What is 3rd Party Autograph Authentication? What is JSA or PSA?

Every week it seems we get questions if we authenticate autographs.  We do not, however, there are 2 companies available that do offer this service.  In this post, we will outline, who those companies are, what they do, how they do it, and the benefits and downfalls of each.

So who are these companies?

First is James Spence Authentication, also known as JSA.  JSA is located in New Jersey.  Here are some examples of items we sell authenticated by JSA.

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James Spence Authentication

Second is PSA/DNA, which is located in California.  Here are some examples of items we sell authenticated by PSA/DNA.

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PSA/DNA Authentication

What these companies do once they receive your item, is they compare the autograph on your item to “known” authentic signatures.  They check the slant, size, spacing, curves, etc.. of the autograph to make sure it closely matches the “known” authentic signatures.  If all checks out, a certificate of authenticity is given.  An autograph authenticated by JSA or PSA/DNA holds heavy weight in the sports memorabilia industry and can increase its value tremendously.

JSA LOA example,letter of authenticity

JSA LOA Example

The downfall of this process is of course it is done by a human being.  No human being can be 100% accurate in certifying autographs.  Also, many of the employees checking your autograph are in most cases not hand writing experts, just collectors like you and me who know an autograph when they see it.  That is why when you receive your certificate of authenticity it states “In the opinion of…”

Another downfall to this process is the fact that most autographs are obtained “in-person” meaning the collectors gets the athlete or celebrity to sign their item at a restaurant or outside of a bar.  These signatures are often signed quickly and not on a flat surface.  Typically the “known” signatures are from a private, sit down signing where the athlete takes the time to sign the item on a flat surface.  Makes it very difficult to authenticate an “in-person” autograph.  While these autographs may or may not pass a JSA or PSA service, it does not necessarily mean they are not legit autographs.

JSA and PSA also offer an “in-person” services, meaning a representative from JSA or PSA will attend the next autograph signing with your favorite athlete and personally witness him or her signing all the items from that signing.  JSA and PSA will then apply their hologram # to your item and issue a “Witness” certificate of authenticity, meaning a JSA or PSA representative was present for the autograph signing.  This is the BEST authenticity one can have as it takes all the guess work out of authenticating an autograph.

They also offer game used authentication.  Meaning they can authenticate whether or not your item was game used by that athlete.  Auction houses such as Sotheby’s use their services all the time.

Powers Autographs personal favorite is JSA, simply because they are closer to our location and tend to return our items within about 2 weeks, where as PSA is about 4-6 weeks.

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