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  Discerning copies vs. real astronaut autographs

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Author Topic:   Discerning copies vs. real astronaut autographs

Posts: 2003
From: MA, USA
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 06-28-2012 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How is the best way to tell if an autograph photo is a reprint, copy or real? What do you look for with the ink on the photo?


Posts: 408
From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 06-28-2012 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A recent episode of Pawn Stars featured an Elvis Presley signed contract. The seller wanted $20,000. The expert looked at the contract and determined that it is a copy and that the signature is also a copy. He said that the ink is identical for both. The contract was worthless.

Last year I discovered a signed Neil Armstrong program in my collection. I examined it with a strong magnifying glass for hours. I looked for any difference between the signature and the print on the program. I looked at the signature from every angle to see how the light reflects off the signature.

I also looked through the program from the back to see if the signature made an impression on the paper. Finally, I carefully felt the signature from the back of the program. I could feel the impression. The program stated that Neil Armstrong was scheduled to speak at this event. It was well before the days when Armstrong forgeries started after he stopped signing. I posted the signature here on collectSPACE and asked for their opinions. It was determined to be real. I hope to sell it this year.

Steve Zarelli

Posts: 395
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-29-2012 06:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On a glossy photo, it is usually easy to tell. A preprinted signature will be "part of the photo" whereas a real signature sits "on top" of the surface. Hold the photo at a sharp angle to a strong light. The real ink in a signature will reflect light differently and a preprint signature that is part of the photo will not.

On a porus surface where the ink "sinks in" it may be more difficult, but the same principle applies.

A good magnifying glass helps too.

Hart Sastrowardoyo

Posts: 2365
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-29-2012 08:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two thoughts:

Unless you have a very high resolution, wouldn't a copy be slightly fuzzy? Maybe not too noticeable, but enough to make you wonder, "Hmmm, that's not right."

Wouldn't a copy be also slightly smaller? Unless you are precise and use a rolling cutter, very few people cut exactly on the photo's border. Usually a line of some sort can be seen (granted, my experience is more with discerning counterfeit money.) To avoid that line, most people would cut a little bit in, "just to be sure."


Posts: 408
From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 06-29-2012 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think that the problem is about cutting a straight line as with counterfeit money. The problem here is discerning the difference between a printed page and an autograph on that page.

I presume that they are both in black ink. The printed page would have used different ink/toner than the autograph by a pen. You would need a strong magnifying glass, like the "Loop" used by jewelers. Ink from a pen should appear differently that toner. As I suggested above, you could also feel the back of the paper to see if you can "feel" the autograph impression.

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