Not willing to agree to the terms laid out by MEARS, Mastro Auctions has gone its own way with authenticating game used jerseys in 2008.
Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services (MEARS) didn’t have a lot of success getting auction companies to agree to its new terms and conditions, leaving some former business partners looking for new means to offer a stamp of approval on game worn jerseys and related sports memorabilia.
Thursday, Mastro Auctions promised to field its own "team of experts" who must reach a unanimous verdict about an item before it is authenticated. The company sent a letter to customers outlining the new plan:
MEARS Authentication took what in the auction industry is an unprecedented stand. In order to do business directly with auction companies they are requiring access to private consignor and confidential bidding records. We are uncomfortable providing this type of access to any organization let alone one that as part of their business model conducts private purchases and sales. It is on this basis we made the decision not to renew our contract with MEARS. What has transpired since this decision is a process that we believe will make us a better firm and enable us to offer game used jerseys that have gone through an unprecedented third party review process.
Effective in 2008 Mastro Auctions will stand behind all of our game used jerseys by issuing our own LOAs. Behind these LOAs will be the most targeted and comprehensive authentication process in the business. For each auction we will assemble a team of experts that will work together to examine all of our game used jerseys. No individual names will be associated with this work based on the fact that we will only offer items where the team unanimously deems the item to be authentic. We have engaged John Taube of PSA/DNA to oversee this process to ensure the necessary steps are being taken to ensure this authentication is being conducted in the most professional and comprehensive manner possible.
With the proliferation of fraud and alterations in our industry it is critical to have access to exemplar files to aid in the authentication process. We will arm our authentication team with the best exemplar database in the industry. First, we have gone through our historical database over the last 10 years of items sold and populated our new exemplar archive with images of tagging, styles, lettering, patches, etc. In order to augment this we have embarked upon an extensive retrieval process to collect detailed images from our customers who have the best private collections in the world. Although this process will be time consuming and expensive what will result will be the best authentication tool to ever be made available to the industry
I want to assure you that consistent with all the moves we make, a tremendous amount of thought and planning has gone into this change. We are confident that what will result is a better product for the industry and our valued customers.
President & COO
Mastro Auctions Inc
Not surprisingly, MEARS did have a response. Policy Director Dave Grob wrote on the company’s bulletin board:
"We now have yet another auction house who has decided that anonymity with respect to who did the work and offered the opinion on the item is something to be embraced by the collecting public."
Rob Lifson of Robert Edward Auctions, the only company to sign on with MEARS for 2008 added his thoughts: "The MEARS policy changes have the potential to address many industry issues that we strongly believe need attention. We believe that MEARS’ efforts are and will continue to serve as a catalyst for positive change for the entire industry."