PSA to now offer photo-matching

Authentication company will now offer to directly match items to specific games

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Photo-matching a game-worn jersey to a moment can help it skyrocket in value.

Authentication leader PSA is taking the big leap into photo-matching, officials for the company told cllct Thursday.

Photo-matching takes an item and matches it, thanks to abnormal spacing and other irregularities, to a particular photo or photos to confirm the item was used in a particular game or moment.

Five years ago, PSA allowed collectors submitting bats for authentication to add a photo-matching service, but the company had not taken it further.

"We think this will be a successful program for us," said PSA/DNA general manager Steve Stindt, who is heading up the service. "We have relationships with all of the auction houses already in place for what we do in cards, tickets and autographs, and we think that everyone would rather have a letter from PSA versus the same letter from (competitors) Meigray or Resolution."

Stindt said the company will roll out the service in the next six weeks and, unlike some of their competitors, it will come with transparent pricing that will be based on value of the item and requested turnaround time.

But in the last three years, the practice has taken off, and so, too, have the prices of items that have been photo-matched and brought to auction.

A Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey, known to be offered for $12,000 in 2013, is expected to fetch $2 million to $5 million next month at Goldin Auctions because it was matched to the game where Bryant tore his Achilles and famously, in true "Mamba" style, went to the foul line and hit two free throws.

A game-used jersey of Bryant's that is photo-matched to an average game sells in the $75,000 range, while a jersey said to be game used, but not photo-matched, is closer to $20,000.

Assisted by photo-matches, the number of game-worn items that sold at auction for more than $1 million went from seven in 2021 to 13 in 2023, according to market tracking firm Altan Insights.

PSA will be more strict than others as well. Collectors will have to send in the item for photo-matching — not just submit a photo of the item. All items must be either brought or sent to PSA's main office in Santa Ana, California, for evaluation.

Stindt says the company is interested in matching everything and not just sports.

Blake Panarisi, who had a photo-matching business called End-To-End for more than three years, will lead PSA's photo-matching efforts.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.