Some collectors love nothing more than to have a player provide an autograph with an inscription on their item. For me, I have never been a fan of this. Regardless of what I personally like or dislike, it does happen and it is a topic worth discussing since it has bearing on the evaluation process.
When evaluating a game used item that is autographed and also possess some inscription, any number of things have to be considered individually and collectively. They are the item itself, the autograph/inscription, and the player in question as all of them have a direct impact on what the item is or is not or may be.
The Item: No matter what the story or the inscription; any bat, glove, jersey etc… is what it is. By this I mean the item must always stand on its own merits. It must first be evaluated and an initial opinion formed as to what it is, almost as if the autograph and or inscription was not present. A player writing “game used,” “my gamer,” or anything else can never make an item into something it is not.
The Autograph or Inscription: The value to a piece bearing a player’s autograph and or inscription must also be evaluated on its own merits. One question that must be answered with some degree of certainty is did the player actually write what is on the item? If so, how do we know this? There are any number of autograph authentication services who are willing to offer an opinion for a fee. I imagine the best evidence would be a picture of the player actually signing the item, as long as you have some degree of certainty the item in the photo and the one on hand are one in the same. For MEARS, since we do not offer an opinion on autographs as a matter of course, we should identify those authentications services whose opinions we are comfortable accepting.
Another aspect deserving of consideration is the nature of the inscription itself. Some players will sign items with a particular inscription relating to some event of prominence such as “ 1961 World Series” or “1985 MVP”. Does this mean that the item was in fact used in the 1961 World Series or during the 1985 season? In my book and at face value, it does not. This relates back to what the item is or is not without the inscription.
Another facet worth considering is whose idea was it to add the particular notation on the item? Although it really has no bearing on what the item is or is not, it does deserve some attention. Was the inscription suggested by the fan because that’s what they wanted? Was it done by the player because that’s just what he does? Did the item come from the player and the inscription is based on his recollection or remembrances? This takes us to final area of consideration, the player themselves.
The Player: Sad to say, but memory is one is one of the first things to go as you get older…there are of course others, but I can’t remember what they are at this time. Older players are often found parting with items from their playing days long after their playing days are over. Are their recollections of the item and event always reliable? Maybe and maybe not….this once again underscores the importance of deciding what the item is before hand.
Even if the item, such as glove could have been period correct, is it the same one used in the event as described by the inscription? Was the intent of the inscription to place it to that event or simply to conjure up warm memories of the “Glory Days?” Folks, please don’t put aged player in an uncomfortable situation that could compromise their legacy and dignity by asking them to write something they in fact may not able to confirm. It really seems to be a mixed bag on this as some players will write anything and others will swear the item was never used by them, even when there is very reasonable evidence to suggest otherwise.
The 800 lb Gorilla in the room rests on the notion that maybe there are certain players whose word just should not be taken at face value. In my mind, this would be based off of previous misconduct and goes directly to issues of character. This problem is further compounded when they player of less than stellar character is directly involved in marketing and selling their own memorabilia.
As written or current jersey worksheet has the“Property of” documented team stamps can add up to 5 points. In addition, the current version also reads “Player autographed documentation, i.e. “My Gamer” add 5 points. This, like the first example should read “can add up to” and I have asked that this be corrected on the next printing. Before any points are added, the MEARS evaluator must answer these questions and it is my desire and intent to make this policy.
1. What is the item in question without the autograph and annotation?
2. Was the autograph and inscription on the item actually written by the player and how do I know this?
3. What serves as the basis to either accept or question the inscription based on what I both know about the item and player?
If you can’t objectively answer these questions, then how can you objectively award points? Our processes and procedures have been developed with this goal in mind….Don’t take our word for it, see it for yourself…why should this step in the evaluation process be any different for anyone else.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com