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Autograph collecting attracts a huge following, making it a lucrative investment strategy. Experts say, though, that a collector who's chasing profit won't be as successful as one who's driven by passion.

How much is a famous signature worth? Can you trust the certificate of authenticity? Here's how to make sure your autograph investment pays off.

Given the fact that Bobby Orr signs a limited number of items every year, authentic signatures will sell high, especially if the item is not personalized. Mr. Orr prefers to personalize what he signs given the fact that most people end up selling those autographed items for a profit.

What about the certificate of authenticity -- doesn't that mean the item is genuine? Anyone can certify a signature, but only a true expert can authenticate a signature.

It is vital to have the signature examined and authenticated by a reputable and knowledgeable third party such as the PSA/DNA Authentication Services.  PSA, which stands for Professional Sports Authenticator, specializes in sports signatures.

Autograph collectors who want assurance their signatures are the real deal have few options. The most reliable way to obtain an autograph is in person. But this requires a different type of investment: time.

Potential collectors can now search online for once hard-to-locate signatures. But while finding your favorite's autograph may be easier, it's also much more likely you'll shell out for a bogus one.

Six years ago, a special task force formed by the FBI to investigate autograph forgeries placed the value of celebrity and sports frauds at a half-billion dollars and growing. Today it's estimated that anywhere from 80% to 90% of autographs, including historical ones, are phony.

That doesn't mean everyone who sells a fake autograph is a crook, although there are plenty out there. For those who sell and buy autographs through online auctions such as eBay, it's sometimes a matter of not knowing enough about a person's autograph to distinguish the real McCoy from the fake.

The best and safest method for acquiring legitimate Bobby Orr autographed merchandise is to visit his official website at

Serious collectors make sure their autographs meet high standards upfront, but that doesn't mean lower-end collectors can't also weigh the authenticity of their purchases. That's important, given the value some autographs reach in resale.


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