At Steve Cyrkin's invitation, I'd like to call your attention to a signature study I've posted on my blog, Charlton Heston signature study by Steve Zarelli.

I believe I have identified the "tell" in Charlton Heston secretarial signatures, and if I am correct, the news is not good for most collectors. It appears that most  Heston signed photos are secretarially signed.


Here is a synopsis:

The Theory
Photographs and other memorabilia sent to Mr. Heston's office were signed by a secretary. However, Mr. Heston did authentically sign books through-the-mail.  

Real vs. Secretary
In authentic signatures, the R in "Charlton" is distinctly a lowercase "r" and less than half the height of the L. The first four letters are clearly "Char."

In secretarial signatures, the R looks much more like a lowercase "l" and is about the same height as the L. So, the first four letters appear to be "Chall."

I have attached two images to give you a small sampling.  

For more details and images, please visit my blog at the link below.

I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this. I fully anticipate some resistance to the theory, because denial is always the first step. In fact, I would love to be proved wrong, because that would mean I wasn't sitting on a bunch of secretary signed photos!

By way of introduction, I have been collecting since the early 90s and I am the UACC Ethics Director.

I look forward to the discussion.

The Collecting Obsession


Steve Zarelli


Tags: Charlton, Forgery, Heston, Secretary, authenticating, autograph, secretarial

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i have got about 4 5 painos like this around london and l.a but ot with all the best and at the same time signed A dot

Hi Steve,


I have to thank YOU  that you started your own investigation !


I wish there are more Zarelli's (you are for me one of the real Internet pionier's in autographs cause your blog started many years ago was always a good source for new findings) and Mike Johnsons (whose "Autograph Research" from the mid 90's are still in my library) around who put energy and a lot of time in such studys, which can only help the community !


I am glad that my customers who purchased in the past 10 years genuine Hestons from me or purchased a genuine one by other dealers after they asked me about my opinion and often paid a bit more than any other dealer has asked for their so called "genuine Heston" now have other proof that I was not wrong and that they have now a 100% genuine Heston in their collection !


Best regards, Rolf






I've been putting it in my catalogs for decades:  the photos are/were secretarial and one should only trust the checks.  Unfortunately I'm all out on the checks that I had:-).  If one bought the "Moses" and "Ben Hur" photos from dozens and dozens of dealers, I would still recommend that the buyer go back to the dealer to request ones money back.


Caleb Gluck

Golden State Autographs

Hi Caleb:


You are one of the finest dealers out there -- there is no doubt about it. But, in general, I think collectors don't take some dealers too seriously when they make statements about secretarials without further proof. It could be just part of the sales pitch, and it is human nature to want to believe what you have is real.


Earlier in this thread statements were made about James Stewart secretarials. If this is true, it would be an even bigger blow to the hobby than the Heston secretarials. Speaking for myself, I need to see some proof... I'm not going to suddenly run every Stewart I have through a shredder because someone claimed they were secretarial without seeing some analysis.


BTW, I recently framed a Willie Nelson signed LP I bought from  you a few years ago. Looks great in my office. :-)


Regards and keep up the good work. Steve

Don't know if this is still up in your shop but it appears you have a matted ensemble for sale that falls within the "dbl L" brand parameters;


Hi Caleb,


nice to read you, you was one of my inspirations only to deal with 100% In Person autographs  many many years ago and I know we have talked about Heston some years ago and you was one of not a handfull collectors/dealers who agreed with me then ! I very much respect this !!!


But I have to say that there are genuine Moses photos around. I don't know the name of the dealer anymore, but some years ago  an american dealer (maybe not an autograph specialist) had a private signing with Heston and two motives where signed as far as I am aware. I purchased then about 10 or 20 autographs from this signing, but from the picture he sent me with the autographs Heston has signed a big bunch of photos then :


This where the two motives he has sold.


An old age photo signed in black marker :



and a Moses photo signed in Gold marker

I don't know if all are signed with black and gold, but my autographs I got where all signed that way.


Best regards, Rolf

heard the first time about James Stewart, but if someone goes deeper into it, Isitreal and I will be glad to help as much as possible to get the evidence.


There are a lot of secretaries who are not really known on the market like Gene Kelly, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve just to name a few which are authenticated by the "Pro's" and still sold in masses by many dealers......


Your Signature Study on Charlton Heston is excellant.

It is a wonderful companion to the Signature Study Rolf Ramseier did a few years ago,

which I translated in English for him for his website "Isitreal".

I have been collecting Heston for years, and knew about all the Secretarials flooding the autograph market.

The reason I did the translation was because of exactly what you talked about on your blog.

Some Dealers in our hobby are very reluctant to admit that they are in possesion of Secretarial material, even when presented with genuine examples of somones autograph.

This happened to me with RR Auctions.

Last year I had noticed they had for auction a Heston signed 8x10, that I believed was a Secretarial signature,

and sent an e-mail to Tricia Eaton to let her know about my concerns.

She replied that they believed it was genuine, so I offered to forward her Rolf's Signature Study to help with their investigation.

Trisha said she would welcome the info , so I forwarded it to her.

After about a week I sent Trisha a e-mail and asked what they thought after reviewing my info.

She said they  were sticking with their opinion that the autograph was genuine, because their authenticators said it was and that the Signature Study I sent her from Rolf was in German and they could not understand it.

Well that answer made me crazy!!!

You did not have to understand German to see in the many examples that Rolf  had pictured in his study what was an original signature and what was Secretarial.

In my continuing quest to rid the hobby of the Secretarials and Forgeries that flood the marketplace, I have found the following dealers very willing and thankful for any credible information they can use to rid their inventories of questionable material. The Dealers are:

  1. Bob Jones- Autograph World
  2. Kenneth Rendell- The Rendell Gallerys
  3. Markus Brandes - Markus Brandes Autographs
  4. Robert Saunders - Arundel Autograph Gallery
  5. Rolf Ramseier - Rolf Ramseir Autographs

 Steve keep up the good work !!!!!!!!!!


Bob Shinn

Hi Bob,


yeah I totally forgot you translated the study for us, really sorry :-)


I just checked the Isitreal page again and you have to scroll down the whole page to find my study translated by you into english, but it is still there and ready to be read in English for everyone ;-)


So, thanks again for your help !


Best regards, Roplf

Steve, Rolf...everyone:

What studies are already out there, on secretarials and otherwise, that we can publish and peer review? Even if they're old and could use updating that would be fine. Most studies are works in progress.

And what names would you add to the list to be studied? Jimmy Stewart looks like an obvious one. John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe. We've published some we can draw from.

Not just classic Hollywood. Start listing them, folks—both what you have an what you'd like to see.


yes, James Stewart had an Autopen, they are published on Isitreal as well and if I am not totally wrong, some of the examples on our site originally came from Steve Zarelli (sorry not mentioned you if they are from you, but when we started Isitreal in 2005 we had a lot to do to upload and scan the 1000's of images and some of them we may have copied before from other good sources like your blog )



The problem showing study's on the net is, you do not only help the serious collectors and dealers, fakers can also get too much information from such study's. That's why we do notmally not publish full study's on Isitreal.com, we do it in some cases, but we also make exceptions.


The best example was the Neil Armstrong study published by collectspace some years ago, soon after the study has been published, the forgeries grew up in quality !



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