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Why Autograph Dealers Rely on Incompetent Third Party Authenticators

Posted 3/19/2011 16:21 | Filed under Third Party Authentication | Comments (0)
A few days ago I was chatting with someone who's been in the autograph business almost as long as me. (I've been full time since 1999, part time since 1997 and actively collecting in person since 1988).

He has a higher regard for third party authenticators than I do, but not by much. I can't name him because unlike me, he still has active relationships with these companies. He stated that he thought third party authenticators make more mistakes rejecting good autographs than authenticating fake autographs. I suppose that's possible, there's no way to determine that with any certainty. In a previous blog post I cited two instances where they did that to me and it's happened to every autograph dealer who's submitted items. For a very detailed story of how James Spence (JSA) rejected UDA items and several items they previously had authenticated themselves, go to this link and skip down to Feb. 14.

The question is, why do some autograph dealers rely heavily or even exclusively on third party authenticators when there is massive evidence to suggest they are all incompetent to some degree? My buddy in the business and I discussed this issue, and on this we agreed on one major reason. The dealers who rely on third party authenticators are lazy. They want someone else -- a third party -- to say their autographs are real, whether they are or they aren't. This way, they can blindly buy and sell them without asking questions about how, when and where the autographs were obtained, which is what you are supposed to learn in Autograph Dealer 101. If anyone questions the authenticity, you just point to the authenticator and shirk any personal responsibility.

I believe there is a second, more nefarious reason for certain dealers who have established very cozy relationships with one or more companies. Authenticators from these companies are STILL active autograph dealers and have been rumored to stay overnight at the houses of dealers whose items they are authenticating. Think any of those will be rejected? Stories of these companies "blanket authenticating" quantities of autographs submitted by dealers that have an "in" with third party authenticators are widespread, and I believe most of them. Don't be naive; these companies treat the same autograph differently when submitted by a stranger vs. a dealer they "work with."

Again, the more I find out about third party authenticators, the less respect I have for them, and the more determined I am to educate the public about them.
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