On April 12, 1961, Soviet Air Force pilot Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space. Launched aboard his Vostok spacecraft, Gagarin orbited the Earth and beat American Alan Shepard into space by 23 days.
On March 27, 1968, Yuri Gagarin was killed in a training flight crash at the age of 34.
Despite not being as much of a "household name" as Alan Shepard, John Glenn or Neil Armstrong, Gagarin is a tremendous historical figure and there is strong demand for his signature.
Yuri Gagarin signed autographs for approximately seven years before his death. Because of the short time frame, there is not a great deal of variation in his signing style over this period. Gagarin traveled widely after his flight and was reportedly a generous signer in-person and also responded to mail requests. That said, for someone who died behind the Iron Curtain 50 years ago, the number of alleged Gagarin autographs in circulation far surpass the numbers one would reasonably expect to exist.
Regrettably, his signature is highly forged and collectors must use great caution in obtaining a Yuri Gagarin signed item.
This is an abbreviated version of a study originally published on my website. For more examples and details, click here to see the full study from Zarelli Space Authentication.
Authentic Gagarin examples
Signed photo, 1961
Signed invitation, 1965
Signed book - 1966
Examples of Yuri Gagarin forgeries
Gagarin is highly forged on photos, documents, postal covers, postcards, etc. One forger in particular is responsible for many thousands of Gagarin forgeries over the past 20+ years.
Mass-produced Gagarin forgery
Mass-produced forgeries on a fake document
Multi-signed cosmonaut photo with 100% fakes