Oct. 26, 2011
A new auction house appears to have entered the fray and their wares have caught the eye of many seasoned collectors who are calling out most of their vintage and rare autographed materials as outright forgeries.
Colossal Auctions of Fairview, Michigan, operates a website that fails to list the names of the principals of the business, but offers items allegedly signed by big names like Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cap Anson and Eddie Plank. The auction house is offering signed baseballs, letters, Christmas cards and cut signatures galore from Hall of Famers that would surely command big bucks if they were genuine.
Close inspection of each of their offerings reveals that collectors are correct in deeming the lots included in this Coach’s Corner-esque sale as bonafide fakes. Here’s a sampling of the items we found most disturbing:
1. A letter alleged to have been written to August Herrmann by Christy Mathewson in 1916. Not only is this letter a forgery, it is a forgery of a letter, that if genuine, would have been stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s famous August Herrmann Papers archive. The HOF’s collection features all of the correspondence between Herrmann and Matty while he served as the Reds manager. Looks like this forger hit into a double-play.
Here is a genuine Matty letter written to Herrmann that was stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s famous August Herrmann Papers archive housed at the National Baseball Library. This authentic letter was sold by Barry Halper at his 1999 Sotheby’s sale and is currently the #9 entry on Haulsofshame.com’s “10 Most Wanted Missing National Baseball Treasures List.”:
2. This forged Cap Anson letter also appeared on the current Colossal Auctions website:
Here is what an authentic Cap Anson letter actually looks like on Anson’s own letterhead :
3. This forged Ty Cobb letter appears in the current Colossal sale:
This is an authentic letter hand-written by Ty Cobb in his signature green ink:
While the major authentication companies would likely never certify these items and they would never make their way into one of the major auctions, Colossal does share at least one authentication with JSA and PSA. Like Hunt Auctions and others, Colossal is offering a copy of Christy Mathewson’s Won in the Ninth as bearing an authentic Matty signature although it is believed to have been ghost-signed by someone other than Mathewson.
The auction items pictured in this article were shown on the Colossal website earlier this week but it appears that, while most all lots are still open for bids, the images of the items have been removed from the site. It also appears that the Mathewson and Anson letters have vanished from the site. The images of the items were saved from the Colossal website before they were removed.
In regard to the authenticity of their items Colossal states on their website:
“Our own in-house examination starts out with a reference library of genuine quality exemplars as a basis for comparison. Then, under standard 600% magnification, we look for tell tale signs of stoppage of pen stroke, gaps, or uneven flow. We use standard examination criteria during the review. We have a strong reputation for identiying when something is not right. With our experience, expertise, and knowledge, we will render a fair, unbiased opinion. If we agree and concur that, in our opinion, the signature we examined is deemed authentic based on our parameters of acceptability, we will then offer that item for sale along with our COA. Our full refund guarantee and return policy for autographs purchased from us allows us to make genuine quality high-end autograph memorabilia available at reasonable prices for collectors everywhere.”
Veteran dealer and authenticator Richard Simon summed up the appearance of Colossal Auctions best on Net54:
“This business and website is one of the stranger things in this hobby/business and that is saying something.”