You have a one-of-a-kind collectible item in your possession – maybe it’s a telegram from President Richard Nixon to Neil Armstrong, or a patch from a flag flown on the Apollo 11 lunar module. You know it’s real and you’re ready to preserve it (and maybe even put it up for sale), but how do you authenticate the item in a way that will guarantee that people will know that it’s genuine? How do you document its provenance without other items to compare it to? Let me introduce you to Collectibles Authentication Guaranty (CAG).
What is CAG?
CAG preserves the authenticity and provenance of collectibles, memorabilia, and estate items at the source.
“CAG is an independent member within the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) of companies, whose affiliates include leading third-party authentication and grading services for coins, paper money, comic books, magazines, concert posters, vintage photographs, stamps, and other collectibles.
CAG leverages the combined experience and expertise of its affiliates to provide comprehensive certification services for a wide variety of collectibles. CAG and its affiliates boast over 80 years of combined operating experience and have certified more than 55 million items.” – CAG
The CAG Origin Story
The team behind CAG is comprised of Tommy Barth, Special Projects Manager, and Cathy Atkins, Special Projects Coordinator. The pair were kind enough to answer some of our questions and grant us a peek behind the curtain at what they’ve been working on and what makes CAG such a fascinating subset of CCG.
CAG was founded in 2017 to certify the Armstrong Family Collection™, which was comprised of thousands of items saved by astronaut Neil Armstrong – the first man to walk on the moon – and his immediate family. Each artifact was thoroughly evaluated by CAG’s experts and described in detail, photographed in high resolution and, if applicable, assigned a grade.
Every item was given a unique certification number for tracking and identification purposes and either encapsulated in a tamper-evident, protective CAG holder or accompanied by a CAG Photo Certificate.
A typical day at CAG features a little bit of everything – whether it is a conference call with a potential submitter, researching the history and provenance of an artifact, or preparing a collection for encapsulation. There is always something different to do!
What makes CAG unique?
Collectors want to be completely confident in the authenticity and provenance of their collectibles. As an item passes through many different hands, however, its authenticity and provenance can become increasingly uncertain. CAG eliminates this uncertainty. By working directly with collectors, estates, artists, museums, and others, CAG preserves the authenticity and provenance of collectibles, memorabilia, and estate items at the source.
What are some of the coolest items you’ve handled?
“There have been so many interesting items that have come through! Some of our favorites are swatches of fabric from George Washington’s cloak, estate items from Colin Powell, strands of Marilyn Monroe’s hair, pieces of coal from the Titanic, dining room tablecloth pieces from the Al Capone estate, and swatches of fabric from Napoleon Bonaparte’s trousers worn during the Siege of Moscow.”
What’s the process for submitting items to CAG?
Every item that is submitted to CAG is thoroughly evaluated by CAG’s experts through research and obtaining provenance documentation.
When presented with a potential submission, CAG will carefully evaluate the collection’s contents and its owner’s specific needs and requirements. CAG will then propose a solution that is tailored to the collection’s unique circumstances and is designed to help it achieve its maximum potential. At this time, CAG is only accepting submissions from Dealers. To discuss CAG certification and receive an estimate, please contact Service@CAGcertified.com.
What kind of items qualify for submission?
CAG has received a number of different artifacts over the years (letters, photographs, clothing pieces, flags, etc.). However, each collection is unique and CAG will need to carefully evaluate the collection’s contents and its owner’s specific needs and requirements before committing to a project.
Tommy and Cathy are just finishing up a collection of military-related items from the Colin Powell estate, Amenophis I and Ramesses II mummy cloth from burial, John F. Kennedy golf ball pieces as well as Jackie Kennedy bookplates.
CAG-certified artifacts are available at many different auction houses. In December 2022, Heritage Auctions presented a number of CAG-certified artifacts in their Space Exploration Signature Auction where a US flag from Gemini and Apollo missions sold for over $300,000! Read more about the auction here.
Over 1,000 CAG-certified artifacts from the Armstrong Family Collection were offered by Heritage Auctions in November 2018. They realized an astounding $5,276,320! To learn more about the Armstrong Family Collection visit CAGcertified.com/video.
New Blog Series on the Way!
GoCollect is very excited to launch a quarterly blog series focused on the exciting things going on at CAG. Getting to see these pieces of history pass through their hands is a treat we’re thrilled they’re sharing with us, and we can’t wait to bring the news to you!
*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.