In my second of a two part series on understanding the purpose of the MEARS worksheets, I will dissect the jersey worksheet line by line to offer up some information that may help you make an educated purchase using this worksheet as your buying guideline.
Just like the bat worksheet, the first few lines cover date, hologram number (for all future reference) submitter info, date, era, and title. Next comes the manufacturer identification, such as Spalding, Wilson, Rawlings, etc, with boxes for each maker to be checked. The correct box is checked, which is pretty cut and dry and needs no further explanation.
The next category, described “Issued as,” is to identify the issue type of shirt, either Home or Road along with Alternate, All Star, Old Timers, and special Sunday jerseys. “Style of shirt” refers to one of three common styles or designs of the jersey like button down, zipper or pull-over. You will find a combination pull –over and lace up in early baseball shirts, also a popular design on early hockey shirts, but because we evaluate so few, it is a “write in” category.
This is followed by the “Worn During” category, boxes titled for when the jersey may have been worn (Regular Season, All Star, World Series, Finals, Barnstorming, etc). Again, fairly self-explanatory.
Material can get a bit tricky with some of the new fabrics as well as some of the combination material jerseys used to make some football shirts. For baseball, you have either a knit or flannel jersey with some experimental shirts. Football jerseys are usually dureen, mesh, or a modern combination. Basketball has added the dry fit material that is now very popular. After the above evaluations, we record number and style of buttons as well as color. All of the above are fairly simple and straightforward observations and are seldom-controversial determinations as they relate to basic construction and are purpose driven.
The first major subcategory is labeled as “Tagging Examination” just as the name implies, it is a full study and trend analysis in which tagging, one of the most, if not the most important issue when studying a jersey is evaluated. Tagging is vital as it can pinpoint a date or refute it. Re-sewn tags may be an indicator of a fabricated jersey. We use our extensive data -base to compare tagging for consistency and originality in order to ensure that the tag in a shirt matches the era for which it was supposedly manufactured. In this section, the position of the tag is duly noted for comparison, which includes laundry tags, mfg. tags, year tags, and personal player id (strip) tags. Each shirt is measured both in the chest as well as length for future comparisons as well as to determine whether a shirt matches the listed size, another factor in determining if tags may have been switched.
Next, we look for evidence of a player id tag and its location. Not all shirts have id tags but if they exist, they are examined, compared and recorded. This is followed by determining the year of issue which in most cases can be pin- downed to a single season but must sometimes, due to lack of a year tag or shirts which have remained unchanged for several seasons, be listed using the term ‘circa’ which indicates a five year spread in either direction but may be narrowed to within two or three years. A year or strip tag can usually be found, but not always, indicating the year if tied to a single season. Older shirts are found with year tags, but Russell is one of the newer shirts that often does not mark their shirts with any year.
Set tags is the next category to cover, these can usually be found either on a small flag tag or included in a strip tag together with other pertinent information such as year, player number and uniform size. Each tag is examined for originality, era of manufacture and consistency with other recorded examples.
TEAM LETTERING is simply the name or logo that represents the team as affixed to the front of the shirt such as Chicago, Orioles, etc. We measure, record and check for changes, font, drop, size, etc, as compared to our data-base. This is followed by PLAYER NAME. This pertains to the name on back of the shirt, a style which came into vogue in the 1960’s. Some teams such as the Cardinals have had names on the back of their shirts since the early 1960’s while teams like the Yankees still do not have any player names sewn to the back of the shirts. In our evaluation, each player name is recorded, examined for originality, noted whether sewn directly to shirt or applied on a nameplate, measured, and compared to known exemplars in our database. PIPING, the contrasting material around the edges of a shirt, is reviewed for wear, originality, etc. Originality of the TEAM LOGO/LETTERING is also determined.
NUMBERING is the uniform number found either on the front, back or both sides of a jersey. Again, this is checked for originality against our database. Question we address are: Is the number original to this player? Has there been a number change? What is the size of the numbers? We also check backing for font style and drop (how far down the shirt the logo is applied) along with the material used in the manufacturing of the logo.
PATCH is a category to note any patches that have been applied to the sleeves such as the league wide 1942 Health patch, 1939 patch, 1969 patch, etc, as well as the team issued logo patches such as those found on the Cubs or A’s jerseys. Next we examine the stitch or sewing patterns such as zigzag (the most common where each stitch comes to a point), straight stitch, pull thru, etc. We also compare to other jerseys in our database to be sure that this example matches other known examples. This can only be done when a company, like MEARS, has a large enough database to compare each measurement.
We make note of any autographs, along with location and writing tool used. WEAR characteristics are examined along with any provenance that may have been provided. That is the majority of categories covered by the front side of the worksheets.
On the reverse of the worksheet, there is a section where Alterations can be noted. This includes legitimate alterations along with tampering, missing tags, excessive wear, questionable use/wear, restoration, name and or number changes. Any single issue or combination of problems listed in this section results in deducted points in the final calculation.
A large section is reserved on the worksheet for the authenticator to list comments he deems important to understanding the item. The worksheet also depicts a drawing of a shirt, both front and back for any detailed issues. Finally, we have the final grading for which each shirt is assigned a base grade and then points are added or subtracted based on our evaluation and comparison with known examples or records. Points deducted would be a result of number changes/restorations, stains, tears, or any perceived problems with a jersey.
We use an entire half a page to list each potential problem along with the points assessed to each flaw. By taking a base grade of 5 (post 87) and a base grade of 10 (1987 or earlier), noting any problems with the correctly assigned points for each flaw and subtracting these points from the base grade, we arrive at the final grade.
If each phase is done correctly and contains all of the necessary information and research notes, the person grading does not need to rely on his/her previous knowledge of an item to assign a grade. As a result of our accurate process, the risk of error is diminished almost entirely. After the examination, the final worksheet points are tallied and a well informed grade is assigned. This research is backed by photographic study, records, etc.
When filling each “field” on a game used jersey worksheet, traits are examined the same way every time. This results in a full examination of a piece up to and including a photo analysis and comparison study of the item. While it sounds as if the system might operative itself, that is not the case since the system is constantly updated to embrace any important changes.
I hope that next time you are examining a work sheet or letter, you carefully review the details contained in the letter. Look for consistency in any LOA . Until next time,