A new collector sent this in for us to publish:
I've written some observations about being a new collector. If you think it's of any merit, I'll forward it to whoever you feel could post or print it to try to help others."
I recently decided to begin collecting autographs from my Rock and Roll guitar heroes. While on vacation, I found a shop in New Orleans (I'm purposely omitting the name) that had some of the coolest and most well-displayed autographs I had ever seen. The people were friendly and seemed intent letting me find my dream pieces with no pressure.
I found a beautiful copy of Are You Experienced signed by Jimi Hendrix. It was too expensive but one of the girls said that it was 40% off because they had a good month prior. I looked up some exemplars of Jimi's signature on my iPhone and it matched fairly well. They had a COA from a "forensic document examiner" and a 60-day return policy. Everything about this place seemed professional. I bought it and could hardly contain my excitement.
My compulsive nature (and a gut feeling) prompted me to do more research when I got home. That's when I learned the business of autographs can be a very dirty one. Forgeries are very prevalent and good, honest, reliable authenticators are few and far between.
I learned that the "forensic document examiner" (name purposely omitted) had a very checkered past and was out of favor with just about everyone in the industry. I felt like the proverbial P. T. Barnum client.
I investigated further and found that blogs and websites contain both positive and negative information about virtually every authenticator. Then it became a matter of discerning the source of the opinions. The consensus of a positive opinion gleaned from sources (that appeared to have no financial or competitive bias) pointed to only a very few authenticators.
Fortunately, one of them, Roger Epperson, was within a reasonable drive. I took my album to him for inspection. He took time to show me nuances of the signatures on both my album and known exemplars. It was clear that it was a "very good" forgery. I talked with him for about an hour and learned some important tips for collecting.
The following are my personal observations from this experience:
Fortunately, I did get a full refund on my forged Jimi Hendrix. I have read many accounts of people not faring nearly as well.
My hope is that this information will be helpful to other novice collectors.
I have found that the search and acquisition of authentic autographs is really fun and gratifying. Ending up with a piece of history is very cool. Just be careful!