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11-12-2007, 11:09 PM
Posted By: <b>Joann</b><p>Well, the November 10 deadline that MEARS set has come and gone. Recall that MEARS had published a list of policies that they will use in 2008 in terms of accepting business from auction houses. The policy listed such things as requiring the auction house to divulge ownership in lots, to disclose ANY prep work done on a card before grading, to keep records of bidding to help prevent shilling, etc. <br /><br />In short, it outlined the very things that many on this board have said are desperately needed to help this hobby retain credibility. I'll post the links to the policy when I get a minute to dig them up.<br /><br />MEARS said they will not do ANY business in 2008 - meaning any business - with any auction house that had not agreed (by November 10) to adhere to the new policy. This company flat out put its money where its mouth is.<br /><br />As of the deadline, only one auction house agreed to adhere to the policy and thus be eligible to send items to MEARS for authenication in 2008. That company is REA. Therefore, it seems from this article on the MEARS website that REA is the only auction house from which MEARS will accept any business in 2008. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=336" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=336</a><br /><br />Well, this is something I believe in, and it's the first action I've seen in which a major player has put itself on the line to do something right. If MEARS put its money where its mouth is, so I guess I can too.<br /><br />OK. I know that I don't have a whole lot of money with which to try to make a statement. Me putting my foot down and not bidding in certain auctions is kind of like me putting my foot down and refusing to stay at the Ritz. Just won't, dammit! lol But I can only do what I can do, and I'm going to at least do that.<br /><br />So in 2008 I'm not going to bid in any auction except REA. It's not like I win a lot or spend a lot in some of these, but I do like a few of the other houses fairly well and have won from them in the past here and there. But only REA, at least for 2008. If MEARS can make a big statement, then I guess I can make a small one.<br /><br />The article linked says that MEARS sent their letter to the auction houses named. I am unclear as to whether MEARS will accept 08 business from a house that did not receive the letter and also did not accept the policy. If anyone can clear this up, I'd appreciate it. I don't know where that leaves some of the auction houses that did not get the letter from MEARS explaining the new policy and setting the deadline.<br /><br />And as to them expanding the policy beyond memorabilia and to include cards, I have zero problem with that. The same general principles apply, so why not demand good practices across the board. Someone had to do it.<br /><br /><br />J<br /><br />Edited to make it less choppy, and then edited again to fix the DANG link that got all corrupted when I edited the first time.

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11-13-2007, 06:08 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Joann- a question:<br /><br />Mears' work in evaluating and authenticating game used bats, uniforms, and other equipment is extremely important, as so much of this kind of material offered for sale is questionable. When I see a bat that the seller claims was used by Mel Ott, I have to tell you I don't have a clue.<br /><br />But if I choose not to sign up with Mears, and I have a card in my auction graded and authenticated by SGC, are you telling me that does not offer you the confidence you need to place a bid? If not, please explain.

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11-13-2007, 06:46 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Joann,<br /><br />Hooray for you! Hopefully this can be a launching pad to clean up the hobby and that other auction houses will follow the lead of Rob. If not, hopefully collectors will step up and like you boycott those that do not.<br /><br />Barry,<br /><br />Without going back to the MEARS letter, I believe their requirements had to do with many things beyond the actual grade of the card including disclosure of ownership, bidding information and alterations to the product done by the auction house or that the auction house was aware of.<br /><br />This is not primarily directed to the grading companies but to the auction houses and their dubious practices.<br /><br />Jim

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11-13-2007, 07:04 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Disclosure of ownership? Does that mean the auction house is obligated to reveal the names of their consignors? Isn't that confidential information?

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11-13-2007, 07:24 AM
Posted By: <b>ps</b><p>I think Jim means they should disclose when the person who is purporting to authenticate an item also owns it and/or when the auction house itself owns the item.

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11-13-2007, 07:36 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>That makes more sense. But can every auction house be trusted to reveal that information honestly?<br /><br />I'm just trying to differentiate between was is theoretically possible in terms of ethics, and what is practical in the real world.<br /><br />Mears claims they will audit auction houses to determine if any shill bidding is taking place. Couldn't I or anyone else set up a dummy account for Joe Schmo of Hannibal, Mo. (like the cute rhyme?) and have him bid on every lot in the auction? Again, I like Mears' attempt to take accountability to the next level, but I just don't know how practical it all is.

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11-13-2007, 07:53 AM
Posted By: <b>ps</b><p>I think it is unrealistic to "audit" for shill bidding.

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11-13-2007, 08:47 AM
Posted By: <b>jay wolt</b><p>Was MEARS the company that had the Dimaggio 56 streak bat<br />that drew some controversary a year or 2 ago? <br />A) about its authenticity and B) about them owning it prior to auction?<br /><br />Kinda foggy on the specifics as I vaguely remember the details.<br />If someone can illuminate me on this it would be appreciated.

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11-13-2007, 08:51 AM
Posted By: <b>Marc S.</b><p>Why would <i>ANY</i> auction company hand over its consignor lists and bidding records to MEARS? That is the one valuable differentiator that any auction house has -- and I cannot imagine that auction houses would willingly turn over this proprietary and sensitive data to MEARS for auditing purposes. Hell -- I'm a former auditor...and it was tough getting companies to release such data, even when required by law. As much as I applaud MEARS' efforts to clean up the hobby, they seem to have taken a holier-than-thou approach to all this, and it is unsurprising to me that their appeals received such a tepid response.

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11-13-2007, 09:01 AM
Posted By: <b>Paul Moss</b><p>While this stance by Mears might seem to be lofty and noble, the fact of the matter is that this is one of the most illconceived and unrealistic platforms I could possibly imagine.<br /><br />Let's see. Mears wants to conduct audits of the auction houses? What!! a for-profit enterprise wants to go through the records of another business purportedly to see if they are on the level, and this just to allow the auction house to do business with them? Riiigghhhtt! There's the door buddy!<br /><br />So REA signed on the dotted line. Good for him. Yet I fail to comprehend why it should bother anyone whether a lot is house owned or other party consigned. What difference does it really make? I've seen the posts bemoaning the fact that buyer's premiums are attached to these lots. So what? Any item is worth a specific amount on any specific day, it's the bottom line that counts so does it really matter as to who actually owns said lot? If no buyer's premium is due on house lots, do you really think that item will actually sell for a lower price? My God, some people are naive, as if buyer's premiums aren't already figured into the bid amount by sophisticated bidders. An auction house is a living, breathing entity whose sole purpose is to make money and they are not in existance for the sheer love of the hobby. My God! sometimes I think that the entire industry has been infiltrated by communists and socialists. Either you trust the company or you don't, it's as simple as that, and no self appointed guardian of the public good would ever be able to ascertain whether shill bidding had actually taken place.<br /><br />While I'm on the subject of REA, great company and they do give cash advances to consignors. Should this also be disclosed as they now have a fiduciary interest in the material? Bottom line, how far do you want to take this nonsense?<br /><br />Mears, obviously a well respected name in the industry who have decided to diminish their income for what they perceive as being right. Admirable, but destructive. If you don't think that the auction houses will now champion a new service to authenticate, you would be very much mistaken. They have a rather easy website to navigate, and I did find it interesting that there is a page designed to list items being auctioned by employees. While full disclosure is admirable, I find this to be disconcerting given the fact that they are selling what they in fact authenticate. This is not to imply that there is any unethical behavior, but I really don't see the same comfort level being shown if PSA or SGC had a similar option for their employees, who are strictly forbidden to buy and sell product.<br /><br />I could ramble on with my observations, but let's face it, until there is a professional organization similar to that found with virtually every other hobby, with strict membership requirements and a code of ethics, we are merely blowing smoke up our backsides.

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11-13-2007, 09:19 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Many bidders feel that if an auction house owns some of the lots, they will be more inclined to fiddle with the bids on them. Heck, I sometimes have my own lots in my auctions and those are always the ones that concern me the least. I'm much more sensitive to how my consignors do than how I do.

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11-13-2007, 09:25 AM
Posted By: <b>Paul Moss</b><p>Barry<br /><br />They're either going to fiddle the bids or they're not. You either trust who you do business with or pass on doing any business at all.

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11-13-2007, 09:35 AM
Posted By: <b>Larry</b><p>Paul Moss hit this on the head, a socialistic society has no place in the collectibles market...Yes, I<br />would love an auction house to disclose what is theirs and what is consigned and yes, I would love not to be shilled, but Mears really needs to to modify and fine tune their "rules".<br /><br />For every Joann(I respect her honorable stance), there are many that will go the other way and not utilize their (Mears')opinion, which is just that, an opinion.<br /><br />MEARS is trying to clean up the hobby but at what cost does it make it ludacrous when other dealers and auction houses should be able to maintain a confidential customer list without "audit". What should happen is MEARS should have a recommended list of endorsed dealers and auction houses without audit. If any are truly "found" to be unethical, they should submit proof, then pull their name. The best way to uncover proof is by examples such as the incident discussed here about the many cards that were "renumbered" by a major grading service. That one seemed to vanish in thin air.<br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 09:49 AM
Posted By: <b>Jay</b><p>I also agree with Paul. I actually prefer auction houses that don't go along with this hobby equivalent of politically correct bull****. Who is MEARS and who made them the savior of the hobby? I will bid where the best cards are--end of story.

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11-13-2007, 10:09 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>I agree with the general consensus that Mears should stick with what they do best- authenticate game used bats and other related equipment. In that way they provide the hobby with a much needed service. But auditing auction houses and making determinations regarding baseball cards is not their domain.<br /><br />I often send raw cards to SGC and they provide me with a great service when they examine them and render a grade. But as an added bonus they don't come to my office to audit my business, as well they shouldn't.

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11-13-2007, 10:30 AM
Posted By: <b>Marc S.</b><p>I'm really uncomfortable with the notion that outsiders to REA may be allowed to come in and audit my personal contact information, bidding data, etc.

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11-13-2007, 10:33 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Auction houses are doing nothing to slow down let alone stop the flow of altered cards selling at auctions. Anything that can get into a holder--who cares if it came from Donald the Doctor or Michael the Magician. They are in the business of auctioning whatever someone tries to pass off on them. Has a little surface crease that make it a 4--lets take it out and make it an 8-disclose this heck no why should we--this is socialism or politically correct bs--we can do what we want to--while we are at it who cares if we run up our bids to the top all price--is someone is stupid enough to give us a top all bid its his tough luck. Auctions are the best place to pass off altered graded material as cards are generally not inspected beforehand and most I presume would not accept a refund if a case could be made after the fact that the card was not legit.<br /><br />Thank God there are honest people like REA and MEARS who have the best interests of the hobby at heart!<br /><br />Jim

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11-13-2007, 10:38 AM
Posted By: <b>Anonymous</b><p>But Jim what can an auction house do? Presumably if a card is good enough to get by SGC or PSA, then Barry or Rob or Mastro isn't going to see the alteration either particularly in the slab. EDIT TO ADD I suppose one answer would be not to accept consignments from certain consignors, but that wouldn't work either as those people could just consign through someone else.

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11-13-2007, 10:52 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Peter,<br /><br />First they can stop buying from known card doctors.<br /><br />Secondly, with guys like Derek Grady on staff(I realize he is no longer with Mastronet) you don't think he could detect many alterations?<br /><br />Thirdly, consider hiring an independent expert(like Kevin) and inspect cards before they go to auction.<br /><br />People will laugh at this last one but I would estimate that for the large high priced auctions that a significant number of graded cards that have been tampered with. Heck, we have learned recently that it can be the auction house doing the tampering. I would prefer in an ideal world none of these things but what many seem to forget is that the skills of the doctors have in many cases gotten to or surpassed the skills of graders and the average collecrtor buying something at auction has little idea whether the card he is dishing out $5,000 for has been tampered with or not other than the word of the authenticator who may or may not be right.<br /><br />Jim

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11-13-2007, 11:13 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Jim- I guess we will keep having the same discussion.<br /><br />Assuming I would let Kevin look at my graded cards, he lives in California and I live in New York. Do I fly him in at my cost, and pay him a fee to look at these graded cards, incurring a few thouand dollars of extra expenses?<br /><br />Then he says one of my SGC cards doesn't look right, I send it to SGC and they reassure me it is fine, and now we have a tie. How do we break that tie? Coin flip? Rock-scissor-paper, best two out of three?<br /><br />SGC is my authenticator of choice. Maybe I will look at my PSA and GAI cards a little more closely, and describe them in more detail. Sounds reasonable, don't you think?

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11-13-2007, 11:13 AM
Posted By: <b>Anonymous</b><p>Well Jim just to follow up, you are a free market person, what is the economic incentive for an auction house to do what you suggest? EDIT TO ADD Turning down major consignments seems economically irrational. Hiring someone like Kevin to reject cards seems economically irrational.

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11-13-2007, 11:26 AM
Posted By: <b>Charlie Barokas</b><p>Jim,<br /><br />Since I know you do not want to hold the rest of the hobby to a higher standard than yourself. Will you be willing to have Kevin inspect each and every one of your 25,000 plus graded cards prior to making a private sale and or putting them up for auction?<br /><br />If you won't commit to the above you really have no business telling any other auction house what cards they should or cannot auction.<br /><br />Grading is an opinion. Kevin might draw a different opinion about some of your 10 year old graded cards than the guy who graded thme in th 90's. Then what?<br /><br />A graded baseball card comes with two things...an opinion from the grading company regarding condition and the branding of said company. Both things determine the value of the underlying baseball card.<br /><br />Since an auction house cannot possibly see the card out of the holder to agree or disagree with the opinion of the grading company...the branding and the market acceptability is what the auction house uses to market the card in their auction. <br /><br />The bidder in said auction...must balance what he/she sees in the scan with what credibility he gives the grading company. If either of those two things appear not right don't bid on the card.<br /><br />CB

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11-13-2007, 11:34 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Peter,<br /><br />What it takes is to have a buyers revolt. I have virtually stopped buying at auctions--the past 10 years I'm sure I have spent six figures at auction houses annually. As long as buyers say what the heck if its altered its altered and I will just go ahead and buy it then nothing will happen. It only turns into an economic incentive if someone like Rob or Mastro hypothetically says--ok, our auction is littered with altered stuff--we can get a significant edge on the competition by having each lot inspected by Kevin--and not only do we get an edge but we will attract more buyers who will spend more by giving them this additional layer of protection.<br /><br />Barry,<br /><br />In my mind your business model does not work for me. For buyers who want to run the risk they may get altered cards--fine. In order to be in the auction business down the road I think you will need size and scale and have the resources to bring in someone like Kevin who can go through each lot.

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11-13-2007, 11:39 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Charlie,<br /><br />I am not selling any cards nor do I intend to.<br /><br />If a buyer approaches me whjith an astronomical offer for certain cards and wants to make it contingent upon Kevin's saal of approval I would absolutely do that.<br /><br />I don't care if Barry or Mastronet or JP Cohen have auctions to sell their cards--I just won't participate given my view on the numbers of altered cards out there.<br /><br />If Kevin's opinion is not an unqualified this is legit then I am not a buyer.

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11-13-2007, 11:39 AM
Posted By: <b>brian</b><p>"I'm really uncomfortable with the notion that outsiders to REA may be allowed to come in and audit my personal contact information, bidding data, etc."<br /><br />Agreed. Maybe MEARS just found a new way to increase their mailing list by recording the names and addresses of collectors they never knew about before?<br />

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11-13-2007, 11:39 AM
Posted By: <b>Fred C</b><p>Wow, a conundrum of sorts.<br /><br /><br />We all want to know that the Auction Houses are on the level.<br /><br /><ul><br /><li>Do we need a third party auditing firm to perform this function?<br /><li>What happens if the third part auditing firm becomes part of the problem (I'm not saying Mears would take a pay off, but what if it were someone besides Mears).<br /><li>We all think the buyers premiums are ridiculous.<br /><li>The auditing company is going to have a charge for their services.<br /><li>Does this get passed on to the buyers (higher BPs?)<br /><li>Do we want the higher BPs?<br /><li>As mentioned, what prevents one or several people setting up shill accounts?<br /><li>What prevents a friend of a consignor, not related to the Auction House, from jacking up the bids?<br /><li>There are so many variables in the Auction House business. To think that one company can actually make a difference is a bit utopian in thought and concept. <br /></ul><br /><br />The bottom line is that we, the members of this board, kind of police a lot of what goes on with the Auction Houses. There are so many examples of this that I wouldn't know where to start. I suppose one (and I don't want anyone to feel I'm singling anybody out or that I'm trying to open any old wounds) would be a certain Auction House in Colorado that didn't disclose some radical alterations done on a 19th century card. A lot of "issues" like this make it to the surface. We, as a collecting community, become more cognizant of the fact that there are "issues" that we need to dealt with and we can only hope that the offending parties learned their lessons. <br /><br />I'd have to believe that the Auction Houses fear people with good memories. Like one of my best friends wife will tell you. I don't worry about my husband cheating, he's got a bad memory and he knows it. Bottom line, you can only hide/tell so many lies and then you lose your credibility.<br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 11:44 AM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>Jim as best I can tell the stuff keeps going for record prices -- unless you subscribe to the theory that what you see in terms of prices realized may not always be real. If the prices are real, it would seem most people either trust the grading services or don't care, as long as the card is slabbed. And if that is the case, the economic incentive for someone to take a stand and say I won't accept consignments from x y and z, or I will insist on an independent review of slabbed cards before putting them into my auction, just isn't there right now.

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11-13-2007, 11:55 AM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Peter,<br /><br />I don't disagree and to me its unbelievable given the evidence that is out there and what people in the hobby tell me--much of which I am sure you know as you were on LTS. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14><br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 12:01 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Jim- my business model has worked fine for me for a very long time, and I have decided to keep it as is. I understand you won't be bidding but not everyone bids anyway, and there is no way to please everyone. I will still continue to do the best that I can.

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11-13-2007, 12:18 PM
Posted By: <b>Charlie Barokas</b><p>Barry,<br /><br />Please do not change a thing. Your auctions are what's right with the hobby. <br /><br />The fact that Jim collected 25,000 Slabs and now doesn't want to trust a slab is auctually ironic. Where was the pixel by pixel analysis 10 years ago? The alterations going on today are the same ones that went on 10 years ago. Water, scissors, spoons and straight edge razors have not seen many major break throughs in this Millenium.<br /><br />The vast majority of bidders in www.sloateauction.com do not collect slabs. For the most part, your bidders are looking for true rarities and not condition rarities.<br /><br />CB

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11-13-2007, 12:22 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Thanks Charlie. I can only do so much. I just can't have cards that have already been authenticated to be reexamined and reevaluated by another party. It just doesn't work for me, and I would lose my consignors along the way. They certainly wouldn't put up with it.

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11-13-2007, 12:30 PM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Charlie,<br /><br />Sounds like you would be an easy guy to get an alteration past if you think nothing new has happened in the last ten years. I constantly hear from senior graders and presidents of grading companies about all the latest tricks of the trade. Sounds like you are in the 1990s.<br /><br />Barry--again I don't care what you or any other auction house does. I know you are honest but lack the expertise to detect sophisticated alterations--so do I--and if I were you I wouldn't buy cards from me if I auctioned cards.<br /><br />I believe that major auction houses would get more bidders and higher bids if they hired Kevin to go through their auctions before the final list was agreed upon--but then they would have to give back a chunk of what they have to consigners.<br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 12:32 PM
Posted By: <b>Jeff Lichtman</b><p>I love the fact that MEARS will be determining what is right and what is wrong in the hobby. After all, if MEARS says that they are honest and without any conflict of interest, who am I to even think otherwise? <br /><br />I'm a few credits short of a Master's Degree that I'd like MEARS to authenticate anyway. Do you think they will?

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11-13-2007, 12:32 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Just out of curiosity:<br /><br />Kevin seems like a decent enough guy, but why is he the only solution to the problem?

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11-13-2007, 12:34 PM
Posted By: <b>Dave F</b><p>Jim-<br /><br />Although you have no intention of ever selling your cards...obviously at some point in the future whoever you'd leave them to in the family may very well want to sell them....would you take any steps to at that as far as specific instructions to your family as to having any of the cards they would then be selling inspected or "re-graded" prior to them selling?<br /><br />I would have to think Jim, even if at that point 20-30 years from now your dead and gone, you'd still want the honesty and integrety in the cards making there way back into the hobby. Correct?<br /><br />Or at that point would it be more about your family making off better money-wise then they would if say 20% of your cards were found to be altered?

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11-13-2007, 12:40 PM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Dave,<br /><br />As I have said hundreds of times on here and you undoubtedly have read hundreds of times,<br />I have no intention of getting any cards regraded.<br /><br />My efforts are to stop the flow of newly altered cards into the hobby and to protect myself from buying any altered cards.

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11-13-2007, 12:42 PM
Posted By: <b>Red</b><p>Kevin sounds great. But what happens when a "Bob" comes by and becomes the 5th party grader of choice. Bob might use fancier words or come up with better card doctoring scare stories, and then we'll all be bad people, or won't be able to sleep at night, unless we pay Bob to look at all our previously 3rd & 4th party graded cards. How many new graders and authenticators need to be paid off in order for our cards to finally be deemed safe...at least for the moment?

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11-13-2007, 12:52 PM
Posted By: <b>Charlie Barokas</b><p>Were erasers around in the nineties?<br /><br />CB

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11-13-2007, 12:56 PM
Posted By: <b>Dave F</b><p>Jim, I'm not asking about getting them graded now. I'm asking about after your gone and your whoever you leave them to decides to sell them....would it not be ethical to make sure when they do go back into the hobby at that point to have them re-examined? Certainly Jim, if your concerned with the cards that are altered floating around now you wouldn't want your own that may be altered put back into the hobby in that condition? Unless your planning on taking them with you, thats a valid conern isn't it? If even 3% of your high end cards are in fact altered, that would be quite a number that your loved ones would be eventually throwing back into the mix...

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11-13-2007, 01:01 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul Krause</b><p>Jay M. said:<br /><br />"I actually prefer auction houses that don't go along with this hobby equivalent of politically correct bull****...--end of story."<br /><br />Jay, we already know your preferences.<br />One more time?<br /><br /><a href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/153652/message/1102513863/" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/153652/message/1102513863/</a><br /><br />--end of story. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

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11-13-2007, 01:07 PM
Posted By: <b>Jeff Lichtman</b><p>Wow. Nothing politcally (or ethically) correct about Mastro after reading that thread.

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11-13-2007, 01:08 PM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>Jim I am sure I have heard many of the same things you have heard -- although not so much through the source you mentioned. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

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11-13-2007, 01:09 PM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>That thread is certainly an oldie but goodie. To Doug's credit, the description of the item was changed during the auction.

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11-13-2007, 01:17 PM
Posted By: <b>Marc S.</b><p>are you really comfortable with an outside, for-profit company having access to all of your bidding records, personal information, etc. over the past few years? If not just REA, imagine that all the auction houses had this sort of information. And I certainly do not know what Mastro et al. do, but I know that universities have pretty sophisticated systems for measuring potential donor's asset bases, etc. Would you be comfortable with MEARS knowing what you have bid on in every auction for the last 10 years, what you won, how it increased, an assessment of the value of your collection, your net worth, etc?<br /><br />That worries me. That worries me tremendously.<br /><br />There are some auctions where I'm high bidder on many dozen items at the outset -- but may often end up with a significantly smaller set of winnings. I categorically DO NOT want MEARS to have access to this data.<br />

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11-13-2007, 01:17 PM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Peter,<br /><br />Whew,<br /><br />And I was nervous I was missing some great info these past two years. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

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11-13-2007, 01:18 PM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>Marc I would be truly surprised if Rob Lifson's intention is to provide MEARS with that information.

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11-13-2007, 01:22 PM
Posted By: <b>Jeff Lichtman</b><p>Peter, I agree. Hard to imagine Rob would allow an outside entity (with or without a Master's Degree) to have unfettered access to his bidding records and customer information. Perhaps Rob can clarify his position on this.

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11-13-2007, 01:23 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>It's a curious policy, which I can imagine reasonable auction houses not wishing to agree to (auditing, for example). I assume the disclosure of ownership relates only to when the auction house or principle person is owner, and does not involve listing the names of consignors. As far as I know, MEARS doesn't have an email list. Lastly, the 'auditor,' is a by the book and straight as an arrow guy, and a Lt. Colonel in the Army. I can testify that he's as ethical and serious about his job as they come.

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11-13-2007, 01:23 PM
Posted By: <b>Marc S.</b><p>but it is an implication of what MEARS specifically indicated on its unyielding policy:<br /><br />"2. All auction houses wishing to use MEARS will agree that no bids will be placed on lots owned by any employee or family member by any employee or family member. No consigner will be permitted to bid on their own items. This will require that bidder sheets/records for all auctions be maintained for the year. To ensure compliance, the auction house agrees to subject itself to an audit by the Policy Director of MEARS at least once a year. These will be short notice audits and the auction house will be required to provide a copy of the catalog and the consigner listings, and the bidding history for the auction in question. Failure to comply with this provision will result in the inability to submit items to MEARS for a period of not less than 3 years. "<br /><br /><a href="http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=302" target="_new" rel="nofollow">&lt;a href="<a href="http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=302&lt;/a" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=302&lt;/a</a>" target="_new" rel="nofollow"&gt;<a href="http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=302&lt;/a</a>&gt" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=302&lt;/a</a>&gt</a>;<br /><br />Perhaps slightly less draconian than how I portrayed it (now that I read the entire policy), but it nonetheless gives me significant pause.

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11-13-2007, 01:24 PM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Marc,<br /><br />No-not carried to that extreme.<br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 01:27 PM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>Marc, I do see your concern and perhaps Rob will clarify what he proposes to make available.

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11-13-2007, 01:32 PM
Posted By: <b>JK</b><p>Barry,<br /><br />You stated:<br /><br />"Thanks Charlie. I can only do so much. I just can't have cards that have already been authenticated to be reexamined and reevaluated by another party. It just doesn't work for me, and I would lose my consignors along the way. They certainly wouldn't put up with it."<br /><br />Maybe you are only referring to Jim's suggestion that Kevin be allowed to review all cards, etc. However, Im unclear as to whether this statement also applies to your objections to Mears' efforts.<br /><br />As I read the Mears letter, there is no request that graded cards be examined by an independent grader/authenticator before being put up for auction. They are only asking that any KNOWN cleaning/alteration/etc. be noted in the lot description. <br /><br />That seems perfectly reasonable to me. If you are, for example, mastro and have an sgc graded card that has had glue stains removed or a crease pressed out prior to encapsulation (and you know this because your employees did the work), it should be disclosed, end of story. The fact that so many auction houses are balking at this surprises me, but perhaps its the totality of the requirements (ie auditing, disclosure of ownership, etc.). I just dont see what is so objectionable. As it is, most businesses routinely get audited, whats one more given that there would be no cost to the auctioneer according to Mears (of course, I'd prefer to see an independent auditing firm do the work)?

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11-13-2007, 01:40 PM
Posted By: <b>JimCrandell</b><p>Dave,<br /><br />My son will never sell and he promises his kids will not sell--so we are probably talking over 100 years into the future and his grandchildren may want Kevin's grandchildren to check the cards--maybe not though.<br /><br />Jim

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11-13-2007, 01:41 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>Concerning game used auctions, Lelands authenticates their own stuff and has a good reputation for reliability amongst game used collectors. Beyond that, MEARS is widely considered superior to some other game used authentication services that auction houses use. When an auction house uses mostly or only one of the 'diploma mill' LOA services, it will hurt their reputation in the long run, especially if an inordinate amount of items are juged to be fake. Being able to use MEARS' services and LOAs is an advantage to an auction house.<br /><br />It's somewhat comparable to if a major auction house decided to save money by having all their Pre-War cards graded by Beckett instead of SGC. Even if you thought Beckett was a decent enough company, you'd really wish cards were in SGC holders not Beckett. A lot of Net54ers may switch their bidding to an other auction house that still uses SGC. Duly note that many serious game used collectors will say the gap between MEARS and some other GU authentication services is much wider than between SGC and Beckett. So the Beckett/SGC comparison was a conservative example.<br /><br />I'm sure if an individual collector got a MEARS LOA, then later consigned it to Mastro or whomever later, that would be acceptable. I'm sure MEARS is not about to discourage individual collectors from getting LOAs then later selling the items.<br /><br />Though I believe he does bats not jerseys, John Taube of PSA/DNA authenticates for the big auction houses and is highly respected as an expert. So an auction house can still hire the services of Taube/PSA for their bats. I've noticed Mastro, for one, already uses his LOAs a lot.<br /><br />MEARS' disclosure of alteration concerns are legitimate. I know of a case where an auction house changed a game used item, and didn't disclose the change. Collectors noticed a problem, then the auction house disclosed the change. There was another case where MEARS said in their letter than an item appeared to be altered, the auction house got a different positive LOA and did not disclose MEARS opinion to the bidders. Again, eagle eyed collectors following the auction deduced that the item was altered. These two instances should illustrate why MEARS has decided to set disclosure rules.

Archive
11-13-2007, 01:57 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Josh- I was specifically referring to Kevin when I talked about cards being reexamined.<br /><br />I have no employees and I do not work on cards. I either sell them graded exactly as I receive them, or if they are given to me raw I send them to SGC. Period.<br /><br />If I think a card is misgraded I almost always make some mention of it in my description. I recently was about to put one of my consignor's cards on ebay, that was graded but not by PSA or SGC. It was almost certainly trimmed. I returned it to him and told him I won't sell it.<br /><br />If I have a card that has some alteration which is undetectable, and it currently resides in a holder, I will sell it. As such, a couple of these cards may pass through my hands. If I can't see the alteration, then unfortunately there isn't anything I can do.<br /><br />Like I said, I do the best I can but it is not perfect.

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11-13-2007, 02:29 PM
Posted By: <b>JK</b><p>Thanks for the reply Barry.<br /><br />I really wasnt questioning your practices so much as making an observation (which I think youve confirmed) that what Mears is asking (with the exception of the auditing) is exactly what the better auction houses such as yourself are already doing or should be doing.<br /><br />That said, unless it is the auditing or the perception that they are being strong-armed that is at issue, I dont understand why none of the auction houses other than REA have agreed to Mears terms.

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11-13-2007, 02:34 PM
Posted By: <b>pas</b><p>Josh, I would guess it is because they think it is presumptuous for MEARS to demand a short notice audit and to tell them how to keep records?

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11-13-2007, 02:40 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>I believe MEARS auction house services are more expensive than with many other gu authenticators. I believe some auction houses use less respected services because it's cheaper. With MEARS, there's no PSA-style bulk discount if you submit 1,000 jerseys. MEARS said a couple of years ago that an auction house and a collector were charged the same rate to have an item examined. Whether the submitter was Sotheby's or Joe Schmoe, it didn't alter the amount of time it took to examine a Warren Spahn jersey.

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11-13-2007, 03:21 PM
Posted By: <b>onlychild</b><p>Since I saw my name I've been trying to stay real low here. <br /><br />Chimed in to say, I really like Barry's attitude and approach to his auctions.<br /><br /><br />Kevin

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11-13-2007, 03:29 PM
Posted By: <b>Jeff Lichtman</b><p>"My son will never sell and he promises his kids will not sell--so we are probably talking over 100 years into the future ...."<br /><br />Jim, how old is your son? My boys are 3; I'm wonderng how old mine have to be until I trust them not to sell off my collection as soon as I'm gone.<br />

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11-13-2007, 03:41 PM
Posted By: <b>Steve Murray</b><p>I think by then the "Rule Against Perpetuties" will be the downfall of your well thought out plan. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

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11-13-2007, 03:53 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Thanks Kevin.

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11-13-2007, 03:57 PM
Posted By: <b>Kevin Saucier</b><p>About a year ago I told my son, "this collection will all be yours when I die." He replied, "Iím selling them the next day."<br /><br />I put him in foster care for that comment and willed my collection to my attorney/friend who will put them in a trust...or keep them.<br /><br />(all true except the foster care part)<img src="/images/wink.gif" height=14 width=14><br /><br /><br />Kevin<br />

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11-13-2007, 04:05 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycle</b><p>When senile, inappropriate Abe Simpson was visiting the hospital bed of his son Homer, he said "I've always been told that the worst thing that can happen to a father is to have his son die before him. But I have to tell you, it's not that bad."<br /><br />///////<br /><br />It's not right for sports card collectors to demand that their kids continue with the collection, as the kids might have good taste.

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11-13-2007, 04:11 PM
Posted By: <b>Rich Klein</b><p> At some point, everyone has their moment when they are ready to accept their cards as being graded correctly, their autographs as being verified authentic OR their memorabilia as being verified as legit.<br /><br /> Everyone has a different point: Jim's point is he is only currently OK with anything new if Kevin authenticates it. Barry's point is that he recieves cards from consignors, he sends them off (almost always to SGC -- just don't want to use an absolute Barry -- as an English professor I'm sure you understand why) to a 3rd party professional grader so they can sell better in his auctions. Some collectors are OK buying cards raw off EBay with scans they find acceptable,....<br /><br /> But at some point, we are all making a decision that the item is acceptable. It seems to me, that we go round and round about that everyone has to have the same point. That to me, is one of the arguments that will never end and we'll always have Jim C. and Barry S. disagreeing about this (at least in their case, it is professionaly argued and nothing personal seeps in)<br /><br /> I'm going to hijack this thread slightly - and ask a different question (If Leon wants -- and this turns out to be a better way to do this -- he can copy and paste these words below and create a new thread -- I do trust Leon <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>)<br /><br /> Here is the question: This is NOT a poll, there is not a right or a wrong answer -- and to me, these create the best discussions<br /><br />Jim C believes he will take the leap of faith ONLY after Kevin looks at any card he (Jim) is thinking of purchasing<br /><br />Barry believes that once the card is properly slabbed, then he can take the leap of faith to sell the card.<br /><br />What is YOUR leap of faith for purchasing or selling cards or memorabilia items?<br /><br />Regards<br />Rich<br />

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11-13-2007, 04:16 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Good and fair question.

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11-13-2007, 04:37 PM
Posted By: <b>Larry</b><p>Mears should not dictate authenticity where their expertise is not, period. REA is a great auction, if they choose the path of being the front lines to MEARS, Rob obviously knows what he is doing. The problem I have is exactly what Barry, Charlie and others are saying, why use a grading service if they are only opinions anyway? Because, they are vital to collectors that really spend their money and to the dealers that earn a living. They also legitimize a business that really was the wild west before they began, yes they make mistakes, but they are important.<br /><br />To Jim Crandall- Respectfully, I know your answer and I know you are leaving your collection to your descendants but the real truth is if you want a "clean" collection to leave, why not use the man (Kevin) you so endorse, to clean up your collection if you are so industry concerned. This way maybe the cards you bought so long ago that could have be doctored or sold by some of the same people you have faith in now, could really be verified.

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11-13-2007, 04:43 PM
Posted By: <b>Fred C</b><p>It would have been interesting to see Mears go over the Harris Collection before it was pieced out...

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11-13-2007, 05:46 PM
Posted By: <b>Joann</b><p>Wow. Look what happens when I tune out for just a day. Some random responses:<br /><br />I don't see that MEARS is dictating authenticity or anything of the kind. Nor that they are requiring any responsibility for card alteration that happened before an auction house got it. Nothing to do with any expertise they may or may have with cards - totally irrelevant. They are dictating disclosure of those facts that the auction house knows. Just what they know. No responsibility to investigate or find out or even ask. Just what they know. Disclosure. That's it that's all.<br /><br />They are also dictating disclosure for employee or auction house owned lots. Not saying they can't auction material they own, just that it has to be disclosed. <br /><br />What could be wrong with disclosure? <br /><br />As to privacy, if you have bought a car from a large dealership, your records and contact info may very well have been part of an audit. The Big Three audit their dealerships all the time. That's how they get those "service dealer of the year five star whatever" awards. Audits. If you've used a credit card lately, you may have been part of a financial audit. If you've done business with any company that has an ISO 9000 certified sign in the window, your records may have been audited. <br /><br />Audits happen every day folks. Every day, and they probably include your record at some point. Believe me, the auditors aren't sneakily copying down people's names and emails or whatever. It's routine. And quite dull, I might add.<br /><br />And who is MEARS to decide they will dictate to the hobby? Who are they do decide what's right or what's not? Well as best I can tell, they are the first company to do anything substantial to get at these issues, that's who. <br /><br />It's odd, because all of these disclosures and problems have been debated here forever, and one of the questions has always been "but what is anybody doing about it?". Or "all we do is talk - no action". <br /><br />And finally, I think many of us have wondered what WE can do. I know I've kind of struggled with what I can do to help. Well here's something I can do. I can support this effort. I know it's not much - negligible is being charitable!<br /><br />But it's something. And it's something I can do myself. So even though it's completely meaningless in the business that is this hobby, even though my money and contribution to many auctions do not add up to jack, it IS meaningful to me in that I've done something - anything. <br /><br />I can't not support the effort. This company has put it's financial interests on the table to try to do something. How can I not do one little thing for 08, just to see what happens?<br /><br />Joann

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11-13-2007, 06:28 PM
Posted By: <b>Red</b><p>Cleaning up the hobby sounds great and nobody would argue against it, but Mears had to be thinking their "deal" with the auction houses would go over big and they'd see a big increase in their market share for authentication services. It sort of backfired as the only auction house to sign on with them runs one auction a year. They may be the best authenticators out there but nobody wants to be told how to run their business or be forced to give valuable consignor and buyer info to a competitor.<br /><br />But maybe what changes now is that a collector will need to send their item to Mears prior to giving it to a big auction house like Mastro for example. If the only reason you're getting something authenticated is to sell it then Mears would obviously be in a much more advantageous position of being able to make a play at handling the sale of the item as well. So while they'll lose out on submissions from auction houses where they have no chance of handling the sale, they would pick up submissions directly from collectors where they'll have a better opportunity of becoming the person handling the sale of the item. This will make them a bigger player in selling the stuff rather than just making a few bucks authenticating it.

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11-13-2007, 07:07 PM
Posted By: <b>Fred C</b><p>Joann,<br /><br />I think a lot of us (well, at least me) like the idea of a set of standards for the Auction Houses. Putting pen to paper and then concept to work are entirely different. Yes, I believe the Auction Houses should disclose what they own. Yes, I believe the Auction Houses should disclose any/all alterations. Yes, I believe...<br /><br />The tough part is enforcing this. Who? At what cost? I'm sure it wont be free so it'll translate into business expenses that get passed on to the consumer (higher buyers/sellers premiums). There's so much more...<br /><br />Good idea! Implementation is not so clear and even with all the efforts nobody is going to figure out what is being shilled and what is not being shilled. There are just too many variables.

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11-13-2007, 07:21 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Businesses may be audited all the time, but they are done by professional auditors. Mears authenticates game used equipment. Auditing is not their business.<br /><br />If my car needs a new transmission I will call an auto mechanic, not a dentist.<br /><br />I too applaud any effort to clean up the hobby. I just don't think this particular practice is appropriate. That only a single auction house took them up on it suggests it has not gone over too well.

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11-13-2007, 07:24 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul Moss</b><p>Perhaps they stayed at a Holiday Inn?

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11-13-2007, 07:48 PM
Posted By: <b>Frank Wakefield</b><p>When I looked at that Mears link, and the list of auctions... I wonder about ones left out.<br /><br />I like Mr. Lipset's auctions, but he's not on the list.Barry isn't on that list, nor is Bill Goodwin. Those 3 guys are pretty straight, forthright fellows. I think a boycott of auction companies that don't sign on with the Mears' position isn't fair to these 3, and others.<br /><br />I agree with Paul, Jay, and Barry. I'm not in favor of the switching of lots, and of auction houses doctoring cards. It does seem to me that most of the SGC slabbed cards are correctly slabbed. But what it comes down to is for a fellow to do business with folks he trusts. And to avoid the ones he doesn't. That might fit in with the boycott idea, just from with a different approach.<br /><br />I figure a few of Jim's cards wouldn't grade out now as they did before. But not many, 'cause it seems to me that Jim has a keen eye for pristine cards. If his cards were mine I wouldn't get them regraded, either. I have 4 kids of varying ages. One infant grandchild at present. Will probably have half a dozen more. I hope to keep my wits about me for about 20 years, then assess my heirs to see if any of 'em give a tinker's damn about ball cards. If they don't, I'll probably sell them myself... Although I do like Kevin's 'foster care' strategy!!!

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11-13-2007, 08:06 PM
Posted By: <b>Joann</b><p>Great points Frank. I guess I should make something clear at least as to my position.<br /><br />I definitely think that there are very good auction houses out there. Whether one signs on to the MEARS policy or not does not mean they are or are not honorable to deal with. Certainly Barry is the lead case in point on this board, and I also have high regard for Huggins and Scott along with others.<br /><br />My going with REA only in 08 is not, repeat and emphasize not, any indication that I think all others are of lesser ethical behavior. Far from it. I actually hold a few of the non-signers in higher regard than REA (and that's pretty high).<br /><br />It's a matter of me having found one small thing that I can do. I want to support MEARS in this policy, and REA for having signed on. My contribution is not much, but to me it is 100% because I've finally identified a way that I can do ... something. <br /><br />And as to the merits of the policy, I agree with some of the concerns and analyses that there may be some bobbles in what it is and how it will be implemented. But perfect or not, MEARS is the first to do something and I'm getting behind that. It may not be perfect, but it's actually pretty good. If we all waited for perfect, nothing would ever get done or move forward.<br /><br />So it's my way of being comfortable with myself and feeling like I am at least trying. It's not at all an indication of my views on non-signers to the policy.<br /><br />J

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11-13-2007, 08:41 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>So what if REA has nothing you need for your collection and another auction house does? <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

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11-13-2007, 09:51 PM
Posted By: <b>Larry</b><p>Joann- You seem like a righteous and decent person, I applaud you for your stand but it is very lonely on a picket line when the alternative is clear, no auction house except for REA wants to be under MEARS' doctrine at this time otherwise they would have met this deadline. There are most likely only a few collectors or dealers that care to be so personally restrictive of who they transact with, and really it is up to the individual to decide for themselves who they should conduct business with without having their name, address and other personal information exposed.

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11-13-2007, 10:03 PM
Posted By: <b>JK</b><p>Red,<br /><br />You stated: <br /><br />"but Mears had to be thinking their "deal" with the auction houses would go over big and they'd see a big increase in their market share for authentication services" <br /><br />I think you have failed to accurately analyze the Mear's deal. All of these auction houses were already doing business with Mears. They were/are one of the most respected authentication services in the country. They didnt need this deal to increase their business. Moreover, the deal that they proposed was "you do this, and you can continue to submit to us" (i.e. continue to do what youve been doing). The deal was not, "you do this and then we will allow you to increase your business with us." <br /><br />That said, I see nothing about this "deal" that would directly lead to an increase in business. Quite the contrary, I think the strong likelihood (probably known by Mears in advance) was that several auction houses would reject this deal and they would lose business.<br /><br />Think about it.

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11-13-2007, 11:25 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul Moss</b><p>Here's the real world for you. The Mears strongarm tactic will have no effect on the auction houses as they probably have another authenticator du jour to promote in their catalogs and who will gain acceptance or might already have within the game used sphere in the hobby. In fact, is it possible that they might retaliate by not accepting merchandise accompanied by Mears letters of authenticity? <br /><br />I know that I'd certainly be somewhat resentful if a non-governmental entity wanted to rummage through my books on the premise that I must prove my innocence. If I do not succumb to their demand, then I must have something to hide and must be punished accordingly. Guilty until proven innocent, the Napoleonic laws live! It's just so un-American. I suppose this sort of bullyboy tactic is more acceptable nowadays as this country descends from freedom to a fascist authoritarian state but it's nice to see that some (most) still stand up for their rights to do business without succumbing to threats, intimidation, and essentially false accusation. If they're guilty, prove it, but not this way.<br /><br />

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11-13-2007, 11:53 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>The Sloate auction house not submitting to MEARS rules is a straw man argument, as Barry doesn't auction game used items. He auctions baseball cards. Barry has nothing that requires MEARS' services and MEARS doesn't authenticate anything Barry has. MEARS rules are for sports auction houses that use its game used examination services. My supermarket hasn't signed on with MEARS, but I will continue to purchase my milk there. I might even buy a pack of baseball cards there. I'm sure MEARS would have no have a problem with this.

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11-14-2007, 09:30 AM
Posted By: <b>keyway</b><p>Here we go. First we need someone to guarantee the cards or auto's, now we need someone to police them. When does it end. Enough is enough. I have good faith in 3'rd party card grading and absolutely no faith in 3'rd party auto. authentication. It is amazing how many auto's are called authentic that are an absolute joke and paid big bucks for because of it. It is also amazing how many legit auto's are turned down. Facinating how oppiones are held as fact. The only fact is if you saw the auto. sighned yourself.

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11-14-2007, 09:33 AM
Posted By: <b>JK</b><p>way to stay on topic.