PSA/DNA’s Top Forged Signatures of 2010

Rarely do I ever post entire press releases, but this afternoon I received the following release from PSA/DNA.  In it they talk about the 10 most forged signatures over the past year.  I highly suggest you read through it.  Its very educational no matter what your opinion is on third party authenticators.

(Santa Ana, California) — Buyers beware: many alleged Babe Ruth autographs are bogus, many purported Elvis Presley signatures should be marked “return to sender.”

Over half of the signatures of some famous sports, historical and entertainment figures submitted in 2010 to PSA/DNA Authentication Services of Santa Ana, California were judged to be fakes.  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle topped the PSA/DNA sport list of the “most dangerous autographs of the year,” and Elvis Presley, The Beatles and John F. Kennedy are at the top of the year-end historical and entertainment listing compiled by the company.

“This past year, our experts reviewed over 200,000 autographs submitted by collectors and dealers worldwide.  PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries, so if our rejection rate for a particular autograph, such as Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley, approaches or exceeds 50 percent, you can only imagine how high that percentage might be in the overall marketplace,” cautioned Joe Orlando, President of PSA/DNA, the world’s largest autograph authentication and certification company and a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Information about the deceptive autographs will be available online at Professional Sports Authenticator (www.psacard.com) next month.

According to PSA/DNA, these are the “ten most dangerous autographs” of sports figures the past year with approximate values of genuine autographs in parenthesis:

1. Babe Ruth ($3,000 for a signed cut to $50,000 or more for a choice, single-signed baseball).  The King of Swing is the most sought-after autograph in the hobby and the PSA/DNA rejection rate is in the 60 percent range.

2. Lou Gehrig ($3,500 for a signed cut to $60,000 or more for a choice, single-signed baseball).  There is very high demand for his signature and there’s a large volume of forgeries.

3. Mickey Mantle ($150 for a signed cut to $600 or more for a choice, single-signed baseball).  Mantle remains one of the most desirable autographs in the hobby, and even though he signed an enormous amount of items until his death in 1995, the number of forgeries is greater than the amount of authentic examples available.

4. Michael Jordan ($175 for a signed cut to $600 or more for a single-signed basketball).  Despite signing thousands upon thousands of autographs while under contract with Upper Deck Authenticated, the supply is not nearly enough to satisfy demand.  Forgeries remain a major problem.

5. Muhammad Ali ($150 for a signed cut to $500 or more for a single-signed boxing glove).  Even though Ali has been somewhat of a prolific signer in the past, the number of authentic Ali autographs fresh to the marketplace has decreased in recent times.

6. Lebron James ($125 for a signed cut to $450 or more for a single-signed basketball).  James remains one of the most difficult in-person signatures to acquire, making the number of authentic example relatively low for an active superstar.

7. Ted Williams ($100 for a signed cut to $350 or more for a choice, single-signed baseball).  While the demand for “Teddy Ballgame’s” signature has declined slightly over the past several years, the amount of Williams’ forgeries in the marketplace is staggering.

8.Tiger Woods ($250 for a signed cut to $1,500 or more for a single-signed golf flag).  Even though Tiger’s popularity as an athlete and person has taken a serious hit in the last year, he remains on the list of the most dangerous autographs.

9. Kobe Bryant ($100 for a signed cut to $400 or more for a single-signed basketball).  With five championships under his belt and perhaps more to come, Kobe has become a real target for forgers the last couple of years.

10. Albert Pujols ($100 for a signed cut to $300 or more for a choice, single-signed baseball).  His consistency as a hitter, positive overall image and the lack of authentic autographs in the marketplace provide ample reason for forgers to target this perennial MVP contender.

These are the ten “most dangerous autographs” of historical and entertainment figures in 2010, according to PSA/DNA.

1. Elvis Presley ($1,500 for a signed cut to $35,000 or more for a signed contract or letter).  Elvis’ popularity is global, and because he passed away at only 42 years of age in 1977 the amount of authentic autographs is extremely limited.

2. The Beatles ($5,000 for a signed cut to $15,000 or more for a signed photo).   They are, quite simply, the most heavily forged band in the autograph world.

3. John F. Kennedy ($1,750 for a signed cut to $25,000 or more for a Presidential letter or document).  In addition to a large amounts of forgeries, non-malicious “Kennedy” forgeries were produced by secretaries and via autopen during his tenure in office.

4. Marilyn Monroe ($2,500 for a signed cut to $15,000 or more for a signed photo).  Yet again, another celebrity who passed away at a very young age (36 in 1962) which resulted in a very limited number of authentic autographs for fans of the iconic actress.

5. Michael Jackson ($200 for a signed cut to $1,000 or more for a signed photo).  With his recent passing in 2009 at the age of 50, Jackson forgeries flooded the marketplace in 2010.

6. Jim Morrison ($1,200 for a signed cut to $4,000 or more for a signed photo).  The lead singer of The Doors died at age 27 in 1971.  Most of the genuine Morrison autographs found today come in the form of check endorsements, but forgers target record album covers, photos and even simple slips of paper.

7. Neil Armstrong ($1,000 for a signed cut to $5,000 or more for a signed photo).  Astronauts are one of the most popular autograph collecting themes, and over the past three decades the first man to set foot on the moon has had a virtual no-autograph policy making it even more difficult for collectors to obtain the genuine article.

8. Jimi Hendrix ($2,500 for a signed cut to $7,500 or more for a signed photo).  The earliest known contract (1965) of the guitar legend sold for just over $200,000 at auction in 2009.

9. James Dean ($2,000 for a signed cut to $8,500 or more for a signed photo).  Like Marilyn Monroe, forgers often target photos of Dean as the “canvas” for counterfeit autographs.

10. Walt Disney ($650 for a signed cut to $3,500 or more for a signed photo).  His signature is one of the most unique and attractive autographs in any genre, which increases the demand.

“It’s important to buy autographs from reputable sellers who use independent, third-party authentication to protect their customers,” advised Orlando who also serves as Editor of Sports Market Report.

“There are a lot of so-called ‘deals’ on the Internet, at local flea markets and even some collectibles conventions, but genuine autographs do not often come with a huge discount.  Buyer beware because you usually get what you pay for.”

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Real Babe Ruth signature

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Fake Babe Ruth signature

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Pick A COA, Any COA

This has to be one of the most disturbing trends I’ve found.  Individuals are now selling COA’s that are from or look like they are from reputable companies.  All a forger would have to do is purchase a few of these COA’s that look like they are from Steiner and then forge the autograph.  Each of these COA’s comes with a hologram containing the Steiner logo.  I’m wondering what happened to the actual items these COA’s belong to – if they existed at all.  Forgers could do this for all reputable authenticators within The Hobby.  A good portion of the time COA’s from companies like Steiner will contain serial numbers that match a hologram placed on the item.  All it would take is for some uneducated collector not to realize the serial numbers don’t match.  For many, they just see the Steiner name and that would be enough.  COA’s for autographed items is just one area forgers will use these things.  They could also be used for rare cards that could be purchased directly from the manufacturer such as blank backs, proofs, etc.

I don’t think eBay should allow sellers just to sell COA’s in an auction.  Why in the hell would someone want to purchase one if there isn’t an item to go with it.  The whole situation is setup to cater towards a counterfeiter.   Of coarse eBay won’t stop them because they want their fees.  Collectors have to be so careful when purchasing an autographed piece of memorabilia.  My personal favorite authenticator in The Hobby is Mounted Memories.  I have a Dan Marino autographed photo that contains a COA from them.  If you visit Marino’s official website, everything he has autographed comes with a COA from Mounted Memories.  At one time, Marino was on the Board of Mounted Memories too.

Nothing can ever be as good as meeting the athlete in person.  Sure it may cost a bit more, but you can be 100% sure the autograph you received is real.  Remember, if its too good to be true, it probably is.

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NSA Reads Sports Card Info

The other day I was told by one of my readers to check out NSA’s (National Sportscard Authenticator) new website.  Their old one had been under construction for a very long time.  After checking out their Testimonials page I noticed something that seemed very familiar.  Almost like I’ve seen these sentences before.  Wait a minute!  I think I have.  NSA copied & pasted comments made on my initial post I wrote about them.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they wrote those comments and then put them on their site.  I also like how on their Product page they state “NSA has nothing to hide.”  I’m betting when a company says they have nothing to hide, 95% of the time they probably do.

NSA asks people to contact them if they have a piece of “game-used” memorabilia they would like to sell.  Just for the fun of it, I made up a story to see what they would say and I received the following response:

Thank you for your inquiry. Yes! We are very interested in purchasing your jersey. There are a few strict qualifications that your piece must meet. First and foremost, do you have any COA? Second, do you have a photo of your meeting and Jeter handing you this jersey? If so, we may accept your piece and at that point what we normally do is visit your local area courthouse with you, all expenses on us, and obtain a sworn affidavit verifying the authenticity of the piece.

We also send it off to a qualified authentication company. To clarify, we do not offer in house authentication, and we only accept pieces after they have been authenticated by a qualified company. Therefore once the piece is ready to be made our company can certify each piece since NSA is a relatively new company. This insures our integrity and a quality product for our customers.

We look forward to your response,

NSA Grading Merchandising Team

Even though it sounds like they want to try and make sure the relics are real, there is just something about them I don’t like.  I would really like to know who their “authenticator” is since they say they don’t do it in house.  I e-mailed NSA back asking who they use, but I haven’t received a response back yet.  I asked them this a long time ago too and never received a response.  If I do get one, I’ll be sure to let you know.  None of the COA’s on their cards state who the authenticator is.  Not even their newer cards.  As I have stated in numerous other posts, I still don’t trust this company.  Its not possible to pickup an authentic NBA logo patch card of Michael Jordan for $20.00.  Manufactured patch cards in some cases sell for much more than that.  Remember people, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

UPDATE:

I did get a response from NSA and they wouldn’t give me the names of their (3) authenticators they use.  Probably because they don’t use any!!  Be sure to check out this post over on SCU about this fake crap.

National Sportscard Authenticators (NSA)

National Sportscard Authenticators (NSA) is a card manufacturer and grading company.  They sell game used cards slabbed in their protective holders of players from all different sports.  On their website they claim that if they grade a card that has been trimmed or is counterfeit they will pay the cardholder $1,500.00.  I wonder how that really works?  If someone sends in a card for grading that they know it is counterfeit or trimmed and it comes back graded what is the person going to do?  Are they going to admit the card was doctored?  Probably not.  Even if you sent the card in and didn’t know it was doctored and it comes back graded, how does that help?  If you sent in a card in which NSA graded it you would have to remove it from the holder and submit it to another grading company like PSA or BGS just to get a second opinion.  The whole thing seems a bit confusing to me.  The serial numbering on the cards for example says “1 of 25”.  Why couldn’t they just stick with “1/25” for a serial number?  The way they have the cards numbered makes you think they are part of a set and not serial numbered.  Browsing eBay you can see that NSA cards don’t really sell that well.  Most of them don’t even sell at all.  Personally, I wouldn’t buy them, but thats just me.  Has anyone else had any experience with them?