This week, as part of my on-going series of card grading services, we divert a little and look at autograph authentication and grading.
James Spence Authentication (JSA) does not grade cards specifically, rather they authenticate and grade autographs. JSA offers this service for sports figures, celebrities, actors, music entertainers, historical and political figures autographs. From former Presidents to rock stars to sports heroes, JSA is the place to go to verify if the autograph is authentic.
A black eye on the hobby of sports card collecting has been people trying to sell fake autographs. As the industry leader, JSA has provided piece of mind to collectors for years. JSA authenticates autographs on cards and other memorabilia including bats, balls, gloves, helmets and jerseys.
Besides the obvious reason of a higher resale vale for graded autographs, JSA’s service can also include a Letter of Authenticity for insurance purposes. While other grading services may appeal to dealers and resellers, JSA autograph authentication will also benefit other collectors and historians.
JSA does have a partnership with Beckett Grading Services, BGS. Thanks to this partnership collectors can have their autographs authenticated and graded as well as the card itself graded and encapsulated. This offers a collectors a ‘one-stop-shopping’ experience where they send in a raw ungraded autographed card and receive back an encased dual graded collectible. For purposes of this article I will be reviewing the autograph authentication by JSA only. Among other techniques, JSA authenticates and grades autographs against other know autographs from the subject and considers legibility, penmanship, and cleanliness or neatness of the autograph.
Autographs I submitted to JSA for grading:
2002 SP Authentic #87 Sean Casey – JSA autograph grade – 9 MINT (BGS card grade – 9 MINT)
I obtained this autograph through the mail, (TTM). I have and have seen several other Sean Casey autographs on baseballs, in person, and on pack pulled cards to be very confident in the authenticity of this one. Sean Casey’s autograph has been very consistent through the years. Another positive indicator that this autograph is real is that Sean Casey was never a super star that commanded a high premium. No one is going to make money from selling fake Sean Casey autographs. It may be difficult to see in the picture, but there is ‘streaking ‘ in the ‘S’ and ‘C’ of the autograph. This is a sign that the autograph is hand signed with a Sharpie marker and not auto-penned.
1987 Topps #478 Dave Dravecky – JSA autograph grade – 8 NM-MT (BGS card grade 8 NM-MT)
This is another autograph I acquired through the mail. I have also observed several Dravecky autographs and felt confidant about the authenticity of this when I sent it in. Although very consistent with his autograph during his retirement, the biggest difference and probably the reason for a grade of 8 is that this autograph was signed with a ball point pen. Pen ink can be more likely to fade over time than a Sharpie marker.
1983 Topps #180 Rickey Henderson – JSA Unable to Authenticate
This was a little bit of a disappointment for me. I was not disappointed in the services provided by JSA, rather I was disappointed that I paid a fair amount of money to purchase this card on-line. This makes me two for two at buying fake Henderson autographs on-line. On the contrary, I am happy that JSA has expertise and experience to accurately identify legitimate and questionable autographs. Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Fame whose autographs and memorabilia can command premiums, if they are real. Maybe what made this autograph difficult to authenticate, or easy for a scammer to fake, is the fact that it is signed with a felt tip marker.
Before sending an autograph into JSA be sure to visit their fees page to not only check their prices, but also to verify then can take and authenticate your autograph. There are several benefits of having your autographs authenticated by JSA. Some of these advantages are: Quick and simple online confirmation of your certification number. Increased value, for faster sale of memorabilia. Secure, virtually impossible to replicate proprietary watermark James Spence Authentication Letter of Authenticity with corresponding high-resolution image and a unique certificate sticker. Guaranteed acceptance of our Letter of Authenticity by collectors, dealers, and ALL auction houses worldwide, or your submission fee will be reimbursed. Peace of mind that your memorabilia is deemed authentic and ready to be sold, passed along to a family member, or cherished forever, and all numbered Letters of Authenticity are fully transferable without resubmission. For these reasons, I recommend James Spence Authentication services for collectors, dealers and historians alike. The piece of mind and protection offered by JSA when coupled with Beckett Grading services will be worth the money.
Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.