John Robinson, founder and owner of Resolution Photomatching, posing as he first establishes his business and website. Courtesy of John Robinson

John Robinson, founder and owner of Resolution Photomatching, posing as he first establishes his business and website. Courtesy of John Robinson

A picture can be worth thousands

Kirkland native uses photo-matching to authenticate sports memorabilia.

Avid sports collectors often had to rely on expert opinion to authenticate their valuable memorabilia. This was before high-definition photography and video could be used to provide definitive authentication through a process called photo-matching.

John Robinson, a Kirkland native, started an entire business around this technique after graduating from the University of Washington last year. Robinson launched Resolution Photomatching in July 2016 and has since partnered with major auction houses and recently authenticated a Lou Gehrig jersey that sold for $870,000.

“We provide another innovative method to certify potential game-used items besides the regular ‘official certification’ that has been around for years,” said Chris Youn, one of Robinson’s part-time employees. “Our work actually gives the clients, collectors and auction houses visual conclusive evidence of a game-used and game-worn item that sometimes adds thousands of dollars of value to any given item.”

Resolution Photomatching specializes in sports uniforms and equipment that have been used in-game by professional players. The process identifies unique characteristics to provide a side-by-side comparison of the collector’s item.

According to Robinson, this is becoming the gold standard in sports memorabilia authentication.

“Like most popular and prosperous markets, the game-used memorabilia market is full of counterfeits,” said Sherman Chan, another part-time employee. “Photo-matching gives collectors the peace of mind in knowing that their hard-earned money is not being wasted.”

Robinson, who is a collector himself grew up in Kirkland and now works remotely from Seattle. He first discovered the photo-matching technique in 2008 on an online forum and began using the technique as a hobby throughout high school and college.

He said he eventually realized that there was no professional photo-matching service and decided to launch the first “side-by-side” service himself.

His hobby contributed to the business’s success as Robinson used his connections in the sports authentication world to network with auction houses and big-time individual collectors.

A photo-matching service existed previous to Robinson’s business, but they used different techniques. According to Robinson, he was the first to provide the side-by-side photo authentication which provides a photo of the collector’s item alongside a photo of the athlete using the item.

His company now has two part-time employees and authenticates items for goldinauctions.com, SCP Auctions and heritage auctions. Robinson said his business was the only one of its kind up until four or five months ago when competitors started to break into the business.

According to Robinson, he has an advantage over other business and even individuals because he has contracts with multiple photo and video sources that allow him to legally use their images.

Photo-matching authentication can add value to sports memorabilia, but the technique also has flaws as it relies on photos and unique marks for a conclusive match. Robinson’s business can run into trouble with lightly used items.

“But for the most part,” he said, “unique characteristics will show up to the point where if it was used in a game, a photo-match can be made.”

Robinson said he never thought he’d be photo-matching for a living, but when he launched the business he felt confident it would succeed.

“I definitely expect to see continued growth well into the future,” he said.

One Michael Jordan’s game-worn jerseys that Resolution Photomatching uses to demonstrate their technique that identifies certain unique characteristics to verify sports memorabilia. Courtesy of John Robinson

One Michael Jordan’s game-worn jerseys that Resolution Photomatching uses to demonstrate their technique that identifies certain unique characteristics to verify sports memorabilia. Courtesy of John Robinson

More in Sports

Drinkwine named head coach for NU’s men’s basketball

He has served as an assistant coach for the past three seasons and brings more than 26 years of coaching experience to the job.

High-school gymnasts get their flips family style

Lake Washington and Juanita’s prep gymnastics squads may compete against each other… Continue reading

Kirkland youth tennis duo notches third at national tournament

Kirkland residents Soham Purohit and Vincent Yang won the third-place bronze ball… Continue reading

Juanita, LW wrestlers are taking down their opponents

Three-sport athletes aren’t as plentiful these days as they were in the… Continue reading

LW boys defeat Mercer Island, 59-57

Lake Washington defeated Mercer Island, 59-57, in boys basketball action on Jan.… Continue reading

NU clenches first place at chess championships

Heads turned when the Northwest University Intercollegiate Chess Team, led by the… Continue reading

Juanita dedicates basketball season to coach who passed away

Emotions flowed during a pregame remembrance for former Juanita High coach Sloan… Continue reading

Lake Washington boys are ready to put their hoops puzzle together

Beau Heimdahl views the Lake Washington High boys basketball team as a… Continue reading

Juanita Bees buzz past competition for third straight district championship

The Juanita Bees, a girls U16 team in the Lake Washington Youth… Continue reading

Maggard sets PR with sixth-place finish at nationals

Utah State University senior Dillon Maggard earned his second career cross country… Continue reading

Lake Washington High grad Maggard running strong in college

Dillon Maggard said the outfit he was sporting in the cross-country team’s… Continue reading

Sammamish Rowing Association sets course records at The Head of the Charles Regatta

Special to the Reporter Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) recently took the east… Continue reading