" DOES IT HAVE AUTHENTICATION? " - How would you answer?

Like many of us, I do some selling on eBay (mostly to help finance my own collecting).  This was the question I was asked  by a member this morning who says they are interested in one of my offerings:

"Does It Have Authentication?"

This particular piece has no third party authentication but I have no doubt whatsoever that it's real after study and comparison to exemplars as well as running it past a dealer friend.

How do you (or would you) answer this question about authenticity for a potential buyer if you don't have a TPA letter?

Views: 453

Comment by Joe W. on January 13, 2022 at 8:57am

Seems like this discussion has come up previously. Many collectors are more comfortable with an autograph having independent verification. Especially on eBay. Can you blame them?

With that said, the honest answer if the autograph does not come with TPA certification is "No". Explain the best way you can as to your reasoning why you believe the signature is authentic.

Then it comes down to your guarantee. Does it include the signature will pass a TPA service? Or not? Length of return policy, etc. It all comes down to the details. That is what anyone selling autographs to the public must make clear from the get go.

Grey areas can lead to future problems. 

Comment by Etienne on January 13, 2022 at 9:25am

Thanks for your comment, Joe.  All points well taken

I certainly don't blame the member for asking the question.  I guess the reason I'm asking now is that it really did strike me as a big issue in buying, selling and trading autographs to those we really don't know.  Not long ago, I purchased an item on eBay that had a Beckett letter included with it.  I'm not so sure I would have done so as quickly without that letter (and I'm certainly not wedded to TPAs as a rule).

I've noticed lately some sellers I've followed on eBay have certs. or letters from JSA, Beckett or PSA for all of their material.

Comment by Joe W. on January 13, 2022 at 9:29am

I'm not sure a seller needs to have all their autographs TPA certified. Especially the lower value autographs. But, with a bigger dollar signature having a TPA cert will usually sell it quicker and at a higher price point.

Selling direct can be quite rewarding but it has it's pitfalls as well.

Comment by Eric Keith Longo on January 13, 2022 at 9:40am

No, they do not. Just mine. I've only been asked a handful of times. I will avoid buyers who rely solely on papers, and urge them to do research "until they can see it themselves". With Gleason or Bowie I will find material and select if directly asked/hired by someone who needs help in those areas. can remember one return - a little known Jack Nicholson vintage sec from our pal JoeW (I sold it to him). No problems there. Autograph sales represent just a portion of what I buy/sell and collect and I provide nothing but my word and well priced select problem-free original material. I am also active in the folowing areas - in all of which I have illustrated books, catalogs and worked with various museums. This likely asists my sales as well:

1939 New York World's Fair Memorabilia/35mm color Kodachrome/b/w photography

1945-1955 Hiroshima blast  artifacts/Survivor Kiyoshi Kikkawa signed books & autobio 1952/53

Cunard Lusitania (1907-1915) and Mauretania 1 (1907-1934) parts of ships, photographs, letters etc.

Although frequently asked to authenticate items I do not provide papers of any kind. I have been blessed with regular friends/customers - long term - 15+ years and papers are just not needed for anything.

Here is a pilaster from the 1st Class Lounge I authenticated and then sold to the Tyne and Wear Museum at Wallsend , Newcastle - where the pilaster was carved in the first place. It is shown fully restored and on display. They asked for nothing but I provided as much as possible to maximize the situation.

Below that is a part of my authentication, showing the pilaster as I found it and aboard ship in 1907:

Comment by Joe W. on January 13, 2022 at 9:51am

Eric, we are talking about autographs and what is going on in the marketplace. Can autographs be sold without TPA papers. Yes, indeed they can. For top dollar? Sometimes. 

Sellers are free to determine their policies in any manner they prefer. But, TPA services, like them or not, are a part of the hobby. They do help expand the potential buyer market. That is a fact.

Comment by Eric Keith Longo on January 13, 2022 at 9:59am

Sorry Joe. I am involved in many areas and it is surprising how much cross-over knowledge there is. It is very satifying. Of course many sellers will use TPG - industry expectations etc. esp for resale.

"...But, TPA services, like them or not, are a part of the hobby. They do help expand the potential buyer market...." - the same could be said of forgers! :)

Comment by Joe W. on January 13, 2022 at 10:05am

Forgers were around long before TPA services. They will exist as long as there is a market. Still, TPA help honest sellers reach more potential buyers and prices tend to sell higher. 

To each their own. 

Comment by Eric Keith Longo on January 13, 2022 at 10:16am

I totally agree - higher liquidity and resale value. Perhaps I just deal in really weird stuff ;)

Comment by Etienne on January 13, 2022 at 10:55am

Over a year ago, I had sold a relatively high end item to a buyer who was thrilled to acquire it.  3 months or so later I received a note from them that the item had failed a TPA submission with one of the big three services which they specified.  They told me they simply wanted to share that information but that they loved the piece and disagreed with the TPA service.

There all kinds of experiences awaiting us if we dip our toe into the selling end of the hobby.

Comment by Nick Dimeo on January 13, 2022 at 11:02am

I believe you need to do research and have a keen eye what to look for to be able to purchase an autograph. For instance, the vintage autographs from 20’s/30’s/40’s movie stars are most likely always found signed on those fan pages (the ones that have the little holes on the sides) because fans had easier access to movie stars back than and always carried an autograph book. I rarely see these authenticated by TPA. Collectors mostly know that these will be authentic unless something drastic is observed like signed in sharpie or something. Research is key on other vintage pieces so why let a stranger from a TPA tell you something that you can easily find out with some leg work.

I have told the story before but I had a friend who went to The National in Chicago this past Summer and had a job interview for PSA regarding being an authenticator. The job would have paid him meager money and he had to move to California. I mean you are relying on someone like this to authenticate your precious pieces. It all just comes down to an opinion so why not let your opinion be the determining factor.


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