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Sports memorabilia has tremendous sentimental value. Card collections, trophies, and jerseys are often your pride and joy. Unfortunately, not all sports memorabilia is genuine. People order items online believing they are original, only to discover their fakeness later.

The goal now is to use technology to guarantee sports memorabilia authenticity in a way that prevents fraudsters from duping people. End-to-end digital authentication technology offers the promise of fraud-proof distribution.

This post explores how to get a sports memorabilia certificate of authenticity. Here’s what you need to do:

Getting A Sports Memorabilia Certificate Of Authenticity

To determine if your sports memorabilia is genuine, you’ll need to get a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) from an autograph authentication company. This document guarantees that the item is real. Professionals examine your items using a variety of inspection techniques and by consulting databases and then send you a certificate based on their findings.

The process of obtaining a COA can be time-consuming. You may need to wait several weeks or months. In some cases, the autograph authentication company won’t be able to identify whether the item is fake or not but you will still need to pay the fee.

If you are trying to obtain a COA, here’s some advice:

Keep Your Receipts And Other Documents

To increase the likelihood of getting a COA to prove your sports memorabilia authenticity, make sure that you keep all photos, documents, and receipts relating to the item. Getting a detailed receipt from a reputable dealer is the best strategy since authentication companies are likely to take these seriously. Also, keep any contemporaneous photos of the item when you bought it or it was produced to provide some historical context (if available).

If you inherited an item, write down as much as you can about it. Find out from your next-of-kin where and when they got it. Look for any documents providing additional details that might help your COA application case.

Find Experts In The Field

Next, you’ll want to reach out to experts in the field and obtain a letter of authentication from them. If your case is weak (that is, you don’t have many supporting documents for your item), you’ll want to approach multiple authenticators. Like all professionals, different experts have varying skills, knowledge, and understanding of items. What you want is someone who really understands your particular area (say, baseball cards) and can help tell you if the item is real or not.

Contact Reputable Dealers

If that doesn’t work and you don’t get the results you want, consider contacting reputable dealers instead. Collectors, dealers, and other people familiar with authentic sports memorabilia will sometimes officially support your claim that an item is genuine. Having a letter or document from them stating the provenance of an item is often enough to convince most buyers (if you plan on selling).

Research Online

Some people also research online to find out whether their sports memorabilia is genuine. However, most experts recommend not using this approach. While the internet is a repository of information, it is sometimes inaccurate, misleading, or downright false.

What About Digital Certificates Of Authenticity?

Paper certificates of authenticity are just as prone to forgery as items themselves. That’s because fraudsters will sometimes certify a real item and then sell the fake along with the certificate.

For that reason, firms like Authena are developing brand-new digital COAs that are nearly impossible to defraud. These use a raft of new technologies to ensure that both buyers and sellers are both fully aware of what they are trading, including:

  • Blockchain
  • NFTs
  • IoT devices such as encrypted NFC tags

This combination of technologies allows brands and players to authenticate sport memorabilia at the source, preventing tampering attempts and protecting future resells.

How To Tell If Your Sports Memorabilia Is Authentic

Before you authenticate an item using the authentication industry, it’s a good idea to do some research into whether it is genuine or not. There are many fakes out there, so you too could be a victim.

First, check whether you bought from a trusted dealer. Dealers who care about their reputation employ sophisticated techniques to avoid selling fake items.

If you did buy from a trusted dealer, you can usually move to the authentication stage straight away. If you didn’t, then you’ll want to look for additional authenticity verification. For instance, did the memorabilia come with a COA? Are there any other supporting photographs or documents you can refer to?

Lastly, only work with honest and trustworthy dealers who can give you frank advice about items in your collection. If they avoid probing questions, don’t use them.