(Santa Ana, California) -- Autograph experts in California and Texas have issued a joint consumer advisory warning about an ''explosion of fakes and forgeries'' of Ronald Reagan autographs and memorabilia in the marketplace following the former President's death last weekend.

Suspicious merchandise was being offered online soon after the announcement of Reagan's death, according to officials at PSA/DNA of Santa Ana, California (www.psadna.com), the world's largest autograph and memorabilia authentication service, and Heritage Galleries of Dallas, Texas (www.HeritageGalleries.com), the world's largest collectibles auction house.

''Within two days of President Reagan's passing I saw more than 300 new listings of Reagan autographs on eBay. Many were not authentic, either forgeries or simply replications made with a mechanical 'autopen' but incorrectly listed as a valuable, hand-signed autograph,'' said John Hickey, Operations Manager of Heritage Galleries.

''If you don't know your autographs, you'd better know your autograph dealer or get recommendations on reputable dealers, and also get a certificate of authenticity from recognized experts,'' advised Joe Orlando, PSA/DNA President.

According to Hickey and Orlando, the tremendous popularity of online auctions led to fast introduction of Reagan forgeries in the marketplace. They urge collectors to take a deep breath before jumping into the chase for an autograph.

''Whenever a famous and beloved person passes away, interest in their autograph soars to unprecedented heights. The popularity of internet auctions created a surge in activity for President Reagan's autograph, but it also caused an explosion of fakes and forgeries to appear on the market,'' said Hickey.

Hickey and Orlando say it is imperative that collectors be informed about the dangers of forgeries in the marketplace and insist on third-party credibility and authentication.

''With the proper precautions, collectors can participate in a safe hobby environment and avoid the pitfalls,'' said Orlando. ''There are many companies and individuals who claim they are both credible and reputable, but collectors need to distinguish between those who are and those who only claim to be. As collectors continue to educate themselves, they often become more confident about buying and more satisfied with their hobby experiences.''

PSA/DNA is a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (Nasdaq: CLCT) of Santa Ana, California.