As with any new endeavor it is best to start out small when you first begin in the autograph market. It is much better to start small and then increase your exposure as you learn so that your risk of loss is as low as possible. Even if you aren't intending to resell the autographs you are purchasing right now you still don't want to pay too much for them.
Some of the questions that you want to ask an autograph or collectibles dealer include things like how long the dealer has operated their business, the source of the particular autograph you are interested in, and possibly even references from prior clients. Still, you could end up with someone who you may not care to do business with if they are not totally honest and upright with their answers. A reputable dealer will be as proud of their reputation and the quality of their merchandise as they are of their overall collection.
Even though time can sometimes work against you in collecting memorabilia of any kind it is better to take the time to do your due diligence than to make a hasty, foolish, and possibly costly mistake. Do your research and talk to other people and also bear in mind that if they are offering some rare item at a low price it is probably fake.
Once you have paid your dues in terms of time and experience you will be better able to spot obvious scams and fakes but in the beginning you need to protect yourself from those kinds of things because no one else will. You can get some great deals with online auction but they can also be fraught with fraud and lack of authenticity.
One of the biggest risks from buying online as far as autographs is that they could be forgeries. There are great deals on things like comic books, trading cards, and other collectibles. One of the other risks is that the person could be using a fake identity and just disappears once they get your money. This is another reason it is crucial not to get caught up in the rush and hype of auctions. You need to do your research and know who you are dealing with.
Another reason for being cautious when buying autographs and other such items is that it could be a long time before you even know you have been ripped off, it could literally be years! You don't need an army of people to buy from, you only need a few people that you can trust to do business with. Join a trade organization that specializes in celebrity memorabilia and autographs so that you can keep your finger on the pulse of the market.
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