Collectors have a new outlet for buying--and soon selling--authentic sports memorabilia.
Milwaukee-based Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services has been busy over the last couple of years.
In addition to growing its authentication division, the company opened its own sales division, created and marketed new pinback button holders and moved into a 15,000-square-foot research center.
But that was just part of the plan. It's most visible move has come to fruition only in the last few weeks.
MEARS is now conducting its own online sports memorabilia auctions, with the inaugural sale launching earlier this week. Chris Nerat, a former Sports Collectors Digest writer and columnist, is the auction manager.
"I've been a consignor and a buyer in nearly every major sports memorabilia auction in our hobby," Nerat told Sports Collectors Daily. "I know what customers like and what they don't like about the auction industry. Solid customer service is going to be our number one goal, along with providing a sales venue that customers can trust 100 percent."
MEARS will conduct auctions on a monthly basis featuring historic sports and non-sports memorabilia, but will also hold major auctions at least twice each year, possibly in April and September. The first auction features 261 lots with an industry-low 10% buyer's premium. No consignments were taken as the company tests its platform.
Among the items offered are game-used bats, autographed items, game-worn jerseys, vintage photos and advertising pieces.
"We're excited to cater to not only the big collectors, but also to the everyday collector who's in search of unique pieces," Nerat said.
As an authenticator, MEARS will be in the unusual position of selling items it has authenticated but the company says it will provide full disclosure on all items. There will be no hidden reserves in the auctions and MEARS will prohibit employees and consignors from bidding on their own items or those in which they have a financial stake.
Registration for the current auction is open until December 17 at MearsOnlineAuctions.com. The auction closes December 18.