Getting a person’s autograph can be worth a lot of money, with some going for as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars. Famous signatures may appear on movie posters, sports memorabilia, t-shirts and other pieces of clothing, and even thank-you cards and stationery.
But some signatures may be a fake. If someone buys a collectible item with a fake autograph, they could be cheated out of thousands of dollars. Anyone who’s considering buying a signed piece of memorabilia should make sure it’s not a fake before handing over their money. Studies show that around 90% of sports collectibles could be fake. Learn how to spot a fake autograph every time with these helpful tips.
Look at the Ink
One of the best ways to spot a fake signature is to look at how the ink was transferred to the page. Many forgeries feature stamp-on signatures that are applied in one swift motion, but that’s not how signatures are supposed to look. If you notice more ink around the outside of the signature, that’s a good sign you have a fake on your hands. The ink should be more in the center, as is the case with most handwriting samples.
Hold It Up to the Light
Another way to spot a fake is to hold the signature up to the light if it’s on a piece of paper. This gives you a chance to examine the amount of pressure used to apply the signature. We tend to apply different amounts of pressure when using writing pens, so, if the autograph looks as like it has equal pressure throughout, it’s likely a fake. You should see small deviations in the paper if the person were truly writing by hand.
Look for Imperfections in the Signature
Human beings are not perfect. Our handwriting tends to be full of tiny imperfections, including “tunnels” and “bridges” that fluctuate with every signature. Use a magnifying glass to examine the details of the famous signature and look for signs of human error. Different writing pens often create textured marks that can’t be easily reproduced. If the signature looks too perfect, it might be a fake.
Watch Out for Dots
When a person signs their name, it’s usually in one quick, swift motion. The pen immediately starts writing as soon as it hits the page and continues moving until the signature is complete, unless there are multiple names or the occasional “I” or “T.” So, if you see a dot at the start of the signature and one at the end, that’s a sign you have a fake on your hands. Those trying to imitate a famous signature will often put their writing pens right to the page, making a small dot, and then they’ll attempt to slowly recreate the signature, capping off the autograph with another dot. Watch out for dots when examining an autograph. Everything should appear as one smooth motion.
Turn It Upside Down
If you’re having trouble examining an autograph, try turning the image upside down and comparing it with another sample. Our minds tend to skip over subtle differences when comparing two similar signatures, especially when we recognize the person’s name. Turning them upside down gives you a fresh perspective when analyzing the details of the work. Look for anything out of the ordinary, including the overall shape and direction of the letters.
Hire an Expert
Finally, if you still can’t figure out whether an autograph is real or not, you can always hire a professional to get a second opinion. Handwriting experts make their living by recognizing subtle differences in the way people sign their name, so they can help you determine if an item is authentic or not.
But not all authentication services are created equal. If you’re looking to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a collectible, you need to be more than sure if you’re getting the real thing. Do some research on the handwriting expert and see if they have experience dealing with the kind of memorabilia you’re looking to obtain.
Spot a Fake
Fake autographs continue to be an issue for collectors and investors. Use these tips to spot a fake autograph before you spend your money on an expensive signed t-shirt, movie poster, or postcard. It’s all about examining the subtle details of the person’s signature and comparing it with another sample. Do your research and make sure you’re getting the real thing every time.