Checking An Autograph's Authenticity

How to determine if your autograph is authentic. Ways that an autograph can be reproduced or faked are discussed.

Autographs are favored items among collectors worldwide. Signatures from music, movie, TV, and sports stars are commonly sought items. Some people enjoy collecting autographs from political figures, authors, and business leaders as well. With the boom of the Internet and online auctions, the autograph selling business has soared. Many Internet sites offer signatures from just about anyone you may desire.

With such a large market, sometimes it's hard to distinguish the real autographs from the fake ones. If you go to any online auction site you are bound to find hundreds of autographs for sale. Many websites sell signatures and assure you of their authenticity. It is very important to take your time and learn the different ways autographs can be faked or forged. Do some research before buying any autograph.

One common type of autograph is the preprinted version. These are commonly sent out when you write a star requesting an autograph. The original photo is autographed by the star and copies are printed out and sent back to you. If you hold these photos at an angle so the surface catches the light, you might be able to tell if you have a preprinted autograph. A preprinted autograph will appear to be part of the picture. The glossy surface of the photo will be completely smooth. An authentic autograph will reflect the light differently than the rest of the photo. Pens and even some Sharpies will leave an indent in the paper where it was signed. Look for signs of these pressure marks.

Another type of autograph sent out by stars is done by an autopen. An autopen is a machine that replicates a celebrity's signature with a real pen. The star signs their autograph and a mechanical arm holding a pen can duplicate the signature over and over again. Closely examine the autograph for pressure marks from the pen. A real person signing something does not use steady pressure throughout the signature. Autopens exert the same amount of pressure throughout the name. This is a good sign you have an autopen-produced autograph. Look for other inconsistencies within the signature. Closely examine the signature for places where the letters seem shaky.

Some autographs are stamped. If you have a stamped autograph, you should be able to tell pretty easily. A stamped autograph can sometimes be chipped away with your fingernail or a toothpick. You will often times find small areas where the ink has smudged. You may also find areas where the ink has pooled or bled because too much ink was applied to the stamp.

Some celebrities have their assistants sign autographs for them. Assistants can get so good at doing this it's almost impossible to tell the difference. Sometimes the stars themselves cannot tell the difference. Others will sign the autograph themselves but leave the personalization to their assistants. These are almost impossible to detect on your own.

A huge problem in the autograph business is forgery. Sometimes these are easy to spot by comparing the signature against others from the same star. Look for differences such as the way the letters are formed and the heights of the letters. For example, if a star usually makes the first letters of each name higher than the rest of the name they will do this every time. If you find one from the same person signed with all letters the same height it is most likely a forgery. Look for starts and stops in the signature and check for the angle of the print changing direction. This may indicate someone copying a signature had stopping mid-way through as if unsure how to continue. You should always be leery of Certificates of Authenticity. Anyone who doesn't have an issue with forging an autograph will have no problem forging one of these as well.

Above all use common sense when you are considering the purchase of an autograph. Utilize the Internet and look for other examples of the star's autograph. It you find one that is an exact copy of the one you possess, neither of them are real. No one signs his or her name exactly the same way twice. Look at the price of the autograph and compare it with others from the same star. Remember that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. The only way you can ever be 100% sure an autograph is authentic is if it is signed right in front of you.

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