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I recently came across an old article that has me thinking. I'm sure many of you have read this previously. It seems the takeaway from the article is third party authenticators' opinions must remain simply that--opinions.  This has me thinking. If you do your homework on an autograph and buy it because you love it, why bother with authentication? Personally, if I purchase an autograph I believe to be authentic and have no intention to sell, I don't bother with Third parties.  It seems there is a huge gulf between the business of selling autographs and collecting them. Am I being naïve about collectors' intentions?  Also: Should a collector be held to the standards of a dealer if they are up front about their autographs, if they did decide to sell? It is a strange dichotomy: the seller needing the collector and the collector needing the seller and the roles reversing when the collector becomes the seller.  

Views: 292

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on January 3, 2024 at 10:55pm

Quality reputable authentication can be extremely valuable, but what TPAs usually don't consider is provenance. It's extremely important in many cases.

Comment by JGreen on January 3, 2024 at 11:48pm

Yes! I would much prefer to know the history of an autograph than have a sticker or letter... 

Comment by Mike Shepherd on January 4, 2024 at 2:39am

I collect autographs because I am interested in history.  Authenticity is crucial.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on January 4, 2024 at 4:57pm

True, Mike. You need both, whether it's a reputable TPA excellent in the autograph or a highly recognized expert.

Comment by JGreen on January 4, 2024 at 6:45pm

I certainly don't want to collect forged autographs. But I guess the article referenced above makes me a bit suspicious of TPAs if the autograph in question isn't going to an expert who deals in that particular autograph. 

Comment by crazyrabbits23 on January 13, 2024 at 10:53pm

I've never voluntarily sought out a TPA. An overwhelming amount of my collection has come from thrift store buys, and what I buy falls into three camps:

1) signed books from authors esoteric enough that there is no market for any conceivable fake to exist

2) signed books from well-known authors, who I know enough about (from buying other signed works from them) that I can immediately suss out whether it's legit or not

3) the rarest: signed books that already have some form of provenance included with them: a photo of the signing, signed bookplate, a letter from either the author or the recipient of the book explaining the connection, etc.

The only time I was ever "forced" to pay for a TPA was when I was selling the dual-signed Farley/Spade book to Goldin Auctions -- the price of getting a JSA authentication letter was subtracted from the total sale price of the book.  That's not to say having a TPA can't be beneficial, but I'd trust the owners of this site anyday over anyone from Beckett, JSA or PSA. The market is such that a litany of "backdoored fakes" have entered the market, muddying the waters further.

I collect because, as I tell people, "If I'm going to have an addiction, it might as well be one I can learn from." I've already subsidized my entire collection by selling a handful of items, and at this point, I collect both for fun and for a long-term investment strategy.

I've been very fortunate as a collector that I've accomplished most goals I set out to achieve, whether that was collecting groupings of political autographs, getting "holy grail items" or finding/trading rare signed books with a friend who has brought me other rare items I couldn't get normally.

Comment by JGreen on January 14, 2024 at 8:45pm


Thanks for the thoughtful response! 

You sound like the type of collector who intimately knows what he wants. Such collecting habits as yours are the best way to safeguard against forgery. If more collectors did what you do, there would be less of a need to use TPA as a kind of insurance against forgery. I think such a need, as it stands today in the market, gives the TPAs a power that maybe their expertise can't match. 


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