The “Cardboard Connection” authored an article on autographs and the authentification of those items that we feel are extremely accurate and important for everyone to know. The highlights of the article are cited below. If you would like to read the whole article, please see:
It should be stated that autograph authentication is one of the most controversial and murky aspects of collecting sports memorabilia. The methods employed are far from an exact science. Most reputable authenticators, themselves, will admit that even under the best circumstances, their findings are merely an opinion. It is not concrete proof of a genuine autograph.
Quite simply, the only way to ensure that the autographs in your collection are authentic is to acquire them in person. This process includes handing the item to the athlete, watching them sign it, and having the athlete hand the item back to you. That being said, there are probably items already in your collection that you would like to have authenticated. However, once you make that decision, be prepared for potential disappointment in the results.
The Autograph Authentication Process
There are literally dozens of autograph authentication companies in existence today. From forensic document examiners to so-called handwriting experts, to corporate institutions like PSA/DNA and others that claim to use state-of-the-art technology with fancy-sounding names like Color Spectral Deconvolution or Video Spectral Comparator, the autograph authentication choices available to a collector can get confusing.
Regardless of the company, all autograph authenticators use some form of a multi-step process that includes examination and analysis of the ink and medium, object evaluation, side-by-side signature comparison, structural analysis, tagging and certifying.
All autograph authentication starts with the following examination:
Ink/Medium Analysis, Object Evaluation, Structural Analysis, Side-by-Side Comparison, After Evaluation, Tagging, Certifying, Specialized Autograph Authentication Tools, Color Spectral Deconvolution, Video Spectral Comparative Analysis
Autograph Authentication Companies
As previously mentioned, there is a range of companies to choose from. A simple online search will reveal many that fall outside of what the hobby has established as reputable. In reality, even these companies have been known to make their share of mistakes given the nature of the authentication as just an opinion in the first place. Couple this with the fact that autograph authentication is a for-profit business and you can imagine the potential issue that may result.
Autograph Authentication Pitfalls
One of the most troubling things collectors encounter from time-to-time is when they submit an autograph for authentication that they have acquired in person, only to have it rejected by the authenticating company. What recourse do you have as a collector if this happens? Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done.
As frustrating as this can be, your only options are to submit the item to another authenticator or simply be satisfied in knowing for yourself that it is genuine. While this may help when the item resides in your own collection, it certainly will make it difficult to sell the item in the future without a reputable LOA.
Below are the common Certification Companies who specialize in Autographs:
JSA (James Spencer Authenticity) Certification Verification
PSA & PSA/DNA (Professional Sports Authenticator) Certification Verification
GAA (Guaranteed Authentic Autograph) Certification Verification
Beckett(Beckett Authentication Services) Certification Verification
UDA (Upper Deck Authentic) Certification Verification
Pristine (Pristine) Certification Verification
GFA (Guaranteed Forensic Authenticators) Certification Verification
AAA (Autograph Authentication Authority) Certification Verification
AAU Website (Authentic Autographs Unlimited)
JP's (JP's Memorabilia) Certificate of Authenticity Disclaimer
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