U.A.C.C. Downward Spiral Continues
President Michael Hecht, Once Again, Ignores Those Who Continue to Unite The Hobby

The U.A.C.C. (Universal Autograph Collectors Club) for well over a decade has been in a serious decline. Membership and club growth is a disaster. Dozens of the industry’s major legitimate dealers will not join this group or they have dropped their membership.

The last dealer to join was given number 333 yet there is only 139 dealer members. Where did all the dealers go? Every one was vetted by the club’s membership committee yet many of these dealers were later removed over ethic’s violations. Others realizing this group was no longer for them, for many reasons, simply dropped their membership. Some legitimate autograph dealers feel displaying this club’s logo is a red flag to potential customers.

Today, the club continues to have many problems. Some of the favored dealer members are breaking serious ethic’s violations of the club while the directors of the organization look the other way. Shill bidding members and members not guaranteeing what is sold are members in good standing.

Some non-member collectors and dealers feel the way the club operates if hurting the entire industry.

What makes no sense is with the steady downfall of the U.A.C.C. membership, the Manuscript Society has decided to have Michael Hecht, President of the U.A.C.C., in charge of their “Membership Service.”

Once again, in an attempt to unite the autograph community, the attached letter was sent to Michael Hecht via mail and email. The letter is dated January 4, 2016. With two months passing, Mr. Hecht has ignored not only this letter but similar attempts in the past.

Stephen Koschal
7155 Sand Crest View
Colorado Springs, CO 80923
Email: skoschal@aol.com


                                                                                               January 4, 2016

Mr. Michael Hecht
President , U.A.C.C.
1489 W. Cypress Ave.
San Dimas, CA 91773

Dear Mr. Hecht,

This letter is being sent to you via mail and email.

It should come as no surprise to you that the hobby of autographs, internationally, is larger than ever. Unfortunately, the growth in this hobby is not reflected in the Universal Autograph Collectors Club.

Recently, I have had lengthy discussions with collectors, dealers and some members of the U.A.C.C. Everyone is very concerned about the health of our hobby and the future of the club.

Over the last 20 years the U.A.C.C. has been in a steady downfall. Although the U.A.C.C. is just a small part of autograph collecting worldwide, it’s longtime downward spiral is not good for the hobby as a whole.

Just a handful of years ago the U.A.C.C. had a membership of over 2,000. Today it is estimated that the membership is approximately 700.

The last dealer to join the U.A.C.C. received Registered Dealer #333, yet there is presently only 139 dealer members. One hundred ninety-four members have not renewed their membership and most of them are still in business. As a matter of fact, some of them have found other clubs to support with their dues and educational articles.

From past experience, it is obvious and proven, if someone from within the club attempts to address issues of concern, the U.A.C.C. fabricates sanctions against them. These members with concerns have chosen to leave the club rather than chance being punished for simply asking questions.

There is no question, everyone in the hobby wants a healthy hobby. Comments by the U.A.C.C. such as “over the years the U.A.C.C. has been dragged in to controversial issues….” Why do you think this is?

Many believe it is because the U.A.C.C. is not transparent.

The year 2016 should be the year for the U.A.C.C. to change its ways and become transparent. The more collectors and dealers know about the workings of the U.A.C.C., the healthier the hobby will be. Should the U.A.C.C. be willing to work with those in the hobby who are not presently members, by taking the high road, the club can only gain a much better reputation, this may ensure past members renewing their membership. From discussions I have had, collectors and dealers who had never been a member would consider joining.

I have been asked to approach the U.A.C.C. because I once was a member of the club for many years, held office, won prizes, supported the magazine with articles and attended most events throughout the United States. In the near future, I will be asking you some questions regarding the U.A.C.C.

With your support, it is hoped that the future of autograph collecting will become stronger than ever, free of controversy, and more universally known.

I, as well as many others, worldwide, look forward to hearing from you. Happy New Year!


Sincerely,

Stephen Koschal

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Replies

  • John, amazing, when ever there's a problem in this once wonderful hobby, the same names seem to appear.  Michael Hecht, President of the U.A.C.C. always seems to look the other way. Maybe someone should send him a copy of the U.A.C.C. Ethic's Rules.

  • The (cartel)club has nobody to blame but themselves.  They try to please a few and overlook the many and that is the sole reason for it's decline.

    The rules state.  All dealers must offer a LIFETIME GUARANTEE on all items sold!

    I guess in the fine print somewhere it says Except RR Auctions,? as they no longer offer one.

    If ever a dispute, dealers must give the money back to the buyer.

    What do they do?  While a court case is going on disputing a seller and self proclaimed authenticator who won't honor his own 100% money back guarantee, they make him a member, while the court case is going on.  (seems legit, why not make this guy a member he seems stand upish)

    Again, must be in the fine print, RR's music guy, can get away with whatever he wants?

    The UACC's official stance on "authentication"

    "The UACC does NOT recognize third party authentication certificates not done to professional standards approved by the courts".

    Court approved standard is that which uses chain of evidence. This eliminates so-called quick authentications done without proper research and the supporting data. (ie Roger Epperson, PSA/DNA, JSA)

    Our criteria for accepting autograph authenticators is:

    Proven experience and knowledge of autographs.
    The ability to articulate this knowledge in to a report accepted by the court approved chain of evidence format.
    Be approved as an expert witness by a judge or other recognized authority.
    Show a desire and proof of ongoing education in this field or publication of a scholarly work or works.

    What is just fascinating is This eliminates so-called quick authentications!  Yet they have Roger Epperson and his "quick opinion" service listed in the  UACC APPROVED APPRAISERS AND AUTHENTICATORS!


    HOW CAN THAT BE?  How can you say one thing and then turn around and promote the very thing you just said is something you said to stay away from?

    This club is full of double talk.  They have done what they can to protect one or two business, while overlooking the majority and this one by one people have left and now they are standing scratching their heads going "where is everybody?"  You let them leave by showing them you don't care about them by the ACTIONS of the club!

    Also. Some of the names on the "approved appraisers and authenticators" list are also listed as serial SHILL BIDDERS.  Interesting right?  Also they were named as the same in RR Auctions as shill bidders!

    Having Tricia Eaton sitting on the board might be a reason why RR gets away with what they get away with, right? 

    Then the "ethics man" Mr. Zipper himself, Steve Zarelli another RR guy.

    seeing a pattern here people?  Along with Mr "I'll cut a deal to save myself" John Reznikoff!!

    (wonder how he got that nickname, look what he did the last few times he was in trouble and looking at PRISON time.  Cut deals, wore wires and sent the people he did the crimes with to PRISON while he stayed free)

    It truly is amazing how many people in this Club (small cartel?) have ties to RR Auctions, and you are asking why they seem to be a sinking ship?

    Isn't it obvious?

    (Just my opinion, based on factual information)

    And Steve Cyrkin will do anything and everything to PROTECT THESE PEOPLE?   Ask yourself, WHY?

  • I can't comment on the part about the shows; I simply don't know anything about the problems with them. I was merely a UACC member, not a board member. Clearly Koschal and past and present board members had a falling out. You can tell by his comments and those that are still maintained on the UACC site. I can say that I agree with the last part of the first paragraph of his 2/16/16, 1051pm post. There are a couple of sellers named on the site that couldn't distinguish between a Madonna signature and a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. One of my observations regarding the Pen & Quill was that all it seemed to have were interviews between one member and another. Then they'd reverse it and the second member would interview the other. Then they'd add a third and they'd all interview each other. And they'd always present each other with awards. "Best Dealer". "Best Award Presenter". "Most Congenial Award Recipient". It became ludicrous. Then they'd wait a year and go through the rotation again.

    Daniel: Your observation is correct. In the sense that they try and perpetuate the fraud to prolong their existence, the UACC is exactly like TPAs. Except the TPAs are better at it.

    I see a few old p(Al)s are still UACC Board Members. If they were lying on the ground next to me in flames, I would not take the time to urinate on them.

    I have read the RR Auction Lawsuit site and I watched all of the previously posted depositions. Eaton looked indescribably foolish; White and Livingston a little less so. I will not defend or excuse some of their actions if they are true or proven and they deserve what they get for that. That said, I will say that I remember them since their inception in 1980 when their 'catalog' was folded, typed paper stuffed into a business envelope. I bought from them and I consigned to them. It was several attempts at consigning to R&R that many of my purchases were uncovered as fakes. It was with Eaton's and White's assistance, even just their reputation, that helped me secure refunds from less knowledgeable UACC dealers. I have never had an item I have purchased from R&R questioned or declared a forgery, though I did not purchase items of the monetary level of Michael Johnson. So, I personally cannot and will not complain about them but there is more to that story yet to be told and we'll all see where it leads. But their new payment and auction terms speak for themselves. And I'm not being maudlin here but I cannot stop thinking about that woman who used to work for them who is now deceased. I can't remember but I probably talked to her at one time or another. I really don't care who did what. No one's life is worth all of our collections put together.

  • Daniel, it's obvious you have experienced what others have as well. From my own experience as a Board member, I pounded the table at a board meeting when they wanted to give an award to a dealer who was not a member of the club. At that time there was several members who believed in the club and worked hard for it. They ran shows, wrote articles for the club journal and promoted the club. They were overlooked. They gave the award to this dealer and that dealer, embarrassed, joined the club.  It was a practice for the board to give awards to most of club officers so that they can post the award on their web site.  Interesting, almost every show lthey ran, supposedly, lost money.  I know from experience that's nearly impossible.  When the Platts ran the New York show, an officer of the club (to be unnamed here) called the Platts several times during the show to see how much was made.  Many dealers paid for their table at the show. Cash was taken at the door for admissions. That club officer told the Platts that at the end of the show to mail (via Registered Mail) all the checks and the cash.  It was impossible for these shows to loose money. There was never anything written about the amount of money taken in or the actual expenses.  If you read the last published report from the club's accountant you may be shocked about what he stated in writing.  Toward the end of my membership, I and another member ran the U.A.C.C. Ft. Lauderdale show. We made over $2,500.  We were told this was the first time one of their shows made money. Every dollar was accounted for. To our surprise nothing was ever mentioned about this success in the club magazine. Shortly thereafter a bozo club officer created false claims about me. Every one of them was false and this was their chance to fabricate sanctions against me.  You were very lucky they did not do this to you.  Many in the club knew I always did what was best for the club, however for 30 years one bozo runs the organization. After I resigned, a club director asked me to rejoin and said his request was also on behalf of the club president.  I refused to be part of the corruption.  I was even told as a non member of the club that I could continue to exhibit at their shows. I refused. I still have these letters in my possession.  Many no longer see the U.A.C.C. as a club but just as a group who collect dues from the uneducated.  It's a gimmick collecting all that dues with few places to spend the money. No shows, no magazine, no Membership Directory, etc.   It doesn't take a scientist to understand what has been going on for years.  One of the biggest problems is the club telling everyone to only purchase autographs from their members.  The clowns who vet the new "sellers of autographs" have no clue about what they are doing.  You would be shocked how many of these vetted sellers have been thrown out of the club.  Only the "biggies" get away with breaking the rules and staying "in good standing."  Now, there is one well known person in the club who admittedly does not guarantee what they sell.  Look for them to most likely get an award!

    Thomas is right, the list of "dealers" in this club are sellers of autographs to avoid.

    Daniel, you are right, how many of the current "sellers of autographs' who are registered dealers are recognizable.  Most of the legitimate autograph dealers avoid the U.A.C.C.

    Michael Hecht thinks he can continue to pull the wool over the hobby's eyes of everyone by avoiding persons who are trying to pull this hobby back together. By not even having the courtesy to respond to my letter, the letter got published for all to see.

  • Seattle Signings-  Sounds like Third party authentication companies.  Have you read rrauctionlawsuit.com ?

    Grant- I was looking for a list of UACC members but I feel it would be very interesting to know how many of the shill bidders were members of the UACC.  It smells like rotten fish on top in this industry. 

  • This topic always strikes a nerve with me so I try and speak out to alert others of potential problems. In my view, dealers show their true colors when items that they have authenticated and sold are questioned or called outright forgeries. Virtually all of them offer guarantees of authenticity, usually without time limit. I learned a number of lessons that I wish I didn't: 1) Just because someone calls themselves a dealer does not make them knowledgeable; 2) The M.O. of many of these dubious sellers is to simply disagree that questioned items are fake or that whoever said so is simply wrong, thereby denying any refund; 3) The UACC Ethics Board is a useless group of clowns whose job it is to protect member dealers and close friends; 4) The UACC Code of Ethics is a non-enforced waste of time designed to impart confidence in novice and unsuspecting collectors.

    I joined the UACC to utilize it's Code of Ethics against member dealers when the need arose. I followed all UACC procedures and provided documentation for numerous questioned purchases from dealers who didn't know nearly as much as they wanted prospective customers to believe. I was all but reprimanded by Ethics Board personnel that their members did all that they could to make me happy, I was out of line and they would no longer respond to any of my inquiries. In one instance I had opinions from 4 others that an item was not authentic but it was deemed 'not enough'. In one instance I was excoriated by a dealer that I would dare have an item I purchased from them checked out. They were offended and said that they would no longer sell me autographs, something that they did not have to worry their little selves about. The Ethics Board sided with the dealer. This organization and its members are in tacit collusion to sell questionable material and deny refunds under the guise of protecting collectors. They each authenticate each others items so no one ever has to give a refund but they will simply agree that each others' items are authentic. "You authenticate mine. I'll authenticate yours. We must know what we're doing; we're in the UACC."

    I looked at the UACC website this evening. I recognize very few names. I see a few who are solid, reputable dealers. Why they are still members is puzzling. A few are completely ignorant scammers out to take every dime from you that they can, though you won't find this information on their websites. I also found this comment:

    "UACC's POSITION

    Over the years the UACC has been dragged in to controversial issues which I believe hurt the club and membership as a whole. Our new Board of Directors has taken the approach that we are an educational organization and our mission and our goal is to educate the autograph collector so they may make an educated purchase or acquisition. In truth we don't care who sold what to whom or who said what to whom. We are not a police force. Our realm is that of our membership to who we serve. We can not solve the world's problems or take sides in any petty disputes. We do require all members adhere to UACC Code of Ethics as well as our policies and By-Laws."

    Wouldn't protecting collectors from purchasing forgeries be considered educating them, even if it's from a member dealer? They may not be a police force but the Code of Ethics does allegedly give member buyers some avenues of resolution for questioned purchases. The UACC, in my personal and direct experience, is the one who does not adhere to their own Code of Ethics. (Disclaimer: The currently posted members of the Ethics Board are not entirely the one's I dealt with long ago.)

    Although they refused any more contact with me, they had one final comment. When I requested a refund of unused dues due to my complete dissatisfaction with their handling of my problems with member dealers selling me forgeries, I was told 'No'.

    Why revive this dying club of Keystone Kollectors? Let it go. Move on.

  • Daniel, you refering to the shill bidder list or UACC dealer directory list? I've saved the shill bidder list as a .pdf and could get it all up on site if needed? i don't know yet if the 2 lists share any names or not? i haven't cross referenced them. I suppose it is something that could be done?
  • How can I get a copy of the list? They claim they no longer print the membership list because they no longer have the money to do so.

  • The only problems I've ever had with being screwed were when dealing with UACC members.  It's a list of who to avoid in my opinion.

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