This past year, we at A1 Sporting Memorabilia have seen a growing number of fake signed sports memorabilia being sold online. Dozens of new pop-up sites proclaim to be the number one destination for genuine signed memorabilia with next to nothing to reinforce such claims. In addition, we are increasingly plagiarised by these sites, who copy everything from our website design to the products we offer, as well as our social media interactions and, most worrying of all, our certificate of authenticity.
So, how can you spot such sites and what should you be looking out for? Well, to help you in your search for authentic signed sports memorabilia, we have compiled four easy questions that you should ask of any seller in order to avoid the increasing number of fakes and knock-offs.
1) Look at their company history. How long have they have been operating?
Check how many signing sessions a company has conducted and whether or not they have a long working relationship with the players and clubs from whom they have signed products. If it appears they have only worked with certain players once or maybe twice, it’s likely they will have sourced the products from elsewhere or perhaps acquired the signature outside a stadium or venue. This is bad practice and the quality of in-person autographs is poor compared to an autograph sourced from a closed private signing session.
2) Do they have the photographic evidence to prove they acquired the signatures themselves?
For a number of reasons it is occasionally impossible for companies such as ourselves to get multiple signing images for each and every product being sold. That said, photographic evidence is something every memorabilia seller should strive to have as it proves to the customer the authenticity of a given item. If the website you are looking at doesn’t have such photos, ask yourself why not? It’s essential to see the player with the item you are looking at, whether that be them holding or signing the product. We always try to get a photo of both and where possible we now also video the closed private signing session.
You can also look for images of the players posing with staff members. Really, any photographic evidence that represents the website with whom the players are signing can help prove the company is the real deal. It doesn’t have to be much!
3) Is their certificate of authenticity (COA) professionally created?
Most if not all COAs come with an product details, integrated signing photo, and a security code and/or reference number that you can enter into the company’s website to match with the product in question. If it’s been hastily hand-written on a piece of fancy-looking paper, it’s likely to have been forged or faked in some way.
A Certificates of Authenticity does not prove the authenticity of the item. The Certificate of Authenticity is only as good as the company issuing it and at best proves where you bought the item and is generally just a guarantee between the consumer and the company issuing it.
Read the wording on any certificate carefully, we have seen many COAs from other sellers use ambiguous and misleading text such as “…it is the opinion of… that this item is authentic…” and “…the display contains a genuine example of a verified and authenticated autograph…“.
4) Do they have signing videos from their sessions that can show the player signing more than one item?
We at A1 Sporting Memorabilia are proud of our creative and professionally produced signing videos. But, in truth, even a bog-standard video of a player signing more than one product, while in a room with associated staff members, will do the job of providing that much-needed proof of authenticity. Many players are comfortable with filming so is a short clip – not filmed on a phone or showing the player signing products from their car window – all that much to ask? Be wary of websites that can’t provide a clearly branded video of any of their signing sessions.
So, that’s just a few tips on how to spot fake sellers and dodgy products. For fourteen reasons why you should buy from us, A1 Sporting Memorabilia, check out our next blog post. And for 100% genuine and authentic signed memorabilia from legendary names at legendary prices, visit a1sportingmemorabilia.co.uk today.