Looking for advice/contacts/etc. on starting an autographed baseball collection. I wouldn't say that I'm a complete novice, and have done a significant amount of reading on the subject, but I have some questions.

Who are the best, reputable dealers that can be approached for a fair price on items of interest? I know about Steiner, Fanatics, etc., but their prices are clearly well-inflated above the value. Buying on eBay is just a scary proposition, regardless of having a JSA/PSA, so who do you guys go to in order to get the items you want?

I know that I can easily find hundreds of listings for a Ted Williams ball, but I'd like to deal with someone that has a history, reputation, and that I can speak with before investing that kind of money.

Also, I've created a wish list, but am kind of picky as to particulars...I have older guys on my radar, but I want clean, smooth signatures, not the ones that they are cranking out sloppily. How do you approach specifics like that? Or if I wanted a Mike Schmidt autograph on a ball will Bowie Kuhn's name as commissioner? I am just looking for some guidance/tips for how you guys do this, and maybe who you're working with to assemble your collections.

This is my first post, so take it easy on me if I committed any sins.

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I have been collecting autographs for almost 20 years, and I have had everything from sports to movie stars to historical, ect.  I find a lot of my stuff on auction sites cause you can usually get the best deal that way.  Not ebay, but actual auction websites.  There are so many to list but I am sure if you decide that way you can find them.  As for the authenticity, well in the end I believe it is whatever you think is real from all your own research.  I have had stuff authenticated by the best companies (PSA, JSA, ect) and have tested their methods by having one company say that the signature is authentic then send that same item to the other company and they said it was fake.  I am to the point that people will pay a lot of money for something they want even if it isnt authenticated.  I have had stuff signed personally by the person when meeting them at conventions and shows and then told by authenticators that the signature is fake, which is obviously not true because I did indeed actually meet the famous person, so it has left me to believe that if I think the signature is real, then it is real.  If it is something I am reselling, then it is up to the buyer.  Hope this helps! 

Thanks for your input, Jay. I was recently directed to a book that has proved to be helpful in identifying signatures. The author basically says to rely on being able to spot a real from a fake on your own rather than depending on authenticators.

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