First let me say , I have always been a proponent of 3rd party independent authentication, because I believe it curtails the forgery industry. And I still believe that.
However I have always had mixed feelings about the competency of these 3rd party authentication services. And sometimes their questionable competence is enough to drive me to Rant, on internet autograph forums… Here’s why:
1. It is a sloppy highly subjective process more than any other collecting genre.
2. After all these years, STILL No standards that the public is aware of, which 1. above is a product of.
3. Most Authenticators have no documented governing credentials.
4.There’s a “good ole boy” network of players that influence (often negatively) the autograph collecting industry. For example, the same autograph can fail from one source but Pass from a “network member” source. Just look at the examples below of PSA and JSA certified JFK signatures and note that some are a dead match to the one I sent JSA, that they could NOT authenticate. But, PSA ad JSA seem to authenticate countless cryptic very similar JFK signatures for autograph auction houses that offer high volumes of business for PSA and JSA.
A couple months ago I acquired a JFK Signed campaign insert (see below). I thoroughly researched it with Hamilton’s “JFK Robot” book, JFK Presidential appointments and letters, and PSA and JSA certified IN-person style signatures of that era (1960). And found Several highly consistent matches to the one below I sent to JSA. After about 4 weeks JSA returned mine with one of the “we can’t opin” letters and a credit of my $150 to use on future authentications. Not sure I’ll ever have to use it as my confidence with PSA and JSA has dwindled over the years. If you cant opin after 4 weeks with my JFK how can I expect you to authenticate other signatures?
One of the reasons I option for JSA over PSA is at least they will Opt out . Whereas my experience with PSA has been if they don’t know , they’ll just fail it and cash your check. But, that’s another story.
These repeating experiences with PSA and JSA has been the #1 reason I have gradually lost interest in autographs. I won’t use the word ”shady” but it is a highly flawed collecting genre with no reliable resource of "experts" to consult, far more vulnerable than any other genre I have experienced. And being born with Collecting ADD, Ive collected about everything over the past 35 years..
So today after getting Another “Cannot Opin” from JSA, I am truly dispirited with autograph collecting and selling.
And dont get me started on these self proclaimed "best in the business" chest thumpers... ,.... I'd just ask, based on what data or examination credentials ??
I guess I could always send this JFK Signed item into one of the auctions houses or dealers who have closer "relationship" with JSA or PSA and get an immediate letter of authenticity.
May I ask a dumb question? With these services like PSA or JSA do you have to actually send your rare item in along with payment so they can out a sticker on it, or can it be a photo of the item and they send you the sticker if they approve it? I would hate to risk losing a Lennon or Elvis in the mail just for that. I know with Roger's quick opinion he just wants to see an image of the item. I have been very happy with his services. Not an authentication with a sticker, just his opinion which is ok by me.
If you want a COA- you have to send the item, every authenticator needs to review the autograph in hand to see if it's not a print. Roger's quick opinion is a great service, but I if you want to sell something on ebay for example, quick opinion often is not enough. Especially for The Beatles autographs: sometimes authentic autographs are being removed from ebay only because they have no "right" COA.
Thanks for replying. I figured as much. Just wondering. Does either JSA or PSA offer an email quick opinion service as does Roger?
PSA does, but it's good only for the beginners. There are many negative reviews about their quick opinion, because they often make mistakes.
With an opinion from a scan it can be nearly impossible to rule out some preprints unless recognized, to determine live ink, to weed out certain facsimiles etc...this is expected of the collector. IMO.
Autograph authentication definitely needs to improve, but things were much worse before legitimate third-party authenticators became popular. I'm not talking just about PSA and JSA, but Caiazzo, Phil Sears, Epperson, etc.
The most important thing, from my perspective, is that protecting the collector needs to be Job 1.
I've been at this for about 3 years and feel as though I've managed to compress many more years of experience into this relatively short period - primarily from making mistakes. As a brand new beginner, TPAs are absolutely necessary. All the talk about being your own authenticator is perfectly fine. For certain bands, I'm close to there now, maybe, so I get it. But it's a useless thing to say to a new person in the hobby - other than to suggest that this is a level of competency you will eventually reach with continued study. I've done my share of complaining about PSA. I have had no issues with JSA, and I rely on Roger exclusively now. As simply put as I can manage, here are the issues: 1) A PSA or JSA rejection is a blanket rejection, with no explanation or rationale other than a form letter, 2) Most of the time, but not always, you don't know who is looking at your item, 3) You cannot speak with whoever is looking at your item, 4) PSA in particular, is, in my experience, notoriously inconsistent, 5) If PSA in particular rejects something, even if Roger has approved, there is a stigma associated with the item which impacts value and liquidity, 6) The obvious conflicts of interest associated with preferential treatment for corporate clients versus retail clients. The top priority should be "Is it real?". It's very easy for the top priority to become "Will PSA pass it?" I've felt this myself. The reason is that whether you buy more modestly priced items or more expensive items, it all adds up to substantial money over time, so the ability to sell easily matters a lot. For me personally, I'm done with PSA completely - have been for quite a while. I have nothing against JSA (nice guys and conscientious in my experience). But I only work with Roger now, period. Is he fallible, sure, maybe. Of the dozens of items he has authenticated for me, he changed his mind about exactly one, and one only. That's a pretty strong track record. Working with one fair, knowledgeable and experienced guy is way, way, way better than the cluster-**** that authentication has become. I have never used Grad/Sobrero directly. My perception isn't great but that's based upon hearsay and not based upon personal experience. Sorry for long post.
I have several PSA authenticated graphs on album, photograph and ticket. I now fear what I own could be fake, I'm afraid. I don't really know. But I have faith in when someone sees examplars that are matched from genuine, that person can make a reasonable deduction. I also have faith in these companies that authenticate because I believe the process of authentication, however, the one doing the authenticating better know his buisness
If A "business", as you call it, is to favor stockholders first, as all certainly do, then what? Just a random hypothetical. Who can say? I can't.
A stock can thrive when a company puts customers first, too.