Authentication and Forgery Alert


Authentication and Forgery Alert

Discuss authentication issues within the industry, including but not limited to 3rd party authentication. It's also a "clearing house" for suspected forgeries.

Members: 380
Latest Activity: Jul 9

Discussion Forum

Peyton Manning Jersey

Started by Lisa. Last reply by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager Jul 9. 1 Reply

Sent the attached Peyton Manning jersey to JSA and it came back with a COA. However, I seen one of your threads that now has me concerned. Help please!

Signed Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump guitar pick guard. Possible Forgery?

Started by Dalton Davies. Last reply by Dalton Davies Jul 6. 2 Replies

Hi guys I'm new to this and could really use some help. If anyone is knowledgeable on today's music and they're signatures that would be willing to help me out with if this is a true authentic or a…Continue

Preston Hall Gallery (Dallas)

Started by David Jones Jun 26. 0 Replies

Hi,This is not strictly-speaking about autographs but I was wondering if anyone has had any negative (or positive) experiences in buying original art from Preston Hall gallery in Texas.They hold…Continue UK

Started by Bernie. Last reply by Eric K Longo Jun 6. 16 Replies

I ran across this site while doing some researchI have no experience with them, but the site seems to be doing a reasonable amount of businessAre they considered a "safe", "reputable" dealer? Any…Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 12:50pm
Bill- Thank you first.
I think ebay is dangerous for buyers, due to all the crap and sellers, due to the opinions from scans. I use to think it was more of a garage sale mentality but now I am under the impression it's closer to a junkyard. Restraint of trade is common place. Between "Opinions", VERO members who claim they own your property and spam emails that can wipe out your computers with viruses I don't know how people do it. It's the one place third party has really taken over and it's known as the worse place to purchase autographs.
Comment by Bill Panagopulos on October 5, 2010 at 12:40pm
Todd, your anecdotes about in-person signing are fascinating! Thanks for sharing them with us - I particularly liked the ones about Jerry Lee and Chuck, though they didn't surprise me a bit.

BTW, just to stir the pot - I see that eBay's authenticators may remove any autograph at any time for virtually any reason. I believe there's huge potential for abuse in such a policy, knowingly or well as possible restraint of trade issues.
Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 12:05pm
Not at all. I, as a former third party authenticator until I resigned, know exactly how this works as do you. I am not referring to you, but instead third party as a whole. Don't take my comments about third party personally. When I did signings with Farrah, Ali, Millvina Dean, Bettie Page, etc I had to pay first. The contract has a clause where they have to perform, unless an act of God prevents it such as death, injury etc.

When a celeb signs one autograph they typically do a better job than when doing a sit down 300 or more. Their hand does in fact get tired, cramped etc. Usually they take a break but sometimes they shorten the signatures.

In answer to your question; "How many times have you (I) been offered signed items that you know the person got them signed but didn't buy them because they didn't look right and would be impossible to sell?"
The Answer: I don't honestly know how many times because I have been doing this since 1978. There have been times, like recently a John F. Kennedy was offered on a program. It was definitely authentic but a in-person scrawl. It was an ugly signature. I still offered money, just less. I would probably have paid $700-$800 as the program wasn't in great condition either but because the signature was crap I only offered $400. It sold for $500 to another dealer. So I am not sure I pass on authentic material based on the sloppiness but I do in fact offer less.
Comment by roger epperson on October 5, 2010 at 11:58am
You are trying to lump me in a group. Please re-read my posts, I'm talking about how I would do business. I rarely will authenticate a first name only signature. I have never seen anyone pay in advance for a signing. They pay for it when they show up. If you start getting garbage then I would say stop and do it like you normally do or give me my money back and we will go our seperate ways. Justifying "ONE" signature is one thing, justifying a 100 is another. When I pay for something I get what I paid for, I don't settle for what I can get. If I'm getting it for free then yes I would settle.

You didn't comment on my question "How many times have you been offered signed items that you know the person got them signed but didn't buy them because they didn't look right and would be impossible to sell? "
I would love to hear your answer.
Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 11:50am
I think we understand each other and I agree to disagree on this one subject. Here is what happens so everyone understands. I do a signing with say Arnold Schwarzenegger. He decides to sign; "Arnold Schwarz....." because to spell out each characteristic on hundreds of photos doesn't make sense to him. I offer them knowing they are authentic. The customer buys them knowing they are authentic. The few that want another opinion can send them in. They are failed. The few of the few who contact me about this are sent photos, copy of the bank check etc proving this took place and than they quit using third party. Makes sense to me if that is how it needs to continue going. I was just hoping there would be some common ground to where third party didn't suffer the consequences from not being able to differentiate a real autograph from possibly something that wasn't real. Communication could circumvent this but if they don't want to communicate, than why should anyone else with them?
Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 11:42am
This is where we can agree to disagree. First, I would never compare human handwriting, which changes based on time, mood, age etc to a machine that prints script or images. Chuck Berry probably knows how to spell his name better than any of us....for after all it's his name. To shorten it most celebs sometimes (like Farrah or Paul McCartney) only write a first name, yet people authenticate them. To walk away from an Ali signing where he also travels to be present still cost the amount of the signing so you either get what you can get, or you pay six figures for nothing. I have seen you and others justify certain signatures that don't look right. The only difference here, is the signatures I am referring about are documented where these others are not. This is hypocrisy to state walk away from Ali when we are seeing the most ridiculous Ali signatures ever, being authenticated as we speak by third party. With all due respect, you get what you can get versus nothing at all. Knowing it is real allows one with a reputation to sell such. If other's side elsewhere, so be it but it makes zero sense to give a refund for something 100% authentic when a third party knows nothing about the circumstances and won't even guarantee their opinion.
Comment by roger epperson on October 5, 2010 at 11:41am
I hope we can agree to disagree on this. You do business your way and I will mine. Blaming the authenticator because your client didn't sign his name like he always does is not right. I have been to signings before, I understand how they work.
Comment by roger epperson on October 5, 2010 at 11:37am
All of these stories are great but when Chuck Berry can't even spell his own name right or Ali has to have "homemade" pens just to right then you should just walk away from the deal in my opinion. It only makes things troublesome for your client when trying to sell it down the line. How many times have you been offered signed items that you know the person got them signed but didn't buy them because they didn't look right and would be impossible to sell? Why should this be done then to your clients? I would take my money and go home with no autographs.

This isn't a game of "stump the authenticator" it's just business. I own a printing company and if each piece doesn't look like the other I can't sell the job. What if Bo Diddley just signed "B D"? Would you continue to let him do this and pay him for it? I wouldn't because I know I couldn't sell them even though I know they are authentic because I saw him sign them. I have trashed 100's of things I got signed myself because they were smeared, signed bad or the pen skipped. I can't sell that. It's not just the fact that you know they are authentic that counts, it's that anyone who knows that autograph can tell it's authentic. It's not that anyone is calling you a liar it's that you aren't there after the sale to explain why they look like they do everytime one comes up for sale.
Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 11:22am
I might add. A great authenticator can do the following. It may not look like the signature but also a forger would never forge something like this. Than you look at the characteristics that are always present with a real signature. If they are there, than it may have been rushed, or a mood thing. Being able to see outside the box and understand from first hand experience how signings actually take place can be very informative. The end result is the celeb's autograph. What others do does not concern me, the celebrity or my customers. I suggest that if dealers quit accepting opinions of those that cannot authenticate real material from a documented signing the authenticators lose ultimately, not the dealers. Because the customers are convinced the autograph is real, the dealer guarantee's it and the customers no longer use third party simply because what's the point? They won't get a refund anyway. The process only works if dealers recognize it and accept it. Dealers will only do this if the authenticators know what they are doing and if they don't, ask questions for there is nothing to hide.
Comment by Todd Mueller on October 5, 2010 at 11:14am

In 2001, we did a sit down with Muhammad Ali, our third one. Ali's signature at the time was a tiny little scrunched up mess. So we had talcum powder placed on the photos so his hand would move smoothly and duck taped the pens so they were the size of a rake handle. This way he had to fist the pens so we got larger signatures. To ask "Ali, The Greatest" to write bigger is just not something I would ever want to do. Notice the most recent signatures that look nothing like anything. The "M" looks like an "N", yet they passed these.

Chuck Berry would only sign photos in person on a River Boat he gambles at in Louisiana. He did this on three ocassions and was paid in cash. To ask for a "prettier" signature would have got us booted off the boat. We could only get what we could get and stopped when he started signing; "Berry," Bery".

Olivia De Havilland wrote 25 letters about where to sign the photos, what to add to them etc. For awhile I thought the signing would never happen between each little detail being asked from Paris-Texas and back. I came to the conclusion she just wanted to be pen pals but ultimately she did it and a perfect job. She was a perfectionist.

Jerry Lee Lewis, met at a hotel and came down to the lobby in his underwear to sign the photos. He also did a pretty good job but had he not, I probably wouldn't have argued with a guy in his briefs.

Farrah signed most of the photos on the airplane trip to Germany which was shown on the documentary; "Farrah's Story" so I was not present nor could I tell her what to do.

Alan Shepard, agreed to sign memorabilia after his book signing at Taylor Bookstore. He started with a full signature, than started signing; "Alan Shep," than A.S." We were lucky to get anything. Correcting him would have ended everything which ultimately happened.

Mickey Mantle almost always signed perfect. When I was at his mother, Lovell Mantle's home in Del City, OK and Billy, Whitey and Mickey were drinking and telling stories I got some weird signatures and did quit asking, but I would never tell these three legends to slow down, for one they were pounding the drinks.

Bettie Page would sometimes write; "Bettie Bettie," and forget the Page or write; "Bettie Pagge." No one else but Hugh Hefner and I had acess to her and she would complain and get distracted but I did the best to keep her focused.

Millvina Dean, The youngest Titanic survivor would sometimes write extremely small. I would tell her to write bigger and she would state she has tiny hands.

Gene Sarazen used a bucket of ice at age 96 to keep his hand from becoming inflamed. You do what you can to do the deal, not what you suggest unless there is an appropriate time to do such, but usually that ends the deal for they look at you as criticizing them instead of appreciating the time they are giving you. Most celebs don't need the money but do it to stop the forgers from making money off them. When the forgeries are called real, because forgers try to mimic something real, and the real items are questioned it mock's the entire process.

In a perfect world, your scenario works but I never brought celebs to shows as I don't do shows. I did the signings at either their homes or an agreed upon location, or simply sent the images to them, requiring someone to photograph the event. Sometimes, you can only get what you can get and I disagree for it isn't "like not getting one at all." If an authenticator cannot authenticate an autograph that does not look right they shouldn't fail it. They should communicate or learn the circumstances for otherwise they are calling facts lies and ultimately this makes them look bad, not the seller who was there. There should be a third option that basically states; "We don't know" I am never placed in an awkward position for doing a signing. I did the deal and if someone else fails it, that's on them, not me for the truth always prevails.

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