Recently on this site, a woman posted an autograph she got from Paul McCartney with a smiley face drawn on it. She needed to sell it, and we got the most commonly asked question we get – “Is this autograph authentic?”
The amount of people that go buy some garbage on eBay and only find out later it’s bogus, baffles the mind. Yet it really shouldn’t. I’m guessing 90% of all autograph collectors have been burned at some point. It could’ve been on eBay, or a shop you trusted, an estate sale, or that little old lady that convinced you her sister Bernice lived next door to Elvis when he was first starting out and that’s how she got the signature.
When the person giving you their John Hancock draw a self-portrait on it, you’ve struck gold. I remember buying a signed Vincent Price index card, with a caricature drawing (those are fairly common for him).
You see a lot of Alfred Hitchcock signatures with his famous profile. Art Carney was known to draw his. And I saw Red Skelton draw a face on one signature, but I’m guessing there are more paintings of him as a sad clown than signatures with a drawing.
Jimmy Stewart often signed his name, drawing the rabbit from Harvey.
One of my big regrets was when I was at NAMM in Anaheim. That’s the National Association of Music Merchants (I believe that’s what it stands for). You could score lots of great autographs there, and I have (another story for another time). I was working part time at the post office, and a guy that drove a fork lift named Daryl loved George Clinton from Parliament Funkadelic, his all-time favorite band. So when I saw him, with his colorful dreads and sunglasses, I asked for his autograph. I asked if he could make it out to Daryl. That’s a move I highly recommend if you’re getting an autograph for somebody else. They’ll like it more, and the celebrity won’t think you’re going to sell it. What I didn’t expect, was him to draw his own face. And it was amazing. The hair was going everywhere, and he made two x’s for eyes. My entire drive back to San Diego, I thought about how I should just keep the autograph for my collection.
When I gave it to him at work, he looked at it, and as calmly as a person could, uttered “Oh, okay. Thanks.” He slipped it in his wallet and drove off to pick up huge boxes. I’m guessing he threw it in a desk drawer or perhaps threw it away. Oh well. You live, you learn…not everyone cares about autographs as much as you might.
On Pawn Stars (which we’ve shown on this website, isn’t always on the up and up when it comes to autographs and how they present things), a guy brought in two signed pieces from comic book legend Stan Lee. I immediately told the friends I was with “They won’t be worth that much. The guy comes to Comic Con each year and signs a lot.”
What did perk my interest was that they had a Spiderman head drawn. Now, he wasn’t an animator. The seller also explained that, they brought an expert in, and he ended up saying it was worth about $500 bucks. The head was crudely drawn in one, a little better in the other. Of course, the personalized autograph made it worth a little less.
It was around the same time I saw that episode of Pawn Stars, that I saw the post from the woman showing her beautiful McCartney signature with his smiley face. I remembered years ago when I was in radio, seeing a Christmas card somebody at the station got signed by he and Linda McCartney, with that same smiley face. I had seen other autographs from him with it.
Chuck Berry makes a smiley face about 90% of the time. I have 8x10s with that signature, and a guitar neck with a C.Berry, and a smiley face.
These make the signatures perhaps a tad more valuable for a few reasons. It’s yet another thing that can help prove authenticity (we’ve all seen those forgeries that are perfectly done…you throw in a drawing or a personalization, it’s more that we can look at to study and see if it’s truly in their hand).
If memory serves, the woman on this site was talking about it being a “drawing from Paul” and it doesn’t get into that level of value. Sure, if McCartney drew a picture of himself playing a Hofner bass, yes…you can tack an extra thousand bucks on the value of it.
The late bassist of The Who, (John Entwhistle) would often draw a spider with his signature (he sang the popular Boris the Spider). When that became a popular request of him, he changed that to the first person asking getting it, the rest just getting his signature. I was so bummed that when I met him, I couldn’t find my Who By Numbers album (he drew the dot-to-dot that graces the cover).
If somebody merely makes a smiley face, don’t think you’re going to make hundreds more off the signature. Just let it put a little smile on your face. You got a little something extra with your signature. And really, isn’t that why we all started collecting? For the love and pleasure of the hobby, and not to make money.