Sports Memorabilia 

Collecting sports memorabilia and sports related items is very popular with sports enthusiasts.  Collectors purchase everything from signed commemorative photos, baseballs, basketballs, footballs, jerseys and pucks.  If you go online and research companies selling these products you will find there are more than 4 million businesses. 

Fraud is sure to appear when you have so many eager and gullible customers for the sports related items.   In the United States the sports memorabilia for baseball and football are the most popular.  Some famous hockey players like Bobby Ore and Wayne Gretzky are also popular with collectors.  When items are popular and selling well they are prime targets for forgery. 

Using some common sense can help you avoid a lot of the fraud.  There are numerous items available both on and off the internet.  If an item such as a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth is offered for $500 it is obviously a fake.  This price is unbelievable low, much too low for the real market. 

A few years ago, the FBI arrested a couple dozen people and closed a warehouse with 10 million dollars’ worth of forged sports merchandise.  This was a professional criminal organization that forged and sold bogus autographs. 

It helps to know a little something about the development of pens and baseball.  If you find a baseball supposedly signed in the 20s or 30s with Sharpie pens these are, of course, fake.  Sharpie pens had not been invented in the 20s or 30s.  If you encounter a Bobby Brown American League President baseball with a Babe Ruth signature it is a fake.  Brown was president of the American League in the early 80s so that ball could not have a legitimate Babe Ruth signature. 

Fraud is so pervasive in the sports memorabilia market that you run a greater than 50% chance that an item said to be signed by a famous athlete is fake.  Forgers can fake certificates of authenticity just as easily as they fabricate the collectible item so there is no protection. 

Sophisticated forgers can produce holographic seals which appear to be real on casual inspection.  The more sophisticated the anti-forgery system, the less likely forgers are to attempt to copy any item since most forgers are amateurs. 

Vendors are fighting to maintain the integrity of the sports memorabilia market.  Disney, owner of ESPN, will auction signed sports memorabilia online.  They will authenticate the signatures with holograms encrypted with identifying information for the item and package seals, videotaping the entire process. 

Collecting and owning sports memorabilia and sports related items is enjoyable and fun.  If you plan to collect these items you need to keep in mind and follow the motto that says buyer beware.  If you are not someone who knows how to authenticate merchandise then don’t buy an item strictly for its potential resale value.  You may be disappointed to learn later the item is not worth nearly as much as you imagined.  Purchase an item you like and plan to keep.  Unless someone you know who is knowledgeable and trustworthy has authenticated the value of the item do not spend thousands of dollars This way you can avoid lingering doubt that you have wasted a large sum of money for something of dubious value and you can be happy with your purchase.