Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 collecting in review

2012 was a pretty good year for my collection. For the most part, I remained focused and knocked off almost all of my 2012 goals. Here are some highlights from the year in no particular order.

Derek Jeter is a pretty common signature. Steiner really cranked out Jeters this year and it seems as though the price is softening. Steiner had a few sales where Jeter autographs were below $200... something we've never seen in the past from them. For common signatures I try to get a good inscription, or as in the case of this signed card, a rookie style signature. No matter how many more Jeter signs, he won't be signing in this style ever again.

This could be my bargain of the year. I found this on a table at a flea market mixed in with a bunch of signed photos from common through-the-mail signers. Not bad for $30.

For as common as Mickey Mantle is, there are not a tremendous amount of signed Hall of Fame Postcards. Probably because he was never much of a mail signer.

1924 NY Yankee payroll check signed by Hall-of-Famer Ed Barrow and 2013 HOF inductee Jacob Ruppert. Endorsed by outfielder Lawton "Whitey" Witt.

Mercury and Gemini astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom. Really fresh, choice signature.

Roger Maris signed 1965 Topps card with a great ballpoint signature.

Perhaps my favorite of the year. On June 13, 2006, this ball was used to strike out Cleveland Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard, winning the game for the Yankees and giving Mariano Rivera his 392nd career save.

I haven't been as focused on comics in the past year, but I did add a few ECs to my collection.

And finally, I was happy to add an Ian McDiarmid to my Star Wars collection.

Best wishes for happy collecting in 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Julien's Michael Jackson auction controversy

The story originally broke on Autograph Magazine Live, and it has now been picked up by the national media. Are the Michael Jackson signatures from The Collection of Tompkins and Bush forgeries?

View more videos at:

Note that Julien's Auctions filed a Copyright Infringement Claim against Autograph Magazine Live (AML) for images used from the Tompkins & Bush sale. AML contends they are allowed to use them under Fair Use laws for discussion and criticism, and AML is filing a counterclaim.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to tell authentic autographs from fakes

Very often you'll see a collector ask something along the lines of, "How can I tell a real [fill-in-the-blank] autograph from fakes?" It seems as though the person expects to receive an answer such as, "If the third stroke of the M is more than 1.5 inches long, it's fake."

Of course, it is not that simple. There are no shortcuts or magic tells. Most anyone can identify grossly malformed fakes. But to be really good and identify the relatively deceptive fakes, you need to train your eyes to recognize the proper look and feel. And this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. In other words, it requires work and dedication.

So, how do you "train your eye"?

  • Look at hundreds of authentic exemplars. Look at them every day for a long time. And make sure you are using verified authentic exemplars!
  • Do side-by-side comparisons with known fakes.
  • Don't focus solely on "shape." Look at speed and pressure and other subtle characteristics. Good forgers can closely replicate "shape," but it's much more difficult to replicate the subtle characteristics.
  • Look for a loose, relaxed hand that intuitively and instinctively signed versus a tight hand "drawing" the signature with too much "thinking."
  • Network with experienced collectors and dealers to compare notes and ask questions.

Follow these steps and eventually the signature will "click," and you will see the difference between authentic and good fakes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The UACC's Pen & Quill Magazine, November 2012

The latest issue of the UACC Magazine Pen & Quill is arriving at member homes. A tip of the cap to the team and editor Tricia Eaton for the November issue, which rounds out a year of terrific issues.
It features articles on Godfather autographs, FDR, the Presidential candidates, and the Marx Brothers. Also a Neil Armstrong autograph article by yours truly.

For those who may not know, the Pen & Quill is the official publication of the Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC). It is available to members of the UACC. For more info on the UACC, go to