Certificate of Authenticity – What Does it Really Mean?

Does it seem to you that everything you buy today comes with a “Certificate of Authenticity”?  The term has just become too generic to actually mean anything anymore.  You buy a Lenox figurine (it is stamped Lenox, comes in a Lenox box, from a major department store, and don’t forget – the all important “Certificate of Authenticity”.  Isn’t that a little redundant?  Is Macy’s really going to sell Lenox knock offs?

It seems that for much of what we sell today on eBay, we are asked by the potential buyers “do you have the Certificate of Authenticity”?  Really – you need a slip of paper telling you that the silly little cat statue you want to buy is real?

Where this really comes into play  is in the autograph category.  In the old days, sports figures were more than happy to sign their name on a ball or bat to a kid that approached them after the game.  Today, these players are all business.  Many won’t sign unless they get paid to do so.  We once listed a Cal Ripken Jr item that our client’s mother had him sign many years ago and eBay pulled the auction because Ripkin’s company said it wasn’t authentic.  Of course it was, its just that the Ripkin didn’t get paid to sign years ago and now had the nerve to claim the autograph wasn’t his.  We tried to contact him with the email provided by eBay and got no response. Shame on him!

Even the big name authentication houses are not that great.  Another client met Mickey Mantle years ago and had him sign a ball for him.  We told him that if he paid this company to give their blessing on the ball, it would command a higher price.  After he sent them a large check (non refundable), their response was that they could not authentic whether or not Mantle had signed the ball.  Come on!

Yes, there were a lot of entertainers who had their secretaries sign fan letters for them, but when a person meets a celebrity in the flesh and they sign their name in front of them, isn’t their word good enough? And if you have a canceled check with a celebrities autograph, do you really think someone forged their name?

We’ve never had a problem with autographed Playbills. People still wait outside the stage door after a Broadway performance to have their Playbills signed by the cast.  The stars of Broadway love their fans and gladly sign and no one seems to deny these autographs to be real.

But the next time I run into Brad Pitt, I’ll make sure to get a photo of him signing his name – with cell phone cameras, maybe I  won’t need a Certificate of Authenticity.

Published in: on July 12, 2010 at 8:02 am  Comments (17)  

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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post! An authentic one!


  2. We have also been the victim of that authentication house scam. One recommended by ebay as a matter of fact. Will never do that again. We had COA for it already, so we knew it was authentic. Just wanted an ebay approved COA. It was also labeled a “we could not verify one way or other” rejection. I talked the consignor into sending the item in. So I had to eat the loss myself.

    Funny what people will pay for another persons signature anyway. Or what someone will pay for that whiff of nostalgia or closeness something gives them about another person, place, time, feeling, or wish.

    A picture once never lied. But now it can tell you anything you want it to. Can even help you sell a fake anything over and over again.

    As an Trading Assistant some items are easier to handle than others. Signatures are always approached with scrutiny. But the right ones sure are fun to watch at auction.

    Keep up the great work and I’ll see you on ebay.

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