PSA/DNA, one of the leading third-party autograph authentication services, announced the hiring of two new full-time authenticators on September 30.
Veteran sports autograph dealers Kevin Keating and Bill Corcoran replace PSA/DNA authenticators Steve Grad and Brian Sobrero. Grad and Sobrero gave notice at the end of June and left September 30, reportedly to start a new company in the autograph field.
Grad, who was PSA/DNA’s principal autograph authenticator, joined PSA/DNA in 2002 and since 2013 has also been the autograph authenticator for the History Channel’s hit show, Pawn Stars. Sobrero was a PSA/DNA full-time authenticator for about six years.
In an interview published September 30 in PSA’s Sports Market Report, Kevin Keating, a West Point graduate, said he left the Army in 1988 and started Quality Autographs in 1992, a dealership that specializes in vintage sports.
Keating said it was a part-time endeavor until 1999, when he quit his day job to become a full-time dealer and authenticator. Keating co-authored The Negro Leagues Autograph Guide, which was published that same year, and has written numerous articles on autographs and authentication.
Widely respected in the hobby, Keating was hired by the FBI as an expert and expert witness for their Operation Bullpen autograph forgery investigation. He has been a consulting authenticator for PSA/DNA since 2009.
Keating said in the interview that his experience is heaviest in baseball, but that he is also knowledgeable about golf, tennis, Olympics, basketball and football autographs. Keating is comfortable with Presidential, Civil War and military autographs as well.
When people ask me for recommendations of autograph dealers there are very, very few names that I would recommend. Bill would always get my unqualified recommendation. Very knowledgable and totally honest.
—Dealer and authenticator Richard Simon on Net54Baseball.com, Sept. 6, 2011
I was surprised to hear that PSA/DNA hired Bill Corcoran—very pleasantly surprised.
Keating has offered independent authentication and expert services since the 1990’s and was consultant for PSA/DNA, so it’s no surprise that they hired him.
Corcoran has been a baseball autograph dealer since the late 1980’s and has not regularly offered independent authentication services as far as I know. But if there’s anyone more liked and respected in baseball autographs than Bill Corcoran, I don’t know who it is. He is very sharp on baseball autograph authentication and is great with collectors.
This discussion about Corcoran on Net54Baseball.com says it all.
Will PSA/DNA Quality Change?
Even with the welcome additions of Keating and Corcoran, the exits of Grad and Sobrero leave PSA/DNA with big shoes to fill. Grad and Sobrero have wide expertise outside of sports, and in modern material.
Zach Rullo, who has been a PSA/DNA authenticator since around 2004, has similar breadth of expertise, but the company will most likely need to add more staff authenticators and outside specialists in order to maintain quality and turnaround time.
I hope they integrate outside specialists throughout the authentication process. Even the best general authenticator can benefit from the input of expert specialists in Space, Beatles, vintage Hollywood, Mixed Marshal Arts or, say, Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
If they do that, I think that the marketplace will continue to have the faith in PSA/DNA that it has today.