Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Autograph Detective: Real or Fake?

The negative aspect of getting autographs through the mail is that we can not absolutely, 100% guarantee that that specific individual signed that item because we did not personally witness them signing it.  The best we can do is go by that persons reputation and compare the signature we get in the mail to that of a known authentic signature of that individual.

Fake signatures are an unfortunate aspect of TTM.  There are a few types of fake signatures...

Ghost Signers/Secretary
Image from manila.centura.k12.ne.us

These are signatures written by a person, but not by the person it is supposed to be.  These are usually done by family members, secretaries or other hired assistants.  Hockey player Mike Modano has been rumored for years to have his mail requests signed by his mother.

These can be difficult to detect since they are real signatures.  Comparing to authenticated signatures of the real person can be one way of determining if what you got back is real.

Image from stamp-connection.com
Stamps are easier to recognize.  A real signature will have specific aspects to look for.  Real signatures will have areas of lighter and harder pen pressure.  The end of a real signature will not just end suddenly, it will either end fading off, or with a harder pressure point.  Stamps will show consistent pressure from start to finish. Also, real signatures are rarely exactly the same every single time.  If you compare the signatures that others have received, and they are EXACTLY the same... it is more than likely a stamp, or are next category.

Image from theblaze.com
Autopens are actual machines that reproduce a signature over and over again.  It is an exact reproduction of the persons actual signature, but are not considered to be authentic signatures.  Autopens are very difficult to determine just from the signature.  Like stamps, the signatures from autpens are exactly the same every time, so comparing what others have received can show if it is indeed an autopen.

Ok, TM is not perfect.  And nothing can insure that you will never get one of these fake signatures, but by doing your research about who you are wanting to send to and keeping up on the news in the TTM community, you can guard against it and enjoy the hobby.

Here is an article from Autograph Magazine that goes into more detail.

May your mailbox be filled with autographs and not bills!

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