Trust No One
That is the basic lesson that I learned from the reading Autograph Alert. Multiple blogs have cited their recent article on fake autographs. These autographs were written by an Autopen machine, which is something that I’ve never heard of. I guess back in the day, they had a machine rather than a rubber stamp? I’m not sure which is a worse type of autograph, one that is written by a machine, or one that is cut up so that it fits in a slab. I would guess the former would be worse. It is absolutely dispicable that these companies are hiding the fact that these autographs are fake. Especially Brian Gray and Razor. This completely re-enforces the idea that I will never purchase one of their products. How can they expect to compete with the Big Two if they can’t even bring change to the industry? They have not won over the trust of the consumers and I hope they burn for that fact. Maybe it’s a catch 22 because if Gray does come clean over the fact that those Oval Office signatures are fake, it is a huge hit to the company’s publicity. Even so, it never should have been authenticated as real in the first place. I don’t even understand how companies like JSA and PSA/DNA can even hire people like this Reznikoff character after what happened with those Kennedy signatures. What were they thinking?
I had this conversation with Gellman a few days ago over autographs and I really do agree that companies like PSA/DNA and JSA cannot be trusted to really authenticate items. I have shared my doubt before, especially with JSA just because of their checkered past. There was that one story that was in a newscast with JSA and how the reporter faked and autograph and it passed authentication at a card show. I was pretty ignorant to blindly trust PSA/DNA because I have not read any negative publicity about that company on a large scale. Maybe because they are also a local company. Gellman is absolutely correct that the only way we can really be sure an item is authenticated is if it is certified by the card companies. But even then, if the card companies are capable of blindly turning away in terms of these historical autographs, might they be evil enough to falsify certified autographs? They wouldn’t do that…would they? I sure hope not, otherwise, that would be the end (take that however you like). The only other way to ensure the autograph is authentic is to get an in person. I also tend to take a picture of the person signing when they are actualy signing the card. That’s as much proof as I need for myself and to show others, but I will never buy an in person autograph from someone else. There’s just too much trust that has to go into that transaction.
Autograph Alert is a great site and this story should be made into a larger collection of stories for a future book that parallels the problems and issues that plague the sports card and collecting industry. It angers me to know that they are getting away with it too. These fake cards are selling on eBay and eBay is even letting them get away with it. There has to be a way to bring consumer relations into this. How sweet would it be if they brought this into the public light by having local and national news crews to document what is going on? No where to hide now. Isn’t there also some way to sue the companies and authenticators over the fake autograph? I feel like there has to be if they’re authenticated by a trusted third party. But in the end, a lot of it is subjective. We always knew that there was a real danger in buying cards from eBay because they could be fake. eBay even goes as far to have a pop up message to warn you. Now that you can’t trust card companies to provide you with real autographs, who can you trust? No one.