Over the past year or so, I’ve become a bit more interested in autographed cards.
I’ve learned quickly that buying any autograph without authentication takes guts.
For any high-profile players, such as Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, or Joe DiMaggio, the forgeries typically outnumber authentic autographs by a wide margin.
Autograph authentication is a tricky game and something I’m still trying to improve upon.
After exploring some local sales of un-authenticated Brady cards here in Boston, I realized that I didn’t have the chops to tell a real from a fake.
So, I spent a few weeks examining hundreds of authentic Brady autographs to see how his autograph has evolved and how it differs from any of the fakes on the market. The sad reality is that there are a ton of fakes out there.
I acknowledge I’m not a professional autograph authenticator but hoping to hone my skills by posting guides like this that others can help contribute to.
See any issues here? Have a Brady fake auto that you got scammed on?
PLEASE let me know and I’ll add it to this guide and our Brady authentic signature database.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Brady's Autograph Through The Years
Like many players, Tom Brady's autograph has evolved extensively since he first started signing in college. Significant differences in a players signature can make authenticating a much harder task than it might be with any counterfeit cards.
Let's take a look at how Brady's autograph has evolved over time:
Tom Brady's Autograph: Pre-Rookie Year
Tom Brady's signature while at Michigan and in 2000 when he was drafted by the Patriots looks completely different from any modern day or for that matter post 2001 Tom Brady autograph.
Brady's rookie auto is barely legible - seems like Tom uses a 'Th' for 'Thomas', with an 'E' for his middle name and an abbreviated 'Brady' at the end.
Here's another variation to that early year Brady signature. Note how Brady doesn't cross the top of the T in 'Thomas" and how there is a bit of a space and additional pen lift on the "B" in Brady. But if you look at these closely, you can feel the same sort of directional flow, despite some of the minor differences.
There are however some more significant variations from the same time period. Notably, Brady's auto on the 2000 Playoff Contenders cards appear to me to be quite rushed. Notice there is no separation of the three names and just one run on signature.
Tom Brady's Autograph: 2001 to 2016
Right around his rookie year with the Patriots, Brady's signature changed significantly. Here's a 2004 autographed Prime Signatures card, which showcases a good example of Brady's new 'John Hancock'.
Keys to this signature includes the one stroke horizontally which represents the top of the T, one line vertically to represent the stem of the T, a squiggle to represent what is now Brady signing as "Tom". A clear 'B' and an abbreviated loop to represent the rest of his last name.
Brady, early on would commonly include his number 12 on autos as well but stopped doing it after a few years.
Here's one example of that.
And another on autographed football from around 2012:
Tom Brady's Autograph - Modern Day
Brady's signature changed a bit starting around 2016 until the present day.
Here's another modern era Brady auto, which shows that similar sort of curve in the top of the T in Tom, with a short line for the T stem, a small scribble for the rest of 'Tom' and a 'B' which is typically a tiny line on the bottom with the curved part and the rest of the B on top (usually these lines don't touch.
Seek Out Tristar or Fanatics Authentic Brady Autos
If you are in the market for a Brady autograph, the one way to ensure that the autograph is authentic is by targeting a Tristar authenticated Brady autograph.
Brady had for years (until recently signing with Fantatics) held an exclusive partnership with Tri-Star as the sole distributor of autographed items for Brady.
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Tristar items are issued with a hologram and serial number. Serial numbers can be looked up on their website at http://tristarauthentic.com/
Of course, there are scammers that will try to fake the Tristar hologram/serial so please at least be careful of the source, especially when you are buying on eBay.
What About Mounted Memories Tom Brady Autographs?
Mounted memories was an official autograph supplier of the NFL, however there are a lot of fake Mounted Memories Brady autos out there. Note that Mounted Memories was acquired by Fanatics, but someone at some point got their hands on a bunch of fake Mounted Memories certs and holograms and created a ton of fakes.
And a lot of the Mounted Memories autos were issued with just a hologram and no serial number, however the did issue a COA card with the name of the product. Thus if you come across a Mounted Memories item with just the hologram on the item and no COA that describes the item, I'd move on.
Look Out For Tom Brady Autograph Reprints
One common thing I notice is a lot of Tom Brady rookie autograph reprints. These are everywhere on eBay and for most would be pretty easy to spot, but definitely don't buy any of these cards raw.
Unsure Of Brady's Auto? Grab A Quick Opinion
Note that if you are buying an ungraded Brady autograph, it is still a huge risk, but you can often mitigate the risk by getting a 'quick opinion' from one of the autograph authentication companies. Both Beckett and PSA provide this service.
Beckett's 'Signature Review' is only $10 and allows you to send images to Beckett and they will offer their opinion as to the authenticity.
PSA's 'Quick Opinion' is limited to the review of eBay listings and is also only $10
Note that the graders don't always get it right, and this usually is the case when you have a rushed in-person autograph. The grading companies have vast databases of different autos, so the hope is that they can get it right, but it's not always foolproof.
A Look At Some Fake Brady Autos
In trying to authenticate a Brady auto, you are first, trying to assess the year it might have been signed to help narrow down the possibilities of variation in the autograph. An early year Brady autograph from 2000 is going to vary significantly from one signed 10, 15 or 20 years later.
Here's a really bad Brady autograph from a company called Inpersonauthentics, which from everything I'm read is not a reputable authenticator. The whole signature is wrong for any era Brady autograph, but the most noticeable part being the weird scribble next to the stem of T in 'Tom" and that big looping B for 'Brady' which is not something Brady typically ever does.
Many/most of you who are reading this already know how risky buying autographs online is, but I’ve seen people post somewhat recently asking if items with “inPersonAuthentics” COAs are legit and I want to make sure it’s clear that they most certainly are not. inPersonAuthentics, PAAS, ForensicAuthentication.com, GlobalAuthentics, VS, and Atlantic Authentics are the “authenticators” according to the cheap holo stickers on the items in these photos, and they are all completely illegitimate outfits.
And yet another fake autograph authenticated by inpersonauthentics. That wild looping pen to the right of the B in Brady is just not a normal type of signature for Tom Brady.
Here's a really bad fake. Note this sold for over $150 on eBay. Lots of problems here-first Brady, as far as I can tell and based on the hundreds of autos I've examined has never made such a clean 'o' in 'Tom, nor has he ever made such a clean 'B'. Definitely one of the worst I've ever seen.
Another thing you need to look out for is a fake autograph that shows stops and starts - a clear indication of a forger that is unsure of the signature and how it should flow.
Do you have a fake Brady autograph?
I'd like to get as many fake autos as I can on this guide.
I'm also looking for any good photos for any abnormal rushed in-person Brady autos that have been authenticated.
Shoot me an email at email@example.com.
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