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eBay Adds Authentication of Asian Antiques

Bidamount Authentication Service
eBay adds Bidamount authentication service

eBay has added an authentication service in the Asian Antiques category thanks to a partnership with a service called Bidamount, operated by Peter Combs, a dealer and appraiser based in Massachusetts and owner of Plcombs.

Items listed in eBay’s Asian Antiques category now display a “Second Opinion” logo sandwiched between the Payments and Returns sections, with the words, “Ask an Asian Antiques Expert” and a link to “Learn More.” Here’s link to one of the listings that features the service.

Clicking on the link takes you to the Bidamount.com website where, for $10, you can get an opinion about the authenticity of the item.

eBay Antiques Authentication

Combs told us that the proliferation of copies and reproductions of Asian Antiques has created a huge problem on eBay. “Currently there are over 820,000 “Antiques” listed in the Asian Antiques category from around the world. The vast majority clearly are not antique.”

He said the service is very similar to the Baseball Card Authentication program through PSA, started a few years ago.

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On the Bidamount website, it says that for your $10, you’ll find out if it thinks an item is Likely Genuine, Likely Not Genuine or Inconclusive. “Fill out the submission form, pay the $10 via Pay Pal and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours with our opinion. If we cannot arrive at a determination, all money will be refunded with an explanation.”

We’re unsure about the financial arrangements between eBay and Combs’ company, which is an eBay affiliate and also sells on eBay. We’ll update this post if we learn more – including the process by which Bidamount evaluates the items in eBay listings.

Now that the process is in place, eBay could expand it to other categories with other partners. Is this the best approach to cracking down on fakes in antiques and other categories?

Update 4/24/19: Bidamount had an existing service called Preview Assistant that offered opinions for $12 for items listed on eBay and other auction sites prior to entering into the agreement with eBay. Combs believes eBay wants to reinvigorate its antiques category – and he thinks the concept of “second opinions” is scalable for eBay. His company is a family business (it has been around since the 1970s with a deep knowledge of Asian antiques), and he, his wife, his son, and a small staff do the appraisals, for which they receive 100% of the proceeds.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

10 thoughts on “eBay Adds Authentication of Asian Antiques”

  1. (**Sticking thumb straight out in front of me…) Yep, that looks Genuine…it says: ” that for your $10, you’ll find out if it thinks an item is LIKELY Genuine, LIKELY NOT Genuine or Inconclusive..I could do that for $5 a photo – and perhaps that is all Combs will be collecting per look – since I am sure Ebay will pocket 50% or more of the “click-thru” and hey, once they have your $10 – whether or not it’s real – you paid them – they don’t NEED to sell that counterfeit piece anymore. But then, let’s see what could go wrong? hmmm….Yes, the 8 pictures in the Listing are Kinda, could BE, Likely be…..GENUINE – Too Bad the Cr*p that they sent you after you purchased the item was something completely hmmmm…..DIFFERENT! Yes, Kiss that $10 GOOD-BYE! Plus the cost of the Phoney Switcharoo, and the frustration in dealing with sending back a 20 pound paperweight to China. It’s okay though, this will be canned in oh, about 6-8 months – when not enough people will take them up on it.

  2. This is an excellent idea and Peter Combs is a respected expert on Asian antiques. I know something about Chinese ceramics, but not as much as Peter Combs, and there are hundreds possibly thousands of chinese ceramics listed on ebay which are fake. For example, one seller in the usa was selling half a dozen similar pots all claimed to be “genuine Ming dynasty”. I wrote to this seller pointing out that not all of these could be genuine (and very probably none of them were). The seller replied that he did not sell fakes and these were all genuine Ming dynasty. Incredible. It seems that he had sold such items or similar items to unsuspecting buyers for relatively important amounts who them gave this a seller a positive ebay evaluation.

    I think this service provided by Peter Combs is essential and will hopefully mean the beginning of the end of the huge number of fake Chinese ceramics advertised on ebay.

  3. Sothebys, Christies, Doyles and the other majors have substantially upgraded their photography. The ability to examine objects via on-line HD images has also shot way ahead of what most people are aware.

    Combs is an extremely talented and experienced appraiser/dealer. His weekly youtube reviews of the marketplace, major auctions and specific topics should be watched to understand his level of competence. He has also had the guts/balls to take on some of the “fakes” auction trade. If I am buying a $500 to $5,000 piece online, this is actually a very good service and idea. It is also eBay trying
    to clean up a major issue. The volume of the fakes, replicas loose is off the charts in this arena.

  4. So much for the Asian expert, or perhaps porcelain isn’t their forte. That isn’t Famille-Rose, and, any expert would qualify that it isn’t ‘period’.

  5. Walkabout, I think you misunderstood the piece.

    The linked listing in the article was only to show where the LOGO can be found on eBay, that Second Opinion box appears on all Asian Antiques lisings in the US.

  6. The last time I had an item authenticated by a pro, it cost me nearly $300. That included direct examination of the item, research into the marks and style, and comparables recently sold. It took a week for the appraiser to make a determination of value and authenticity for one small item. Ask yourself how this Second Opinion could do the same thing in 48 hours for $10? It would be interesting to know the ratio of “genuine” determinations to “likely not genuine.” I bet there are a lot more “likely nots” because that is the least risky decision for the company to make. “Genuine” could lead to a purchase that later is determined not to be genuine by experts who actually examine an item, but no one gets an appraisal on an item that they didn’t buy, so “likely not” is less likely to end in a lawsuit for Second Opinion.

    1. Forumidentity. Your comment impugns the integrity of Peter Combs, who I think is a completely sincere and very knowledgable Asian antiques expert. He could certainly give his opinion rapidly on a piece. I know personally someone who bought a number of musical string instruments, violins, violas and a cello, from a dealer in string instruments. Taking the instruments to a reputable expert in London on string instruments, he was told immediately that they were worth only a fraction of the price that he had paid and was given an approximate price for each instrument. This only took a few minutes and my friend returned to the unscrupulous dealer and threatened to call the police and thereby obtained a partial refund for the instruments.

      I think that Peter Combs could provide a valuable service as an expert evaluator on Ebay. I could do this myself to a limited extent for Chinese ceramics but Peter Combs knows far more about this than I do and his opinion should be given more weight than mine.

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