There's probably less than a 50/50 chance autographs offered in the marketplace of Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley and The Beatles are genuine, according to a year-end report by PSA/DNA Authentication Services (www.psadna.com).
PSA/DNA has issued a consumer advisory about the "most dangerous autographs" of 2012 (www.psacard.com/MostDangerousAutographs/2012/), and the names on the list are familiar to everyone.
PSA/DNA officials caution there was a significant increase in forgeries submitted to them of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong's autograph. His death this past July sparked renewed interest and demand for items he personally signed. According to PSA/DNA, a genuine autographed Armstrong photograph can sell for $5,000 or more, a contract or letter signed by Elvis might be worth $35,000 or more and a high-quality Ruth-signed baseball could be valued at $60,000 or more.
"Whether it's the signature of a famous sports hero, an entertainment star or an important historical figure, it's important that consumers buy from reputable sellers who use credible, expert third-party authentication," advises Joe Orlando, president of PSA/DNA.
"There are a lot so-called 'deals' for autographs that can be found online, at local flea markets and even at some collectibles conventions, but most of those 'deals' are simply too good to be true. Genuine autographs do not often sell for a huge discount," warns Orlando.
In 2012, PSA/DNA experts evaluated more than 350,000 autographs submitted by collectors worldwide.
"Unfortunately, a large portion of them were forgeries. In fact, it's not uncommon for our experts to reject 50 percent or more of the signatures submitted to our company, especially when it comes to the more prominent names," said Orlando.
Among the most frequently submitted counterfeit signatures of sports stars' autographs in 2012 were:
1) Babe Ruth
2) Lou Gehrig
3) Mickey Mantle
4) Michael Jordan
5) Muhammad Ali
The "most dangerous" autographs of historical and entertainment figures the past year were:
1) Elvis Presley
2) The Beatles
3) Neil Armstrong
4) John F. Kennedy
5) Michael Jackson
"What is most startling about the number of fake autographs in the marketplace is that PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries for evaluation. So, if our rejection rate for a particular autograph approaches 50 percent, then you can only imagine how high that percentage of forgeries actually might be in the overall marketplace," cautioned Orlando.
The public can see and compare hundreds of genuine sports, historical and entertainment autographs free online at www.PSAAutographFacts.com, including examples of how a person's signature may change over the years.
"With the proper precautions and education, collectors can participate in a safe hobby environment and avoid becoming prey for unscrupulous sellers," said Orlando.