Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Short Beginner's Guide to Collecting Famous Signatures and Celebrity Autographs

The hobby of collecting the signatures of famous people has been a substantial resource of enjoyment to countless collectors across the centuries. Each collector has their reasons for collecting, and whether to own a small piece of history, or a few strokes of ink from a certain celebrity's pen, the autograph collector is committed to his hobby.

Yet, in the digital age, where you'll find nearly unlimited chances to access many fine signed items to enrich your collection, there goes along with it the possible opportunity to be duped by a clever forgery. There are a variety of tools the collector must employ to guard himself from becoming a forger's victim, and we could write volumes on the subject, yet I felt it critical to build a fairly short guide just for the novice collector to assist him or her to begin collecting authentic famous signatures safely and smartly.

1) Don't Be Fooled by Certificates of Authenticity (COA's)

These certificates offered on a wide range of phony signatures online are more like Certificates of Worthlessness. Any autograph dealer along with a computer and some free software can print an exquisite, glossy certificate proclaiming the authenticity of the item, but in the end they're worth just the paper they are printed on. This brings us to tip #2...

2) Find Reputable Dealers

This is often one of the most frustrating things to attempt to accomplish but there are many excellent dealers who know their trade, are honest and simply sell authentic material. Reputable dealers almost always offer catalogs with their latest offerings with insightful and knowledgeable facts about each piece. They will back up their items 100%, will actually provide excellent customer service and will guarantee authenticity without making use of gimmicks such as "COA's"

One last note on this. Remember that being a member of a respectable autograph association (similar to the UACC or PADA) is not the same as being one of their registered dealers. Anyone can be a member but only certain upper-tier autograph dealers can be a registered dealer and each has to maintain high standards to keep their status as such.

3) Know Your Target's Signature, Together With Its Variations

Just learning the various nuances of a particular celebrity's autograph can help save you a great deal of trouble. So many forgeries are incredibly obvious once you know your celebrity's signature well. Check reputable signature libraries and known authentic examples of signatures of prominent people. Take some time and study the several variations of that person's signature throughout their life, and look for consistency between the authentic signature and any signed item you are interested in. You don't need to be an expert to recognize obvious fakes. This might not shield you from the best forgeries out there nonetheless it can safeguard you against many.

4) Is The Price Right?

Remember if it's too good to be true it is. Just because something carries a high asking price doesn't necessarily make it authentic but a price tag too low can invariably be regarded as suspicious. No honest dealer is going to sell an autograph that will easily sell for $2,000.00 for $300.00.

5) Use Your Practical Sense

Just using your sound judgment is sometimes the best weapon against forged signatures. If a dealer or an item seem shady, questionable or not quite right just move on. There a wide range of good items to choose from and a lot of good dealers to sell them to you. Just keep looking. Looking is half the fun anyway!

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