Autograph collecting Advice on eBay for collectors with moderate hobby experience.

But this is not for new/newer collectors because there is far too much you need to learn BEFORE you ever think of buying an autograph on eBay because 75%+ of them are FORGERIES (including those Authenticated). Experts should be able to tell most forgeries themselves (by having exemplars and examining them closely compared to an autograph they are thinking of buying) and should know most of this stuff below already. But I recommend that any autograph collector read this and add your opinions as well.

The reason I'm posting this is that there are a few autographs I need to complete a specific year set that I've been making for 15-years. I need an A.J. Foyt (Nascar Driver) autograph and was outbid on an Authentic autographed Press Pass from the 1960's with decent provenance in the listing (plus the seller said he would include an index card with the details of how, when, where, why, etc. and he would sign it himself). Plus Foyt is a very hard autograph to forge (if you know what you are looking at) especially if signed with a thin pen which this one was. ON CARD Certified Autograph Insert AJ Foyt autographs are $40-$50+ (he has few of these available too which means they can get even more on eBay) which I really can't afford right now. So I was willing to live with this Press Pass Autograph in my collection. But because even I'm so scared to buy autographs on eBay, I didn't bid enough and now I'm kicking myself! If I would have bid $4.00 more, I guarantee I would have won it for around $10.00.

HOWEVER, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD I BUY ANYONE'S AUTOGRAPH ON EBAY AND PAY MORE THAN $25.00. This was if I'm wrong about an autograph, I lost what I can afford to lose and learn my lesson. So far I haven't been wrong- but I'm a fully trained Forensic Document Examiner (where I'd need the item in-person to really use my skills). EVEN I AM VERY SCARED TO BUY ANYTHINMG BUT ON CARD CERTIFIED AUTOGRAPH INSERTS ON EBAY! This maximum you are willing to lose is something VERY IMPORTANT that you need to keep in mind as well- because if you get ripped-off eBay WILL NOT HELP YOU ONE BIT!     

Provenance - What does the seller say in an eBay autograph listing to explain the four W's of an autograph (Where, What, When, Why), and How the autograph was obtained? If the seller does NOTHING but list an autograph and explain absolutely nothing about the details listed below- YOU SHOULD ASSUME IT'S A FORGERY. You want to know as much of the details as far as: what it was signed on and the condition of the item, when it was signed- date (or approximate year at the very least) and possibly the time, and why the person signed at that time (it was at a charity event and I was a volunteer, at the ballpark five-six hours before game time (when baseball players start to arrive), on the street (what street, how did the person approach the signer), at a book signing (and you hasked if they'd mind signing another item (then you want to see a copy of the book as well), etc.), what kind of marker/pen was used.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO BUY AUTOGRAPHS FROM ANYONE EXCEPT THE PERSON WHO OBTAINED IT! A good 75% of autographs on eBay have changed hands so many times that sellers have no provenance information whatsoever. Since it is SO EASY to make an autograph forgery, please be smart and stay as far away from autographs with no provenance as you can.   

Quality - Autograph quality can vary by a little or by a great deal depending on the signer, what year it was signed, what the autograph is signed on, and the emotion of the signer at the time. The pen can be dry and you'll get an autograph missing parts of the autograph, have skip marks, and just look bad, I personally just stay away from these and recommend the same. How thick is the signature? If the signature is too thick - the Sharpie was flattened too much and the result is a signature that cannot accurately be given an opinion on by anyone! When a signer uses a really thick marker the singer often doesn't put the small details they'll put with a thinner pen/marker, you cannot see where lines overlap, stop & start marks may not be seen, or changes in thickness that can be seen with thinner signatures are not there. Thick autographs are by far the hardest to give an accurate opinion on and I've very rarely ever seen anyone say this: but every Forensic Document Examiner knows this to be a fact.  

Price - I'm always trying to guide people into collecting ON CARD Certified Autograph Inserts from large, long-term, trusted card companies because the authenticity rate is way over 99.99% AUTHENTIC. There's no other autographs on the market with an authenticity level above 90%! For instance, I'd say Steiner Autographs are 90% authentic- but I wouldn't say that about anyone else. Yet I OFTEN see PSA/DNA and James Spence Authenticated cards encased that sell for MORE than the exact same players that have ON CARD Certified Autograph Inserts from Topps for less money!!! THIS MAKES LESS SENSE TO ME THAN ASKING SOMEONE FOR A LIGHT FOR A CIGARETTE WHO ARE BOTH IN A BURNING BUILDING???  

Medium - What the autograph is signed on. It's always best to stick to the common items signed by the type of signer. I mention this because for one example it's not smart to ask a celebrity like a movie star (who never did a baseball movie) to sign a baseball or something larger that is round. I've seen celebrity signed softballs and even basketballs. These usually don't work out right.
Did you ever try to sign a baseball yourself, I did? Try it, it's VERY DIFFICULT TO DO FOR MOST PEOPLE. So you will often wind up with a signature that looks quite different than the same person's signature on a flat item. Then try getting it authenticated! No one will authenticate it because it looks too different from any autograph authenticators have ever seen before of that signer, so they automatically say it's not authentic. This is what Authenticators do, they look at your item for 2-seconds and make their decision based on that quick look. If it looks just a little OFF: it's rejected (most of the time, if the Authenticator truly LOOKS at the item).

I had a personal experience with PSA/DNA where the Authenticator was putting their numbered holo-foil stickers on items with the PSA/DNA matching card at an NFL Event and he never looked at the items he was "Authenticating"! This is one of many reasons that I think all authenticators are useless.
I bought a :Marvelous" Marvin Hagler autographed beer can cooler on eBay for very little money ($5.00 w/S&H!) last year. It had wonderful provenance that was checked out to be all correct (because I had the four W's & the how- then spent the time checking out of the details on Google which is the process all autograph buyers should do BEFORE you buy an autograph). It turned out to be authentic too after I used my Forensic Document Examiner skills, BUT because it looked different enough from his flat signed items (and boxing gloves don't count because they can be flattened enough so the signer can easily sign those and they are large and easy to handle). A beer can cooler it NOT easy to sign and I bet most authenticators wouldn't authenticate this item. 

Good luck and I wish everyone the best!

James McCay

Tags: Authenticators, Buying, Forensics, Help, Rules, Suggestions, autographs, eBay

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Was it 201 hours? 202? 203?

James McCay requested being removed from this site, so he has been suspended.

Man if that was all it took, I would have requested that you remove him days ago. 


How soon before he signs up again under a different alias? This is what he has done on multiple websites after getting banned or blocked. And i got $10 that says Mr Mccay is badmouthing me AND this website somewhere else right now, lol. And I personally think you should delete this entire thread, it is utterly useless.

I think that James McCay's writing style would be evident to most of us.

I don't think he's malicious or patently dishonest. I do think he's misguided, but that's no reason to delete his content. It speaks for itself.

I posted this in his reply that you're especially concerned about:

[Moderator's Note: I asked James McCay to provide evidence that Terry G was a "crooked hobbyist" but he would not. He did ask me to remove his account here for this and other reasons. He has been suspended per his request.]

He is a convicted thief and a liar who now after he can no longer collect for charities now has pet peeves and steals peoples cards off ebay to teach them a lesson. I warned you about this dope months ago.

He will tell you how he is bed ridden and how he cant return the cards or put them in his mailbox...But yet he gets them fast as his claims are opened as soon as he sees no confirmation.

Same crazy james. i remember years ago when he was claiming to be dying and collecting stuff for charities..This of course after being busted and convicted of stealing from card companies. Which of course in his mind he did for us. Yes he stole those cards for us! Now he has a pet peeve on people who over charge shipping on ebay so guess what he does? Steals from them. Stand up dude. 

Good to see all these years later he is still alive ad still be removed from websites. I guess hes now cured. 

James - great info! I recently bought this Jesus of Nazareth hand signed autograph in a private sale on eBay from Certified Discount Autographs.
It came with a "COA" so I am pretty confident it is authentic. If any members would like to offer their opinions, image is attached.
Appreciate any input.

James is no longer a member here. Time for this discussion to RIP.


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