This is definitely one of the most frequently asked questions we get here at DJR Authentication. The process of professionally authenticating an autograph is complex and requires years of experience but there are some relatively simple ways that you, the autograph buyer, can use to reduce the possibility of purchasing a fake or forged autograph.
First, closely examine the overall appearance of the autograph. What is your initial gut reaction when you look at the signature? Does the signature appear shaky, forced, or inconsistent? In other words, does the signature ‘look natural’ to you? If there is an inscription with the signature, do all the letters match up closely in regards to size, slant and flow? It is always advantageous to have a way of magnifying the signature you are examining. Most smartphones have this capability.
Second, try to narrow down the possibility of buying a ‘fake’ by comparing your signature with several known authentic examples. You can access genuine examples of most autographs with nothing more than a smartphone. Pull up examples of the signature on Google, eBay.com, Amazon.com, Sportsmemorabilia.com and other websites dealing with the buying and selling of autographs. Just make sure you are using known authentic examples of the autograph. Look closely at the signature's beginning and end. Closely compare it with the genuine examples you have found online. Compare the height and shape of individual letters as well as the stopping and starting points in the signature. Does the authentic autograph example look similar to yours?
Third, ask the seller specific questions concerning the provenance of the signed item. What is the backstory or history of this particular piece? You can never ask to many questions when it comes to buying autographed memorabilia in today's forgery filled markets. Gather as much information as you can to help you determine if the autograph is likely genuine or likely a forgery.
Finally, compare prices of similar autographed pieces. If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. If an autograph is priced to low, this is a good indication that what you are looking at is a fake or a facsimile. Do your homework and don’t be overly anxious to believe that the autograph is real and most of all, use plain common sense. Also, never forget that the surest way to be certain that an autographed item is genuine is to consult a recognized expert.
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