"Every collector seeks an older style signature of their favorite athlete before they become a superstar. Take advantage of our new, exclusive service before your anticipated prospect becomes a legend!" - spenceloa.com
James Spence Authentication (JSA) recently revealed their latest service: Signature Debut - aimed at certifying "rookie" season autographs. JSA promises this is a new service - but, is it? I guess..technically, but then again, not really.
Without getting into a debate over whether or not their assessments are 100% accurate, JSA has established a reputation as the most recognized authenticator in the hobby. In general, autographs they have authenticated are reasonably assumed to be "real." While definitely a nice-to-have, the validated authenticity of an autograph also has a big impact on overall value (and resale value) of a piece, too.
In recent years, collector's desires for this level of confirmation spawned JSA's, "Witnessed Protection Program (WPP)," which certifies that they have seen an item signed by the athlete. There is clear difference in these two services - seen vs. unseen verification. And again, the additional layer of verification can carry long-term monetary value.
And, that brings us to Signature Debut... If their base services are already the industry gold-standard, what is the point of having one to note that a signature was signed during a player's rookie season? To me, there is no difference in value proposition between Signature Debut as there is between the LOA and WPP services. Additionally, the rules of what is and is not considered a rookie season are way too complex. There is no way I will calculate the number of minutes a guy played in an NBA season to determine "rookie autograph" status.
This may be a case of me not being close enough to the authentication trends, but as an average collector, Signature Debut seems to offer little but unnecessary complexity...