Monday, March 01, 1999

Guralnick On The King

Peter Guralnick has written two superb books on the life of Elvis Presley. Historians will certainly judge these works as the definitive biography of the most compelling entertainer to ever live. I'm now reading "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley." It traces Presley's life from 1960 until his death in 1977. There are several interesting passages on autographs.

According to Guralnick, when Presley was in the Army, serving in Germany, an entire room in his rented home was full of fan mail. Presley's secretaries and friends would answer the mail with signed photographs which they very skillfully forged. Additionally, Presley set aside one-half hour every night (7-7:30 pm) to go out to the gates and sign autographs. He was always happy to sign for his fans.

To the autograph collector this means that there a great deal of authentic -- and fake -- Presley signatures in existence. This should be of great concern to anyone thinking of purchasing his autograph. Certainly, there are many secretarial signatures that have been certified as authentic simply because they are old and seem to "match" known samples. But who is to tell the "known" samples were not other secretarials? Before buying a Presley signed item, one should take great care and be very sure of the pedigree of the signature.

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