This a certificate provided with an item to say that it is genuine. It may refer to the signature and confirm that it is a genuine autograph, not a print. Alternatively, it may verify that a cover has been genuinely carried.
This idea of having a certificate is new to the world of covers and stems from the autograph market where, with so many forgeries around, customers wanted reassurance that any signature they bought was genuine. We are slightly skeptical of Certificates of Authenticity. It seems to us that if someone is going to forge a signature, they are not likely to get a qualm of conscience about forging a certificate to go with it! As far as we are concerned, if you buy from a reputable source that you can trust, you should not need a certificate of authenticity – although we are delighted to provide one if you request it. We arrange the signatures for Buckingham Covers directly with the person signing and if we were ever challenged, could produce plenty of evidence to show that they are genuine (including the word of the signer themselves).
Remember that a certificate is only as good as the company that provides it. Be careful when buying autographs and check the company’s pedigree. Fraser’s, one of the leading suppliers of autographed photographs, destroys items if they are even slightly worried that the signature is a forgery. Internet Stamps (Buckingham Covers’ parent company) does the same. You need to check that whoever you buy from has the same policy and reputation for honesty. That way, their word on a certificate means something.