How to tell if your NBA / sporting memorabilia is real?

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Don't know much about memorabilia? Or are you trying to purchase a present for someone but don't know what is real? Then hopefully I can help you!

Myself being an NBA nut, I have purchased many items through various sources. Now, I have asked myself numerous times whether an item is authentic or not, just on the verge of completing the purchase. Well, the only way that you as a buyer can truly guarantee the authenticity of an item is if it was signed in front of you. Where that isn't possible, then you would have to take the word of the person who WAS present at the signing. And this is where the COA comes in.

What is a COA (Certificate of Authenticity)

The COA is the certificate issued by the seller which basically states that the item was signed in their presence and they guarantee the authenticity. Now anybody can "make" their own authenticity, hence the importance of a COA from a reputable company. A reputable company is one that has been in the memorabilia business for many years and essentially has a good reputation built up throughout those years. A bad company selling fakes will not last more than 6 months due to the complaints filed against them. As with all things, the more reputable the company is, the higher the price you pay for the memorabilia. But this does not mean the cheaper items are automatically branded "fakes". Players and stars do sign for their fans and when the fans decide to sell the autographed items, the items will sell for less even if it does include authenticity. Bottom line? If you have the money and you want to have 100% confidence in the item you are purchasing, then buy items from the bigger companies like

  • Upper Deck
  • Mounted Memories
  • Steiner Sports
  • Global Authenticated Inc
  • PSA/DNA

Now this is NOT a definitive list, and just because a company has a website does not make it more reputable, vice versa.

The items with COA from lesser known companies will be cheaper, but it is then up to you as the buyer to trust your own judgement. If an item does not look authentic to you, regardless of which company it comes from, DO NOT GO NEAR IT. Please note however, that because stars sign in a hurry at sporting/charity events, the signatures may not be as clear or straight as some items that was signed at paid autograph conventions. This doesn't mean the item is a fake, but once again, use your judgement.

We at Autofotos will only purchase and sell items that we think are authentic, even if they are from smaller companies. We compare to the best of our abilities, the signatures to other samples we have access to and if they do not seem authentic, we will not purchase or sell the items.

Case Study (from my personal experience)

The perfect example of using your judgement is (if you are in Victoria you will know these stores) Superstars & Legends. These stores are huge in Victoria and they sell Jordan memorabilia at insane prices, but just because they are a big company, doesn't mean their stuff is all real. I have seen a few absolutly awful fakes which will not pass any authentication process yet they still sell them for over $2000. That is for a framed and signed 16X20 photo! You can get UpperDeck authenticated items which are guaranteed real for less than that! Please note, this is my opinion only, however, just print a few UpperDeck Authenticated Jordan autographs and bring it into your local Superstars & Legends and COMPARE the signatures, you will see that some of them are OBVIOUSLY not signed by Michael Jordan.

Our main advice is, do your research and if it doesn't look real to you (even if the items are sold by us) then do not go anywhere near it. Every dodgy car salesman in the world would claim they have the best cars and you wouldn't buy it if it looks dodgy, so why do the same with memorabilia?

We can also sell your memorabilia for you! We are registered trading assistants.

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