I'm new to this site, so hope I'm using it correctly.  Seems every time I find a reputable company or authentication service, I find information that denounces it.  This even includes PSA/DNA which I assumed to be the gold standard of authentication services.  Roger Epperson, seems legit, then I find a lawsuit with email thread in which he gets nasty and doesn't honor his own guarantee.  Then there's Antiquities in Las Vegas, which seems a high end reputable store in business for many years that has a negative review claiming a forged purchase.  Also found negative comments about well-established trusted companies/individuals such as GAI, JSA, Drew Max (an apparent highly-trained forensic analyst), and PAAS.  I realize examiners offer opinions and not 100% correct, but conflicting reports make it tough to feel comfortable purchasing autographed memorabilia.  For sports items, it seems Steiner is trustworthy as their COAs are witnessed signings.  The only alternative is getting something signed in front of you- not typically an easy thing to do (Eric Clapton's not hanging around my neighborhood). Advice for someone wanting to purchase autographed music items without concerns of buyer’s remorse?   Thanks.

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Comment by SIR Paul on April 9, 2016 at 3:28am
If your after Erics autograph just buy a genisis publication, signed book.
Comment by David K on April 9, 2016 at 4:50am
Thanks Paul. That was really just an example (though I am a big fan of his). I have bought items, but when I view concerns or issues online about even the most reputable dealers and authenticators then it makes me wonder if the items I purchased are real and whether or not to continue this hobby. Guess I was looking for reassurance regarding their reputations from Autograph Live members.
Comment by Rich on April 9, 2016 at 6:15pm

The names you mentioned aren't all in the same category.  You're right about Steiner, as they are solid.  Likewise for several sports companies who witness their own autographs getting signed: Tristar, Upper Deck, Mounted Memories (though there is some debate about them), Denver Autographs, Radtke, Schwartz - these guys run a tight ship and keep their authentication internal.

Third party authenticators are a different story. In some instances, they are on site for the signing, but I think that represents a relative minority. Again, some of the same you mentioned side by side run drastically different operations.

GAI/GA, Drew Max and Antiquities - These are straight up dirty operations with little to no actual skill and a focus on making money at all costs. They know what they're doing. Their "credentials" are a smoke screen. This is criminal activity.

As for the rest, Epperson is the best of the bunch. For one thing, he focuses on music and doesn't spread himself too thin. Everyone has flaws and makes mistakes, but much of the negativity you read about him - if you look closely - is decidedly a bunch of crap. 

Now for PSA and JSA, I don't really like either. You'll get varying opinions on this, but I'll start by saying they are not trying to screw over collectors, but that hardly makes them rock solid.  They have competent people working there for the most part, but they are both companies that have grown significantly. And, I believe, they put dollars over quality service. In summary, my biggest problem is how sloppy they've gotten.  Here are my issues: They sell themselves as being able to make the call on any autograph.  That's just stupid. There are tons and tons of celebrities of all types of all levels of fame. PSA and JSA don't know all of them. Not even close. On the same note, there are many modern day celebrity autographs they just cant authenticate because they're garbage scribbles (I don't want anyone telling me they can authenticate a modern Pacino). But you'll see them cutting deals with people they generally think are trustworthy collectors.  Bad, bad practice and incredibly risky.  I've seen them make decisions based on the source that are just incompetent and wreckless. This isn't because they're running a scam like GA, Antiquities or Max - it's become about making money as aggressively as possible. Hence, the quality of their product has declined.

Anyway, that's just my take. I don't like TPA's in general. While the hobby is indeed a minefield, there are actually some pretty safe avenues to obtain authentic items, and it doesn't always cost an arm and a leg.

Comment by David K on April 10, 2016 at 5:57am
Thanks Rich! Your comments were helpful and insightful. I'm aware of the "too good to be true" mindset, particularly with ebay, in which there has been a lot of crackdown on it, but don't get how the higher-end companies could stay in business if known to be unscrupulous. Is there simply a lack of any type of oversight?
Thoughts on dealers that attend memorabilia "shows"?
Comment by Mike White on April 10, 2016 at 9:06am

Dealers that exhibit at shows are like any other dealers: some are legit, some aren't. The difference is that the ones at shows are more accessible, and, thus, more likely to be called out than a guy in a stripmall or a table at a flea market.

The other thing to keep in mind about authenticators is that there are some who'll authenticate after the fact & others who'll only authenticate that which they see signed. The latter are going to be more trustworthy, simply by virtue of there being no margin of error.

To date, OfficialPix & CGC's "Signature Series" (among others, I'm sure, but those spring to mind quickest) have been unimpeachable, as they're certifying fact, not opinion.

Comment by David K on April 10, 2016 at 1:23pm
Thank Mike. I wasn't familiar with those dealers.
Comment by David K on April 13, 2016 at 5:09am
Anyone familiar with the company "Memorabilia Autographs"?
Comment by automan on April 13, 2016 at 7:56am

forget clapton he is the most miserable and arkward indivual imaginable,,you would be lucky to get a word out of him never mind a autograph

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erZxA4hx0JE

Comment by David K on August 13, 2016 at 2:59pm
Update on what I've read/learned
1) when a TPA disagrees with another one it gets nasty. The email threads associated with the Epperson lawsuit is one example, others are when I've contacted a seller in which the TPA disagrees, and other examples on this site
2) one TPA, GFA (Stephen Rocchi) gets trashed by this site yet this is the only place I've found this (in contrast to Drew Max which I've seen at other places but also found positive things). A part of the GFA team is a board-certified forensic document examiner which one would believe to have some clout. Both have authenticated for Antiquities which an above comment claimed to be dirty, yet been in business a long time in a high-end mall
3) even this site. Although open to collectors in general, I found negative statements on ripoff report. Smaller dealers claim to be unfairly treated.
4) PSA/ DNA seems to arguably be the gold standard of TPAs. I even found negative things about them trying to monopolize the business, though on the other hand their authenticated products are sold by MLB.com
5) GAI - I know I've seen negative things but can't recall where. Don't know much about them, but own a handful of items with their COA
6) JSA - not seen much, but seem to be respected in the same category as PSA
7) Roger Epperson - though apparaently highly regarded with musician autographs, is selling them. Is that not a conflict of interest?
8) How much faith can one have in "quick opinions"? Several companies offer it based on pdfs, though others don't believe it to be legit. My thought is the exemplars are all pictures (probably jpeg or pdf), so it should be doable but could understand rationale to not offer a COA without seeing the item. Thoughts?
9) question for Rich (and any others) without actually witnessing a signature - what are the safe avenues for authentic items? Are these ones authenticated by the companies mentioned in your post?
Getting autographs in person, particularly the bigger names, is obviously a bit difficult and therefore need to rely on the seller, and when offered, the COA (either by the seller or a TPA). I haven't looked into Officialpix or GCG but will need to do so.
So confusing!! Again, I'm not being judgemental just sharing what I've found and seeking opinions. I appreciate any additional thoughts. Also recommendations to authenticate Beatles autographs. Lastly, been told that about 90% of sold autographed memorabilia is not authentic which is scary, particularly on eBay. Any highly reputable eBay sellers? Sorry this post is so long. I feel autographed memorabilia is not only something fun to have/ collect but can also be a part of history. Thanks.
Comment by Rich on August 13, 2016 at 3:49pm

I don't look for items authenticated by anyone, the one exception being sports. There are much better sources to go to than a TPA's best guess. It also pays to know certain signatures well and the hobby in general, though this obviously takes time, patience and a few mistakes.

I like collecting music, to if you look at the "Musicians Who Sell Their Signature" thread, you'll see plenty of great opportunities to purchase items from the artists' websites or other music stores selling promotional items, though in many instances you have to act quickly.

There are many good in-person collectors on Ebay, but you have to learn who's who. The RACC group on Facebook is a pretty good source. It focuses on in-person collectors (many pros), and you'll see many people buying and selling. They also have a strictly maintained list of reliable collectors. 

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