'Buyer beware': fake Elvis and Babe Ruth autographs appear for sale

Over half of the signatures of some famous sports, historical and entertainment figures submitted in 2010 to the PSA/DNA Authentication Services of Newport Beach, California, US, were judged to be fakes. This is according to a new report issued by the firm.

Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley topped the PSA/DNA lists of "the most dangerous autographs" of the year.

"As a result of the popularity and value of many autographs, a good portion of them are forged by unscrupulous individuals," said Joe Orlando, President of PSA/DNA. PSA/DNA bills itself as being the world's largest autograph authentication and certification company and a division of Collectors Universe, Inc.

"This past year, our experts reviewed over 200,000 autographs submitted by collectors and dealers worldwide," said Orlando.

"PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries - so if our rejection rate for a particular autograph, such as Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley, approaches or exceeds 50 percent, you can only imagine how high that percentage might be in the overall marketplace," Orlando cautioned. 

Following his recent passing in 2009 at the age of 50, Michael Jackson forgeries have also flooded the marketplace in 2010, according to Orlando. "Prices for authentic Jackson autographs generally range from $200 for signed piece of paper to $1,000 or more for a signed photograph," he said.

These are the "10 most dangerous" sports autographs of 2010, according to PSA/DNA Authentication Services:

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Lou Gehrig
  3. Mickey Mantle
  4. Michael Jordan
  5. Muhammad Ali
  6. Lebron James
  7. Ted Williams
  8. Tiger Woods
  9. Kobe Bryant
  10. Albert Pujols.

"A genuine Babe Ruth autograph is valued at $3,000 to $50,000 or more depending on whether it's a signed slip of paper, or is a well-preserved baseball that only he signed," said Orlando. Presley's autograph can sell for $1,500 up to $35,000 or more if it's on a signed contract or other significant document.

At Paul Fraser Collectibles, we always advise buyers to buy autographs from reputable sellers who use independent, third-party authentication to protect their customers.

Mr Orlando agrees: "There are a lot of so-called 'deals' on the Internet, at local flea markets and even some collectibles conventions," he said. "But genuine autographs do not often come with a huge discount. Buyer beware, because you usually get what you pay for."


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