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Authentication FAQ

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to find useful information about authentication.

Q. What are the four types of expertise available?


  1. Authentication determines whether an item is genuine and described accurately. Because of their training and expertise, experts can often detect counterfeits from subtle details. The down side: two authenticators may differ in their opinion about the very same item.

  2. Grading determines the physical condition of an item, such as "poor quality" or "mint condition." The grading system depends on the type of item being graded. For example, trading cards are graded from A1 to F1, while coins are graded from poor to perfect uncirculated.

  3. Verification confirms the identity and evaluates the condition of an item. There are various methods used in verification. For instance, some collectors have their items tagged for identification purposes. This provides a way of tracking changes in ownership of an item.

  4. Appraisal estimates the value of an item. Appraisers use many methods including assessment of authenticity and condition. Appraisers also keep up with the latest on what comparable items have sold for in recent months. Appraised values are accurate at the time of appraisal but can change over time as items become more or less popular.

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Q. Why should I use an expert? I know a lot about what I collect already.

A. When large amounts are involved, or when an item for your collection is really important to you, you may wish to consult an expert for confirmation of your own good judgement.

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Q. Who uses appraisers—bidders or sellers ?

A. Both. Sellers can make their goods more attractive by providing evidence of appraisal from a qualified expert. Serious bidders may wish to negotiate this service with a seller, or may have an item appraised after purchase for purposes of insurance or for other reasons.

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Q. Where can I find an appraiser?

A. The International Society for Appraisers (ISA) is the largest group of experienced and professionally trained and tested personal property appraisers in North America. Members vary in their level of training and expertise. Certified Members have the highest level of membership in ISA.

The ISA site offers an online version of their member directory to help you find an appraiser in your area.

Want more information? Visit the ISA site.

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