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A buyers' guide to authenticity

Authenticity is everything when it comes to buying signed sports memorabilia. Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions specifically about this issue. We also have a general FAQ page that deals with subjects such as delivery and payment.

Q) How do I know your items are genuine?
A) The owners and directors of Exclusive Memorabilia have been working in the signed sports memorabilia industry since 2002. After ten years arranging signings with the likes of Pele, Maradona, Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the biggest companies in the memorabilia industry we decided to launch our own website. The majority of items we stock are from closed signing sessions that a director from Exclusive Memorabilia has attended and witnessed the items being signed. The remainder is bought from a handful of trustworthy companies with whom we have been dealing for a number of years, and who we know to have the same standards as ourselves. We can tell you where and when every single item in our shop was signed.

Q) How do you get your signatures?
A) All our signatures come from arranged signing sessions where the player is paid a fee for their services. Because we have worked with the players and their agents for many years, they trust us and often recommend us to each other personally. We never accost players outside training grounds as we don't believe this is the correct way to do business. Furthermore, the quality of a signature from a signing session is usually much better than one grabbed outside a training ground through a car window.

Q) Do you provide a Certificate of Authenticity?
A) All our items come either with a COA issued by us, or with third party authentication. Certificates issued by us include the details of the signing session plus, in the vast majority of cases, a photo of the player signing the product line at the signing session. Our company details are printed on the certificate. Details of our company are registered with Companies House and our company number is 07596697. As such we are easily traceable and subject to UK law. If you can't find a company's details on its website then proceed with caution and remember you will have no recourse to the courts. Some of our items come with authentication from third parties such as Beckett, in which case this will be stated on the product page.

Q) I have seen sellers on eBay offering Certificates of Authenticity. Does this mean the item is genuine?
A) The truth is that anyone can create and offer a Certificate of Authenticity. But the COA is only as good as the company that issues it. Does the COA have details of when and where the item was signed? Does the company print its company details on it? Are they registered with companies house? If the answer to any of the above is no, then you should proceed with caution. A COA should not be your sole reason for buying an item.

Q) I have seen a similar item on eBay which is much cheaper than in your shop. Why is that?
A) There are a number of possible reasons. We only use official authentic replica shirts, or where a shirt is no longer made, the best available licensed replica on the market. Many shirts on eBay are cheap fakes. Similarly, we only sell photographs that have been bought and licensed from photographic agencies. Also, Exclusive Memorabilia always pays players for their signatures. It could well be that the player signed the item that is on eBay outside a training ground and so is genuine. But it could be that the signature is a fake. Is the seller offering any photographic proof? What kind of comeback would you have if you later found the signature was a fake? Could you even trace the seller? They may be offering a Certificate of Authenticity, but as explained above, a COA is only as good as the company that issues it.

Q) What if the seller has lots of good feedback?
A) This just means they have given prompt and good customer service. It does not authenticate the signatures.

Q) Why do you not have many squad-signed items for sale when there are lots available on eBay?
A) Squad-signed items are difficult to arrange so think about whether it might be a fake. We are able to offer a number of shirts signed by retired teams, simply because they occasionally have reunions, and are happy to be paid to sign items. With current teams, no such occasions exist. Maybe someone has spent many hours collecting signatures on a squad-signed shirt outside a training ground. Clubs also occasionally donate squad signed shirts to sponsors or charities, which are then sold for high prices at auctions. But time and again you see sellers on eBay offering squad signed shirts very cheaply, from Liverpool, Manchester United and the like, and they seem to have a limitless supply. You must ask yourself why this is.

Q) Why are you not a member of UACC or similar organisations?
A) To join these organisations, all you need to do is pay a joining fee. You are not vetted, and nor are any of the items that you sell. We have no axe to grind with these organisations, but in our eyes, being a member means nothing. And if you buy from a dealer that is a member of one these clubs, it offers absolutely no guarantee or even indication that the signature is authentic.