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  • Rare autographs real or fake

    Posted on September 7, 2012 by Selby

    This is a preview of a draft about hand signed sports memorabilia which I am writing  in order to assist autograph collectors in deciding whether the signature is genuine or fake.

    Feel free to comment on any improvements I can make???


    The origins of the autograph

    An autograph may be defined as “any manuscript handwritten by its author; a handwritten signature especially the signature of a famous or admired person.

    The origins of hand signed autographs can be traced back to sixth century ancient Greece however none survive from this period, in fact The earliest autograph, signature of a famous person is probably the Spanish national hero and military leader El Cid  dated 1096 three years before his death.

    .Autographs of most of the great Renaissance figures, including Leonardo da Vinci,Michelangelo, and Ariosto. Still exist however autograph material was to become more prevalent during the 18th century with examples such as George Washington president of the USA or the composer Mozart’s manuscripts.

    A signed letter is more desirable than an autograph as usually the letter contains aspects of the person’s life and work which is why they are so collectable.

    Autograph collation today

    The hobby of collecting autographs is known as philography

    A Philographist or autograph hunter may well focus in one specialised area say sports memorabilia and only collect signatures and associated paraphernalia from say, sports events,  personalities, writers, political figures, art, film, music, world leaders, space travel or conflict etc.

    Autograph collation is an ever popular and rewarding occupation for the professional and amateur alike, the objective being to aspire to obtaining complete sets from each area of their subject in the case of say cricket collectables the 1948 Ashes series, the ink autographs of both England and Australians teams on one official programme, bat or scorecard used at the event would be more desirable than a mismatch.

    Is it a genuine autograph?

    There are numerous forged autographs for sale all over the world not least on the internet and it is a case of buyer beware.

    Rare autograph collectors often request from the vendor certificates of authenticity, it stands to reason that if the seller of a forged item is offering a COA that the certificate is also worthless. It is not a good idea to rely on either guarantees or certificates.

    If a purchaser decides to accept a certificate of authenticity they should ensure that it contains full contact details, dates, venues, and verifiable reputable organisations of which the vendor is responsible to, these details should be followed up with the named organisation.

    PADA, the UACC and AFTAL publish websites from where you can check a listed dealer’s credibility.

    Ascertaining the validity of a carefully crafted fake autograph is a complex matter which is almost impossible for the amateur and the results cannot always be definitive even when a professional opinion is requested.

    One basic method used by unscrupulous vendors is the reprint. This is a photocopy of an actual autographed photo, usually printed from a home computer on to photographic copying paper, this should be declared as a reprint or as preprinted, it is not an authentic autograph and is pretty worthless, unless an existing photo has been autographed later onto the outside surface.

    More sophisticated forgers will target a certain era say 1880s they will use blank pages from books of the same period, then having researched and recreated the inks used at that time they will endeavor to create the replica autograph now using the correct materials, obviously if the copy writing is well researched and applied it is very difficult to detect by an autograph expert but not so by a forensic technician, the technician will be able to age the paper and ink and also to date the document  even when accelerated ageing has taken place.

    Collectors should be careful of rare autographs which may be found on a small piece of card when the bogus card is attached to an authentic piece of memorabilia.

    Frequently secretaries will sign autograph material on behalf of the celebrity creating what is known as a proxy signature. Fortunately it is often well publicized that this is a trait of that particular subject.

    A number of famous people including American presidents Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt have in the past convincingly rubber stamped their “signatures “the result would not be considered  a collectable.


    View with magnifying glass X10 under direct light)

    Seek out a genuine example of the signature from internet comparison sites and use this as your datum point. The main criteria are to know what the signature looks like.

    Move the underside of your wrist or finger over the paper and expect to feel a slight irregularity when you touch the outline of the signature, examine the signature with a magnifying glass (+10) and search for any rising in the area of the signature. If you cannot determine the texture of the raised ink above surface of the paper it is likely to be a copy.

    Examine the ink pattern, look for squeezing at the edges which would indicate stamping, this is usually fairly easy to determine. A shaded purple colour ink can also indicate stamping.

    Compare the autograph with your example, turn the page at 90 degree angle and examine the autographs, then at 180 degrees, doing this  will show a different perspective of the writing comparison, anomalies will stand out and be easier to spot.

    Autographs which are mechanically created are identified by their smoothness and uniform ink deposit throughout the signature. A genuine pen hand signed autograph will show under magnification, a different diameter of stroke, the rate of the wet ink flow as the nib angles, scratch marks, clear areas within the stroke, and the continuous flow of the pen over the paper. A stop and start movement within a stroke would show a hesitant copying technique, you must see that the line flow is uninterrupted and the pen stays mainly on the paper if it is interrupted it will show in stroke breaks.

    Comparison of pen lifts which are absent from the genuine subject are a sure fire method to determine a fake, these are typical of a forgery in which the writer pauses to check his handiwork.

    Look for a lack of feathered beginning and ending strokes, a fake will tend to have blunt stops and starts.

    A lack of certainty in direction may show abrupt movements creating a kinked appearance to a line which should flow smoothly

    When a nib pen is used expect to see light hairline upstrokes and heavy shaded down stokes in a genuine signature, this will not be so noticeable if a ball point pen is used

    Consider the time factors if for example an autograph dated around 1950 is signed with a felt pen it is a fake as felt pens did not exist at this time and the autograph should be signed in ink or pencil. The Papermate flair felt tip was not manufactured until the early ‘60s, commercial ball point pens became available in 1943 and so on. Research is the key.

    Signed sports memorabilia such as a football shirt or cricket cap can be hard to assess as the ink tends to soak into the fabric giving a smudge like appearance which is difficult to validate, the only way to be sure is to be there at the signing or rely on provenance from a reputable dealer.

    If the asking price for an item of sports memorabilia is way below a realistic valuation don’t bother purchasing as it’s probably a fake.

    The more signatures there are on a piece, the more mistakes there are to spot. Compare an autograph sheet with half a dozen genuine signatures with one containing fakes and it easy to spot the real ones.

    Consider the characteristics of period the autograph purports to belong to, examine the paper used, does the magnified make up match the type used in that era. The specification of the paper may give valuable clues as to the approximate age parameters of theautograph.

    Since biblical times vellum or parchment was the type of paper in use this changed around 1850 to the use of wood, cotton or linen pulp, so if you are lucky enough to have the autograph of William Pitt (died 1806) it should be signed on vellum type of paper, Charles Dickens (died 1870) could be either or Alfred Tennyson (died 1892) most probably signed on a wood pulp type paper.

    Don’t forget that paper can be matched using cut out pages from writings of a similar time.

    Examine ink colour, does the make up under magnification match the characteristics of the period, iron gall ink was popular from about the 12th century up until new technologies made it obsolete around 1850,  this ink is bluish black, over time it fades to dull brown. It is a corrosive ink and over time can damage the paper it is used on. Since the early 1900s Indian ink (carbon) has become the popular one manufactured in a range of colours.

    Micro-spectrophotometry is a non-destructive method of analysing ink using ultraviolet of infrared light, the spectrum of the ink on the document can be compared with a range of standard inks, this can authentic the ink but not the author. However it does narrow things down and makes for a more informed decision.

    Think about how, when and why a rare autograph originated and in what numbers it is available, if the seller has a number of copies of a rare autograph you must ask yourself why?

    Never ever enter a private auction sale; always look for transparency on the internet

    Written by Selby>




    This post was posted in Cricket memorabilia, Boxing memorabilia, Motor racing memorabilia, Athletics memorabilia, Film and music memorabilia, Football memorabilia, Rugby memorabilia, Political memorabilia, Golf memorabilia, Olympics Memorabilia and was tagged with cricket memorabilia, football memorabilia, tennis memorabilia, cricket collectables, Don Bradman Memorabilia, Alexei Nemov Olympic Memorabilia, test match memorabilia, bodyline memorabilia, collecting autographs, cricket autographs, sports autigraphs

  • Gubby Allen Cricket Memorabilia

    Posted on April 16, 2012 by Selby


    Bodyline Series – Gubby Allen took 21 wickets bowling a length against Jardines wishes. Cricket Memorabilia from the bodyline 1932/33 is always sought after by collectors.

    Sir George “Gubby”(1902 – 1989) Allen captained England on three occasions, a fast bowler, excellent in the field and he would hit the odd century in Test Cricket as a lower order batsman.

    Gubby took part in 265 matches scoring 9.232 runs (28.67) he bowled the opposition out on his own on nine occasions taking 131 catches. He scored 750 test runs and took 81 test wickets.

    He captained England against India, West Indies and Australia.

    Gubby played a big part in the welfare and development of English Cricket following the end of WW2 giving much of his time to the MCC as chairman of the selectors from 1955 – 1963, President of the MCC in 1964/64, Treasurer of the MCC 1964 – 1976.

    Gubby was born in Sydney in 1902 into a cricketing family (his uncle RC Allen played for Australia), moving at six years old to England, Gubby was educated at Eton College and Trinity Cambridge, he played cricket for Cambridge, Middlesex, MCC and England.

    As a collector of Cricket Memorabilia I find that the more memorable the event that the item is associated with the more collectable it becomes. Whilst I have number of Gubby Allen items, Autographs, signed photographs, signed completed scorecards, some tour memorabilia and a signed match used cricket bat events which I would like in my collection the following:

    England v New Zealand 1931 (8th wicket partner of 246) caught Lowry bowled Weir for 122 runs.

    England v Australia 1932/33 Bodyline series (21 wickets)

    Middlesex v Lancs at Lords 1929. (10/40)


    After his retirement he lived in an MCC house on the edge of Lords cricket ground which was administered by Lords grounds staff, fittingly his garden gate   led directly into the ground from where it was a short walk to the pavilion for which he held his own key.

    The famous Allen Stand at Lords which was formerly the oddly named Q stand, was named after Gubby in 1989

    He was awarded the CBE for his services to cricket 1974

    He was knighted in 1986

    Listed below are set of statistics supplied by

    Batting and fielding averages



































    Bowling averages







































    Good luck with your collecting.

    Let me know how you get on??


    Tony Selby

    Cricket Memorabilia

    This post was posted in Cricket memorabilia and was tagged with cricket memorabilia, cricket collectables, Ashes Memorabilia, Don Bradman Memorabilia, bodyline series, test match memorabilia, Gubby Allen Cricket Memorabilia

  • Jack Hobbs Cricket Memorabilia

    Posted on April 15, 2012 by Selby


    Cricket Memorabilia is in high demand - Jack Hobbs scored  61.760 first class runs – Centuries 199 –That’s why he was named The Master.

    Jack Hobbs (1882 – 1963) was a prolific run maker, a right hand bat and medium pace bowler; he was regarded as the complete all round Cricketer.

    Hobbs hails from Cambridge UK, he followed his father in his love of Cricket, in 1901 he began playing in local competition matches as an amateur for Cambridgeshire. He was offered a trial with Surrey in 1903 where he began to make his mark playing with the Colts and Club and Ground sides, his batting and bowling merited a mention in the following years Cricketers Almanac.

    Hobbs made his debut for Surrey in 1905 and in First Class matches that season he scored 1317 (25.82) runs including a couple of centuries.

    During  1907 a second innings score of  150 not out at the Oval,  in a County  Championship match against Warwickshire, meant the MCC could ignore him no longer and he was selected for the forthcoming MCC v Australia tour making his Test debut on New Year’s  day at Melbourne averaging 43.14 in Tests and 41.71 in first class matches. These early averages were the benchmark for the future.

    Jack Hobbs cricket memorabilia is not especially rare as he was always popular and attentive to fans, however no collection is complete without a least some mementos, most prolific are autographs and signed photographs, signed bats are in demand whether signed individually or as part of the County/Test team, an authentic match used bat is hard to find but well worth the effort.

    Tour Memorabilia, at sea photographs, completed scorecards, team and action sepia press photographs, hand written letters and match programmes are all available in degrees of scarcity.

    The above covers the beginnings of Jack Hobbs cricket career and I have listed below brief statistics which demonstrate what he went on to achieve.






    61 834

    Runs scored

    5,410 61,760

    Batting average

    56.94 50.70


    15/28 199/273

    Top score

    211 316*

    Balls bowled

    376 5,217


    1 108

    Bowling average

    165.00 25.03

    5 wickets in innings

     – 3

    10 wickets in match

     – 0

    Best bowling

    1/19 7/56


    17/– 342/–

    Source: CricketArchive, 18 June 2010


    Jack Hobbs was elected Cricketer of the year in both 1909 and 1925.

    He was knighted for services to Cricket in 1953 the same year the honour was awarded to “Shrimp” Levson Gower.(Surrey, England).

    Jack Hobbs Cricket Memorabilia which is of particular interest to me is associated with memorable events; I have listed a selection of these below:

    Note: Combination autographed collectables of Jack Hobbs and fellow opener Herbert Sutcliffe are always in demand. The pair opening the batting making 15 century  partnerships in Test matches.

    Scarborough festival 1931

    England v Australia at Melbourne 1908

    England v Australia 2nd test at Melbourne 1911

    England v Australia 4th test at Melbourne 1912 (Rhodes scored 1 run more at 179)

    England v Australia 1920

    England v Australia 2nd test at Melbourne1924

    Somerset v Surrey 1925

    Surrey Middlesex 1926

    Tour of Australia 1928/29

    Players v Gentlemen at Lords 1932

    Surrey v West Indians at the Oval 1933

    There are many other excellent examples this is a cross section to seek and review

    Good luck with your collecting

    Let me know how you get on?

    Tony Selby

    Cricket Memorabilia

    This post was posted in Cricket memorabilia and was tagged with cricket memorabilia, sports memorabilia, cricket collectables, Ashes Memorabilia, australian cricket memorabilia, Jack Hobbs Cricket Memorabilia, test match memorabilia

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