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  Telling an astronaut autopen from an autograph?

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Author Topic:   Telling an astronaut autopen from an autograph?

Posts: 435
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 05-10-2013 03:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a NASA PR photograph from the Gemini era, which I bought. One signature appears to be in a texta style, the other using a ballpoint pen.

Am I able to tell if the signatures are handwritten or via an autopen? Thanks!

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-10-2013 03:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The autopen machine could use any pen of the operator's choice — and the pens could be changed between the signatures being added to the same item (since the machine only traced one pattern at a time).

So pen type cannot be used to discern autopens from autographs.

The best way to determine an autopen is to compare the style of the autograph against the known patterns. Fortunately, there are several websites that provide examples of these patterns, including Chris Spain's Astronaut Autopen Guide.

There are other indicators that can be used to suggest the use of an autopen, including a shaky signature or ink dots at the end of trailing lines, but those are less definitive than comparing with the patterns.

But keep in mind, the autopen was a mechanical, hand-fed device, such that the shape of the signature applied could be affected by the machine being shook, or the item being signed being pulled through more slowly or quickly. So, don't look for an exact match to the pattern (though those exist) but a general match to the style of the autopen signatures.

All times are CT (US)

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