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How do you identify a bad autograph dealer? Whether you're at their website, in their gallery or store, or they're selling at events or conventions, there are signs to look for and questions to ask that will minimize your odds of being taken by the crooks. Share your tips, questions and experiences here.

Tags: bad, buying, dealers, forgeries, galleries, safe, tips

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One sure sign that a dealer sells forgeries is if their autographs are authenticated by "court approved forensic document examiners" or some similar title. In my experience 99.9% of the autographs they call genuine are ones respected autograph experts call forgeries.

These are the forensic document examiners we see the most of at Autograph magazine. I recommend avoiding anything offered with their COA, and avoiding any seller who offers autographs authenticated by them:

1) Christopher Morales—By far the most commonly used one. Supposedly a one-time protege of Donald Frangipani, you'll find his horrific authentications from New York and Florida to Hawaii.

2) Donald Frangipani—He became famous in Operation Bullpen as the guy who would call anything genuine. You also may have seen him spotlighted on HBO's Real Sports. He's the grandaddy of forensic document examiners in autographs. I believe he's mostly used by Myron Ross at Heroes and Legends these days.

3) Drew Max—He seems to authenticate mostly for galleries in Nevada, but we've seen his COAs elsewhere, too.

4) E'Lyn Bryan—She's a newcomer to autographs who seems to work mostly for American Royal Arts in Florida, who used to use Morales, and may still. She's also a real estate agent. I hope the homes she sells have firmer foundations than her COAs.
I usually examine a dealers complete stock closely - not only the item I'm currently interested in. I try to find a signature that I'm very familiar with. If I encounter some items that make me doubt ... I'm out.
You can add James C. Bellino to that list steve. My wife bought me a signed joe dimaggio photo a couple of years ago. Affixed to the back was a coa from "forensic document services" James Bellino signed it as president and ceo. After some basic research on the internet, i was able to find out that he was one of the people the fbi had named along with don frangiapani!!

www.sweetspotnews.com/bullpen.html+forensic+document+services+james..." target="_blank">

p.s. i have since told my wife to stop buying this stuff on ebay.
sorry, that link doesn't work. Just google "jim bellino operation bullpen" and click on the second one down (should read "bullpen")
thanks...I'll check it out.
Here's an excerpt of a report on Bellino and now a relationship to "real Housewifes of Orange County". I smell a movie in the works!

" 1/22/2010 Recently we received a tip that a Jim Carlos Bellino had been in indicted by the Feds in 2000 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. [3:00-cr-03071-JM: USA vs Bellino]

James Carlos Bellino owned Forensic Document Services located at 1115 N. Tustin Ave, Orange, CA.. According to the tip, federal prosecutors deferred prosecution, “a short hand way of letting Bellino off with almost $30,000 restitution, went on probation for a year, and got out of the sports memorabilia business”. The person who supplied the tip wondered if this Jim Carlos Bellino was the husband of Alexis Bellino, the newest housewife on Real Housewives of Orange County. According to the tipster, who had access to the deferred prosecution agreement and, a bankruptcy document involving Rectivity, a pool table company Alexis’ husband had ties to, the signatures are the same.

According to our source, the Jim C. Bellino indicted for mail fraud is Alexis’ Jim Bellino."
Great detective work! Now it makes me want to watch the show.
It is sad that there are so many Doc Examiners that seem to be either not knowing what they are doing or plain dishonest in dealing with the autograph field. My question to all of you out there is this: Is there a legitimate place for Doc Examiners in the autograph market. From what I can gather from various blogs/websites some of the problems encountered are lack of good exemplars (samples), carelessness in examination, conflict of interest in both working for a company and sometimes being a seller, being dishonest, etc. I have considered entering this field dealing with autographs for authentication purposes but am not sure how this might be possible unless the Doc Examiner had sufficient samples and did not sell. Am I hitting the right marks or not? I welcome comments...
Kim--sorry it took so long to reply to you. Forensic document examiners, often touted as "court approved" by the fringe autograph dealers that use them, have a well-earned horrible reputation in the autograph field for authenticating forgeries as genuine. If even one out of 100 of the autographs authenticate as genuine are actually genuine, I'd be surprised. I think it's more line 1/1000.

Dealers and authenticators who have spent years seriously studying the autographs in their specialties typically have a much better eye and larger numbers of reliable exemplars than FDEs, so most can more accurately determine authenticity than an FDE who doesn't have that experience.

Forensic document examiners with strong expertise in ink/pencil and paper analysis are sometimes consulted in the autograph authentication process, and fill an important role when they are. But as a rule, authenticators that specialize in the autograph field have a well-earned horrible reputation.

I think other members here would love to hear more about you, your background, and why you're considering entering the field and what you can bring to it. People who are solid, ethical authenticators are always welcome--and important.

Looking forward to hearing more from you.
Thanks, Steve, for your reply back and will try to give you answers to your questions...

I am currently in the process of finishing my B.A., and have been a document examiner in training for the past year. As to why I am interested in autograph field... well, I have always been intrigued with old documents in particular, history (and watched too many Perry Mason shows!). Most doc students/apprentices may not be as interested in this field because it does involve more research and obtaining appropriate exemplars, etc. However, it is this part of it that I do like. I had started to collect books that pertain to authenticating signatures and forgeries and found it absorbing.

I am not particularly interested in selling documents, books, signatures, etc. I would be most interested in just the historical research and authentication side of things.

At this point I am still learning about this field and business and realize that there is much to be learned and is mainly why I posted on this blog site. I am still learning and am grateful for the advice about Doc Examination and your opinions.

What I could bring to this field if I entered it? I believe that honesty and integrity are always crucial but especially so when others rely on it financially,etc. It is appalling to me how many individuals are just so dishonest.

Thanks for your reply,
Get a load of this character.... try and find just ONE authenic piece..
Hi Mike,
Came across this website, myself, a few months ago, l to, are of the same opinion, as yourself.



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