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

Views: 15740


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Louie, thanks! The only signed photo in the book was the one from Starbrite's inventory I posted elsewhere here.
My one challenge was finding a confirmed signed in-person photograph for the blog article. Having that would really round out the presentation and be the final confirmation needed. If anyone has one they'd like to share, I'd love to include it in my presentation. I'd be happy to credit the person who provides the image. :-)
I sense the price will be going up soon. ;-)   Once you weed out all the secretarial "Chall"s, an actual authentic signed photo is uncommon.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Just about every dealer has the suspected secretarials in inventory.

I agree - but I don't believe Greg s/b so hard on 3rd parties as there are always going to be exceptions.  Like we have spoken of time and time again on other threads and it's not worth going back into it here 

As far as what prices they go for right now some of the ones I have seen that appear real - range from $55.00 to $275.00+  so steve could be right on.


then again there will always be the other places like this one at coach's....

Number Description Current Bid
2419 Charlton Heston auto 3.75x4.75" B&W fan club photo, deceased! 0


I have just stumbled across your article on Chartlton Heston's signature.  I have been collecting his signature for nearly 30 years and currently have in my collection 108 genuine signatures by Mr Heston.  I also have a stack of secreterials!  I have been aware of the secreterial situation for many years now but didn't want to be the one who announced it to all those collectors out there that their through the mail Charlton Heston signature was likely to be secreterial!  I know how disappointing that can be!

I would be happy to let you have some scan examples from my genuine signatures, many of which I got in person having met Mr. Heston on four occasions when he visited the UK.

I also have another way of telling the difference between the two signatures and a typed letter from Mr. Heston stating in it that he has a legally authorised person who signs  a number of items for him ie: photos, baseballs etc.

I will put some stuff together over the next few weeks and e-mail it to you.  I'm afraid I can't do it sooner but will get it to you a soon as I can.

Kindest regards,

Mike in the UK.



that's very interesting, especially a copy of the document were he legally authorisid person to sign for him would be very nice to see. Thanks for your help,



Miike, thank you. We're looking forward to it.
Very interesting... I'd love to see it. Thanks for jumping in. :-)
Mike, thank you. That will be very helpful.

One of the biggest movers of Heston material outside of ebay, is Autograph World. Steve, do you think they would suspend selling any Hestons and/or make a statement to possible buyers until this can be sorted out?

Not that I doubt Steve's work, but his findings need to be verified just to make sure they're rock solid.

In science, they'd have a peer review. Steve, have you gotten feedback from dealers who regularly handle Heston material? It would be interesting to hear what they have to say. If Autograph World is a major Heston dealer like Brandon says, their input would be valuable. They're good people who are careful about what they sell.

I'll talk to Larry Grobel and see if he can ask Heston's widow how things were handled.

I'm being pulled in a number of directions, so I may not get my part even started today, but I'm checking in when I can. These are the kinds of constructive blogs we need more of. But it would be a shame if a lot of collectors bought Heston secretarials and are stuck.

As my friend, Markus Brandes says, start with the assumption that an autograph is fake and let it prove itself genuine.


Blog Posts

Properly Framing Autographs Pt 1

Posted by Eric K Longo on October 21, 2017 at 8:30pm 0 Comments

The Joy of Sax

Posted by Josh Board on October 18, 2017 at 10:15pm 0 Comments


  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2009-2017   Created by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service