Whether it is a movie star, singer, athlete or author, famous autographs are sought-after and potentially valuable. But only if they are authentic. Passing off signatures that aren’t real as the real thing has become an art form for a lot of criminals.
And even though experts are occasionally fooled, there are a few things you can look for to help you determine if the one you’re looking at is real.
Does It Cost More?
Sometimes, there is no malicious intent when it comes to items bearing a famous autograph. The items, whether they be sports collectibles or celebrity products, are mass-produced with printed autographs. The idea is to sell them as mementos or collectibles, with no real thought to the signature portion.
However, the intention to deceive is out there, and the price may be an indicator to the authenticity of an autograph. If an autograph is in fact real, chances are the item will cost noticeably more than others with signatures that have been mass produced.
Some of the characteristics of pre-printed, mass-produced autographs include:
- Signatures that are all identical.
- Signature that has the same appearance as the material it is written on. The ink of a real signature will look different than the paper or material, because it is.
- Ink thickness that it consistent across the entire signature.
- Ink that is thicker along the outer edges of the lines through the whole signature. This may indicate a rubber stamp was used.
Looking for Forgeries
Mass-produced signatures are one thing, but intentional forgeries are completely another. These are always made with the intention of fooling some unsuspecting fan or collector into paying for something that isn’t real.
It is difficult to imitate anyone’s signature exactly, especially with technologies that are designed specifically to catch forgers. Many autograph forgers are good at their craft, but subtle difference are often there.
A forger is usually concerned with copying the signature, with no thought to the amount of pressure they put on the paper with the ink. Under close examination, an expert will see how carefully the signature was put on the paper, without the usual pressure and flow of the real thing.
Certificate of Authenticity
Having a certificate of authenticity for a famous autograph is never a bad thing, but the source of the certificate must be credible. A criminal can create a COA just as easily as a reputable dealer who has been in business for 20 years. Basically, unless they sign the item right in front of you, be cautious and when in doubt, don’t buy it!