In today’s market, you can find an autograph from just about anybody from any era on eBay at any time. You can easily pick up a babe ruth or two, and like many of the most famous signers, Mickey Mantle is quite common as well. However, whenever you buy autographs on eBay, it can be especially tough to determine whether or not you are buying something real.
Here are my rules to ensure you dont get scammed.
Know your COAs
Every single autograph on eBay comes with a COA, regardless of authenticity. On the other hand, only a select few mean anything. If the auto comes with proof from companies like PSA or JSA, that’s a good sign that you are getting something legitimate. If it comes with a COA from a guy’s inkjet, that’s completely different. Companies mentioned above definitely arent perfect, but more often than not, they do know what they are doing.
Ignore “Proof” pics
Another practice that people have started employing is including a picture of the athlete with the auction. In the pictures, the athlete is signing something, but its usually not recognizable what that something is. Many times, these stock photos are used to present the authenticity of the item, but its not like you can match the commonly obtained to the items you are bidding on. WATCH OUT.
Take inventory of the Seller’s other Items
Many times, the people selling fakes make a living off it, so they sell a lot of them. These forged items can be easy to identify, or extremely difficult, but they are usually sold in huge amounts. If you can see that a guy is selling items from Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Tom Brady at the same time, with very little to show that they are authenticated items, its a lot easier to pick out the bad apples.
Do Price Comparisons
If you know a certain autograph sells for XXXX amount, and you are getting it for XXX amount, that should say something. Deals can be found, but only if you know EXACTLY what you are looking for. If you are just looking to pick up an auto, be prepared to pay the going rate. Most engaged collectors of a certain player or team, wont bid on junk fakes, so the prices stay low. If the item is nice, the price goes up.
Side by Side Comparisons
Screen shots placed side by side can easily show where autographs are off. Here is what to compare – Slant of the signature, content of the signature, common numbers and letters in the signature. Find an authenticated example from PSA or JSA and compare with the item in question. If the slant or design in the real one doesnt match the one you are looking at, stay away.
The More Popular and Valuable the Player, the More Fakes Will Be Sold
Bit players and semi stars can be targets for fakes, but let’s face it, the point of doing the scam is to make money. Guys that have extremely valuable signatures automatically become huge targets. That’s when you know its better just to pay the extra money for the certified example.
Easy Signatures Make Easy Fakes
I love Adrian Peterson, but his shortened signature has nothing to it. Other players lack similar complexity to their signatures, and are easy money as a result. Aaron Rodgers is a great example of this, as his valuable signature has very little content. On the other hand, I dare anyone to fake Kirk Cousins’ auto.
Not All Company Certified Autos Are Real
Just because a card company certifies an auto, doesnt mean its real. I have posted on this Adrian Peterson card before, and it is still my opinion that it isnt real. Cam Newton has famously become a questionable signer, especially during his rookie year. Dez Bryant and Ryan Mathews have faced similar accusations. Unless the card company is Topps (who witnesses most of their signings by a company rep), most of the companies rely on sworn affidavits that the autographs are real. Not many players believe that to be a threat, some more than others.
In the end, there are many resources to check authenticity, including message boards and the link to contact me for my opinion if you think its worth reaching out to me. I love reviewing situations, at least I can give you another opinion other than your own. The great thing is, Im one of many people willing to provide information.