It's happened more times working with experts than I can count. It goes like this:

  • "Ringo does this almost every time he signs, but the forgers almost never get it right. I'm telling you but don't publish it. I don't want the forgers to find out what they're doing wrong."
  • "See this same [signing characteristic] on all of these genuine Obamas? The forgers get it wrong almost every time. But don't put it in the article. We don't want the forgers to fix it."
  • "Most bad Armstrongs [signing characteristic]. But don't tell anyone. We don't want the forgers to know." 

I understand why we don't want the forgers to get better. But I think there's nothing more important than making it as easy as possible for collectors to detect potential fakes themselves.

These "secret tells" will help collectors avoid buying forgeries in the first place, and give them a better chance of getting their money back if they've been cheated. And just as important, it will help identify the criminals forging and knowingly selling and authenticating forgeries.

The more victims, suspects and evidence we can gather for law enforcement; the better the chances of getting these criminals arrested, out of the hobby—and into a different line of work when they're out of prison. The timing is right—the authorities are listening more than ever.

So what do you think?

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Replies to This Discussion


When did you first start working with R&R?

Trish is a wealth of information and sharp for being so young. Extremely helpful, too.

I think the education has to come from us, though, not the larger dealers and auctions. They just don't have the time.

Many small dealers, on the other hand, pride themselves in the educational relationship they build with their customers.

About 3 years ago - and I agree and I think I noted it earlier somewhere that Trish was the most helpful person I dealt with at R&R.  While I seek whatever aid I can get when it comes to "structure" of the autograph and what to look for, there are certain comments I always take with some caution.  For example - Trish told me that because Humphrey Bogart never took the time to add salutations on in person signatures - the album page I had (where the signature looked pretty good really) was suspect because in this case he wrote "best wishes" or something like that as I recall.  It seemed to me that for every other point, the autograph I had matched what she described in the treatment she did in your magazine some years ago on this topic.  It was because of her article that I talked to her about it.   Just because you've never seen it does not mean it doesnt exist!  

I do agree that we learn from our customers - no question about it.  I'm looking at thousands of autographs to authenticate - often our customers have become real experts on the one or two that interest them.  Just like the stories we have all seen on your site this information becomes invaluable.   I learn from other dealers too (from time to time) but mostly just alone with my books...

thats what makes this place so interesting as it is chock full of information (mostly good) once you tune out the flame throwing.


Like the Heston one that comes to mind and yet I wonder if a year from now the forgers will start to figure out how to correct their errors which is why I wonder how much information is "enough".


Like the mantle one that provides merely it's good, not good, not good, good,more not good but not intricate enough to get a pattern down.  Since it's in the top 3 forgeries in volume maybe that is not a bad thing but perhaps a "by invite only" for those who are not spammers to delve into deeper intracies (there are problems with that as well).

Change of plans - Mike is rescheduling this authenticity class to a future show - probably July so there is time to get others involved who might want to take the class

The only time I see authentication as a good thing if the item has significant value and breaks $500.00 at the very minimum.  LOAs would be higher and starting at $1000.00  I'd like to see their service improve when mistakes are made even though there are complexities to deal with.  Way too much stuff has a coa but for the "mom & pop" & casual buyers it's understandable that items below those threshold offer some sort of assurances.


I still think they get more right then they get wrong.  It's just that when they get something wrong thats all we hear.


and mike, if it turns out to be bogus, if I understand your point, the item is fairly worthless sticker or no sticker but there is always EBAY, Coach's Corner & Craigslist.

As a collector/dealer/author I want to know more about authenticity so I can make better personal judgments.  The very few items that I was "forced" to send out to either JSA or PSA, if judged non-authentic, contained a perfunctory generic explanation of rejection, without specifying exactly why the items were found to be non-authentic. If I paid for an opinion on authenticity, I feel like I deserve a complete explanation. This NEVER happens. As consumers we need to know what to look for, and how we can  better identify forged signatures.

  I practiced medicine for 25 years.  I had more tells than anyone could imagine. I always shared my knowledge with my patients so they better understood their condition.  I realize that medicine and authenticity are not on the same playing field,  but the concept of sharing knowledge to help individuals better understand, is universal.

  I suggest that Autograph Magazine Live begin regular on-line classes in authenticity instruction.  The pupils should be vetted.   I also suggest that the instructor be compensated via a tuition which is charged through this site.  I cannot accept the fact that educating the consumers will  be detrimental to our hobby.


Well I like the idea if it could be done as a "e-learning" type course.   Of course this site as it is provides a great deal of knowledge - but its hard sifting through all the messages.   Just consolidating some of the content as has been done with "isitreal" would be a good idea too.  How about an online database with studies evaluated by celebrity name.   We certainly now have a lot to go on for Charlton Heston.   Just think what more could be done like that.
I"ll never tell.

I will....   Muuaahhh  but of course we are back in 1958


If anyone's interested reading this - I'll be at both the Hollywood show in Chicago (Rosemont) this weekend and the Burbank show the weekend after that (April1-3).  This is not a commerical plug - if you happen to be there please stop by - I'd love to discuss this further in person with any of you.  Just look for the "ReelArt/StarMemories" booth or ask the show promoters where to find me.
I am also going to be at the Hollywood Show Burbank next weekend - hope to see you then.
You know with all the goofs they have made with the Hestons Lewis's and Stewarts and who knows what else? Do we really want them to tell us anything? The more the collectors on this site help each other out, we dont really need them, they are as they say shooting themselves in the foot!  Maybe as more and more of their mistakes come to light they may start saying more.... but I wont hold my breath I want to live!!!


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