Signed Memorabilia

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Signed memorabilia isn't a wholly new phenomenon, but it has grown into the juggernaut it is in just the past 10 years. Prior to that, the emphasis remained largely on the memorabilia itself, and any signatures were deemed a bonus. The idea of buying, selling, and trading autographs as commodities in and of themselves was unheard of.

Today, signed memorabilia is a multibillion-dollar industry, as an autographed authentic uniform alone can command upwards of $100,000. Multiply that by the number of Hall-of-Fame players whose jerseys and caps are on the market, and it's easy to see why autograph brokers are reaping such handsome profits. The question, though, is at what cost are they doing so?

The Finer Points of Signed Memorabilia

The incidence of fraud has soared since hobbyists first began spotting the potential of signed sporting goods. Since there's no central database of sanctioned signatures, discerning fakes from the genuine articles is, at best, an inexact science. Compounding the problem further is the rise of better technologies in the digital composition, printing, and editing fields, technologies that can help scam artists blur the lines even more.

A few measures have arisen in response to this alarming trend. One is an industry of "rating" or "grading" companies that establish values for cards and other merchandise. These companies, such as PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), factor everything from scarcity to intrinsic quality when assigning a dollar value. As of now, however, there is no "official" entity that deals strictly in the valuation of signed memorabilia, though such a company may be on the horizon.


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