Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Superman To The Rescue

I'm happy to report that I crossed one more issue off the Action Comics WWII Cover want list.

Action Comics #60 with White Pages. It really is a great looking 5.0. I suspect the staple tear is what reduced the grade, because otherwise the book presents much nicer than most 5.0s.

Interestingly, I am the second owner of this book. It was obtained from an original owner collection in San Diego. The collection contained many other Actions, but I missed out on those other issues by one day.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Much Ado About Spidey's New Costume

So, whaddaya think of Spidey's new getup?




I'm not getting too worked up over it because it's an obvious and transparent publicity stunt... and I'm not going to get suckered in.

No one, including Marvel, really likes this new costume. In fact, I'd bet that they intentionally made it an ugly piece of crap to ensure maximum fan reaction.

They have ZERO intention of using this costume for more than 6 - 8 months. They are banking on the hub-bub with the costume change and they are banking on the hub-bub when he goes back to the original costume. If they get lucky, it'll be a slow news day on either end of the cycle and they might get a little play on the evening news broadcasts or CNN.

Think of it as "The Death of Superman Lite."

Friday, January 20, 2006

HBO Report Critical of Autograph Authenticators

From the January 19th edition of eSCD...

At least my good pal Richard Simon was one of the authenticators identified as getting it right...

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HBO's Real Sports documentary series took a look at the sports autograph industry Tuesday night, with a specific focus on autograph authenticators and questioned their ability to spot fake merchandise.

Reporter Armen Keteyian began the story by claiming that as much as half the signed memorabilia being sold online today is fake, and outlined how the FBI's Operation Bullpen program has helped arrest and convict forgers and distributors of more than a million items of fake memorabilia. One of those convicted, Sheldon Jaffe, who was identified on the program only as "Eddie," said one of the reasons forgery rings like the extensive operation headed by the Greg Marino family were able to move their merchandise so easily were certificates of authenticity that were signed by third-party authenticators.

"This was a scam like no other," Jaffe said in regards to the concept of COAs. "The only reason the forgery ring worked was we were able to find 'forensic experts.'"

Donald Frangipanni was spotlighted as the "authenticator of choice" for the forgers. Jaffe acknowledged that if they had a fake document and wanted someone to approve it, it would be directed to Frangipani. An HBO staffer with a hidden camera then took seven items with signatures from athletes such as Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Brett Favre to Frangipani's office for authentication. He approved all of the items. When confronted by HBO, Frangipani said he was simply fooled by the forgeries. "I gave my opinion on these items," he said. "If I made errors, I admit to my errors."

HBO sent the same items to six other authenticators. The report stated that four of the six "failed miserably," authenticating 15 of the 20 fake items as being real. None of those four authenticators were identified. The network said two unnamed authenticators -- those identified by logos as Richard Simon and Global Authentication -- rejected virtually all of items as fakes.

Also featured on the show was last month's $85,000 eBay sale of an Upper Deck quad-signature card featuring Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner. Jaffe claimed the Ruth and Johnson cut signatures used on the card were Marino forgeries. HBO sent images of the card to the authenticators that passed its test, as well as PSA/DNA. Both reportedly said the two signatures were likely not real. Upper Deck told HBO it stood by all of its products and said it questioned the findings of authenticators who did not examine the actual card.

After the report, Bryant Gumbel asked Keteyian if the industry was trying to standardize the guidelines of COAs. "Not everybody who gives out a COA is corrupt, but in an industry that generates billions of dollars, you would think there would be more scrutiny to these COAs and there's not," Keteyian said. "If you're at home buying one of these things on the Internet and you're not checking out where these signature and these authenticators are coming from, you're really in a buyer-beware kind of situation."

Who Is Watching The Watchmen?

I have received a tremendous response to my article, Who is Watching The Watchmen?, which ran in The Pen & Quill. In short, my article investigates a number of controversial issues surrounding third-party authenticator, PSA/DNA.

Yesterday I was interviewed by a writer from Barrons Magazine regarding my article and the matter of investing in autographs.

The writer promised to stay in touch and I will share his article when it becomes available.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Jason Ewert Book Registry

Joseph "Comicwiz" has created an online registry of books known to have passed through Jason Ewert. The database contains, CGC Serial Number, images, sales information, etc.

Kudos to Comicwiz for this valuable tool. Please contact him directly if you have additions to the registry.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ewert Trimmed JIM: Deja Vu All Over Again

A CGC Unrestored NM 9.4 Journey Into Mystery featured in the most recent Heritage Auction has been identified as the same book that was previously a CGC NM- 9.2. Apparently, the top edge has been trimmed. The previous owner confirms that he sold it to Jason Ewert when it was still a 9.2 and prior to it being trimmed.

Read about it here.

It seems to me that Jason Ewert knew the grading system well enough to be able to identify flaws that could be a) micro-fixed to improve grade .2 or better, and b) shaved away undetected. From the few examples that have gone public, it seems as though books whose primary flaw was slight fuzz on the spine corner(s) were good candidates for trimming.

Since the book in question was graded after the last Ewert trimming scandal, CGC obviously still cannot detect this trimming with consistency or accuracy.

One shudders to think just how many of these trimmed books have passed through CGC undetected.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a happy and healthy New Year! Mine started off with a great collecting bang... a piece of Neal Adams original art.

This is a convention sketch on a comic backing board from the days of yore when Adams did con sketches. Granted, it is personalized to someone else, but it is a nice sized sketch and for the price I paid, I've been told that I stole this piece. I'm going to have to go a long way to top this collecting bargain in 2006...

Neal does Conan...

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Last Pick Up of 2005

This was my last pickup of 2005... Superman Gallery signed by noted Superman artists Neal Adams, Curt Swan, George Perez, Jim Steranko, Jerry Ordway and Dan Jurgens

It was signed as part of an official signing and sold on one of the Home Shopping Networks in the early 90s. It comes with a COA from a reputable memorabilia company from New Jersey. Obviously they didn't all sell, so some guy on ebay was selling the overstock for a $7.50 Buy-It-Now. The signatures are all certainly authentic. This is quite a deal and makes a nice display piece.

I really like it when I can combine my two hobbies of comics and autographs.


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