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  #1  
Old 01-17-2006, 08:05 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Daniel Bretta

Just got through watching the new episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and they had a story on about the sports memorabilia industry. It dealt with autographed items and the forgery ring that got busted a few years back that was getting all of their stuff authenticated by Donald Frangipani. They took a hidden camera to Frangipani's business and showed him 7 different forged items and he gave every single one of them a COA....They went back later and showed him that he got every single one of them wrong.

The best thing about the show was that our own Richard Simon and GAI were the only authenticators who were 100% spot on in their authenticating. They both rejected all 16 items sent to them. I can't remember how many different authenticating companies they sent items too, but most of them gave COA's on the forged stuff.

Another item of interest in the show was that Upper Deck autograph card that had Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and ??? (Can't remember the fourth name) which sold for $85,000 on ebay has forged signatures of Ruth and Johnson according to Richard Simon, GAI and PSA/DNA.....One of the guys who was associated with the forgery ring is certain that the Ruth signature was done by his forger.

Well worth watching and if you get the West Coast HBO feed then you should be able to see this episode again tonight.

Edited to change Topps to Upper Deck.

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  #2  
Old 01-17-2006, 08:23 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Charlie O'Neal

I watched the same eposide about the COA's being fake. Really makes you wondering what you could get by with these days and all the money that is tied up in fake auto's. Personally I am glad that I don't collect auto's b/c I would probably be pretty pissed right about now wonding if my stuff was fake.

The 4 auto card issued by Upper Deck Hans Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson I found real disturbing. Other compainies deemed the Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson as fakes. Makes you wonder how many other auto cards that companies put out are fakes also... and if the jerseys that are included in cards are also fake. Here is the link for the 4 auto card that was referred to earlier.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Babe-Ruth-Ty-Cobb-Wagner-Johnson-1-1-Cut-Signatures_W0QQitemZ8731418204QQcategoryZ98015QQrd Z1QQcmdZViewItem

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  #3  
Old 01-18-2006, 06:39 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: pete ullman

Wow...that's quite disconcerting...but not all that surprising. I'm glad I don't collect that crap and all of my autos were obtained by me or an extremely reliable source!

pete in st paul

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  #4  
Old 01-18-2006, 08:24 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Daniel Bretta

I don't really go out of my way to collect autographs, but I have a bunch of autographed baseballs....most of them team signed, and most all of them with impeccable provenance. Plus a majority of my autographed baseballs are all 1930-50's minor league teams that no one would really try to forge anyway because a 1930's clean multi color stitched Goldsmith baseball is probably worth more than a team signed baseball of the 1937 Clinton Owls. I only have two baseballs that I would like to get authenticated, a 1937 Brooklyn Dodgers ball (which I know for certain already that it's real) and an Edd Roush signed ball that I'm not sure of - he did put his lifetime batting average on the ball of .325 - this has since been refigured to .323 after some research by SABR a few years back. The ball has also been signed on the other side by AL Kaline. I got the ball at an estate sale that had no other baseball memorabilia.

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  #5  
Old 01-18-2006, 09:09 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Rhys

I deal quite extensively in autographs and to be honest with you I have had very few problems with that area in 15 years. If you are carefull with what you buy, and on the private sales who you deal with is important as well. I have sold hundreds of autgraphs which have ended up being placed into Upper Deck cards and Topps cards eventually and know the sources of those autographs (all were signed in person). I would be willing to bet currently there is just as much shady dealing going on behind closed doors at major card grading companies than autograph authentication companies. Just my opinion but I do not think anyone else on this board does as much autograph buying/selling as I do so I thought I would throw my two cents out on this.

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  #6  
Old 01-18-2006, 09:24 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: anonymousdave

Ironically enough...i just recieved an auction catalog from Broadway Rick's Strike Zone chock full of "authentic" authographed and game used offerings.

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  #7  
Old 01-18-2006, 09:46 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Daniel Bretta

Rhys, you make a good point about who you are dealing with is probably the most important point about autograph collecting. Who do you consider to be the top autograph dealers and authenticators?

Another note on the show last night they had Dan Marino with them perusing ebay for his autographed items and he was pointing out forgery after forgery all with "COA's".

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  #8  
Old 01-18-2006, 09:50 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: t206King

whats funny is that the Johnson looks really fake on the card. i have been saying this for a while, you dont know what your getting from these card companies. there a business not a collector, so they can say anything and the public beleives them. i hope UD gets screwed!!!!

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  #9  
Old 01-18-2006, 10:46 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Rhys

As far as authenticators go, I trust Mike Guttierez of GAI the most from my experiences. I once submitted a few autographs to him years ago I was thinking of buying and even though they looked really good, he could tell that the same guy forged both items from very subtle similarities and I was very impressed (needless to say I passed on the items). However, very rarely does he actually look at the items and usually at shows some of his "understudies" will be examining your items and they are NOT very good. I have heard really good things about Richard Simon but only ever used him as part of the company PAAS a few years back.

I deal quite a bit with Kevin Keating and Jim Stinson as far as dealers go, and Phillip Marks (who usually sets up at major shows) is very reputable as well. I would consider any of those three to be Dead on as far as Dealers go and would consider anything they have for sale to be authentic. These guys also stand behind everything they sell and have been around forever.

The card companies simply set up deals with individuals for the autographs which come in their packs. EXACTLY the same way they make deals with Kit Young for vintage insert cards. Topps will contact a dealer and say "I need 100 Babe Ruth autographs for our cards". Said dealer will then go out and buy Ruths @ a certain price and then mark them up to the company. If the dealer they use is reputable in their opinion, there is no third party involved in the deal and all is perceived to be good. I have heard similar experiences of people taking Cracker Jacks and T cards from their packs of newer cards and trying to get them graded only to find out that they were trimmed/bleached. It all works the same way and cost of third party authentication is too high for these people when dealing with thousands of signatures/vintage cards that need to be placed into card packages. They make thier money off of buying cheap and selling high to the companies so they are looking for bargains, and in the autograph hobby you usually get what you pay for.

Sorry for the windy response, but I am pretty familiar with the process since I know most (not all) of the dealers who are contracted out by these companies to find their signatures and insert cards for packs. Some are very reputable and some are not as much.

Rhys

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  #10  
Old 01-18-2006, 11:04 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: DJ

The most shocking aspect of the "Real Sports" show was that Upper Deck card lot depicting the four Hall Of Fame stars (linked above) that sold for $85,000. The Johnson is rather "suspect" and the Ruth is what the episode deemed a "forgery" while there was no disputing the Wagner or Cobb.

Outside of the fact that the buyer paid $85,000 for this (where he could have easily purchased individual cuts for probably around $5K probably), was the fact that it showed that this business is a visious circle of sorts.

After all,the program basically tore down one authenticator in Donald Frangipani who if you didn't know anything about his past, then you have no business buying or selling autographs, and pointed out other "suspect" authenticators who added to the downside of this business as the FBI honcho took you through the warehouse of "junk", showed a shadow'ed former "bad guy" gone good and nothing better than watching black and white images of a guy with a pen going to work.

Looking closely at the back of the cards, there is a mention of it's original sources. All four quite reputable and some use highly prized authenticating houses. What about the four autograph sellers listed on the back of the $85,000 cards who (which one?)are responsible for selling these signatures to Upper Deck? Who will point the finger at them? What will become of Upper Deck's credibility? Why didn't Upper Deck issue some kind of statement? Last, what will the buyer do?

Rhys hit it on the head. I do consider myself a "borderline" expert and I have had little trouble over 30+ years of collecting because I do my homework and I trust myself over any authenticator/expert.

Also, good point on the back dealings of cards. Any authentic card is still worth something though even if it's trimmed, worked on or overgraded while a Babe Ruth autograph is worth $2,500 in authentic form and zero in fake form.

As far as guys to trust: Rich Simon, Jim Stinson and Bill Corcoran are my faves.

DJ

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  #11  
Old 01-18-2006, 11:14 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Brett

I had a feeling that the Walter Johnson siganture was fake before, because i have never seen his signature with a complete bottom of the " J " for Johnson.



i included a picture to explain what i mean. when he writes the "J", he stops, and then finished Johnson.

the Johnson signature on the $85 000 card, it looks like Johnson was signed all in one motion. he might have acutally signed Johnson like that before, but i have never seen one like that before, so i could be wrong.

i also noticed on the Babe Ruth signature, there is too much space between the "B" and "a" on Babe. Most Ruth sognatures i;ve seen, he signs it fairly straight, the "b" and "e" on Babe seem to be way up, as oppose to the other letters in his name.

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  #12  
Old 01-18-2006, 11:21 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard

If anyone has HBO and still uses a VCR - no, I don't have TIVO yet, could you please tape the show the next time it airs and send it to me? I can reimburse you for your troubles.

Thanks,
Richard

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  #13  
Old 01-18-2006, 12:52 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: cmoking

Richard, the next show on my cable system is at 7pm tonight. I can tape it for you and mail it out to you tomorrow. Email me at cmoking@yahoo.com to give me your address.

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  #14  
Old 01-18-2006, 01:21 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: craig

cmoking

that is really good of you to send it to richard so i wont ask the same of you. however. richard when you are finished with it can you mail it out so i can view it. i can also compensate for your shipping. and if anyone else wats it after me i can send it to them.

craig

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  #15  
Old 01-18-2006, 01:31 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: scott ingold

Yes,
craig please add me to the list. It sounds great. Meanwhile i will see if i can find it on the internet and record it to my computer.

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  #16  
Old 01-18-2006, 01:43 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard

King - thanks. I will email you with my address. Let me know how much I can send you for your troubles.

Craig - email me your address and I will get it out to you when I'm done. rman444@hotmail.com

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  #17  
Old 01-18-2006, 02:04 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Rob L

What's interesting is that because it is on an Upper Deck card that is allegedly authentic, I would have assummed that they had done the necessary homework and therefore probably would have assummed it's good (how's that for ignorance). Closer examination of the two autographs in question shows that the Ruth signature is not real smooth and the J in Johnson is a hybrid between his later signature and his early signature.

It's too bad that someone spent 85K for this!!

Rob L

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  #18  
Old 01-18-2006, 05:06 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Bruce Babcock

Whatever happened to authenticator Richard Galasso, Dennis Purdy's foil in VCBC?

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  #19  
Old 01-18-2006, 05:08 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: cmoking

I just watched the program...scary stuff.
It makes me wonder if my Ruth check is real. The fact the sig is on a check makes me comfortable that it is real, but still.....there is some doubt.

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  #20  
Old 01-19-2006, 09:44 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Rob L

The Ruth check is good. One of the best ways to collect autographs and ensure authenticity is to collect signed checks and other official documents. These documents are also interesting in that they are commonly signed with another form of their signature (ie. G.H. Ruth instead of Babe, Tyrus R. Cobb instead of Ty, etc.).

Rob L

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  #21  
Old 01-19-2006, 10:33 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

Thanks to all for the kind words about my work.
I am hoping that the buyer of the UD card does get his $$ back. It would be a shame to have spent $85K for something that is now regarded with grave doubt in this hobby.
I would have little doubt that the buyer has or will shortly, be consulting an attorney.

Richard Simon

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  #22  
Old 01-19-2006, 10:58 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: craig

scott send me your address and i will forward the tape to you as soon as i finish viewing.

craig

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  #23  
Old 01-19-2006, 11:46 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Brett

you have to be extra careful when buying signatures of great players who have signatures that are easy to copy. like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Edd Roush, Rube Marquard. Just to name a few.

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  #24  
Old 01-19-2006, 11:52 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: scgaynor

The Ruth check looks fine, but there are bad Ruth checks out there. Some blank ones entered the hobby and some forgers got their hands on them.

When it comes to opinions on authenticity I would add Seth Boyd to the list of people to trust. He is a friend, he used to work here, and he is reputable.

Scott

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  #25  
Old 01-19-2006, 12:23 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

Scott is 100% correct.

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  #26  
Old 01-19-2006, 01:58 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Daniel Bretta

Richard, did HBO contact you at all for this story?

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  #27  
Old 01-19-2006, 05:00 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Shannon

Just got done watching the program and Im glad I dont collect autographs. Im not too sure I would trust a cashed check either, unless I was there to witness it. Im not saying there are not real ones out there, but I have someone sign my checks more often than I do. Just not worth the heartache of finding out it is not real.

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  #28  
Old 01-19-2006, 08:35 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

I was not contacted by the HBO show.
Donald Frangipani was given 7 items to examine. You all saw how he did. He stated every item was genuine. HBO and the FBI have stated that every item he examined was not genuine.
All the other authenticators had 5 items submitted to each of them.
The first four authenticators were Christopher Morales, AAU, Stats (Ted Taylor), Frank Garo (William Tell Research).
According to the show these four authenticators incorrectly said that 15 items were genuine out of 20 bogus items submitted to them.

Global Authentication and myself were the last two authenticators.
Global was correct on 5/5. I was correct on 4/5.

The numbers quoted on other posts are not correct about the number of items that were secretly submitted to the authenticators. Each authenticator had 5 items submitted to them.


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  #29  
Old 01-19-2006, 08:52 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Hoytdunk

Concerning GAI was 5 for 5 on detecting the bogus autographs, did this happen when Mike Gutierrez was at GAI or after he left?

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  #30  
Old 01-20-2006, 02:11 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

This occured after Mike Gutierrez left GAI.

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  #31  
Old 01-20-2006, 03:55 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: warshawlaw

My local cable outlet says the show is reshowing tomorrow (saturday) at 10:00 a.m.

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  #32  
Old 01-20-2006, 05:43 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

Eastern Standard Time on HBO

Show is scheduled on HBO (main channel) at:
1/21 10:00 AM
1/23 11:30 AM, 9:00 PM
1/25 4:30 PM, 11:55 PM
1/29 9:00 AM
1/31 7:00 PM

& other times on the additional HBO channels



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  #33  
Old 01-21-2006, 10:18 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Rhys

The fact that GAI rejected all five is more a showing of their overly cautious attitude than expert opinions. I will never use GAI since Guttierrez left for that reason. They will only authenticate signatures which are within the mainstream and show no normal variances (rushed signature, examples signed later in life, examples signed early in a career, etc.) Where other companies might possibly authenticate 1 item out of 5 (like Richard Simon) which is not real, GAI will reject many of the real signatures which are completely good because of inexperience and fear of authenticating something which might not be real. You might think this is good, until you realize there are THOUSANDS of completely good autographs out there which fail GAI's authentication and many are then discarded even though they are fine.

So what is worse, 1 in 5 being wrongfully authenticated or several Real signatures being wrongfully rejected meanwhile GAI gladly takes your money for being wrong?

I would personally trust Richard Simon over the people working at GAI right now.

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  #34  
Old 01-21-2006, 11:23 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Daniel Bretta

I don't know how anyone can tell with 100% certaintly that any autograph is authentic by just looking at it. IMO an autograph needs rock solid provenance.

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  #35  
Old 01-21-2006, 12:10 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: warshawlaw

Frangipani looks like a dolt. Wish that they'd ID'd the other dim-witted authenticators too. I did not see anything about Spence or PSA/DNA being in on the test; were they?

That UD sigs card is a scary story. Obviously, no one knows for sure, but the consensus of decent expert opinions certainly is that there are problems with those cuts. Just goes to show, if you want to rely on UD for authentic autographs, buy specially created signed cards, not cut autograph decoupage. As for the big boys, I think I'll stick with bank checks if I just have to have the autographs.

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  #36  
Old 01-21-2006, 01:33 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: davidcycleback

For modern players, there are reputable companies that do in
person signings, with the player under contract to sign and with
witnesses present. Also, many of today's stars and Hall of Famers place
their personal hologram beneath their signature when signing.
This includes ARod, Bonds, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and many others.

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  #37  
Old 01-21-2006, 04:09 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

To repeat my prior post for warshawlaw,,, the other four authenticators were AAU, Christopher Morales (an associate of Mr Frangipani), Frank Garo and Stats (Ted Taylor)
And about the UD card, GAI, myself, PSA-DNA Quick Opinion and Seth Boyd have all stated that the signatures are not authentic. There has been no dissenting opinion about that among autograph dealers and or examiners.


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  #38  
Old 01-21-2006, 08:36 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: DJ

I have found myself enjoying the autograph business less and less as the years go by (I have been collecting for roughly 25+ years) and will probably find it A LOT less enjoyable in five years as I don't see it cleaning itself up, but the problem growing. I see what I believe to be more politics, more arguments about what's good and what's bad, more authenticators hating on other authenticators, more homeade authenticating houses that will be featured in future "Real Sports" episodes, a lazy public that doesn't educate themselves and I see really "good artists" fooling these good authenticators.

After all, if you can do a perfect Babe Ruth forgery, would you ever have to work again when you can crank out maybe 4-5 perfect baseballs a year at $20K each? Hmmm...

So when it comes to experts, I kind of like the person that has been involved in the hobby for many, many years and who has gained an education throughout in handling the material. Of course the debate goes that an expert or authenticator like Rich or Mike also sell autographs and that's where the argument comes in favor of those authenticators who simply authenticate like the ones mentioned in the video in a "bad" way and have no education and understand that if they fail things, that takes away from the money they could be making.

When it comes down to it, I mean really, isn't it simply matching signatures? Couldn't you simply take any person off the street and teach him a little about the rapid way a person signs, look for stops, look for strange wrist motions and give him a loaded database of exemplars and he could do the job, right?

Everytime you see a person added to one of these big legit authenticating firms, you wonder who in the world it is. Most of the PSA/DNA guys seem to be chasers (outside of the hiring of Mike). Wasn't Steve Grad a chaser before joining PSA/DNA? When PSA/DNA's passes something, is Mike looking at it or is it a chaser? Who is authenticating my Thomas Jefferson, Shirley Temple and my Bo Jackson?

I'm not anti-PSA/DNA either so the above is only for the sake of argument. I am anti-those who pass anything.

IMO...

DJ

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  #39  
Old 01-22-2006, 05:09 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

"Currently Mike is working as an autograph authentication consultant for PSA/DNA".
This is a quote from the PSA DNA website. It does not state this for anyone else who is listed there.
What does it mean that he is a consultant?
Is he examining autographs on any kind of regular basis?
Bill Miller won a lawsuit against PSA because his name and facsimile signature appeared on 14,000 COA's and he never authenticated or even saw one of those items.

I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
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Old 01-24-2006, 02:41 PM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

Here is an updated story on the Upper Deck card:


http://www.kckings.com/hobbynewsandfun.php


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  #41  
Old 02-11-2006, 09:29 AM
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Default OT: HBO's Real Sports - A Must See Episode

Posted By: Richard Simon

It appears that SCD, the Associated Press and The New York Daily News are all doing follow up stories on the UD Quad card.
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