It is often said that something isn’t worth the piece of paper it is printed on. This age old cliché is oft used by skeptics when referring to an LOO/LOA as it regards the opinion of authenticity and game use in the area of game used equipment. We choose to use LOO (letter of opinion) in our terminology which in no way releases the writer of any professional responsibility. An opinion, one that is sought out and paid for, has a responsibility unto itself and must be both reasonable and defendable and, since it is a contract, has to have some substance. If not, then the adage referred to in the title of this piece has complete validity. It amounts to the value behind any such document.

Consider our monetary system for example. While I do not pretend to know the actual cost surrounding the manufacture and distribution of our National currency, I do believe that it probably costs about the same amount to print a one dollar bill as it does to print a hundred dollar bill. The only real difference between them being the design but what truly makes one more valuable than the other is the backing of the United States government that says, in essence, that the value of each bill is backed by the Treasury of the United States and that the full purchase power of a twenty dollar bill and that of a one dollar bill will be supported only to the amount so printed on that particular bill. The true value of the bill is neither questioned nor contradicted by any vendor who accepts such bills as payment for either goods or services. But what if you are stuck with a counterfeit bill, one that looks like US currency, is printed in a very similar style as US currency but in this case, once found out, is worth less than the proverbial paper it is printed on. The main difference is that the counterfeit currency is not backed by the Federal government and as such, has no value at all regardless of what the printing says.

Insurance companies issue policies that protect the financial future of just about every working person in the US. If the policy is backed by a sound parent company, then when disaster strikes, you will be compensated for any personal losses. But if the company which whom you have placed your trust is not a sound company, when you go to collect any losses, you may find yourself wishing for something that isn’t there. The difference is once again the power behind the piece of paper, not the actual paper, neither of which has any more value than the other as it is presented. Both policies look the same, promise the same remunerations, and have similar legal jargon contained within the pages of a policy.

When buying stocks and bonds, investors pour over the financials that are usually provided by the brokers or businesses themselves. On paper, a company may appear to be a solid investment yet many turn out to be less than presented. A good sound investment firm will ensure that the financials provided to their customers are solid and the research into these companies well defined. By providing this service, they ensure that their customers will get the best knowledge currently at hand and can thus make a wise investment decision based on the numbers printed on a piece of paper because the knowledge and confidence in those numbers is well deserved. On the other hand, a few figures placed in the wrong column by an unscrupulous accountant or broker can lead to financial disaster. Paper, figures, opinions, but with what merit. Is there any accountability?

Paper, we place our lives in jeopardy every single day based on pieces of paper. Work orders, shipping orders, applications, orders for goods, receipts, tax forms, drivers license, marriage, birth certificates, passports, and the list goes on and on.

It once again comes back to not only what is printed on a piece of paper but to what lengths the person or persons issuing the piece of paper are willing to go to make sure that it does indeed have value based on the research and resources behind this piece of paper.

The moral here is simple. While some printed matter is not worth the price of the paper it is printed on, many things are. They are because they have substance. To make a blanket statement that any Letter of Opinion on a piece of game used equipment is worthless is at the very least ill informed. If you do not feel the need for such paper, much like an expert financial professional does not need help deciphering a company’s assets; many persons do need such help, then by all means, use your better judgment but many collectors have neither the time, resources nor personal to tackle any in-depth study of the matter and as such, rely on such experts as they themselves feel comfortable. This is no better or worse than the do it yourselfer but to pass an all encompassing opinion on an entire industry based on few who do not suffer the pangs of diligence and research is unjustified. An LOO, or a grade for that matter, has a basis for an opinion based on a physical examination and then an opinion or conclusion is rendered. If you know of a fact that is not included in the final opinion, make it known but do so in the context of shared experience and make it factually based and not related to emotion or personal interests. Every letter ever written is not created equal. There are letters out there on some autographs that I wouldn’t ever add to my collection and then there are those whose opinion and process I respect. I don’t know autographs, I don’t know comic books, but if I was to add one to my collection or inventory, I will base my buying decision on firms I feel qualified to render an opinion or I will not buy them at any price. A good deal on a bad item is no deal at all. If I am not qualified to make a purchase based on my own experience, then I must rely on person/s that I trust. Examine the facts and hold those that issue opinions accountable for such opinions but do not paint with such a wide brush as to obscure a good painting with a bad one.

David Bushing