Importance of a Certificate of Authenticity

Artifact Database
July 20, 2017
Artifact Evaluation
January 1, 2012
  • TaskIs Your Certificate of Authenticity Worth the Paper It's Printed On?

There are all kinds of COAs are floating around out there, both real and fake and accompanying all kinds of artifacts. This is especially true of websites and auctions, especially eBay. Unless a certificate of authenticity originates from and is signed by either an archaeologist who found the artifact, a confirmed established dealer, or an acknowledged expert on this field, that certificate is meaningless.
Unfortunately, most people believe that an artifact with a COA is automatically genuine, but that is absolutely not the case. There are no laws that govern who is or is not qualified to write Certificates of Authenticity, except in rare instances. Nor is there any standard with respect to what types of statements, information or documentation a COA must include. In other words, anyone can write a COA whether they're qualified to or not.
A genuine COA must contain specific descriptive details about the artifact such as:
- Type of Artifact
- Photo of Artifact
- Provenience (where and when it was found)
- Material type
- Dimensions
- Weight
- Approximate Age
- Evaluation (expert's conclusions)
- And lastly, information and qualifications of the individual or entity who authored and signed the certificate, as well as their contact information, and both contact information and qualifications must be verifiable. (phone, name, site, email)
Some things to keep in mind when you are told an artifact has a Certificate of Authenticity:
- Always see, read, understand, and confirm the full text of any Certificate of Authenticity before you buy.
- All Certificates of Authenticity must be original documents, hand-signed by the authenticators, not photocopies.
- A genuine certificate of authenticity must accurately describe the artifact. There should be no doubt that the COA describes one and only artifact, the one you are considering buying.
- Original receipts directly from the seller can also be considered as proof or authentication.
Hope this helps you in your future purchases!