Iona University Alumnus and Entrepreneur Turns Passion for Collecting into Distinguished Career

Alumni Success, Entrepreneurship

Iona University alumnus James Spence Jr. ’82 is a renowned name in the autograph and memorabilia industry. Spence is the founder, president and owner of James Spence Authentication (JSA), LLC, an autograph authentication company, which was recently acquired by Certified Collectibles Group (CCG), a Blackstone portfolio company.

A release from BusinessWire shares that “the combination of CCG and JSA will provide collectors and dealers with a seamless solution to have autographed collectibles authenticated, graded and encapsulated by the world’s top experts.” Collectibles span from autographs, trading cards, comic books and postage stamps to currency and coins.

Spence founded JSA in 2005. Over the last two decades, JSA has certified millions of autographs and in the process has built the world’s largest autograph database of nearly 1 million images encompassing virtually every known person — from Thomas Jefferson to Taylor Swift, Lou Gehrig to Little League star, according to the announcement.

Throughout the years, Spence has been honored for his industry contributions, notably receiving the “Partners in Progress Award” at the 2019 Industry Summit. He was also inducted as a member of the National Sports Collectors Convention Hall of Fame in 2023.

“I have been a lifelong collector (and third generation of four) of autographs. My sons and I will continue our careers with the new entity,” Spence said, thus providing the same world-class authentication and services to a wider audience.

Spence’s initial steps toward his successful career began at Iona. The New Jersey native earned his Bachelor of Arts in international business and French language from Iona in 1982.

“Iona enhanced my vocabulary and writing skills,” Spence said. “The college interaction with countless individuals served as a springboard of opportunities for the rest of my life.”

Leaving Iona with a large network that led to job opportunities, travel, marriage and life-long friendships, Spence also earned a certificate in forensic documentation to further his field expertise.

“Find your passion and figure out a way to make a livelihood from it,” Spence advises to aspiring professionals. “Have an entrepreneurial spirit that you are willing to surpass the 40-hour per week mindset, then share your experience with others with a charitable sense of giving back.”

Read more about the business acquisition.

Learn more about James Spence Authentication, LLC.