Tag Archive | "Sports Heroes"

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

Posted on 08 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

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.


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Where Have You Gone … My Starting Lineup Toys?

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Where Have You Gone … My Starting Lineup Toys?

Posted on 22 March 2012 by Trish Vignola

I think mine fell victim to one of my mom’s umpteen garage sales once I moved out, but man how I miss them. In their bright colored packaging, they traditionally stood about 4 inches tall. The brand at times did launch various special series that were larger and came with a sports card of the respective athlete.

Starting Lineup was a brand of action figures produced from 1988 to 2001. First release Kenner and later by Hasbro, they were conceived in 1986 by Pat McInally, a former professional football player with the Cincinnati Bengals. The figures became very popular, including sports stars from baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. In later years, figures from auto racing, boxing, track & field, skating, soccer, as well as golf were memorialized as well.

It’s been said that McInally came up with the idea during a visit to a toy store. He noticed there were figurines portraying war, fighting but nothing based on real-life sports heroes. McInally and a former college friend, who happened to be running Kenner’s day-to-day operations, decided collaboration was in order.

Kenner debuted the Starting Lineup figures in 1988, with a 132 piece Major League Baseball set. Each team had at least four players in the set except for the Canadian teams of Montreal and Toronto. They had only one player because Kenner believed that there were an insufficient number of retail outlets in Canada to warrant a full team set. It was Tim Raines and George Bell, respectively. Based on the eventual fate of the Montreal Expos, an insufficient number of retail outlets were the least of Canadian Baseball’s problems.

The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets had the most players in the set with seven per team, because nothing says child friendly like a Lenny Dykstra figure. Kenner also tended to distribute the players to stores by geographical region. For kids like myself who tended to like out of market players, it was virtually impossible to complete the set.

Around the mid 1990s, amidst sagging sales, distribution strategies shifted. To counteract malaise over regional figures, all of the figures were overproduced and released everywhere (which is why I had an unexplained collection of Toronto Blue Jays). Once it became too much of a good thing, the toys headed toward the bargain bin. It was this shift in strategy that is credited for the ultimate down fall of the line.

Today, the figures are collector items. The prices on the figures vary dramatically. Condition factors in. Ask yourself the following. Was your 1988 Don Mattingly taken out of the package so he can date Barbie? What? Is this not a common condition issue for late-80’s Starting Lineups?

If you are wondering, Mattingly’s value is quoted on sites anywhere from $15 to $60. In reality though, in this exceptionally soft toy and collectable market, I haven’t seen him on eBay for anything higher than $10. Apparently those original quotes were Yankees fans, or Don Mattingly’s relatives, or Barbie fans.

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