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 Autographed Items

Autographed items

Items that bear an autograph of a famous person are fun and often highly prized collectibles, and may be listed on Half.com. Buyers and sellers should exercise caution and keep a few important guidelines in mind, though, when buying or selling in this area.

Since an autograph can be created in seconds with only a pen and some paper, buyers and sellers should always be wary when dealing with autographs unless they personally witnessed the signature, or have some other reliable means of establishing the item's authenticity. Forgers have cropped up and introduced fake autographs into the market, and both buyers and sellers should take it on themselves to educate themselves thoroughly about an autographed item before buying or selling it on Half.com. Half.com has sought out qualified experts in the autograph field and made them easily accessible to users -- buy smart and take advantage of these services by clicking here.

Half.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to remove any autographed item listed on its site, if Half.com believes that the listing of the item is inconsistent with Half.com's goal of providing a safe marketplace, or if in its sole discretion Half.com believes that the sale of the item might create liability for the buyer, the seller, or any third party.

To promote a safe market place for autographs, Half.com strongly recommends that all autograph sellers include in their listings all relevant information known about the autograph and the item it appears on, including a clear scanned image of the actual autographed item for sale. Sellers should also clearly set out their refund policy should any reputable dealer (including those dealers listed in the relevant authentication section of Half.com's site) find that the item is likely not authentic. If a seller promotes that an autograph comes with a "certificate of authenticity," the seller must include in the listing all relevant information about the certificate, including the name of the person or company issuing the certificate. Listings that do not comply with this requirement may, at Half.com's discretion, be removed from the site.

A note on certificates of authenticity

Many members may have heard about a recent federal investigation by the FBI and United States Attorneys' Offices in San Diego and Chicago into forgeries of sports autographs and certificates of authenticity that may have been falsely issued in connection with sports autograph sales. Pending the outcome of that case, Half.com will not permit any use of certificates of authenticity on its site that have been issued by "SCAA", "J. Dimaggio Co.", "Universal Inc.," "Universal Memorabilia," "Sports Management Group," "Stan's Sports," "Pro Sports or Pro Sports Memorabilia," "Dave Niedema a.k.a. Dave Madiema," "Steve Ryan," "North Shore Sports," or "Hollywood Dreams". Any listings that refer to examinations or certificates of authenticity from these companies will be not be allowed.

Further, in an unrelated matter, Half.com has learned that hundreds of certificates of authenticity originally issued by autograph authenticator Donald Frangipani have been fraudulently copied or altered. Until further notice, Half.com will not permit any use of certificates of authenticity on its site that have been issued by Donald Frangipani. Listings that refer to examinations or certificates of authenticity from Mr. Frangipani will not be allowed.

Finally, in an unrelated matter, Half.com has learned that forensic examiner Robert Prouty and a company known as Forensic Document Services caused a number of certificates to be issued based upon only limited, "cursory" reviews of autographs. Based upon information from the N.Y. Department of Consumer Affairs, federal law enforcement and Mr. Prouty, it appears that these limited reviews were not sufficient to provide meaningful assurances about the authenticity of the autograph. As a number of items issued with such certificates may be forgeries, Half.com will not permit any such limited certificates of authenticity issued by Robert Prouty or Forensic Document Services to be used in any way on eBay. Any listings that refer to examinations or certificates of guarantee or authenticity from Mr. Prouty will not be allowed.

More about certificates of authenticity

Certificates of authenticity ("COAs") can help establish the bona fides of a particular autograph, or can give a buyer certain rights if the item is later determined to be a forgery. Not all certificates provide meaningful protection, though. Carefully review the information in the certificates for at least the following information:

  • Who issued the certificate?

  • Does the certificate state that it was issued at the same time the item was signed? If so, how can you confirm that the information in the certificate is accurate, and that the certificate matches the item you're purchasing?

  • If the certificate was issued after the item was signed, does the issuer of the certificate have any particular expertise that qualifies him/her to give an opinion about the autograph? Does the expert have scientific forensic training, or are they experienced in dealing with this particular celebrity or autograph? What is the relationship between the seller and the issuer of the certificate?

  • Does the certificate give the buyer any rights? If a qualified expert later declares that he item is a forgery, can the buyer get a refund? Is there any time limit?