Pardon if this is a question that has been discussed before.
Over the years in collecting, I have never submitted anything to the
third party authenticators as I've usually stuck to dealing with established
dealers. I have purchased items that were already authenticated with
their accompanying cert. or letter if it came as part of the deal.
Recently I acquired a higher end piece that there is no doubt in my mind
is authentic, but I was considering having it authenticated by one of the
tpa's as it seems that will possibly make it more saleable down the road if
I chose to part with it.
My question is, do you need to submit the actual physical item through
the mail or would a scan and a note of provenance as to the dealer purchased
I know this kind of sounds like I am a newbie in collecting...really just in
third party authentication.
I doubt there's a legitimate TPA who will offer a full authentication just based on pictures. Quite frankly, I'd stay far away from any TPA that did.
Most will offer some sort of Quick Opinion service (PSA & BAS both do, as well as the independent guys like Epperson and Zarelli) based on high-res pictures, but this a lower service than their full LOA's.
If you're worried about sending the item through the mail, BAS/PSA/JSA used to have a walk-in service where you bring it into the office yourself (no idea if that's still a thing during the pandemic). There's also off-site events where they'd be at an event (ie. comic-con, card show, etc.), and you could submit stuff in-person.
Your best bet, especially for a higher end piece, is to get it authenticated in person. Go on the JSA website for example and they have lists of shows they will be going to over the coming months. Wait for one near you and then get it authenticated. It also saves you a big shipping cost and possible loss or damage of the item in the mail.