There is an old joke in this hobby that goes along these lines:
QUESTION: What are three things that an authenticator looks for when deciding if your jersey is good?
ANSWER: Cash, Check, or Credit Card.
While I can’t speak for others in this line of work, I can say that payment for an opinion does not always equate to getting the opinion you had hoped for from MEARS. We do far more than type a few lines that gives you a scanty item description and some inexplicable grade. Oh yeh, if you have an issue or question about the information on the Letter of Opinion we provide, we have our contact information on it as well. We also have an open and public forum that folks can question us on or even take us to task for an issue…all that is required is a full name and e-mail address.
The bottom line is that if you are in the business of offering opinions on sports memorabilia, you do so with the trust and confidence of the collecting public. The key word being public. MEARS is a public organization in terms of visibility and accountability. Are there others in this same line of work that have items in auctions they have offered opinions on? Must not be because there is never any mention of it from them or the auction house. If they were doing this, I am sure the public would be told right? Ever wonder why an authenticator would work for such a small fee? Is it because the fee actually has something to do with the amount of time and effort spent looking at the item, or is it that they make the bulk of their money on the items they consign? No, that can’t be it or the collecting public would have been told, right?
Back to the issue at hand, currently MEARS has over 4000 uniforms in the jersey census. For baseball jerseys alone, there are roughly 150 uniforms that have been found to have been problematic. As a follow up to the article I did on altered tagging, it was suggested to me that I list other things that collectors should be on the look out for. Here is a sample of some of the reasons that have been recorded in the comments section of the various MEARS Letters of Opinion:
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) Spalding tag added; 2) NIC tag added, original tag removed.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) team name added — appears to be “Cincinnati” originally; 2) number re-cut and re-sewn; 3) collar opened and “J. Foxx, 38” added; 4) manufacturer incorrect for the Red Sox (should be Spalding); 5) buttons incorrect for style. Possibly an original 1938 Cincinnati Reds jersey made to look like a 1938 Jimmie Foxx Red Sox jersey.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) circa 1945-55 Rawlings tag does not appear to be original to jersey; 2) embroidered name removed from tail; 3) number changed from 8 to 9. Considered a Cardinals style jersey signed by Slaughter.
-Players I.D. tag was recently applied, set in sleeves restoration, team name restoration, and player number restoration.
-Jersey exhibits all of the following inconsistencies: 1. Wilson tag made 10 years after date on shirt. 2. Jersey should have a zipper instead of buttons. 3. Strip tag is incorrect in collar. 4. Sleeve patch should be a small Indian. 5. Logo wrong length.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) NIC resewn; 2) front restored. There is no way to determine if this was originally a Yankees jersey or another jersey modified to look like a Yankees jersey.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) placket braiding and sleeve piping are not consistent with exemplars; 2) year tag is hand stitched; 3) fabric is not professional grade.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey based on the following problems: 1) the thickness of the flannel, sizing, embroidery font, and tagging design are not consistent with known exemplars and 2) five button, 2 hole front is not consistent with Spalding jerseys of the era.
-Name in collar hand sewn, on tail machine sewn. Glue under letter and numbers still new. Material (body) of jersey is wrong nap and wear. Both the “B” and “A” of the Braves font is wrong. The zipper should be Talon. Slant of Braves should be more severe. Neck opened up. Green chain stitch is wrong.
-MEARS is unable to grade this jerseys due to the following problems: 1) the manufacturer tag removed from the collar is not the size of the green MacGregor tag that should have been there — approximately the size of a Mitchell & Ness tag, 2) there is the outline of a tag on the left front tail that is the approximate size of a Mitchell & Ness tag, 3) all the letters and numbers exhibit no wear, and 4) 1966 MacGregor Pirates road jerseys had 7 buttons, this jersey has 6.
-MEARS is unable to grade this jersey due to the following problems: 1) the stitching of the NY and 15 is different, 2) the collar is opened from shoulder to shoulder, 3) the material and color of the NY and 15 are different (the 15 is too thin), 4) the team logo has been restored, and 5) the washing instructions tag should be on the outside of the jersey, not the inside.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) Wilson supplied the Phillies jerseys in 1976, not Rawlings; 2) tagged size 48, measures to size 52.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) knit fabric and texture are not consistent with exemplars; 2) flag tag design is not consistent with exemplars; 3) tag tampering evident from stitch holes near manufacturer tag. Possible value as an autographed piece.
-MEARS is unable to grade this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) simulated wear — stiff jersey fabric with worn script and numbers; 2) Wilson tag dates to 1979-86 in a supposed 1978 jersey; 3) manufacturer tag resewn; 4) strip tag in tail stitching is not consistent with exemplars.
-Numbers and “P” logo should be singe color. NIC and year/set tag not consistent with known exemplars. Size 44 Wilson tag resewn in a size 48 jersey.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) simulated wear; 2) back of neck opened to add NIC / year / set tag.
-Jersey is not gradable due to opening in neck (to add strip tag) and resewing of Wilson tag.
-MEARS is unable to authenticate this jersey due to the following inconsistencies: 1) simulated wear; 2) stitch holes in tail indicate tag tampering / removal.
In 2008, the bulk of the work being done in support of the auction house segment of this industry will not be done by MEARS. This has been an ever growing trend and largely by our choice. When evaluating the work done by anyone in this industry, consider it using the acronym G.A.M.E.R:
G: Got personal and or business contact information I can follow up with?
A: Are they also the owner of the item?
M: Mistakes. We all make them, but what do they do about it?
E: Expect them to show their work? We all hated being told “because I said so” as kids.
R: Rejects? What items have been rejected and why?
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect…and of course, Happy Holidays.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com