that? That's our impression!

This seems to be a good start, believable, anyway why would anyone want to deceive readers on this simple issue? Just for drill, we decided to check out his very first statement for truthfulness. Unfortunately Fordham University could not confirm Mr. Reznikoff's claim!
According to Anna Ponterosso, Senior Associate Director of Academic Records, Mr. Reznikoff attended Fordham University from Sept 1978 (that's only 4 months in 1978) through May 1980 (that's all of 1979 and only 5 months in 1980). According to Fordham University John Reznikoff did not go back to college for the balance of 1980 nor did he attend college at all in 1981.

Letter from Director of Academic Records Fordham University

Wow, Mr. Reznikoff's very first statement is proven not to be true.
This is not getting off to a good start! Why even bother going any further? Maybe curiosity.

Let's give the dealer a little slack, so we'll jump to another category and just choose one item.

Business Career
"Aided the New York Grand Jury in securing an indictment and conviction of the perpetrator of a major manuscript fraud in 1998." Now this is very impressive, but digging a little further we would have liked to ask Mr. Reznikoff in the interview: "isn't this the famous case of the Marilyn Monroe/JFK forgeries in which you were a major player"? Isn't this the high profile case published in possibly hundreds of newspapers across the United States including many in the New York Times. On Oct.12, 1997 the NY Times wrote: "would constitute one of the most audacious hoaxes in modern letters." Weren't there about 140 investors who invested over 7 million dollars in these bogus Monroe/JFK documents?

What was once thought to be the greatest autograph scam of selling forgeries was the Mormon forger which sales came to 3 million dollars, a mere pittance compared to the sales of the Monroe/JFK documents.

It was Mr. Reznikoff that the owner of the bogus JFK/Marilyn Monroe documents turned to for help in getting the items authenticated and sold. Amazingly, even today Mr. Reznikoff is still authenticating items signed by JFK. According to a New York Times article by Benjamin Weiser published on March 17, 1998 he stated that "...Mr Cusack (the purported forger who went to prison) appeared to have hidden most of the $5 million in profits that he was believed to have earned as his share of the $7 million in sales. The rest went to Mr. Cloud and Mr. Reznikoff, the complaint said...." A question we would have liked to have asked Mr. Reznikoff is: "Can you name all if any of the purchasers of the bogus items who received a refund?"

Mary Jo White, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, called the alleged scheme "an audacious attempt to distort American history for private profit."

Publications, Press and Lectures.

Looking through this section it's difficult to determine when Mr. Reznikoff officially became an autograph dealer. The best we can determine from others is that it was around 1990. In a printout of Mr. Reznikoff's credentials dated June 2006 Mr. Reznikoff would have been in business only 16 years yet in this section he claims he has appeared in hundreds (is that 200 or 900) radio stations. He also claims he has appeared in hundreds of publications but he only mentions four, but now he is going back to 1980, ten years before he became an "autograph dealer." At this point an intelligent question for the dealer would be: "If the statement about appearing in hundreds of publications is true, how many of these include your participation in helping to authenticate and sell the bogus JFK/Monroe items?"

Associations.

President of the International Autograph Dealers Association, 2001-2002. He must mean the International Autograph Collectors Club and Dealers Alliance. Impressive? However what he left out is that he was involved in an ethics situation with some club members. Mr. Reznikoff was well aware of the seriousness of his actions and on April 5, 2006 he sent an email to a club officer attempting to "resign." His email read in part: "Please consider this my resignation from the defunct IACC/DA. Remove my advertising immediately..." Reznikoff was well aware an official complaint was being filed against him. Mr. Reznikoff received two copies of the complaint, one via regular mail the other via Certified Mail. He refused to respond to the complaint. He actually opened one of the letters containing the complaint, read it, placed it back in the original envelope, marked it Refused/Return and placed both envelopes in his own larger envelope returning them to sender. His envelope contained a Westport, Ct meter stamp #8446507 dated May 22, 2006.

On June 8, 2006 Mr. Reznikoff was advised, in writing, by the IACC/DA Ethics Chairperson that his membership in the IACC/DA has been terminated and that he has been expelled from the club. Probably just an oversight that this is not mentioned in his "Curriculum Vitae."

Very misleading, three years after his expulsion, later Mr. Reznikoff still illustrates the logo of the defunct IACC/DA in all his ads. Yet, in his attempt to resign from the club dated 5 April 2006 he requests "Remove my advertising immediately."

Let's drop down a few lines of Associations and question: "Conceived and founded the Professional Autograph Dealers Association. Past Vice-President 1993-1997." We have another question we would have liked to ask Mr. Reznikoff. "Isn't this the organization that accepted your resignation because of your involvement in the Monroe/JFK hoax?"

Let's give this one more try....."Charter Member of the Universal Autograph Collectors Club." Mr. Reznikoff how is this possible? A little investigating tells us this organization was founded in New York in 1965.
According to our dictionary a "Charter Member" is "an original member of a group." How is your statement possible?
 
Who can collectors believe?

It certainly appears when choosing a dealer whether you are about to buy or sell an autograph, it's important to dig deep!

 
 
Breaking News:
January 21, 2009
 
JSA (James Spence Authentication) Is A Joke!
 
As collectors get educated www.autographalert.com continues to get emails such as the one below:

Subj: JSA is a Joke
Date: 1/6/2009
To: autographalert@aol.com

Hi,

I just came across your site and was reading up on all the great articles exposing all of these "3rd party authenticators" (allegedly). I had an experience with JSA when they came to a local card store (Atlanta area) to offer their "great authentication services." I am an in person collector so I knew my autographs were real. I took them a few signed baseballs and 1 photo my brother bought off the internet a few years ago. The baseballs were not Hall of Famers, but players like Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. The photo that I took was of Wilt Chamberlain, and was bought from Stan's Sports Memorabilia, a now-known forger, so we were pretty sure it was fake. Well, all the baseballs I got signed in person were deemed fake, and the Wilt photo that I was 99% was fake, I was told was real!!!! When me and the store owner (who knows I go around and get autos in person) questioned them, all of a sudden my baseballs were now real. So 10 minutes later they became good autographs. When I told them where the photo came from and that I thought it was fake, they just left it as is. All they really care about is getting their money, not whether a signature is real or not.

I have 0% confidence in any 3rd party authenticator, and I did not have much before this happened, but it proved something to me, I was right all along. There is no way a staff of 8-10 people can know an autograph of everybody out there enough to validate it. Especially when their autographs change from minor leagues to major leagues, in a big crowd, rushing, etc. It is ridiculous to think that they would.

The sad thing is that they are coming back to the store to do this again. But after reading your article, I think I will show up with a Bo Knows Bo book just for fun and to tell everyone there the story. Even if the book costs me $20.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Response from www.autographalert.com

You can just imagine the huge percentage of mistakes made by these companies. Many professional collectors and dealers simply ignore or destroy the COA's that come with autographed items. Each and every item authenticated by a 3rd party authenticator is suspect and needs to be re-examined. The autograph market is inundated with mis-authenticated autographs. Thanks for your input and support of our site.
Breaking News:
January 15, 2009
 
Wasting Money On The So-Called
3rd Party Autograph Authenticators

Many collectors and dealers we talk to are referring to the 3rd party authenticators as "scams." It has been proven time and time again they can't tell a genuine ink signature from a printed signature. They've passed the wrong celebrity and passed an enormous amount of forgeries as genuine. One was goofy enough to pass a forgery at a show of a celebrity who was attending the same show as an autograph guest. This is no longer hilarious it has become sickening. This simply proves that anyone can pass themselves off as an autograph authenticator. No skills necessary!

We received an email from someone who, at this late date, was still foolish enough to use one of these authenticating companies. He learned his lesson well.

12/26/2008
To: autographalert.com
"I just want to point out that I had 8 items signed in person or my father had signed years ago. Mantle, Williams and two DiMaggio autographs (included). I sent them to Global Authentication because I feel they are the best of the 3 in authenticating autos. I wanted to re-sell them was the reason for getting letters of authentication. I listed them on eBay with my COA's from Global and eBay pulled them off because of quick opinions done on them from the "experts" at PSA/DNA."
Let's assume the collector paid $50 per authentication, that comes to $400 originally wasted on the authentications. If authenticating companies are legitimate, how can one pass all 8 items and another who doesn't even get to see the original items fail all eight. Tells you one or both don't know what they are doing.

So $400 was wasted on silly, worthless COA's and now the collector can't sell them on eBay.

Words of wisdom, no collector needs a COA from any authenticating company. There are hundreds of people and dealers who don't recognize these authenticating companies and will purchase your Mantle, Williams and DiMaggio signed items based on their own knowledge.

Four hundred dollars wasted using the 3rd party authenticators, this is just one story of many similar.

 
Breaking News:
January 7, 2009
 
Third Party Authenticators
"THE FIRST TO FALL"
 
Global Authenticators who calls themselves "The Leader in Authentication" has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The company based in Tustin, California made claims that their autograph authenticators had over 100 years of autograph authentication experience. Their services included autograph authentication, vintage autograph authentication and modern autograph authentication. They launched the anti-counterfeit Certification Labels (very unpopular to affix anything to an original autograph).

Global has listed their assets of up to $100,000 with liabilities up to 10 million dollars.

Many educated collectors have been avoiding the use of third party authenticators and this is the result.


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