Do you collect autographs?
If so, I have news that will give you chills.
Because authentication experts PSA/DNA this week announced that 50% of the autographs it receives for authentication are fake.
And it gets worse, as the company president, Joe Orlando, explains.
"PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries for evaluation. So, if our rejection rate for a particular autograph approaches 50 percent, then you can only imagine how high the percentage of forgeries actually might be in the overall marketplace," he said.
The announcement formed part of PSA/DNA's annual release of its "most dangerous autographs" list - i.e. the ones most commonly forged.
The 10 most dangerous historical and entertainment names in 2014 were:
1) The Beatles
2) Elvis Presley
3) Neil Armstrong
4) John F Kennedy
5) Michael Jackson
6) Marilyn Monroe
7) Jim Morrison
8) Jimi Hendrix
9) The Rolling Stones
10) The Walking Dead cast
And here are the 10 most dangerous sports stars' signatures from the past year:
1) Babe Ruth
2) Lou Gehrig
3) Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio
4) Michael Jordan
5) Muhammad Ali
6) Mike Trout
7) Derek Jeter
8) Tiger Woods
9) LeBron James
10) Wayne Gretzky
Which is just about enough to put you off buying autographs ever again, isn't it?
Don't turn your back just yet. There are steps you can take to ensure you only ever buy authentic autographs.
1. You'll notice the two lists consist entirely of household names. There isn't a B list celebrity among them. Which makes sense. Because the easiest way for forgers to make money is by forging signatures of celebrities they know will sell in big numbers. So if you're considering buying a big name autograph, such as the Beatles or Babe Ruth, be especially on your guard.
2. You can train yourself to spot fakes. There's so much to learn, but here are five key points for starters:
Know your weapon: Before ballpoints arrived in the mid 1940s, fountain pens were the only pens around. Felt tips only appeared in the 1960s.
Know your history: You'd be amazed how many John Lennon-autographed CDs we see. Or Bruce Lee signed memorabilia from his posthumous films.
Turn the paper upside down: This way your mind isn't reading a signature. Instead you can look objectively for tell-tale differences between your example and a known genuine signature.
Watch out for autopens: When you write your own name, you sign it in one continuous movement. Also, the pen is moving before you start writing. The autopen comes down with a dot and ends with another dot, and can often look shaky.
Did the secretary do it? A dozen secretaries signed for JFK during his time at the White House - meaning genuine examples are hard to find.
3. Lastly, and easiest of all, buy from a dealer you trust. One whose credentials are impeccable. And one who will give you a lifetime moneyback guarantee of authenticity. What does that guarantee mean? If at any time in the future you discover the autograph you've bought isn't the real thing - the dealer will give you your money back.
That's what you get when you buy with Paul Fraser Collectibles.
I have been scrutinising autographs for 40 years now. The forgers don't catch me out. Which means you can buy your Beatles, Elvis and Neil Armstrong signatures with complete confidence.
Call +44 (0)117 933 9500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Thanks for reading,