Let's face it... these days there are more autograph forgeries, than there are sticker autographs... which means it's hard to trust any signature that you don't get signed in person. Which is why I'll only buy autographs from my buddy Mike... and of course autographs from the major players in the market: PSA/DNA, Steiner Sports, and UDA.
Simply put... a COA is only as good as the company's reputation.
I've been friends with Mike for over ten years and have gone autograph hunting with him on numerous occasions. He sells autographs for a living and understands that his reputation is EVERYTHING. But honestly... if he wasn't my friend, I wouldn't consider purchasing from him... because there are just too many people out there trying to make a quick buck. But since I have no intention of reselling the autographs I purchase from him, the only thing that matters is that I know they're real.
Every now and then, I'll also pick up a PSA/DNA certified autograph. But I'm not foolish. I realize that there's no guarantee that their certified autographs are real. PSA/DNA's job is to look at an autograph and using their expert's opinion... they decide if they think the signature is real or fake. The key to that statement is that it's an "expert's opinion". Unless they actually watch the guy sign (which I'm pretty sure they sometimes do at major card shows), then it's up to their employees to give an opinion... an opinion that some of us choose to trust. I'm sure a fake slips by them, every now and then, but overall they have a pretty good reputation... so I trust them.
Finally, there are companies who have contracts with athletes that sign autographs for them. Upper Deck has Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Ironclad Authentics has Cal Ripken Jr. and Joe Mauer. And Steiner Sports has Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, and Martin Brodeur. Each of these companies provide COA's when you purchase autographs from them... but once again... a COA is only as good as the company that stands behind that autograph.
So when you buy an autographed photo from these companies, you technically have no guarantee that they're real. It's an industry based on trust and you hope that a company won't jeopardize their reputation by selling forgeries.
Personally, I'm pretty confident the autographs I purchase from these companies are real. It's impossible for me to be 100% confident, because I wasn't there when the athletes signed the items... but, I trust them enough to spend money on their products.
On Saturday, I received this email from Steiner Sports:
They were offering replica New Jersey Devils mini goalie helmets signed by one of the greatest goalies of all-time... Martin Brodeur... for only $79.99. Whether or not this is a good price depends on your personal perspective. I'm sure if you live in New Jersey, you can find these mini helmets for around $20. And if you're fortunate enough to cross paths with Martin, then the autograph would be free. So from this perspective, I overpaid by sixty or so dollars.
However, I don't live in New Jersey... which means that I have to try to get him to sign when the Devils come to San Jose. But the fact is... I work Monday through Friday, and don't always have the luxury to go out and grab graphs during the weekends. In short... the odds of me crossing paths with Brodeur are slim.
Instead I choose to trust Steiner. At one point, they had an exclusive contract with Brodeur. Sure it cost me $88.98 ($79.99 + $8.99 shipping), but the autograph comes with "peace of mind"... because I'm not worried about the autograph's authenticity.
In fact... this isn't even my first Martin Brodeur purchase from Steiner. Back in April, I picked up this New Jersey Devil's signed puck for $49.99 (+ shipping & handling).
What do I want two of his autographs?
I guess it's because he became popular right around the same time I started collecting hockey cards... in the 90's. Plus it doesn't hurt that he's won more games than any other goalie in the history of the NHL. He's also the 1993/94 Calder Trophy Winner (NHL's ROY), a five time winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy (given to the goalie(s) who've allowed the fewest goals that season), and of course you can't forget his four Vezina Trophies (given to the top goalie each season).
It's debatable whether or not, he's the greatest goalie of all-time. But there's no debating that he's one of the greatest... which is why I love collecting his cards and autographed memorabilia.
But this post has dragged on for too long... so I'll save the cards for another post.
When it comes to certified autographs, which companies do you trust?
Who's your favorite NHL goalie... past or present?
Damn... it's already way past my bedtime. Happy hump day... good night... and sayonara!
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