George Harrison

Certificates (COAs) are easily the most misunderstood area for the ill-informed autograph buyer. It is vitally important to remember that any COA is only ever as good as the issuer. 



“Who can I trust and how do I know its genuine?”


Almost all dealers issue a COA irrespective of who they are or whether an item is genuine. On close inspection many of these certificates do not have proper descriptions, images or even the seller’s contact details on them. Remember anybody can set up as an autograph dealer overnight and anybody can issue / print off a COA without a grain of experience or knowledge. COAs issued by these types of unregistered, unregulated dealers are completely worthless and would not stand any expert scrutiny at all. If a seller is knowingly selling forgeries, he will feel no shame issuing bogus certificates.


Standard COAs issued by dealers are often worded as follows: “In our opinion” or “full lifetime money back guarantee if this item can be proven not to be as stated”. Many questions might arise from statements like these:


* How do I prove an item is not authentic: Do I go to an expert / How do I find him / How do I know he is / Will his expert opinion be definitive and invalidate another expert’s opinion / Who can I trust / Is he the best etc etc ?????  


* How much is authentication: There really are very few genuine experts out there prepared to put their knowledge to the test and whose opinion might sufficiently be respected to prove decisive in any litigation. You would expect to be paying a percentage of value or £50 and upwards per item for a detailed report.


* Be aware that photographs from in-person signings could have been previously posted online or used on many occasions.


* Holograms are useful to match an item with a certificate and to ensure the autographs have not been tampered with. However they offer no proof that the original autograph was ever authentic. 




A COA is only as good as the issuer. It is NO guarantee in itself of authenticity. Its main purpose is to act as a reassurance to the buyer and a record of where a purchase was made. Most COAs do not stand up to detailed scrutiny. Many of the worlds most established and best known dealers do not even issue them, preferring to simply reimburse any customer who might express any sort of dissatisfaction with a purchase.  Reputation is king and the modern use of social media can damage something that might have taken years to gain.