What You Should Know Before You Shop for Comic, Movie or Sports Memorabilia

NBC 7 Investigates has a list of tips you should consider before buying comic-book, movie or sports memorabilia.

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If the sale price is too good to be true, then it probably is. Experts say you should research the average market value or price of the item ahead of time. Websites like E-Bay can be a good starting point for finding the right price range.


Look into the background of all sellers, including sellers that have a lot of advertising or auction houses.

Be cautious of sellers with non-refundable policies. Most sellers that are legitimate will allow returns if the item doesn’t pass tests from reputable authenticators.

A photo of the talent signing the item doesn’t guarantee authentication, only in-person autograph sessions can ensure authenticity 100-percent.

General statements about “estate sales” or “insiders” acquiring memorabilia should be seen as red flags.


A certificate of authenticity is only as authentic as the person who signed it. Certificates of authenticity should include the authenticator’s name, address, telephone number and company name so that you can call and confirm it’s real.


Signatures are rarely perfect or perfectly positioned. Feel the ink by running your hand over the signature, the ink has texture but mass produced signatures do not.

Autographed items should include the date when the item was signed. If the talent has already died, confirm that the item was signed prior to the date they died.

There is no way to confirm the authenticity of an autograph unless you have several others to compare it to. Flipping it upside down and comparing it to authentic autographs can expose subtle inconsistencies.

Be wary if you see duplicates of an autographed item for sale. Authentic sellers typically don’t have a large number of products autographed and experts say signing the same way twice is nearly impossible.

Cut out the middleman. Purchasing directly from the talent’s autograph company or a company they have a signed contract with reduces the chance of buying fake merchandise.


Autopens are machines made to autograph. Autopen signatures end on noticeable dots and have inhuman straight lines.

Stamps are also used to replicate autographs. Autographs from stamps will be significantly heavier on the outsides of the lines due to pressure.


Never accept a copy of a certificate of authentication.

Never privately bid with the seller. Most reputable sellers would want to show high bids in exchange for their legitimate product. If it is not public, you might be bidding against yourself.

There should be consistency in any supporting materials with a product. For example, if the merchandise is from Japan, tags and other documentation should be in Japanese.


Impulsive purchases can lead to regrets. Research the item you want to purchase thoroughly online. Going to the official websites can provide potential buyers with pictures, descriptions, dimensions and even where to purchase.

Research the seller you want to purchase from. Before purchasing from them, search for Google or Yelp reviews or ratings from the Better Business Bureau.

It is important to verify the circumstances and history of how it was signed or came to be but know that sellers will often do or say anything to make a sale.

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