The question is inevitable: "How do
I know if Peter Forsberg really wore it?" Collectors who are new to this hobby will be
skeptical at first, but in time will develop a trained eye and an understanding of the
hobby. There are four general categories which acknowledge the "authenticity"
factor in jersey collecting.
1. Dealer Experience and Reputation. The experience and reputation of the
dealer is first and foremost in any situation, regardless if the jersey comes with a
letter of authenticity. Team stamps and letters of authenticity are a recent development, so
most pre-1992 sweaters will not come with team authenticated documents. Therefore,
it is always a good idea to buy from
knowledgeable and reputable
collectors and dealers and to do your
homework before buying. Sometimes a dealer may have a fake jersey and will be completely unaware of it, so
always check the dealer's return policy and don't hesitate to get opinions from other
dealers. Every good dealer has a return policy.
2. Team Stamp. A
team stamp usually
appears on the inside hem of the tail, and specifies the season in which
the jersey was used. Also present may be a set stamp which signifies the
part of the season in which it was used. Keep in mind
that team set stamps are never a case-closed indicator of
authenticity. It is not uncommon for unworn, stamped jerseys to get
in the hands of collectors. Such examples are called "team
owned" or "team issued" whereby a team intended the jersey
to be given to player for use, but the player was sent down to the minors
or traded before it got to him. Jerseys are also at times stamped in
error or incorrectly (i.e., regular season instead of preseason).
Recently, the NHL teamed up with MeiGray and their celebrated
authentication system featuring a combination of team documentation and a
unique security tag featuring an inventory code used for tracking and
verification of authenticity.
Tagging can be a good way of recognizing a misrepresented jersey. Throughout the
years, teams have used different companies to manufacture their jerseys and in each
instance, the tagging in the neck (including the size flag), in the side seam and patches
on the hem have changed. The more you know about tagging, the better. It would
be impossible for me to describe every possible variation, but keep in mind that the
tagging in official jerseys will differ than their store-bought replicas. Despite the fact that store rack pro model jerseys are made of the
same material and construction as the game worn ones, the tagging can be slightly
4. Team Letter of Authenticity. A team letter of authenticity usually
possess an inked or facsimile signature of a team representative on team letterhead. Some
teams will also include serial numbering or holograms to
prevent forgeries of the certificates. This is never a foolproof method of
authenticity since certificates can easily be attributed to other jerseys,
faked or incorrectly written by the team. Trust what
your eyes tell you about the jersey, not what the letter says it is.
You should never
rely on just one category. All factors must be taken into
consideration including any anomalies. As with any other collectible,
"Buyer Beware." Do your homework, and you'll stay clear of trouble.