Things I’ve learned as a long-time Beatles autograph dealer & collector

By Perry Cox

Hello to everyone, and thanks to the moderators for allowing me to become a member of this fine community. I’ve heard good things about Autograph Live and I support it.

I respect everyone's opinion as well about anything signed or reportedly signed by any or all members of the Beatles, whether I agree with their assessment or not. It’s clear you care about authenticity and you should voice concern anytime something strikes you as odd, or not consistent with what you feel is authentic. It’s what this site is all about and to put it in plain language, it’s a good filtering place.

Every autograph we own or have owned that was not signed in front of us in person was purchased solely based on our opinion and likely the supporting opinions of others, to the point where we feel comfortable owning and investing in it. It’s not rocket science, it's basic common sense in protecting your fun and your investment at the same time.

Over the many years, I’ve offered hundreds of items signed by the Beatles, both as a group and solo. Many if not most collectors of Beatles autographs, records, and memorabilia either know me, know of me, or have at least heard about me. Being in business for 38 years will do that if you try the best you can to do what is right.

Those who do know me know that I care very much about the authenticity and integrity of every item I sell, autographed and otherwise. That is why I have always backed up everything I sell with a complete lifetime guarantee of authenticity. It’s literally the best I can do since I do not witness the signing of an item in most cases.

No dealer's or authenticator's letter of authenticity makes an autograph authentic. Not mine, not yours, not anyone's, period—no matter how respected they are. The item actually being authentic is the only thing that truly makes it so, and I do the best I possibly can to be as accurate as possible.

Everyone in our chosen field has the responsibility to do our best; to put all of our experience and expertise into use when examining any signed item, whether claimed to be signed by the Beatles or anyone else.

Nobody can ever be 100% accurate 100% of the time when authenticating autographs. It’s simply not possible, no matter how hard we try. But by carefully authenticating based on our experience, skill, research, and by consulting others who know the artist's autograph well, we can authenticate with a high degree of accuracy. We can only be 100% accurate on autographs we saw signed in-person ourselves. And that's only IF you saw it signed itself, not by taking the word of someone who said they got it themselves. That's why it's extremely important to independently research and ask others about the reputation of a dealer or individual who said they got the autograph in-person.

Some say that authenticating someone's autograph is a science. Well, my handwriting has changed a lot over the years. If it truly is science, then somehow the scientific nature of my own handwriting today is very different than it was long ago. In addition, I’ve signed documents, my books, and other things many times under stressed or less than ideal circumstances, where my resulting autograph came out a bit odd or unusual compared to my usual one. Situations like signing-on-the-run, signing out a car window, or signing on any unstable surface can yield a dramatically different autograph. We’ve even seen signatures from private signings get worse when an artist signs too many times in one sitting.

The only science in authenticating autographs are things like determining if the item the autograph is signed on existed when the person was alive, if the writing instrument or ink existed, and similar indisputable factors. If a record is a reissue produced after the supposed signer died, that's an objective "scientific" way to determine they didn't sign it.

So what do we do? Most collectors and authenticators simply pick the safest and most conventionally accepted examples of a given autograph and rule out all others. That's safe. But good, authentic examples signed under less than ideal circumstances get rejected as "bad" when they actually are authentic. I don’t blame people for that. You should only buy what you're comfortable with. I’ve done it, too. But truly authentic examples can and do fall victim to that practice.

Ty Cobb's lifetime batting average was .366. He retired in 1928, and it's still the highest lifetime batting average in Major League Baseball history. Babe Ruth had the 10th highest lifetime batting average at .342.

The most highly respected surgeons heal some patients but lose others, and they're still considered among the best doctors in their field.

Even the Beatles themselves, the greatest of all time, didn't nearly reach the top with every song they wrote. In fact of the 213 songs released between 1962 and 1970, 188 originals and 25 covers, 20 were No. 1 hits and 34 made it into the Top 10.

In autographs, you can accurately authenticate 10,000 items, but if number 10,001 gets by you it can result in your great reputation being sullied. It never used to be that way, but it is today; mostly because sellers of forgeries work hard to point out possible mistakes of legitimate authenticators and dealers to confuse the buying public.

It’s a shame, because I always liked working with others in this field to make it a better and safer environment. Strength in numbers. Instead, it seems too many are just waiting to pounce on even the good guys on the team. I’d sure like to see that changed to more of a "let's work together for the fan and collector" to help keep things as safe as possible for all.

The crooks and frauds don’t care one bit about anybody but themselves. Some change their name or start a new business when the word about them gets out. Some exist for decades using the same name or location, because they know how to work the system and get away with selling forgeries. We keep trying to shoot them down as best we can, but as long as there is money in this and the bad guys can get away with it, it will be like that. It's the same with most other collectibles of value.

I believe it’s possible to pool the resources of the top professionals and collectors in our field, put egos aside, and work together to make autograph authentication better than ever.

It has been said that I never called myself an expert. That is a fact. I never have. I’m only, as we all are, students of the subject of autographs and still actively honing my skills, learning as much as I can every day to become better and better. I will say this firmly and anyone who knows me knows this about me. I try very hard every day to be completely upfront and honest and fair in all my dealings, the same way that I would like to be treated.

You don’t stay in this field for nearly 40 years by not treating people right. I will once again, reiterate that I stand behind every autograph I sell, and always have. I’ve seen some authenticators who kick and scream if you challenge their opinion. I’ve seen this even when presented with indisputable facts. That is not me. I desire to keep learning and getting better. It’s why I am here today. Not only to express my position and feelings, but to hopefully work together with other Autograph Live members to make autograph collecting safer for everyone. Not to attack the good guys. Save that for the crooks.

The closest person I know in Beatles autographs to being an expert is Frank Caiazzo. That is why I consult him regarding any item I have a question about. He is considered by most everyone to be the best in the field of Beatles autographs.

I don't just deal in Beatles autographs. I collect and deal in other autographs and artists as well. The Beach Boys, Alice Cooper, and a host of others. I also sell quality unsigned Beatles memorabilia, records, and more from around the world.

Frank ONLY studies Beatles autographs and has for more than 30 years. You can ask just about any long term respected firm about him and you’ll likely get the same answer. Most who do offer authentication services are not specific to Beatles. Frank is. To me, that means a lot and always has. But does it make him perfect all the time, every time, all the way back? No, nobody can honestly claim to be.

You have my pledge that I will always do my best to get it right. I may miss one on rare occasion, but here I can have a larger pool of eyes to keep that to a minute percentage. In fact, it already has. But getting as close as humanly possible to 100% accuracy is my aim.

Indeed, this is a most important subject. Once again, I appreciate anyone who took the time to read this. Your opinion is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. And you can feel how you feel about any signature. Your opinion is valuable. Yes, even if you don’t agree with me or anyone else about it. But please be respectful and allow others to have the chance to be wrong, or even allow that they can also be right.

My very best and again, I'm happy to be here to help when I can, and to learn what I can to help make autograph collecting better and safer than ever.

My very best to you all and thank you Steve C for this great site!

Perry Cox
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Views: 306

Tags: authenticity, autographs, beatles, frank caiazzo, perry cox, ringo

Comment by BC on August 18, 2019 at 9:10pm

Wow, what a great read and brilliantly put.

Comment by Cogo on August 18, 2019 at 9:36pm

Great having you here Perry! You here helping, alongside the many knowledgable members that already contribute to this forum, makes this great place even better!

Comment by Daniel Alayof on August 19, 2019 at 3:09am

I Enjoyed reading very much. Thanks Perry

Comment by Don Webster on August 19, 2019 at 2:27pm

Nice read

Respect

And thanks to Steve for inviting Perry aboard

 

Comment by Tim G. on August 19, 2019 at 5:58pm

Nicely Put Perry! Always Great to have additional eyes for Authenticity! 

Comment by Tony Schmidt on August 20, 2019 at 6:04am

Perry is a class act. Always!!

Comment by Steve Zarelli on August 20, 2019 at 6:49am

"In autographs, you can accurately authenticate 10,000 items, but if number 10,001 gets by you it can result in your great reputation being sullied. It never used to be that way, but it is today; mostly because sellers of forgeries work hard to point out possible mistakes of legitimate authenticators and dealers to confuse the buying public."

This x 1,000.

When you come between bad guys and their money, they strike back. 

Comment by Christopher on August 20, 2019 at 2:04pm

Excellent.  Well written.  Welcome.

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