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Old 12-26-2005, 06:33 PM
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kingjammy24 kingjammy24 is offline
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Default Photos & authenticating

The "PSI Montana on Ebay" thread seems to have gone off on a photo-matching tangent so I thought it might be good to start a new thread. Seeing as how there's been some commotion over the use of photos, I thought I'd explain the value I see in them. I see photo analysis as a perfect replacement for having any sort of hobby knowledge. Har har! Seriously though, I think it goes without saying that nobody here is foolish enough to think this is a hobby of nothing more than looking at photos. Obviously it's 'just another step', but I think it's a step with some uniquely valuable advantages.

Firstly, it's more often than not, a detail rich, irrefutable source of authority regarding certain aspects. Unlike people, photos don't lie. It's true they can be misinterpreted but that's 'user error'. If you find a photo of Cal Ripken wearing a St.Pats jersey in a game, then irrefutably it means he wore a St.Pats jersey in a game, end of story. Photos have no profit motive, they can be dated, and they show details too numerous for the human memory to remember over time. I have yet to meet a "professional" authenticator with such a good memory, for example, that they can tell me what bat Joe Carter used in the 1993 All Star Game. This is a hobby of subtle details. Photos make discovering some of these details possible without having to rely on a person's "credibility", motives, or memory.

The other valuable advantage is their ability, with the right software, to physically 'measure' and compare elements that are too fine to accurately see with an unaided view. Forgeries are becoming increasingly refined and regardless of one's "industry cred", it's impossible to memorize the subleties of every single font and be able to spot them perfectly without a visual aid. It's impossible to look at a 1991 Ruben Sierra jersey on Ebay, for example, and be able to tell if the fonts are perfect without a mechanism to compare the details and ratios to a legitimate version.

At any rate, I'm unsure about the difference between an "amateur authenticator" and a "professional authenticator". I do know far more damage is caused by self-professed "professionals" who consistently (and admittedly) fail to do the necessary research before collecting the profits for their $2000 jerseys than by "amateurs" who post too many pics on a forum.

Patrick: This is one of the most bizarre comments I've ever read on this board: "..pointing out inconsistancies in someone's item--which you have no interest in owning--by using barely relevant exemplar photos which prove nothing, qualifies as "bashing".."
Is there any relevance whatsoever between a person's lack of interest in owning a jersey and their pointing out inconsistancies in it?
Are you at all aware that 99% of the comments regarding inconsistances here are from helpful, insightful forum members who themselves "have no interesting in owning" the jersey being discussed?
Also, the "junior authenticator" in me was unaware that 20 photos from the mid-late 80's of joe montana are "barely relevant" to a "late 80's joe montana" jersey. (Wilson or Russell, the "1"'s in all of the getty photos are consistant with each other.)

While it's wonderfully ideal to only make authentication determinations with first-hand inspections, it's pretty unrealistic unless you plan on either:
a) purchasing all of your jerseys from a guy 2 blocks away or
b) travelling to every seller, regardless of distance or cost
Reality forces us "photo-matching junior authenticators" to make determinations while sitting at a computer. I can see it now:
Airfare to go see a jersey in NY: $300
Hotel for 1 day: $200
Rental car: $30
Realizing the $250 jersey you spent over $500 to go and see
turned out to be a fake: Priceless


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Old 12-27-2005, 12:16 AM
G1X G1X is offline
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Default Re: Photos & authenticating


I agree with you 100% that photo research is a very, very useful tool. From a personal standpoint, I have used photo research over the past 31 years to help identify jerseys in my personal collection and jerseys that I sell. And as you pointed out on the Ripken jersey example, it is a great tool to identify the particular style a team wore in a particular game, season, or era.

As I stated in the "PSA Montana on ebay" string, there are dangers and pitfalls in relying too much on photo matching. Case in point is the stripe pattern error made in your original analysis in the "PSA Montana on ebay" string. Also, you made a comment in your above post about the Russell and Wilson fonts being no different. Actually, there are at least four different styles of "1" fonts that were used during Montana's years in San Francisco (found at least 4 variations in the book, "San Francisco 49ers - The First 50 Years"). One of the Wilson fonts used in Montana's early years in the Bay Area is so distinct that many experienced football jersey collectors can spot it in an instant, just as they can ID a Wilson jersey from the late 1970s/early 1980s era simply by observing the shoulder seams on a jersey (or ID a Champion jersey from the 1980s and 1990s simply by the number font).

The measuring techniques on a computer software program are a fine tool, but can be limiting if comparisons are being made to a jersey laid out flat to one photographed in game action where pads, body movement, etc., can create distortion and possibly make a fair comparison difficult. I think that Chris was trying to make this point in his post on the "PSA Montana on ebay" string.

I agree, it can be pretty difficult to actually hold an item in hand in most cases before making a purchase. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a personal purchase based on your own methodologies. However, one of the wisest pieces of advice ever given to me in this hobby was, "Be satisfied only after you hold the item in hand. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but the camera does indeed lie." Folks who have worked in the field of photography understand the last line well, and it has absolutely nothing to do with doctoring photos or anything dishonest.

One of the best things a collector can do is spend time with a dealer and browse their inventory. For example, spending time at Hartel's or Wayne Otto's booth at The National each year is a great learning experince as they bring along hundreds of jerseys from various sports that a collector can hold in hand and learn the various nuances of the manufacturers, types of fabric (all mesh is not the same nor are durene football jerseys), tagging, fonts, seam stitching, etc. Things one will never learn from a photograph.

Regarding your closing statement, if you are worried that once you get an item in hand that it's too late to get a refund, then perhaps you should not be dealing with these folks to begin with. In my humble opinion, any auction house or dealer who doesn't have a sound refund policy is not worthy of any of our patronage.

Sometimes we all see stuff that doesn't look quite right, but as stated many times by many folks in this forum, there are always "exceptions to the rule". For that reason alone, we should all be very careful in this forum in questioning the legitimacy of someone's item unless it is so painfully obvious that the item is no good and we are 100% sure that that it's no good.

Mark Hayne
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Old 12-27-2005, 09:59 AM
Swoboda4 Swoboda4 is offline
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Default Re: Photos & authenticating

If this is going to be your hobby you should visit dealers at shows and develop a better sense of who they are. Photo ID's are very good from the various services BUT don't rely on photos provided by any auction site that's displayed with their item unless it corresponds to a Corbis or Getty photo number because I've seen items with doctored photos that showcase a zoomed in to mark not on the original photo.
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Old 12-27-2005, 10:40 AM
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kingjammy24 kingjammy24 is offline
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Default Re: Photos & authenticating

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your reply!

Re: relying too much on photo matching.
Agreed completely. Photos arent unique in this respect though. Relying on any single thing too much is a poor choice.

Re: the "1" on the 49'ers jersey: I didn't say or mean to imply the Wilson fonts are identical to the Russell fonts. What I said was that the fonts in the pictures I displayed were identical to each other.

Re: the Wilson font used in Montana's early years: I'm not entirely sure but I believe I know this font. The "1" has a noticeable curve in the nose.
Marcus Chmaj brought it up earlier and used it to determine whether he had an early 80's or a mid-80's Montana. I was aware of this when I posted but chose to ignore it because the Ebay jersey was advertised as a "late 80's Montana". No point bringing up early 80's fonts for a "late 80's jersey". The only font(s) that are relevant are those used by the 49'ers in the "late 80's". (You brought up the tagging issue with the Montana. While I completely understand your points regarding photomatching, stripes, fonts, etc., I'm not sure it's entirely coincidental that you have found another 'issue', albeit unrelated to mine, with this jersey. That is, I'm not entirely surprised that with the issue you raised, the jersey continues to head in a questionable direction).

Re: distortion vs. jerseys laying flat: Completely agreed, am aware of the issues and try to take them into account when posting.

Re: Wayne Otto & Bruce Hartel: it's funny you should bring them up. I hope their booths at the National provide a better experience than I had with them. I emailed Wayne with an offer to buy 6 of his jerseys. This was 4 weeks ago and I have yet to receive a reply. With Bruce, I was interested in a particular jersey and asked him 3 specific questions about the jersey regarding use, the nameplate, and velcro. Literally, the only response I received back to my 3 questions was "the jersey is good". Succinct to the point of being useless.

Re: your last statement about questioning authenticity. I think I respectfully disagree to an certain extent. I don't think merely questioning any jersey should be an issue. You shouldn't need to be 100% sure if you're simply going to question something. You should be 100% sure if you're going to come out and assert it's a fake. I never said this with the Montana jersey. I didn't even say it with the Peyton Manning jersey. If I posted pics of one my jerseys on here, anybody is welcome to 'question' anything about it and we can all happily engage in an intelligent discourse about it. (Personally, if I was selling a jersey and 'questions'/issues were being raised, I can't imagine why I would choose not to address them.)
If a jersey is good and a person really is the "expert" they claim to be, then the jersey will withstand this questioning. In the end, it's extremely difficult to show that a legitimate jersey is a fake. I don't see the harm in raising possible "issues". At a bare minimum, if the jersey is genuinely legit then the issues will be shown to be false and a lot of great information will have been shared during the "questioning". A jersey isn't somehow permanently tainted simply because it's been questioned. A truly legit jersey and a genuine "expert" will win out in the end. There's nothing I can do even with all of my graphic wizardy to show MeiGray or Steiner's jerseys are fake. To attempt an effort would simply make me look foolish in the end.

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Old 12-27-2005, 09:26 PM
G1X G1X is offline
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Default Re: Photos & authenticating

Hello Rudy,

Thanks for the response. After reading your most recent post, I feel that we are pretty much on the same page for the most part. I agree that the "curved nose" font was a Wilson style that eventually disappeared by the mid-1980s on the 49ers jerseys.

I am still seeing three various fonts in the late 1980s, but I have not been able to find an exact match to the questioned jersey. This does not mean that this particular font style did not exist. I would never feel comfortable making that assertion without first viewing photos and/or film from every 49ers regular season and preseason game from that era, and without actually seeing this particular jersey in hand. I would take that journey only if I had an interest in obtaining the jersey.

I agree wholeheatedly with your assertion that there should be no issues with someone raising a question in this forum about a jersey. That is precisely one of the many values of this fine forum. You are exactly right, we do not need to be 100% sure before asking a question. Heck, we can be 0% sure as that's the reason we ask questions! But to say something is not right without being 100% sure is a very dangerous path to take.

It may not have been the intent of your original post (PSI Montana on ebay in the Current Auction Items section), but it seemed to me (and apparently to Chris Cavalier and Patrick Scoggin as well) to be more of a statement that the jersey was not right instead of simply questioning the font style and sleeve stripes. We sometimes say or write things that are interpreted differently than our intent, and that was apparently the case in this instance.

With regard to Wayne Otto and Hartel Sports, both seem to be easier to reach and more responsive via telephone as opposed to email. Please note that both run other businesses that are their main source of income. With Hartel, I have had much success calling them on the telephone and asking them to pull a particular jersey of interest. It might take a day or two, but when they call back with the jersey in hand, they gladly answer all my questions. Hartel has great prices, and Bruce Hartel and Mike Armstrong are really good folks. (Be sure to ask for their catalogue if you don't have one as their website is usually outdated.)

Happy New Year to All!!!

Mark Hayne
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Old 12-28-2005, 01:12 AM
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EndzoneSports EndzoneSports is offline
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Default Re: Photos & authenticating


My apologies if I offended, as this was not my intent. As disclaimed, my post in the original thread was not meant as a personal attack on you and/or your methodologies. It may have come across that way only because it was in a thread which you were heavily involved, that I chose to vent my frustrations. Also, bearing in mind that as a part-time insomniac (my 'other' hobby), I was composing this rant at about 3AM local time.

Again, I restate my belief that there is nothing wrong with using photographic resources for what they are--a single tool used as part of the greater, overall evaluation process. I rely upon such resources quite frequently--with an interest in but one team, I have a resource library consisting of 30+ books and hundreds of game programs/periodicals in addition to nearly 50 videos. My frustration stems from the appearance that "photo matching" seems to be taking on a life of its' own and soon (if not having already done so) may evolve into a hobby of its' own as well. I can hear it now, "Who has time to actually collect jerseys where there are so may out there just waiting to be matched to a photograph?" This is the same mentality that has led to the COA/LOA craze which has now seemingly made a worthless piece of paper somehow more valuable that the item which it accompanies.

Having designed and maintained my own web site for 10 years now (as low-tech as it may be), I have learned to be at least minimally adept at using Corel PhotoPaint to edit graphics. Where I've done similar comparisons for my own personal use, one of the things that I've learned is that, no matter your ability to rotate, resize or otherwise manipulate the two-dimensional graphics on your desktop, when comparing two different photos of three-dimensional objects, there is really no way to accurately account for the difference of angle/perspective of each photographer without distorting the visual appearance of the edited graphic. My previous point regarding the relevance of exemplar photos is based on this. Is a 1980 game photo of Montana relevant to the authentication of a circa 1980 Montana jersey? Absolutely! But now if you're talking about comparing the photo to a photo of the Montana jersey, the relevance is diminished significantly by context. This is especially true once you start manipulating the photos... Make one a bit larger, rotate the other 8 deg. CCW, go back to the first and "skew" a bit to try to account for difference in camera angles. While the first two photos may not have been suitable for comparison, now we've made them comparable, but only by distorting the original image(s). Now we start talking about differences between the two, when by manipulating the image we may have inadvertently caused some of the differences. Again though, my point is not to knock the methodology, only to point out its obvious limitations.

Finally, I wouldn't suggest that you only buy a jersey that you've inspected first-hand as this is just not practical. Even if you did live 2 blocks from a great dealer, it's unlikely that'll be the only source with whom you'll want to do business. What I am suggesting, however, is that a comprehensive evaluation (and subsequent determination of authenticity) is not really possible until the item is in your hands. This often occurs post-sale and is as valid of a reason as any to deal only with legitimate sellers whom you can trust and who offer a reasonable return policy that can be taken advantage of, should the need arise. Joe Schmedlap operating on eBay as 'gamers4U' generally does not fall into this category. While a frequent user of eBay as both a buyer and seller, I also readily acknowledge its' faults. Choosing eBay as a primary source of jerseys is like booking a room at the Super 8 and then complaining that you're not getting treated like you would at the Marriott... You get what you pay for.

Best regards,
Patrick W. Scoggin
Endzone Sports Charities

Last edited by EndzoneSportts : 12-30-2005 at 07:35 AM.
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