Signed memorabilia – A Buyer’s Guide to Sourcing Authentic Goods

Terry Baker, Managing Director of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, offers a buyer’s guide to ensuring you buy genuine signed goods – the only kind you will find on the A1 Sporting Memorabilia website.

A1 Sporting Memorabilia has been selling sports autographs for 15 years. The vast majority of our goods have been signed by a player who has been paid to sign the item – therefore the players trust us because we pay them fairly and, in return, they treat us with respect.

Our customers trust us because they have seen us with many of the players, they know the players trust us and most importantly, we are not anonymous. We publicise our names, our phone number, and our address. Without fail, the cheats often hide behind the internet with no photographs of themselves or contact details. Beware of anonymous dealers that you can't find if you need to – they have something to hide if they can't be found!

Our aim is to make buying genuine signed sporting memorabilia effortless and worry-free – read on to find out more about our exclusive contracts with sporting stars, our price-match guarantee and the investment potential of our 100% authentic items.

Exclusive signings

Sir Geoff Hurst with Terry Baker - Director of the A1 Sporting Group
Sir Geoff Hurst with the Terry Baker the Director of the A1 Sporting Group

Wherever possible, the items we sell are signed in front of us. We also sell items signed for a number of other respected companies that we know to be genuinely involved with the players they represent – and vice versa. A1 Sporting Memorabilia has exclusive contracts with many sporting greats and if our competitors didn't buy from us signatures by Pele, Jimmy Greaves, Sir Geoff Hurst, and many others, then they couldn't sell items from those sporting heroes because our exclusive contracts allow the players no leeway to sign for other companies.

We think this adds credibility to our company as stars of this magnitude have seen it proper to associate exclusively with us. In addition, we also act as agents for many sportspeople’s shows and appearances, as well as for their autographs, so we have forged great relationships with some of the game’s true legends.

In the same way as we supply other companies, we have sourced our Muhammad Ali products from the Ali Centre, along with their online authentication. This makes the items expensive but most importantly, genuinely signed by one of the greatest living men of the last 100 years. If you see cheap Ali autographs, they are fake. It’s that simple.

‘In person’ dealers

There are some dealers who only carry out business ‘in person’. A1 Sporting Memorabilia organises and attends many live shows where we are hounded by 'in person' dealers doing their utmost to get as much signed for free as they can, which they then sell online. While the items have genuine signatures, the player has not benefited from the transaction. Bear in mind that there are many current Premiership players who earn more in four days than some of the World Cup ’66 winners earned in their entire careers! At A1 Sporting Memorabilia, we believe that it is only fair that the players get a bit from the use of their names as well, and so this is how we do business.

In order to obtain signatures from some modern players who wouldn’t otherwise be available to us, we have an association with one ‘in person’ trader who we trust and know to be genuine. On occasion, the trader hasn’t been able to get the items we would like – if he was selling fakes, he would get us whatever we wanted!

Proving authenticity

Pele with Terry Baker - Director of the A1 Sporting Group
Pele with Terry Baker at our exclusive signing session for A1 Sporting Memorabilia

There is no doubt that Certificates of Authenticity look good. We offer them for each item and hope they are reassuring for our customers. To support the certificates, we also aim to photograph each of our signing sessions.

However a cunning forger will endeavour to not only offer a fake Certificate of Authenticity but to also get a signing photograph of them with the player. What better way to fake a signature than to offer a photograph of the player signing a genuine one with their forgery?! We have had World Cup ’66 signatures from the guy who made a living faking them – even the players cannot be certain whether it is their signature, which makes it impossible for you, the customer, to know!

Always remember that the Certificate of Authenticity is only as good as the company that issues it. While we aim to always prove the authenticity of all our goods, we also believe that the customer has to also rely on their instinct. Do you trust us? If you do and it feels right, it probably is right. As a customer, your only recourse is to get a gut feeling for the company you buy from. In our case, meet us with players at shows or call the office and ask questions. You will always get a genuine answer and crucially you will always be purchasing a genuine autograph!

Squad signings

It is wise to beware of modern squad signed shirts. The big clubs don't let many out, and the modern players – especially those from overseas – have largely unidentifiable squiggles masquerading as signatures, which give the forgers carte blanche to cheat the public.

We have great contacts all over the game and we probably get no more than 10 squad signed shirts from current teams annually. Don't trust internet sources selling quantities of squad signed items. They just can't be genuine. It is as simple as that. If you ask us for squad signed items, it's almost always a NO because they pretty much aren't available at any price to us or to you.


Buyers guide summary
  • Trust our exclusive contracts with sporting legends
  • A Certificate of Authenticity is only as good as the company issuing it
  • Make a highly desirable investment
  • Genuine associated traders
  • Value our independent advice
  • Price match guarantee

It would be fair to say that a percentage of our products, if they are well cared for by the purchaser, will turn out to be very good investments. The key is to always make your purchase based on desire – if you buy because you like the sportsperson concerned, you are making a highly desirable purchase.

In many cases – particularly with goods signed by the older legends – the item is bound to be an appreciating asset. Ali, Pele and Maradona – they are some of the best there ever have been and as they will not always be available to sign items, their goods are bound to be a fantastic investment! For example, a very rare gown signed by the great Muhammad Ali just has to be an unbelievable investment. A signed glove was worth £300 ten years ago, yet now he can't as easily sign any more goods, is worth £1,500 in retail price and often considerably more at auction! Many other similar examples abound.

Buy because you like your purchase – and look after it. It will most likely double in value over time.

Autograph Associations – Our Views

Autograph Associations aim to eradicate forgeries from the marketplace by encouraging dealers to become members and stand by a code of practice. However, as such, the real fakers try very hard to infiltrate these associations – what better way to be seen to be genuine when you are not than to give yourself membership of an autograph dealers group?

We have regularly been approached to join the Board of Directors of some of these groups. The reason we won't associate is that, while any fakers usually get found out and kicked out, we have decided not to associate with potentially unscrupulous dealers. As such, we are and will remain a respected standalone dealer.

Price match guarantee

As one of the major dealers in genuinely signed memorabilia, we always try to offer the best value for money. Understandably, it is sometimes difficult to keep abreast of the marketplace at all times and for this reason, if you see a genuine autographed product for sale at a lower price than ours, we will price match or even price beat the item.

We do not give opinions with regard to other companies’ products. Although there are other genuine companies operating in our marketplace, with fake goods appearing all over the internet there is a golden rule of thumb when buying your items: If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is!

In other words, if it’s very cheap then it’s almost certainly a forgery or a photographic reproduction. Reproductions are a relatively new scam – genuine signatures are reproduced photographically or printed in an effort to fool the customer into believing it to be a hand-signed genuine article.

As A1 Sporting Memorabilia only sells 100% genuinely hand-signed autographed items, trust us to help yourself. Our hand-signed products are appreciating assets and as such offer very good investment potential. Don't accept inferior substitutes!

Terry Baker
Managing Director, A1 Sporting Group
Email me: [email protected]
Call us: 01202 475600