Game-used equipment has been one of John Robinson’s favorite pastimes since he was a young high school student growing up near Seattle. Like many collectors, he wanted to be as certain as possible that the items he was buying were indeed used in the field of play. Eight years ago, he bought a Louisville Slugger bat attributed to use by former Mariner Russ Davis and after some determined research, was able to match the bat to a specific game using photographs.
He repeated the process as his collection grew and also offered his research to friends in the hobby who were also hoping to know more about their items.
Now, with several years of photo matching work under his belt, Robinson has started Resolution Photomatching, a service that aims to determine whether your jerseys, bats, helmets or other items saw the field of play.
For valuable items, matching an item to a photo of a player wearing or using it can add thousands of dollars—sometimes more—to its value. For less historic pieces, simply having evidence of their use rather than just a piece of paper or a team’s word, can offer peace of mind and make them easier to sell in future years.
While some dealers and auction companies will do the work themselves, performing such a task on multiple items can be time consuming.
We talked with Robinson about the idea, the process and what collectors can expect from his company.
SC Daily: What made you decide to start this service?
JR: I launched Resolution Photomatching with a goal of creating a modern game used memorabilia authentication company that allows collectors to see for themselves that their items are authentic. I wanted to give collectors an option for photomatching that puts an image of their game used item side by side with an image of it right there on the field or court, proving authenticity and creating an amazing visual, showing their piece of sports history!
What kind of access do you have to photographs that you’re using for photo matching?
We offer the most thorough photomatching search process in the industry. We look at every site online that could possibly have a useful image, and have contracts with the large photo sites to legally license their images at maximum image clarity.
What type of characteristics do you look for when attempting a photo match? What are some of the more common tell-tale signs of a match?
One of my favorite things about photomatching is that every item is a little different, and for that reason the characteristics that make a conclusive photomatch are often different for each item. It could be the unique distribution of pine tar on a batting helmet. Or a unique ball mark, pine tar mark, tape pattern, or grain pattern on a bat. Or a scratch on a football helmet.
One of the most common things we look at though is the way the mesh holes align on a jersey. Most game worn football and basketball jerseys are made of a mesh material that has holes in it, and most jerseys of that material have the letters and numbers custom stitched on them. So the way the mesh holes line up with those custom stitched letters and numbers is slightly different on each jersey, which makes it one of the best ways to make a conclusive photomatch.
How much confirmation is required before you deem a ‘match’ for a specific item?
The key word we use is “conclusive.” For us to call an image a photomatch we need to see conclusive evidence that a collector’s item is the same item seen in an image with the player using it.
When a collector submits an item, we look for all marks or characteristics that are unique to that game used item. When we find an image that shows some of those same unique characteristics clearly enough that we can confirm that they are in fact the same, that’s when we call it a conclusive photomatch.
How much does it cost?
Prices range from $75 to a few hundred dollars (depending on the value of the item) if we’re able to make a photomatch. Collectors can submit their items for price quotes here: http://www.resolutionphotomatching.com/photomatch-submission-form/. Price quotes are free, there’s no commitment, and it takes less than five minutes to do.
What does the customer get from you once an item is photo matched?
Each photomatch comes with a printed Letter of Photomatch which shows the photomatch itself and gives more information about the item and the match. They also get a printout of the photomatch itself, as well as electronic copies of the letter and photomatch.
Are you currently working with auction companies or other hobby businesses?
I’ve done photomatching privately on and off since 2008, and have worked for top auction houses, professional teams, and individual collectors. This fall items photomatched by Resolution will be up for bid at Heritage Auctions, Infinite Auctions, and Goldin Auctions.