A lot of buying and selling takes place between members on Autograph Magazine Live. I didn't realize how much until recently.
You may save money that way or get more when you sell. There's nothing wrong with that. But safe member-to-member buying has been a growing concern of mine over the past few months.
The vast majority of AML members would never want to sell a questionable autograph to anyone. But as we all know, forgeries are a huge problem in autographs. And the most successful members of the forgery industry sell them the same way the legitimate sellers do: by building relationships and trust with potential victims.
It's important to use safe buying practices, no matter how helpful a member is or how credible they seem to be. These are my 5 simple rules for buying autographs with a high degree of safety:
- Get other opinions before you buy. Post photos on AML or send them to members who know the signer. Ask respected experts or authenticators. It may cost you a few bucks, but it's worth it.
- Research the seller's reputation. Even good collectors may not have references for selling, so ask for buying references. Virtually all dealers and auction houses have reputations you can research, good or bad.
- Don't assume the seller's stories about how they got their autograph are true. The vast majority of modern forgeries are sold with fabricated in-person stories. Most vintage forgeries come with fake provenance.
- If you're planning to send it out for third party authentication after you buy, ask for the seller's agreement to refund your purchase price if it doesn't pass. Even a good seller may refuse, but you need to know that upfront. There should always be a reasonable way to resolve authenticity problems, though.
- Make sure you're comfortable that the seller will deliver what you bought after you pay for it. References or an established eBay account or dealership are things to consider.
These are my rules for buying autographs from members safely. What are yours?