Atrocious Authentications has been created for the sole purpose of educating autograph collectors of the dangers of those who claim they are able to authenticate autographs. Some will tell you that the business of authenticating autographs is the biggest scam in the hobby. When someone who has been burnt with a mis-authenticated autograph and takes the matter to court, a judge has said “everyone has a right to an opinion, there’s no law against being stupid!”
No one or company has been singled out! This site does not take advertisements so there is no one being protected because they are a supporter.
Printed below are the results of those that claim they are experts yet make atrocious errors in their assessment of whether an autograph is genuine or not.
The cost of these errors many times can reach a fee of $300 for their “opinion.”
As a matter of fact, if you try to find out who at a company made the “opinion” you have little or no chance of ever finding this out.
The PADAH Reference Library has the largest collection of Certificates of Authenticity in the hobby. Those who have seen the files are shocked at how many unscrupulous sellers of autographs have produced useless COA’s for non-genuine autographs Same goes for the high-profile companies who have glutted the market with mistakes yet claim to authenticate autographs.
It is amazing to see how many genuine autographs have been deemed to be un-authentic and visa-versa how many non-genuine autographs certified as genuine.
Before any story on this site is printed, usually at a minimum, three genuine experts have ruled on the facts. Should anyone have a comment on a story and can prove a story is not accurate, please email email@example.com
We would love to hear comments from our readers.
The Value of a Beckett Authentication
Recently we came across a vey poor looking forgery of Babe Ruth. Being offered in an auction. This signature was authenticated “as genuine” by Beckett and placed in a Beckett plastic coffin. Beckett Authentication # 083241973425171.
Real Deal or Scam
In the next three stories, you will decide whether the autograph hobby is in need of a third-party authenticator.
PSA/DNA “experts” decided this is a genuine signature
Did Aaron forget how to spell his name?
Now if the first example is genuine, how did this one pass?
Can you find any similarities from this one to the two above.
Here’s another example where supposedly Aaron leaves out the “”n” in Hank and part of his last name.
Here’s a strange one, just look at the “Hank”...is Arron any better
Illustrated is the last one.
Does it appear to you that all six were signed by the same hand? Which one, IF ANY do you feel comfortable and would like in your collection?
PSA/DNA charges $30 to authenticate a Hank Aaron signed ball.
Next course is Hank Aaron signed balls
Real Deal or Scam
Part Two * JSA Authentication
Let’s give JSA the benefit of the doubt, looks weird but maybe real?
You decide, you may be more accurate.
If this one above is genuine how can the first one be possibly real.
More troublesome is how can the same company say they are both genuine?
Someone at JSA decided the above two are genuine, where does the above fit in?
Doesn’t the bottom of the “H” in Hank look like an anchor of a small boat?
How about the “l” in Hank? Looks just like the “K’s” in all the other Hanks?
Put on different glasses…the “A” in Aaron is right on! Yes, let’s pass this gem as genuine.
Wow! This is very convincing. The “H” in Hank looks spot on.
One can easily see Hank took his time penning the “H.” The unsureness at the end of the “H” and that long tail at the end is convincing. This one must be the best as you can read the “ank” in Hank. Just a little troubling is the “A” in Aaron. That umbrella on top of the “A” in Aaron is a little different than all the ones we have seen thus far. Leaning toward this one has a chance at being genuine. Let’s move on.
This is getting more and more difficult. This is why we are not expert authenticators.
Nice flow with this example. Maybe he started to inscribe this baseball to “Stan.”
OOPS, Hank, you did it again, you spelt your name wrong.
But close enough to get $45.00 from the collector for an expert authentication and keep the customer happy.
Real Deal or Scam
Part Three * Beckett Authentication
Are we happy with the bowling pin looking “H” in Hank is convincing?
The “a” in Hank and the attached swirl and oversized looking small “e” has a nice flow. The small “a” in Aaron and the “euu” is just the way you want to see it. If they say it’s genuine, that’s gospel. Pay them the 50 bucks they charge. Now try to sell the ball…you may need to get a second opinion from another expert. After all there’s two more professional autograph authenticating companies to choose from and both say they are the greatest.
Let’s get by this one quickly as we can call it the Hank “Adios” signature.
Now here’s the bargain of the course. $1500. No comment on this one.
Do we believe it is self-explanatory? Another $50 in the company’s coffers.
It doesn’t have to be real just COA’D TO BE AUTHENTIC.
This is an interesting example. Wonder how long it took the experts to
authenticate this as genuine. Do you think the “expert” at Beckett called another for a second opinion. What stands out is the “g” in “Aaron.” The rest looks like ”ausn” or “ai” can’t decipher the next letter and then possibly an “n.”
Let’s just move along and call this the “Hail” and runaway signature.
Ca Ching! Another $50. How long did you have to wait to get the certificate for this ball?
And the last one has a chance…
The last top of the “H” looks like a “6.” Impressed is that little tail or flag added to the “6.” convincing is the lack of the “n” in Hank and whatever is that “c” for a “K.” Impressive the “A”in Aaron appears to be “Al.” And the rest of “aron” you go figure. That’s why you are paying an “expert” for an opinion.
Since all 18 illustrations in the three courses were all determined to be authentic by these companies.....can you even image what they may have turned down?
In conclusion you most likely have figured out that most who call themselves “experts” really have no clue how to authenticate. Why should they? Find one so-called expert who has a legitimate background in the business of autographs.
Try to find one “expert” who will discuss autograph authentication. We have tried “in writing” for several years and not a single request was responded to.
Ask yourself, why are they in hiding. The results of this course maybe the answer.
Most agree, since the creation of the so-called companies who claim to authenticate autographs, the hobby is not in a better place. Forgers have found a way to get their creations passed as genuine. Auction houses can now say, “we don’t care if its good or bad, it just needs to come with a COA.” We are off the hook!
The amount of non-genuine autographs with a COA stating the item is genuine is not to be believed. The high number of “genuine” autographs failed by the so-called experts is just as amazing.
Just to mention for the record, most so-called authenticating companies have a blacklist. If they don’t like the submitter, the item usually fails.
If they don’t like collectors or dealers who write similar articles such as this, you have no chance of getting something passed as genuine.
The only way to avoid this is don’t pay for an uneducated “guess” or “opinion.” Support the professional autograph dealers who are members of “PADAH.” Ther are over 70 of them who are not required to give a refund based on an “opinion” or “guess” from a third party company who claims to authenticate autographs. In addition to their own reference, each member has access to the largest library of exemplars in the business should they need it.
There seems to be no end in autograph authenticating screw-ups. The following is so sad as someone is playing a sick trick to a father who lost his famous daughter.
Reference Book On Muhammad Ali’s signature
The following illustration is taken from the catalog of the auction house.
“Experts” at Beckett and PSA authenticated this letter to be handwritten and signed Muhammad Ali/Cassius Clay
In this letter there are over 100 words said to be written by Muhammad Ali. Can anyone find just one word that resembles Muhammad Ali’s handwriting? There is no reason to read down to the signatures because they are in the same handwriting.
The individual who wrote this letter did not even try to imitate the handwriting of Muhammad Ali.
Some wonder how much was paid to Beckett and PSA to authenticate this item. Everyone wonders if the winning bidder, even today, knows they have a worthless letter that they paid over $3,000 plus buyer’s premium.
Eventually, they will find out after they try to sell this letter to a professional autograph dealer.
All too often atrocities in the field of autograph authentication arise. The problems with authenticating autographs by persons with little and even no background authenticating is advertised by companies as being “experts.” This following is sad and just one example of an individual at “Beckett” that has no clue what they are doing. The illustration of a boxing magazine cover, see below, has a Beckett authenticated sticker affixed to the bottom right corner. Sticker ID# G69563.
Fight Game Magazine, July 1999
First things first, it is well known in the autograph industry never to affix a sticker or otherwise deface an original item of any kind. It devalues the autograph item but in this particular case, it really doesn’t matter.
According to the autograph “expert” at Beckett, the cover of this magazine is signed by Evander Holyfield. We have to assume that the “expert” has gone to Beckett’s source of exemplars and after careful study authenticated this signature of Evander Holyfield is being genuine.
According to several genuine experts, this signature on the magazine cover is that of Bert Sugar.
Thus, the magazine is ruined, the sticker hurts it more, and authenticating the wrong person makes it ready for the trash. Some uniformed collector, bought the signed magazine and paid for a worthless authentication.
Just one more reason why over 70 members of the “PADAH” Preferred Autograph Dealers and Auction Houses are not required to issue a refund based on any opinion/guess issued by Beckett Authentication Services..
This time they messed up on a signature of Coretta Scott King. In March of 2018 Beckett guaranteed a signature of Coretta Scott King on a letter to be Beckett Guaranteed genuine. See below.
Guaranteed Genuine by Beckett
A few years later Beckettt passed as genuine a First Day cover bearing the identical signature as the letter above. This cover was selling for $484.38. Obviously a signature signed by the Autopen. See below.
Autopen Signature of King passed authentic by Beckett
Recently, bidding over on October 26, 2023 the same cover passed once before by Beckett now being offered at a reduced price of $299.95
Cover, Autopen signature of King at reduced price.
Typed letter signed dated August 28, 1968 with same Autopen signature of Coretta Scott King.
It certainly appears that Beckett does not maintain a file on signatures where they can reference past authentications with a newly submitted signature.
Interesting, cannot find on the Beckett web site any listing of the names of their autograph authenticators.
In this case more than one person paid for a bad opinion
Here's a Test, You Decide
On Muhammad Ali's Autograph
The following educational study is not to embarrass any one person or company. It’s just a short course to give everyone a chance to see how these third-party authentications operate.
Opportunity to Meet Autograph Collectors
and Praise Your Companies
For five years in a row, both Steve Grad and James Spence have been invited to an autograph authentication seminar. Not one of the two has ever responded! With all the negative talk in the press, and with the collecting public about autograph authentication, slabbing and placing foreign stickers on genuine items and in many cases on non-genuine items, once again here is the opportunity for these two who claim to be “experts” on authenticating autographs, to face the collecting public and tell their side of the story.
For the fifth year in a row, and having no responses, illustrated are copies of letters mailed a few months ago for 2024.
So you just purchased an autographed item and feel in order to try and resell it some collectors think they want to have it authenticated.
May times collectors fall into the following trap. This following item, a John Stockton basketball card was sent to JSA Authentication. What the collector paid for a JSA “opinion” is unknown but happily the item came back with a full Letter of Authenticity claiming the company’s considered “opinion” is that the signature is genuine. Whose considered “opinion” is not posted on the Letter of Authenticity.
Now, the collector is willing to spend more of his money to have the basketball card put in a plastic slab, some refer to a coffin.
On the way it goes to PSA/DNA with a check. Shocked, the item comes back as not authentic and refused to be placed in one of their plastic holders.
The collector, quite upset as he paid to purchase the card and now has paid for two “opinions.” An email from the collector says: “...Well their mistake cost me on the conflicting “opinions”....” and is looking for guidance.
Would spending more money for a third opinion be wise? After all the collector could settle for two out of three....
This is a name worth watching. Readers may remember Darvick putting out a children’s book on autographs. In one copy he wrote the following.
For years he denied forging the signatures of presidents of the United States. It took many years of pressure to finally get him to agree, in writing, that he did forge. He even listed the names of the presidents he forges. In his mind, thinking he is so good he began writing notes to Lee Harvey Oswald from Lyndon B. Johnson stating about their deal in Dallas. Darvick commented to one dealer, someday these will be worth a lot of money.
The old UACC expelled Darvick for serious reasons.
Look at a Darvick COA below. Read his qualifacations. IMPRESSED? Consultant for this, consultant for that....PSA/DNA Expert, JSA Expert, SGC Expert, CAS Authenticator......
The autograph illustrated on the COA above was sold by Darvick. We have the original document and file that goes with it in the IACC/DA library. A recent letter from a collector states the signature on this document is not original but printed. So much for the impressive qualifications of Herman Darvick.
Should collectors have something sold by Darvick in the past, double check your autographs. He may be best known for making the signatures of Shoeless Joe Jackson common.
Authenticating Autographs has been a serious problem since the early 90’s. This is about when non autograph experts began authenticating. As of today, the problem has gone from serious to a disaster. There are thousands of autographs that have been authenticated by the high-profile authenticators that have been mis-authenticated. It goes both ways. GENUINE AUTOGRAPHS ARE CERTIFED AS NOT AUTHENTIC, and forged, preprinted, secretarial and machine signed signatures are certified as genuine.
Whose to blame, the so-called authenticators found out with little knowledge of the subject how to make a quick buck. One so called authenticator once told me all you need to become an authenticator is to have pen and paper and an opinion. This fellow is now active and is a favorite amongst forgers. He once said, why turn down anything, if I did, I would usually lose that customer.
Another very high-profile authenticator (James Spence) at a Virginia Sports Show once failed my dozen signed Mickey Mantle baseballs that a customer of mine was interested in purchasing. Truth is, I stood in line years before at a Philadelphia show and paid Mickey $25 per autograph ticket. After many years passing, the balls were stored in a dark closet, some started to discolor in places while a few signatures started to bleed. It was time to sell them.
Another high-profile so called authenticator, was removed by police at a Chicago National Sports Convention for selling forged autographs to dealers. Years later when asked in Court if he was the person that did this his answer was “I don’t recall.”
Paying these incompetent authenticators $300 to give an opinion on a Babe Ruth signature is insanity. Many collectors will spend this in a heartbeat yet will spend hours debating which dryer they should purchase for about the same amount of money at Home Depot. There is somewhat of a solution.
There is 70+ professional autograph dealers that collectors can purchase from. The group is PADAH. These dealers are the best in the business and everything they sell is guaranteed genuine! Most importantly, not one of them is obliged to give a refund based on an opinion from the high-profile companies who claim to authenticate signatures. Always ask the dealer if they are a member of PADAH.
A judge said in court “...that everyone has a right to an opinion.... there’s no law against being stupid.”
On this site will be posted some of the outrageous sophomoric mistakes that were made by high profile authenticators. This site was not created to embarrass anyone. It is here to educate the international autograph community and with the hopes that someone will notice their autographs on this site and return it to the so-called expert (company) who made such a mistake and attempt to get a refund.
I clearly remember a major sports autograph dealer in Florida named Rick Kohl of Strike Zone. He always said, “I don’t care if an autograph is good or bad.” As long as one of the authenticators says it’s good, I’ll sell it.” Rick being a big supporter of the authenticating companies made sure they knew if they failed something of his, he would not use them again.
For years I have attempted to give the big three a chance in public to speak to collectors and defend their authenticating skills. All this at a hotel convenient to them at no cost to them. For over 5 years not one of them has taken me upon this project.
One of the three high profile authenticating companies has removed the names of their so-called experts and now just has a signature that cannot be identified, who is representing the authenticating team. It is impossible to find out who the person is that turned down the autograph you may have received in person.
I have said this for years: “Companies do not authenticate autographs, people do!” A person who signs a COA, is usually not the so-called expert who actually made the final decision on your submission.
Woody Allen certified authentic by Beckett (Steve Grad, lead authenticator).
ACTUALLY, this is a genuine signature of Willie Nelson.
When a celebrity passes the craziness begins with their autograph.The insanity usuallly doesn't last long. The autograph of Jimmy Buffett should be no exception.
The following autographs of Jimmy Buffett are considered genuine by experts. Study them carefully. Best way to find a genuine signature of Buffett is in one of his books. But even this is not gospel!
NOW LET’S SEE WHAT THE EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY
Average eBay seller stating this is a reproduction, is he right?
PSA/DNA disagrees. WHAT SAY YOU!
Let’s give PSA/DNA a second try….
Check above with the 5 known genuine signatures, and let’s move on.
Let’s give JSA (Jimmy Spence) a shot at it......
These are 3 of the many we had to choose from...
do any come close to the 5 originals?
Let’s see what kind of luck we have with Steve Grad of Beckett
Remember the three following below are just a sample of what we had to choose from
Who was more accurate, PSA/DNA, JSA, Beckett or? You decide...
Charges for Authenticting Jimmy Buffett