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Beware: Fakers might be buying these and making fake autographs on them

JMS1223JMS1223 Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 26, 2021 11:56AM in Autographs Forum

I was browsing eBay and came across UNSIGNED and BLANK celebrity checks and letterhead. For example, I found an unused Marilyn Monroe check and unused White House letterhead, cards and envelopes. If the wrong person buys these they can forge the autographs and type out the letter/check with whatever information they please. So just be warned if you see Marilyn Monroe signed checks or signed White House letters in the near future be extra cautious that they may be the work of a forger.

Which reminds me, I was at a show once a few years ago and a dealer had a couple Marilyn Monroe signed checks. I was very surprised at the price ($1200 each) knowing similar checks sold for $3000 on RRAuction at the time. I didn’t buy either of them and now thinking back I am glad I didn’t because they could had been very good forgeries. That same dealer had an Abraham Lincoln signed letter/note written on another letter. He also was asking a lot less than the normal going rate of typical Lincoln signed letters (I think he was asking $5000). I know the dealer was selling it as authentic as he described to me that it was rare for Lincoln to write his full name (Abraham Lincoln) instead of A. Lincoln on letters. It was one or two sentences in Lincoln’s hand then signed in full. I found it very odd looking myself because I knew Lincoln only signed his full name on certain documents so I suspected it at the start. I later discovered it was a well done forgery after doing some extensive research on it after I got home from the show that day. The letter it was added to was authentic (written by a less famous civil war general or military leader, I forget the name now unfortunately) so he used a real document and then added the fake autograph and note. Thinking back on this, this now leads me to believe the Monroe checks were the same situation OR perhaps they were authentic and the dealer just bought one convincing fake Lincoln letter and didn’t know. He had a lot of autographs but most were not as high end as Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln. None of the autographs he was selling were authenticated by third parties and instead had his own guarantee of authentication. Hard to know if dealer was bad or he just had one bad egg.

Comments

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've seen those White House stationery listings.

    I've also seen blank Marilyn Monroe checks. One seller - JG Autographs - lists one almost every week.

    When it comes to checks, they should have all sorts of bank stamps added if they were cashed, which makes forgery slightly more difficult.

    You are good to sound the alarm, though. These situations are one reason I believe that every signature must be assessed on own it's own, regardless of what it is on.

    I have a few dozen blank sheets of President Gerald Ford's post-presidential stationery. I would love to sell a few sheets on ebay since I know there are legitimate collectors of things like that, but I am very aware of the potential for fraud. :(

  • JMS1223JMS1223 Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭

    True about the stamps and cancellations on the checks but if a forger is very determined they can fake those too.

    If I had blank Gerald Ford stationary I would be worried too about it getting in the wrong hands if I were to sell it.

    I had always wondered how people get the blank sheets of White House stationary or any celebrity stationary or checks (especially if the celebrity is still alive).

    I can totally see how the blank Marilyn Monroe checks could be obtained — through her estate after she died they probably sold it all off and these were among her papers.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Exactly. Estate sales.

    I am not aware of quantities of other presidents' stationery being on the market.

    The Ford letterhead came not from his family but from a housekeeper. :*

  • JMS1223JMS1223 Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 26, 2021 1:59PM

    The Ford letterhead came not from his family but from a housekeeper. :*

    Interesting. That reminds me - I had seen several torn up and taped handwritten letters and notes written on envelopes from actress Katherine Hepburn. I also saw letters from Ronald Reagan (from his Governor of California days) written on yellow legal paper but those instead were not torn up but crossed out in ink with a single line throughput the letter. You could tell these letters from both people were destined for the trash and someone working there or a person that picks through trash found the discarded letters and rescued them.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I've seen those.

    I think the Reagans came from his secretary and the Hepburns were fished out of the trash by a stranger.

    I have a few letters from Hepburn, always typed and then signed. I'd love to have the handwritten versions to go with them, but the trash-picking was short lived, I believe. :p

  • JMS1223JMS1223 Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JBK said:

    I have a few letters from Hepburn, always typed and then signed. I'd love to have the handwritten versions to go with them, but the trash-picking was short lived, I believe. :p

    That would be really cool - have one of the handwritten letters and it’s related typed version. I don’t think I have ever seen a match when browsing.

    I recently saw a Katherine Hepburn typed signed letter for auction starting at like 99 cents and would had bid like $30 but it went up to like $100 so I didn’t bid as I didn’t feel like spending that much. These days when I buy autographs I learned my lesson not to overpay or buy on impulse. I browse occasionally and if I think I see a deal I watch it then wait and see if it stays in my price range. I had overspent on so many autographs when I originally collected and cane to realize that when I sold 99% of my collection in 2011. I learned I often spent four times (400%) of what they were actually worth.

    Right now I am watching some Gerald Ford signed 3x5 cards. My target price would be $20-$25 but these tend to go for $40+ (there had been a few over the past few months). Still looking for a decent Jimmy Carter. I don’t really want a book as they take up a lot of space and are usually just a “J Carter” rushed signature. I am going to have to be patient and hope the right one comes along at a more acceptable to me ($25) price. I know it’s hard but after seeing that $15 Bush Sr. signed letter I think maybe someday I will score.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Just be patient on the Ford and Carter. Inexpensive ones will pop up.

    A came across an early Carter book I had sent him in Atlanta years ago. It was inscribed by Rosalynn and then signed by her and him. His signature was a clearly written full signature.

    So, if you can get an earlier book signed in his office and not at a book signing then it should be a nice signature.

    I don't usually agree with cutting up signed books but Carter has signed so many it would not be the end of the world.

    I have to get my Hepburn letters together to compare them. I recall suspecting later ones might have been autopen, do keep your eye open for any signs of identical signatures.

  • JMS1223JMS1223 Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JBK said:
    Just be patient on the Ford and Carter. Inexpensive ones will pop up.

    I looked at past auctions just now and didn’t see too many Ford or Carter signatures under $25. Most signatures were $40-$60. I noticed a few probable fakes that sold for like $10 so that reminded me to be careful on everything, even inexpensive autographs. There is one dealer I trust though so I prefer buying from them when I can (but they often get bid high due to being reputable). Will just keep waiting and seeing until the right one comes along.

    I have to get my Hepburn letters together to compare them. I recall suspecting later ones might have been autopen, do keep your eye open for any signs of identical signatures.

    Good to know there are possible autopens with her. Never occurred to me. Her letters routinely sell over $100 so if I ever see a cheap one ($30 range) again I will keep a better eye to make sure it’s not possibly autopen.

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