California court
A coalition of auction houses and book dealers succeeded in rewording a controversial new law governing the sale of autographed collectables in California. Image: Home of the Supreme Court of California (by Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons).

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An amendment, supported by the California Auctioneers Coalition (Abell, Bonhams, Clars, Michaan’s plus online platforms LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable) and the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, was signed into law on October 12 and is now in effect.

The little-publicised Bill 1570 has threatened to impact the wider art and antiques sector since it became effective in January. The law is aimed at reducing forgeries in the sports and entertainment memorabilia sectors but had been written in such broad terms – describing a collectable as any autographed item sold for $5 or more – it appeared to include paintings, prints and sculpture and all signed rare books. Rare book dealers were particularly vexed by what the ABAA described as a “punitive” law.

The revised bill (AB 228) argued that the language of the law was unintentionally hindering commercial activity in the state of California. With the passing of the amendment the definition of collectables has been refined. All pictures and works of art, plus books and ephemera not related to sports or entertainment media, are now categorically excluded from the autograph law.

The amendment also addresses some of the privacy and confidentiality issues created by AB 1570 – striking a requirement for dealers of autographed memorabilia to disclose the names and addresses of consignors be quashed in favour of a stipulation that they maintain records of such data for seven years.