NOKOMIS, Ill. – A new company has been formed to mark and identify petroliana, automobilia and antique advertising items as a means for ensuring their originality and authenticity. It’s The Authentication Company, LLC and it specializes in marking original period-correct items, to include signs, globes, cans, metal thermometers, displays and various other advertising items.
The Authentication Company, LLC (nicknamed TAC, pronounced ‘tack’), is the brainchild of two men: Dan Matthews (an auctioneer who specializes in petroliana and authored two books on the subject) and Joey Whiteside (a lifelong petroliana collector who specializes in advertising signs). The firm is headquartered in Nokomis, Illinois.
Petroliana authenticating a new - but needed - concept
“TAC guarantees that all items that have been marked with our security holograms and serial numbers to be original and not reproductions,” explained Dan Matthews. “Items that are found to be authentic receive a specific TAC number for a specific item. No two items will have the same TAC number. All items with a TAC hologram and serial number will be stored in our database.”
Matthews said now, more than ever, a service like TAC is needed in the rapidly burgeoning field of petroliana, automobilia and advertising collectibles. “Many fakes are pouring into the country, from places like India, China, eastern Europe and the Philippines,” he said. “Most repros are easy to spot, to the trained eye, but the last thing a collector or auction house needs is a fake.”
Users of the service can log on to www.MatthewsTAC.com, type the serial number into the search bar and they’ll instantly see a picture of that item. They can also search by using a keyword. For example, if someone keys ‘Mobil’ into the search bar, all items with the word ‘Mobil’ in the title will be displayed.
However, there are some items The Authentication Company will not grade. These include repainted or restored single-sided signs; reproductions; “age unknown” signs (or signs that can’t be verified as being legitimately old or original); clocks in which the faces can be interchanged with reproductions; and glass-faced thermometers (like PAM type, jumbo dials).
How the process works
An item is submitted to TAC, where an employee will review it and determine if it is authentic. Items deemed to be authentic will receive a TAC#, which is typically placed on the front edge of the item. TAC will grade the item on a 1-10 scale, good only for the day of authentication. The firm utilizes the Matthews Auctions, LLC Grading System.
TAC will also give clients a general market price estimate of their item or items at the time of authentication. For clients with larger collections, TAC may also provide a detailed database list of their items, with TAC#s, ratings, and price estimates. “For many collectors, this is a great way to have their collections in an easily accessible format or as a printed document,” Matthews said.
The cost to have TAC authenticate an item is $25 per item (with a value up to $4,999); $50 per item (with a value of $5,000-$14,999); $100 per item (with a value of $15,000-$49,999); or $200 per item (with a value over $50,000). The price includes a tamper-proof hologram, entry into the database, unique serial number, 1-10 grading (good for day-of only) and a market value estimate.
Certificates of authenticity
Not all TAC items are directly issued a certificate of authenticity (COA), as some clients prefer to have their items tagged with a TAC specific number or a hologram. A COA from TAC is only legitimate if accompanied by the item with matching number (item and certificate must match).
COAs may be purchased after an item has been tagged, but tagged items must be presented in person to a TAC employee to obtain a COA. A TAC authentication tag cannot be issued based on a photo. Items must be authenticated in person by a TAC employee to be tagged as original.
Getting in touch
Anyone interested in having an item authenticated can do so at any one of the several shows where TAC sets up (such as the Check the Oil Show and Iowa Gas in Des Moines). Or, they can contact TAC directly, using the “Contact Us” link on the website, or by calling 217-563-8880. For larger collections, TAC is often willing and able to travel to that person’s location.
TAC reserves the right to not tag items it cannot verify as authentic or of undetermined age. It also reserves the right to remove a tag should it learn new information about an item that would negate its authenticity. These circumstances are rare. When it does happen, TAC refunds the authentication cost to the original purchaser, should the item be in their possession.
If for any reason an item’s serial number becomes damaged, TAC does not replace it with the same serial number. If an item’s hologram with serial number has been damaged, TAC will assess a fee of $25 in order to issue a new hologram and serial number for the damaged item.
For certain automobilia neon signs and other multi-piece signs, more than one serial number will be issued. This will ensure the authenticity of an item (for example, both skins will receive different serial numbers, as well as buttons or other prominent pieces to a sign). This will be done at TAC’s discretion.
Authenticating Company membership options
Anyone searching for antiques that have been personally reviewed by Dan Matthews and Joey Whiteside may sign up on the TAC website for one of three membership options. The Silver membership is free and gives visitors instant access to an item and whether or not it’s authentic. The Silver option includes a product search feature, description, photo, completion date and rating.
The Gold membership option costs $19.99 per month, or an annual discounted price of $199 per year. It includes all that is included in the Silver option, plus an idea of value. The Platinum option costs $79.99 per month, or an annual discounted price of $799 per year. It includes everything in the Gold package, in addition to an owner dashboard.
Matthews is a certified appraiser and renowned petroliana expert. In 2007 he founded Matthews Auctions, LLC of Nokomis, as well as the semiannual Peotone Petroliana & Automobilia Auctions, which are hugely popular with gas and oil memorabilia collectors. Matthews is the author of The Fine Art of Collecting & Displaying Petroliana, Volume I and Volume II.
Return of Matthews Auctions
Matthews Auctions, LLC has been dormant for several years. In 2014 the company merged with Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania, where Matthews headed up the Petroliana Division. That partnership has ended; in early 2019 Matthews Auctions, LLC will be back with an inaugural auction. The auction is planned for sometime in the first quarter of 2019.
To learn more about The Authentication Company, LLC and Matthews Auctions, LLC, visit www.MatthewsTAC.com. You can also find them on Facebook or reach them via email at email@example.com or by calling 217-563-8880. Ask for Dan Matthews if inquiring about consigning a single piece or an entire collection for auction.