How important is a back story/Provenance to your autographs

So i have just noticed an autograph i used to own listed with a major auction house with a so called detailed letter of provenance ,the owner tells how he attended the show and gives full  details of how he obtained the autograph ,the story is very detailed it is however a total fabrication , i dont want to say which item or auction house it is as i really dont want any hassle from it i had enough of that last year  never again ,people may be able to put two and two togethor and work out what it is,i am thinking of letting the auctioneers know its not their fault they are a decent house they can only go on the story they are told 

I owned the item around 7 years ago it had no back story or details at all i found out the history of it because of the signature on the back and tied the two artist togethor to a particular place and time i sold the item on a year or so later after having it matted /mounted and framed with no story at all just a time and place where it was signed ,a few months ago i saw it on e bay with a total b******* story quite laughable it was told as if they obtained the signature and had owned it since then so i know its all a lie, im unsure if someone bought it on e bay or if the same seller has consigned it to the auction house but its up with the same long story and its still matted as i sold it with the photos i used

Would this annoy you if you bought it and found out the story was a total lie or would it not bother you either way do you think it happens often in order to get a better price and has anyone come across something similar     

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Many stories are obviously untrue.  Yes, I would say over 50% are false.  How much over 50% I’m not sure because there are many stories that are indeed true.  Not everyone is a crook or unethical.  For every authentic autograph up for sale somewhere, someone got that autograph in-person...except for TTM.  So every autograph has a story, and that story can be legitimately told if the autograph being sold is still owned by the original owner.  Of course, the problem is verification of the story.  

I once bought a relatively high-dollar item based partly on the original owner’s story of her acquisition of the autograph.  Based on her story, the autograph had great provenance, making the autograph even more desirable.  But I just didn’t trust her story right off the bat.  Unbeknownst to the owner, I did my own homework and was able to verify much of her story.  The things she told me checked out.  Most importantly, the autograph looked good to me.  Furthermore, she wasn’t some high-volume eBay autograph dealer.  This autograph was the only thing she had for sale on eBay.  All of her other ebay transactions were for purchases for herself.  She had never before sold anything on eBay.  She wasn’t churning out multiple fake autographs for sale.  Her livelihood did not depend on the sale of this one autograph.  I also got to know her over the phone on multiple occasions.  Yes, I trusted her, and I’m glad I did.

Over time, I’ve heard many stories about so-called in-person autograph hounds or chasers.  And many of these autograph hounds don’t have video or picture proof for every one of the many autographs they are selling.  In many cases, all these autograph chasers have is a story, yet I’ve been told...oh he’s can trust him...he’s reputable, but then I’ve looked at the inventory, and I’ve not always been impressed.  Of course, part of the problem could be that many of their in-person autographs are rushed examples.

Ultimately, it all comes down to whom you can trust.  And yes, if I did find out a story of provenance was nothing but a lie...even if the autograph was real, I’d still be ticked.  You often see Beatles or Stones autographs offered for sale with a story of acquisition that even gives you an exact date, and even time of day.  And I’m like...really?  50+ years later, you know the exact time and date?  It is possible to know this, but often these stories sound contrived to me.  And yet many auction houses offer Letters of Provenance even when they’re probably not even sure if the background story is true.  

Some may sound contrived James but I've have autographs 50 yea tee s old and managed to contact the person who had one signed once after a bit of research so it's not impossible, I also have photos of her as a young teen running around with the album meeting the Beatles signing. Other instances the provenance is part of the autographs themselves signed on a letter head or a signed card .

I agree with a lot of the thoughts you've all expressed here.

If it's a person that merely had one or two 'graphs, yes...their story means a lot to me. They aren't a "dealer" find out later they lied, that sucks.

I had a popular autograph dealer (everyone here knows his name), and I bought a signed Doors photo from him. His backstory involved another famous person selling him the photo (or trading it for something). These were easily, the nicest Doors signatures you'll ever see, on an 8x10 photo.

Well, I'm in the media. It wasn't hard for me to get a hold of the person that supposedly sold him this photo. The guy told me he did not have this set of autographs and if he did, he would've kept it (as he collects some autographs).

I will give the dealer credit, though. When I confronted him with this information, he offered me a refund (even though I don't think I could find his Cert of Authenticity). And, to top it off...I spent $75 to have it framed nicely (with this beautiful matt, that was marble looking). I asked that he pay that price too...and he did.

I've met two people with full Beatles signatures. What surprised me about both of them is...they had family members that worked on Ed Sullivan and got them there (I saw one photo -- they're real, and were the best set you'd ever see...except she carried it around everywhere and when I ran into her years later, the thing was all crinkled up; she thinks it's worth a million dollars, too; she's a bit of a nut).

Another guy I met, has two signed Beatles guitars. He worked in Hollywood for 50 years, and would often get things from the sets of movies (he told me he has the alien head from the movie ALIEN). On the set of a Beatles movie, he brought two acoustic guitars, and had the Beatles sign them. He had them on his wall for years, but now they're in his storage unit. I didn't see them, but....he's an old dude whose stories all made sense to me. But here's the beauty of his items. Suppose he dies, and his family get these items. Doesn't matter if they don't know the story behind them. They will either be proven authentic or not, by Beatles experts and....they'll still make just as much as if the kids knew the story behind them.

Thanks for the responses sorry i couldnt reply earlier i have let the auction house know that the story is false 

Good. I hope they agree and that it causes them to look beyond the false provenance.

Bueller , Bueller!

I like hearing about trusted sellers items they buy of my mates then seeing the bs stories they list them for! I obtained it myself and on and on, upright guys 

So i got a response im sure they will eventually change the description

This really is the most unhelpful thread. 

It will be helpful if the auction house changes the description.

Yes, it would annoy me if I bought an item and I found out that a story of provenance that was attached to it was a total lie.  Yes, I think that it happens often in order to get a better price.  No, I have never come across something similar because I take all stories of provenance with a grain of salt.  They are worthwhile if they are personal stories to share with others, but worthless as someone else’s story to tell in order to authenticate an item further.

I have many stories about collecting autographs that I am constantly sharing with my family and friends.  I would never expect someone to believe one of my stories as proof that they should purchase an autograph from me.  We all need to do our research and allow the autograph to speak for itself.

Great topic, Rogers.

The most important provenance for me are:

  1. Documentable and verifiable sales history:
    Auction sales, respected dealer sales, long term eBay-type history and similar 

  2. Documentable and verifiable original source history:
    In the case of autographs from the mid-80s forward, licensed signings, the known reputable IP collector who got it signed, band-direct sales, etc.
    In the case of vintage and historic autographs, the collection it came from, etc.

The autograph still has to be authenticated without considering provenance, but provenance can help verify authenticity.

Stories of getting it signed, that it came from the seller's parent who met the Rolling Stones, etc., mean nothing unless you can talk to the person who supposedly got it signed. Then you can ask them questions about it and get a feeling for how genuine their responses are. 

Even with the false provenance, the item sold on eBay for about half of what it should be worth. This was after it was relisted due to a non-paying bidder at an even lower price. I’m not sure if the eBay seller provided a letter of provenance or if the second winning bidder backed out as well. 


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