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:
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.