How Long Until COA’s From Reputable Companies Mean Nothing?

If I havent said it five million times on this site, I will say it one more time, I consider myself to be an autograph collector rather than a card collector. I RARELY buy cards that arent autographed, and I do not have a growing space problem with millions of partially built base sets in my closet. Im not one of those people, but if you are, that’s perfectly fine and your choice. Im not looking down on it, just explaining that it isnt me. One of the main reason that I collect cards is because they are the last reasonably safe way of buying autographs left. Im not saying its 100% safe, but it’s a million times better than most of the other methods you can get an auto without meeting the player yourself.

In fact, I am such an autograph hunter, that I recently shelled out more money than I ever expected to meet my favorite player, come June, in Houston at the Tristar show. Yes, for the price of something like this, or like this, I am going to have an experience that is more valuable than anything I could get out of a box.

That being said, what if I didn’t have that opportunity? What if I was in the mood to buy some Peterson stuff and I determined that I was not going to be able to find a way to meet him? I would probably go to eBay, and that is where a lot of problems start. The reason is that eBay still allows one-off COAs from some guy in East Bumblefuck, USA to be sold as authentic. I honestly believe that there are a ton of uneducated collectors out there who think that a laser-printed piece of paper means their autograph they bought at half value is real.

The second problem is that not every authentication company delivers results that can be considered reliable. GAI is a great example of this, especially considering where they once were and where they are now. A few years ago, the company was on a level slightly below PSA or JSA, and on the west coast, were thought of as worthy of sending in your stuff. Once the recession hit, and the economy went to shit, the company did too. Because of a massive cash flow issue, and a once above average reputation, they decided it was much more of a good idea to station themselves as a company who would auth any piece sent to them. This allowed people who made their money selling fakes to send in piece after piece and get a once semi-legit auth attached to it that carried SOME sort of weight. It was better than a laser-printed piece of paper, and that’s all they cared about.

The result is now readily apparent on eBay, as GAI fakes are more prevalent than reals. My GAI auth’ed Hank Aaron ball will need a re-cert before I decide to sell it, and that makes me angry. The most horrible thing about this was that GAI took a reputation that had weight behind it for people out there, and took a huge watery turd on top of it. Unless you are an expert, or you know about GAI, you arent going to suspect much, especially if you knew them from before. It’s a bad situation.

Check it out:

Joe Mauer Signed Jersey – GAI Auth

Adrian Peterson Signed Jersey – GAI Auth

Tom Brady Football – GAI AUTH

The bottom line is that everyone should be educated by every hobby news source out there, and I just don’t see that happening. The complacent attitude that Beckett and company have towards the seedy underbelly of what is going on is complete hypocrisy, even more so when you consider their partnership with JSA. Although I despise everything Beckett stands for, I honestly think they have a responsibility to talk about this unfortunate situation.

Funny enough, JSA seems to have problems of its own, as I have read on numerous autograph websites out there. These days, you just cant be too sure when buying third party obtained autographs, something that no authentication company can be 100% sure on. Eventually it will get to the point where you wont be able to trust anyone, even a little bit, and that is why the card companies have such a huge place in our industry.

3 thoughts on “How Long Until COA’s From Reputable Companies Mean Nothing?

  1. The truth is, the only way to be certain that an autograph is authentic is to get it yourself in person. If you buy something online, even something authenticated, you’re placing your trust in a 3rd party, which I would never do given the lack of integrety of even the biggest authenticators, such as PSA/JSA and Beckett (I have no doubt that there are many items authenticated by them floating around the hobby that are fakes). Likewise, even if you get an auto TTM, you have no way of knowing whether or not it was signed by the actual player, or some clubhouse boy or secretary. Even in-product autographs from card manufacturers are suspect, especially those on labels that were mailed to the player to be signed and mailed back, and therefore not witnessed in person by the card manufacturer.

    Likewise, much of the memorabilia floating around the hobby is also suspect, for the exact same reasons. After all, there is no way to prove that a jersey swatch attributed to Hank Aaron didn’t instead come from someone else’s uniform, or that a sliver of wood actually came from Willie Mays’ bat.

    Probably the only autographs you can be certain are authentic are those of players who either died before the hobby took off in the early eighties, or who are relatively unknown, and therefore less likely to be faked.

  2. When I took a look at the Peterson 8×10 autographed picture I noticed the seller was making a huge deal about bringing on Brandon Mysinger as their new “Autograph Expert” and how all autographs are personally certified and authenticated by Mr. Mysinger.

    I wanted to know who this guy was so I went looking, turns out he was fired by GAI last month for apparently authenticating autographs that were questionable. Then on 4/28/11 a lawsuit was filed against him in Las Vegas claiming fraud, criminal conspiracy and forgery and the feds are looking in to him for possible federal charges too. Rumor has it eBay is closing his personal account (id tnswman) too, not sure if that part is true. Just type the guys name in to Google and you will find some interesting stories about him along with plenty of complaints.

  3. I’ve been fighting fraud in this hobby for free since 1997 online, & I interned to be a Forensic Document Examiner in 1999 (also ONLY for free). I couldn’t agree with you more. Add to all these forgeries on eBay is these sellers who BLOCK everyone from e-mailing them! What morons at eBay thought this was a good idea???
    Thanks eBay! Another one of your brilliant ideas- don’t allow an expert to tell sellers what they are selling is FAKE junk! It’s not like eBay monitors their own site because they DO NOT!

    Blocking contacting sellers is up there with eBay’s 2008 idea to suspend anyone asking sellers about the authenticity of their items or questioning them. I found that out the hard way trying to stop all those fake NSA Dual “game-used” encased patch cards of Jeter, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, A.Rod, Mantle, etc., etc. being sold on eBay for $10.00 each! eBay layed off the suspension thing a bit, but I think it’s still in the rules. Plus I still get policy violations FIGHTING FRAUD!!! I don’t care, I still tell everyone selling fakes that they are & do what I can (with Muscular Dystrophy) to stop them!!!

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