Friday, December 30, 2011

Global Authentics + Steve Sipe and Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is my favorite NY Yankee -- he's my Mickey Mantle. (Sorry Jete, I like you too, but you were a bit too much of a teen idol to be MY favorite.) So, I enjoy collecting Rivera signed items and peruse eBay almost daily. Over time, I've gotten a pretty good eye for what constitutes an authentic Rivera and what the clunkers look like.

For many months, there has been an endless stream of Mariano Rivera signed items with Global Authentics / Steve Sipe certificates. There are 20 - 30 of these on eBay at any given time and they all look strikingly similar. Here are a few examples of Global Authentics / Steve Sipe certified Mariano Rivera items:

Can anyone produce known authentic exemplars that compare well to the items above?

Just for comparison's sake, here is a ball signed through Steiner Sports:

Now to resume our regularly scheduled programming

The last few months have been very hectic... I'm really going to try blogging more regularly in 2012. It's not that I don't enjoy it, I just need to be more disciplined!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forever in our hearts

This is how I like to think of the World Trade Center -- gleaming against a flawless sky.

The Towers have been gone 10 long years now, along with all of those whose lives were cut short. So much promise and opportunity lost.

The people who worked there were regular folks who only wanted to provide for their families: accountants, maintenance, cafeteria workers, clerks, insurance agents, people who answered phones. The kind of people who'd see the back page of your NY Post and strike up a conversation on the elevator. You think Bernie has a shot at the Hall of Fame?

I understand the desire for memorial services honoring the 10th anniversary of the attack. However, for people who were there, not a day passes where there isn't some remembrance. Sometimes it's a dull ache. Sometimes it's a sharp pain. Most often, it's a whisper in the wind... a sad remembrance of a long lost friend.

I won't be watching any of the ceremonies today. My wife and I spent the morning helping the victims of flooding due to Hurricane Irene. This afternoon I'll enjoy the kids and settle in with a cold beer and a Yankee game.

But it's hard not to drift back. Think about how it could have been me gone for 10 years now. Think about their last terrible moments. The last thoughts that crossed their minds. They just wanted to go home one more time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Worst Mickey Mantle signed item. Ever.

I laughed when I saw this on eBay recently.

Real signature, yet totally undesirable. With all due respect to the man in the photo, who would ever want this except for him? I suppose it could be used for a cut if it was cheap enough.

And why does it look like a photo from the mid-60s instead of the mid-70s?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

After a six year wait for B.B. King, this is what I get...

I sent this photo with an autograph request to B.B. King in April 2005.

Imagine my surprise when I recently opened the envelope -- a long-lost request that had been out for over six years!

Now, imagine my sadness when I discover it is a rubber stamp signature.

Why would it take six years to get back a rubber stamp signature? Is B.B. applying the rubber stamp himself?

Looking at the "g," it appears that someone "fixed up" the weak area of the stamp by hand.

Monday, August 08, 2011

This is what a Mariano Rivera forgery looks like

This especially rancid forgery is courtesy of eBay seller big.johnsreds.

Note the very slooowwwwly drawn signature with many stops and starts.

The seller claims to have obtained it in-person, however, the photo he uses for proof was stolen from another auction that ran a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Treasure Trove of Lou Gehrig Memorabilia

A great article in the New York Times regarding a failed romance and a stash of Lou Gehrig memorabilia found 80 years later.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Landau and Savedoff: Selling stolen documents?


Barry H. Landau, 63, a well-known collector of presidential memorabilia, and Jason James Savedoff, 24 were charged with stealing historic documents from museums.

A National Archives official called the scope of the case "truly breathtaking." The indictment charges that the two men pilfered and sold copies of speeches from a former president and took a land grant signed by Abraham Lincoln along with a letter to John Paul Jones.

For more details, read the article in the Baltimore Sun.

Were you offered or did you buy from these men?
The FBI is seeking information regarding Barry H. Landau and Jason James Savedoff, both residents of New York City. The FBI believes that Mr. Landau and Mr. Savedoff may have contacted dealers and collectors offering items for sale. If Mr. Landau or Mr. Savedoff have contacted you in reference to the sale of a historical document, please contact FBI Baltimore at 1-410-265-8080.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jeter should have given fan big check for 3,000th hit

Phil Mushnick wrote an interesting article in the NY Post.

Jeter should have given fan big check for 3,000th hit -

Jeter will probably make more in one month than Christian Lopez will make in his lifetime. Should he have accepted the ball for free? What say you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Neil Armstrong: Still not signing autographs

Here's an interview with UACC Vice President, Anthony Pizzitola regarding Neil Armstrong's autograph policy. Kudos to Anthony for getting a great interview to plug the UACC Study, Neil Armstrong: The Quest for His Autograph.

Two of the images used in the graphics are items from my collection!

Friday, June 03, 2011

James Arness, 1923 - 2011

Gunsmoke is still one of my all-time favorite shows --  a gritty morality tale centered around an iconic American pillar of strength, fortitude and ethics.

Thanks for many, many hours of great entertainment, Mr. Arness.

To a real saddle bum...

Get out of Dodge...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New UACC Signature Study - Neil Armstrong: The Quest for His Autograph

The UACC has released a comprehensive new signature study on Neil Armstrong. Run -- don't walk -- to get your copy today at

I will first admit that I am not completely unbiased as I contributed one chapter to this study.

The study -- commissioned by the Universal Autograph Collectors' Club (UACC) - is quite comprehensive and includes contributions from a wide range of respected figures in the autograph collecting hobby. It has a multitude of authentic signature examples and will be helpful to any collector looking to learn, authenticate or purchase a Neil Armstrong autograph. It also includes a good deal of narrative and biographical information on Armstrong.

And it is a real "book," not a flimsy pamphlet. I highly recommend this as it belongs on the reference shelf of any serious space or autograph collector.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Charlton Heston signature study update

Top: Obtained through-the-mail
Bottom: Obtained in-person by Mike Sibley in 1999
I've updated my previous study with a few reputable in-person signed photographs obtained by UK collector, Mike Sibley. Thanks to Mike for helping me round out the study.

To date, there has not been any credible evidence of an in-person signature that clearly matches what I have proposed is the secretarial style.

I suspect there will always be a few who do not agree with the theory for various reasons, however, I believe the collecting community in general has accepted these findings. The evidence is pretty stark.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mickey Mantle signed ball: A minor grail obtained

For the past 10 years or so, I've been under the impression that I had two signed Mickey Mantle photos in my collection. Unfortunately, I recently learned they are both fakes. Well executed and deceptive fakes, but forgeries none-the-less.

Thankfully, one was purchased from a reputable dealer who issued a refund 10 years later!

So, I used the money from the refund, plus a little more, and obtained an undoubtably authentic Mantle signed baseball.

Although, this time around, I didn't wait 10 years to get it authenticated! Top-notch authenticator Richard Simon gave the ball a thumbs-up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Famous 500 Home Run sheet with fake Babe Ruth - Recommended Link

Here is a fascinating analysis of so-called super-collector Barry Halper's 500 Home Run signed sheet. It appears the Babe Ruth and Jimmy Foxx signatures may be fakes.

In recent years, many items in Halper's legendary collection have been revealed to be fakes, including material he sold to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Due to conflicting accounts from Halper himself, some have speculated that Halper was not unwitting and must have known some items were fakes. In death, Halper has gone from super-collector to possible super-scammer.

On the 500 home run page, it's interesting -- yet not surprising -- that Willie Mays signed over a portion of Ruth's [supposed] signature.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Ol' Perfesser

I am very happy to add this Casey Stengel HOF Plaque to my collection.

As he occasionally did, Casey also signed and inscribed a short message on the back of the card.

Nothing like two signatures for the price of one!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And now, the real deal...

Perhaps it's time for something a bit more positive. I was happy to add these absolutely authentic Charlton Heston signed photos to my collection.

This is a rather unique photo, and probably an uncommon dual signed photo. Almost all the Heston + Harrison photos I've seen have the secretarial Heston --including one from my collection previously. Here's the real deal.

And two signed photos from the only [known] private signing conducted with Mr. Heston.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nicholas Burczyk, Christopher Morales and STAT Authentic added to eBay banned list

eBay has updated their banned authenticator list to include COAs from Nicholas Burczyk, Christopher Morales and TTA Authentic (formerly STAT Authentic).

Here is the full list of banned authenticators:

Autographed items with COAs and LOAs, or references to COAs and LOAs from the following people or organizations:
  • Coach's Corner Sports Auctions LLC
  • Christopher L. Morales
  • Donald Frangipani
  • Forensic Document Services
  • Hollywood Dreams
  • J. DiMaggio Co. / J. DiMaggio Company
  • Legends Sports Memorabilia
  • Nathan's Autographs / N.E. Autographs
  • Nicholas Burczyk
  • Pro Sports / Pro Sports Memorabilia
  • Robert Prouty
  • R.R.'s Sports Cards & Collectibles
  • SCAA / Front Page Art / Angelo Marino
  • Slamdunk Sportscards & Memorabilia
  • Sports Alley Memorabilia
  • Sports Management Group
  • Stan's Sports / Stans Sports Memorabilia
  • TTA Authentic (formerly STAT Authentic)
  • Universal Memorabilia
  • XMI Authentications
  • USA Authentics
  • Blank COAs and LOAs / COAs and LOAs as stand-alone items
  • COAs and LOAs from anyone listed on the FBI's Operation Bullpen website

If you have an item authenticated by one of these parties, here's a bit of advice -- throw it in the garbage and forget it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Chuck Heston

While we are on the subject of Charlton Heston, here is an interesting signed copy of Beijing Diary, apparently signed by Charlton and Lydia Heston. This is the only example I have ever seen signed as "Chuck."

Beijing Diary signed as "Chuck"

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

James Spence Authentication (JSA) on Heston Secretarial Signatures

After reviewing my Charlton Heston signature study, James Spence has informed me that JSA is updating their files to recognize the secretarial style.

Kudos to JSA for their friendly and professional response.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Your Charlton Heston autograph? It's probably fake.

As much as it pains me to write this, it needs to be done.

The Charlton Heston autograph in your collection was probably signed by a secretary.

I know the first step is denial... I've been through it myself. But let's put aside wishful thinking and look at the evidence.

For several years some collectors have speculated that Charlton Heston used a secretary for through-the-mail requests. This has been met with some doubt. The analysis I saw was less than convincing because it primarily compared old signatures to new, and it focused on differences in "Heston," which were very difficult to clearly discern. The doubt was also fueled by Mr. Heston himself who claimed on several occasions to personally respond to mail requests.

But, these suspicious collectors were on to something. And, I believe I have found the definitive "tell." It is in the first name. And once you see it, it is as clear as a bell.

The Theory
Photographs and other memorabilia sent to Mr. Heston's office were signed by a secretary. However, Mr. Heston did authentically sign books through-the-mail.

Real vs. Secretary
In authentic signatures, the R in "Charlton" is distinctly a lowercase "r" and less than half the height of the L. The first four letters are clearly "Char."

In secretarial signatures, the R looks much more like a lowercase "l" and is about the same height as the L. So, the first four letters appear to be "Chall."

The evidence

Authentic autographs

We'll start with books that were signed in-person. Note the distinct lowercase "r" and the R is much smaller in height than the L.

Portrait of Charlton Heston
Mr. Heston at a book signing. Note the distinct R.
Image by Mr & Mrs Scruples

Easton Press edition of Beijing Diary

Easton Press edition of In the Arena

Now, we'll move on to some signed checks with various dates. Note that the "r" is distinct in all time periods.




Next, here are signed Planet of the Apes trading cards (2001) from a supervised signing with Topps. Once again, the R is clear and no more than half the height of the L.

2001 Topps Authentic Autograph Trading Card exemplar 1

2001 Topps Authentic Autograph Trading Card exemplar 2
2001 Topps Authentic Autograph Trading Card exemplar 3

Obtained in-person by Mike Sibley, 1999
Obtained in-person by Mike Sibley, 1999
Note that the r is still distinct and smaller than the L, even on a rushed in-person example

The following example shows the stark contrast between secretarial and authentic. Presented like this, it's pretty clear that the same hand did not sign these two signatures.

Top - obtained through-the-mail by Mike Sibley
Bottom - obtained in-person by Mike Sibley, 1999
The evidence shows that in every case where there was a known authentic exemplar, the R is distinct and much smaller than the L.

Here are some books that were obtained through-the-mail directly from Mr. Heston's office. The through-the-mail books also show a distinct R.

Obtained through-the-mail, March 2000

Obtained through-the-mail, January 2001

Secretarial Autographs

Here are examples of signed photographs obtained through-the-mail. Note the clear difference in the R formation and the R is almost as high as the L.

Through-the-mail, 1998

Through-the-mail, late 90s
Through-the-mail, late 90s

Through-the-mail, circa 2000

I could go on and list thousands of examples with the "Chall" formation. Just look at the signed photos on eBay or do a Google image search. About 95% of the photos have the earmarks of a secretarial signature. The books are almost always consistent with my theory as well.

Here is one signed photo I found that I believe to be authentic. Note the stark difference in the signature as opposed to the secretarial examples above. In addition to the distinct "r," the signature exhibits much less pressure.

Authentically signed photo? Note the contrast to the secretarial signatures above.

I reviewed hundreds of Charlton Heston autographs from various sources -- my personal collection, friends' collections and on online sites such as eBay.

I will note that, out a hundreds of exemplars, I found a handful of books that did not have a distinct "r" formation. My theory is these books may have been through-the-mail exemplars signed by a secretary. The reason for this could be that Mr. Heston's schedule did not allow for signing at that time or, once his illness took hold, secretaries began signing books through the mail as well as photos.

Dealers and Authenticators
I understand there will be resistance to these findings. There are thousands of signed Charlton Heston photos sitting in dealer inventories and probably tens of thousands more in collections -- the overwhelming majority of which are fakes. Some of these have been authenticated by reputable third party authenticators.

Don't trust third party authenticators with Heston -- they all got it wrong!

Upper Deck card - appears to be secretarial.

Until someone can produce proof otherwise, we must conclude we were all wrong.

For years Mr. Heston stated that he signed mail requests. Well, he was telling a half-truth. He was signing books sent to him, but his secretary was signing the photos and everything else.

Note all images are copyright their respective copyright owners.