|Autograph Auctions - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Truth
Finding the right autograph auction house and making wise investments.
I was recently asked about the risks of buying from auctions and their concern about autograph authenticity. They weren't asking about online auction sites like ebay.com and similar but instead of some of the local auction houses as well as online auctioneers who may or may not frequently offer autographed memorabilia up for auction. After giving them a reply it occurred to me that we haven't done a post online with this information and feel it's definitely worth noting so hopefully this will help you too.
Question: What are the risks of buying from established or seemingly established auction houses when buying autographed memorabilia on auction?
Answer) Your risks of getting ripped off at an auction by buying a forgery are almost as bad as anywhere else. The sad part of that statement is based more on charity auctions. Charity auctions have been a target of autographed forgeries for years now with many autograph forgers offering items at a very cheap wholesale price or using a cost-free consignment program. Ultimately charities get these items knowing they can sell for a markup and sadly some just don't care if the items are forged. Your task is to find and frequent some of the great auction houses available and try to avoid any who aren't EXPERTS at what they do. There are definitely some very reputable auction houses who offer authentic autographs bi-weekly or monthly with 100s of new items to bid on (http://www.AmericanMemorabilia.com , etc.).
The auction companies I'd suggest you participate in are ones who have both their own in-house experts but also employ 3rd Party Experts (PSA/DNA, JSA, or Roger Epperson) to add additional certification or with ones who have consigned items from a UACC Registered Dealer (not just a UACC member but a Registered Dealer!). If you find an item at any auction without this type of certification you'd better be 100% absolute without question certain the autograph is real or you run the risk of throwing away your money. Even if you are absolutely 100% sure, when it comes time to sell that item, you'll have to then convince others of the same which is a much harder task. Having the auction house LOA accompanied by additional certification from a UACC Registered Dealer, PSA, JSA, or Roger Epperson makes the item that much easier to sell and these types of items almost always command a much higher sell-through price.
Remember, auction companies are here to make a buck and some individuals who are not mass producing forgers may be duped into thinking something is real when it's not, or worse yet, take on consignments for fake autographs knowing the items will result in a high profit margin for them. As with any purchase be it an auctioneer or dealer, the Certificate Of Authenticity is only worth the paper it's printed on. You must be clear on return policies in regards to authenticity. Will they accept documentation from a Third Party Authenticator or UACC Registered Dealer as evidence to an item not being authentic? If not, they have no true defining line of authenticity and if that's the case, RUN, don't just walk away.
Question: What autographs should I be looking at to buy as investments?
Answer) If you are looking for investment quality items please contact me toll free at 1-866-544-PROS (7767). We have a vast array of celebrity autographs and music memorabilia which are guaranteed to go up in value and allow you to capitalize on some great investments. The short answer to that is buy high quality rare items with rock solid authentication PERIOD! Nothing else is worth it. Don't buy Mickey Mantle and Ted William autographs or worse yet modern sports autographs like Derek Jeter, etc. Those items are great to have but have flooded the market to the point where even the best items are hard to sell because buyers know there's so much out there they can find something similar for cheaper. Music Memorabilia is far more rare. Keith Richards and Eric Clapton aren't doing sit-down autograph signings for anyone and aren't peddling their autographs for money so everything with music memorabilia is continuing to gain value. Also my estimate is that like Operation Bullpen which was a major FBI sting on sports autographs, the FBI are looking at a lot of the forged autographed guitars out there and will soon be making big headlines with major busts. That will add HUGE value by eliminating a large portion of the forgeries so that the public can see just how few REAL autographed guitars and high end pieces of music memorabilia there are out there.
Director of “Charity Works” fundraising for Autograph Pros, L.L.C.
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UACC Registered Dealer #237
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