Wanted to share with you something that I read on Mearsonline at http://www.mearsonline.com
Troy gave permission to reprint it here. Thought it was worth passing a long to all of you. Mears did an admirable job being proactive in offering information to collectors and I wanted people to read about it.
If you have items from 2004 with scda or mears letters this applies to you
Collectible Classics Original Auction Lot #1 Roberto Clemente Bat
October 7 2005 at 5:33 PM Collectible Classics Original Auction Lot #1 (Login TroyKinunen)
This issue is being brought to light as if not addressed properly, an issue of confidence and credibility could arise. Per the direction of our Policy Director, information about what we feel we are doing, good or bad, should always be provided without having to be prompted. We may not always be right with an opinion, but we always want to ensure we are doing the right thing.
Recently a bat that was previously “authenticated” by us and not fully graded has come into question. The bat in question was a Roberto Clemente professional model bat, 1969-72, Louisville Slugger which was advertised as sold in the June 2004 American Memorabilia auction.
For the year 2004, auction houses had the ability to either have the bat “authenticated” meaning guaranteeing it was a professional model bat, but not assigning a grade, or “graded” meaning the complete retail letter was issued with a grade assigned.
As of June of 2004, grading was a very new concept. We had only been in business 6 months and had actually only been “grading” for about 90 days. Therefore, the auction houses did not always choose to have their item graded. Before the formation of SCDA, Dave Bushing was hired to authenticate only. The course of events point to the fact that this was the process that was done on the mentioned Roberto Clemente bat.
When Dave authenticated a bat in previous years, he would personally inspect the bat, measure, weigh and check factory records. He also checked for use and alterations. If the bat was deemed authentic, the bat was allowed to be sold. The letters were produced by the auction house, as had been standard practice for more than a decade. This was the process that was completed for the Clemente bat.
I am addressing this specific issue for the following reasons. A Roberto Clemente bat, which had a SCDA hologram, was sold in June in the American Memorabilia auction. No signed letter has been produced stating that the bat was graded, although it was reported to have been sold in their auction as an A8.5. Our records show that no grade of an 8.5 was ever issued on that bat.
Per the request of SCD the magazine, our partner at the time, American Memorabilia worked with us to produce the final Letters of Authenticity. They were in charge of printing the information provided by Dave on the letters. After the information was printed, the letters were submitted to my office. If the item had only been authenticated and not graded, I double checked the facts and was the sole signer of the letter. Dave Bushing’s signature was reserved for fully graded items only. The letter I signed guaranteed that the item was authentic and would receive a grade if later submitted. If the item was fully graded, those letters contained Dave Bushing’s signature. At no time was AMI or any auction house allowed to produce or sign letters that we did not fully inspect. Therefore, if an item had our hologram attached, Dave Bushing inspected it. No letter has been produced for the Clemente bat in question as to whether we graded or authenticated it, thus supporting the fact that the bat was asked to be “authenticated only”, no grade issued. A search on the AMI completed archive does not show the bat as being sold, although a staff member of SCD has told me the bat did appear in their published June 17th catalog. No reason for the deletion of the item from their web archives has been given. I spot-checked several other items that were authenticated by SCDA for the AMI archived web and those items were still present.
AMI was the only auction house that printed their own letters for SCDA. Please remember that before SCDA, the auction houses produced all letters of authenticity. After review of that practice, I decided that we would produce all letters at my Milwaukee office. The conflict created between myself and AMI was one of the factors that led to us no longer doing work for AMI.
The bat was submitted by John Burke. The bat was re-evaluated free of charge and the bat was deemed an A6. A worksheet and final LOA was completed.
This issue is being brought to light as if not addressed properly, an issue of confidence and credibility could arise. A member of our team has personally inspected all items that have a SCDA hologram attached. This means that the item is authentic and gradable. Starting in January 1st, of 2005, all jerseys and bats that we evaluate are fully graded. We produce all letters of authenticity and include a completed worksheet with all items. If you have an item that has a SCDA or MEARS hologram that was sold in 2005, it should have both the worksheet and final letter. In instances where these items are missing, I would immediately ask that the letter be produced or contact us with questions.
If you have an item with a hologram that was sold in 2004, either an “authentic” or “fully graded” letter should accompany it. In instances where an item is offered without the accompanying letter, please contact us directly.
In my two year involvement with SCDA/MEARS, this is the only instance of an item where the catalog description was unsupported by a matching LOA.