Authenticity & COA
We are proud of the way we do business here at Piece of the Past in regards to authenticity. After all, we have been in business over thirty years now which makes us one of the longest running autograph dealers in the world today.
In all of that time, we have not had a SINGLE complaint filed against us with the UACC (Universal Autograph Collectors Club) which has governed this fine hobby for over 60 years. Most dealers might could say they have no UNRESOLVED complaints, but we have had NO complaints.
In fact, a few years ago I was one of the three selected to rewrite the ethics rules of that organization for which I was given commendation for my works. Despite other people who have tried to portray a different story, the fact is that their “Registered Dealer” program was developed in collaboration by myself along with Tom and Cordelia Platt, renowned autograph dealers. The program has since been taken over later by other entities.
Considering the millions of dollars in merchandise we have sold over the years this is quite an achievement and one we strive towards with a two pronged approach.
First we do this by specializing. Unlike every other dealer we specialize in entertainment. The late Charles Hamilton, known as the Dean of Autographs, famously stated that it would take a lifetime for a dealer to become an expert in only ONE field. We have done just that specializing and selling only Entertainment for all of these years.
Secondly, with all of the modern signed images or pieces we sell, someone who is employed by this firm actually saw them being signed. We do NOT mail things to celebrities or buy our inventory from other dealers. We also ensure this by attending and hosting private signings. Our company has held more private signings than ANY other dealer – period. In fact the most private signings of ANY other firm in our field numbers around 150 whereas we conducted more than that in ONE YEAR! And, to date have conducted THOUSANDS of them, many exclusive to only our firm, which allowed an opening for the celebrity to start doing other signings.
To give you some history on what its like having been in business this many years in this field, let us go back in time to the early 90’s where we ran across Stan Lee who was at a comic book convention we hosted in Charleston, SC. He was sitting alone at his table with NO LINES. We knew this was the perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves and develop a lasting relationship. That same year we paid BOB KANE who created Batman three dollars each to sign some items for us… no one batted an eye. NOW Stan Lee became a big celebrity, before passing he would sign at shows with large lines charging upwards of a hundred dollars per autograph! My how things have changed.
One way we were able to conduct so many signings was by my owning the Hollywood Show in Burbank, CA. For 21 years we were the largest dealer at that show before I purchased it from the retiring owners. While I owned it I brought in the biggest names to ever do such a show in entertainment — Tony Curtis, George Hamilton, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Falk, Shannon Doherty, Cloris Leachman, Jane Russell, and the entire cast of Back to the Future including Michael J Fox PLUS the cast of Terminator to name a short list. Joan Collins first appeared with us as did Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden; the list is endless.
Even after selling the show, we still often participate and continue to bring in great names such as our recent first appearances with Teri Garr and William Daniels.
In addition to all of these private signings we have done signings NO ONE else has, which includes: Sophia Loren, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn and Ricardo Montalban to name a few. We were also the first to do a private signing and appearance in Las Vegas with Burt Reynolds. We got Erika Eleniak to first come in from Canada and sign and now like so many stars we started in this, she can be seen at shows all over the world. Our more recent signings include Tim Curry who I chased for YEARS and allowed the Hollywood Show to do a signing with and I set up the signing with Dick Van Dyke before turning it over to the Hollywood Show as well.
In the case of vintage items such as Marilyn Monroe who we and in fact NO dealer has ever seen signed, I am a recognized expert in authentication in this field which I have proven more than once in a court of law in fact, I am a court certified expert in entertainment memorabilia.
FIVE different publishers since the 1990’s have published books of mine in the field of entertainment authentication making me the most prolific writer in my field not to mention hundreds of articles and the long running column “Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries” for the now defunct Autograph Collector magazine.
For 15 years in four editions, collectors relied on my price guide in the field.
I was the ONLY dealer to do home shopping for six years with our own show called “Showbiz Collectibles” and any dealer in the field that wanted to view our inventory got to see it six hours a week on TV not to mention at trade shows which almost NO dealers in the field set up at making our inventory and practices the most transparent
But as Mark Twain once famously stated “the tallest tower is the one most struck by lightining” and especially when our economy grew more challenging the jealousy and out right lies against us became more and more prevalent. But then again Wal-Mart isn’t friends with Target either, it is to be expected.
So are we saying we NEVER make a mistake ? Surely I have, given the sheer number of items I have sold over the years. In fact I sold Clint Eastwood secretarials like EVERY other dealer until I myself interviewed him and learned of her existence and how to spot them and published it in one of my columns.
But unfortunately more than jealousy has occurred as of late — the market is being challenged by a consortium or syndicate known as third party opinionators. They grew up in the shadow of the late 90s sports fraud discovery by the FBI and prey on fear to this day. They especially flourish on EBAY (Ebay is the largest source of forgeries in the hobby today) and they remove dealers – good reputable ones – from Ebay who wont pay to have their inventory vetted or stickered as it were by them in a clear cut case of business collusion for which they are defending themselves in several lawsuits currently and under FBI investigation . Their “opinions” are worthless as they do not hold up in court and the best case scenario is you will get your opinion fee returned to you. They charge more for certain TYPES of authenticity — stickers versus letters or “Quick Opinions” where they make a quick buck looking at a SCAN of an item which of course NO ONE can do to authenticate an item.
I could go on and on but there are numerous websites out there reporting on their chicanery and we shall leave it to them and the law to decide their fate but in the meantime we now must adhere to the UACC’s own policy of NOT refunding for reasons of their opinions. We have testified against them in cases , their parent company have cheated us and infringed on our copyrights when they stopped paying us as they had for years to use OUR exemplars from MY books on their PAID site.
They believed by buying Odyssey, the company who published some of them, that they obtained them but in fact I own my own books and copyrights I only ever sold the Price Guides.
We will however happily refund any item to the original purchaser with NO time limit should any of the over three hundred individual dealers who are in the UACC registered dealer program if they state in writing, hand-signed on their letterhead, that they feel a piece we sold is not authentic. The UACC requires TWO such dealers to do so WE only require ONE.
Our certificate of authenticity is among the most counterfeited in the industry and for years, just like every other dealer in this field, we issued a COA that went along with the item usually not illustrated. These of course could be put with a forged item and passed with our COA even if they didn’t outright forge the certificate. To address this going forward, as of 2019, we have changed our COA policy to include fully illustrated letters of authenticity on ANY item we sell over $300.00 with matching tamper-proof holograms on the letter and item. On items above $100.00, we will include the fully illustrated letter but no holograms, and on items under $100.00, our normal COA red bordered cards hand-signed by CEO Kevin Martin.
I helped the former head of Ebay’s fraud division for FOUR years pull down forgeries for FREE despite the fact that they later allowed the third party opinionators to pull down ANY listing or dealer. Talk about the wolves guarding the hen house and when they pulled down routinely people who spoke out against them or refused to pay them to sticker their items Ebay became left with nearly NO reputable dealers any longer and only anonymous overnight “dealers” selling fakes. The head of their fraud division became so upset he did an in depth interview that broke in the LA times (we have copies upon request) and was then fired for speaking out by Ebay who now has NO fraud division in place.
Trust is what you get with Piece of the Past where you can sit back, relax and build a world class collection in the field of entertainment…but if you wish to have third party stickers on your items then if you submit our pieces do so without our COA since it will only cause them to flunk it as we have proven by our own investigations (proof upon request as well).
So many dealers are currently litigating against these people that changes are coming but in the meantime you can come here to Piece of the Past and Enjoy the Hobby Once again!
Piece of the Past, Inc.
Star Wares, LLC
Celebrity Connection, Inc.
Autograph King, LLC
MPress Publishing, LLC