The sports memorabilia market is an enduringly successful and popular one. Like any trade that deals in high profile goods with a lucrative price tag, the memorabilia industry has been beset for years by the unscrupulous behaviour of people and companies out to make a quick buck. Where unethical traders exist, there 鈥檚 always potential to damage both the market itself and the expectations or confidence of buyers interested in that market 鈥?in the case of the sporting autographs industry, customers have become wary of parting with their hard earned cash for fear that the goods they are buying may not be the genuine deal. There is, for example, the case of a famous sports bar in an Irish capital city, which purchased an item of sports memorabilia (a football shirt) signed by the entire team of what was then indisputably the greatest Premier League football squad in history. Included in the signatures on the shirt was the scrawl of a particularly famous Irish legend 鈥?a central defender whose tough tackling and all round leadership had become a byword for everything that is uniquely British about the game. The signature appeared to be authentic, and was proudly alluded to by bar staff and customers alike, as they viewed the shirt in its glass-encased glory, hanging on the wall behind the pumps. After a couple of years, a savvy customer noted that this particular piece of footballing sports memorabilia had apparently been signed at a time when it would have been impossible for the player in question to have delivered his autograph. Further investigation of the memorabilia item revealed that the club and country captain in question had definitely not signed the shirt 鈥?he had, in fact, refused to do so, as apparently was his wont for all but the most mandatory of signing events. This signature came from a player famous for not signing things 鈥?and yet the rest of the scrawls on the shirt were genuine. This is actually a relatively innocuous example of the extent to which forgery or incorrect documentation has resulted in an inaccurate listing or sale of an item of sports memorabilia. There are, of course, companies that are willing to go much further in their deception, knowingly selling completely false items under the guise of genuine memorabilia. Fortunately, there is a very simple way of making sure that the item you buy is completely authentic. All autographed souvenir companies worth buying from keep visual and textual authentication records of their merchandise. A visual record is either a photograph or a video clip or the actual signing event, digitally dated to avoid any faking of the proof. Any item of sports memorabilia without such documentation should automatically be treated as suspicious. Any piece of memorabilia that has visual documentation is fine, It 鈥檚 as simple as that. Any reputable source of autographed souvenirs will supply a certificate matching the item bought to the visual record of its signing, and will be able to supply a viewing of that record to anyone who asks. Don 鈥檛 get caught out 鈥?ask for proof before you buy. It 鈥檚 easy to fake sports memorabilia 鈥?but impossible to fake visual proof of a signing. Ask for that proof before purchase and buy authentic memorabilia with confidence.