Look out for ‘high-quality’ copies of autographs

(Nov. 28, 2005) — From time to time I check out the Internet auction sites to see what’s going on there in relation to autographs. Most of the time, I don’t have to look very long before locating several sellers whose listings appear to consist entirely of fakes. In most instances, they’re not even good fakes, and I – like any experienced collector – simply shake my head and move on. But lately, a new, more imaginitive breed of seller has found a new way to market autographs that are not original or genuine.

There are a number of them who are selling “autographed” photos that they clearly state aren’t originals. Somewhere in the item descriptions, they state that the signed photos are “high-quality copies” or something similar. They’re still selling what are technically fakes, but they’re coming right out and telling you they’re fakes.

Basically, all they do is take an original autographed photograph, scan or photocopy it, and market it as a copy. Statements like “only you will know the difference” and “buying a copy is cheaper than buying an original” often appear in such an item’s description. While these statements may be true, they seem to go against every rule of collecting. What fun is it to collect non-original copies of anything? Collecting is mostly about the search anyway. If you’re willing to accept a substitute for the real thing, you can hardly call yourself a collector.

It’s hard for me to imagine there are people who are willing to pay the asking price (generally between $5 and $10) for these copies of signed photos, but apparently there are. Week after week there are pages of such listings, and many of them have bids on them. Now I know chances are anyone who is reading this isn’t among those buying these items, but you might not have been aware that such items (or a market for them) even existed. Maybe we’re all missing the financial boat by not scanning our own collections and selling the copies.

— Mike Breeden

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