Do the math – a guide to know if an autograph is fake

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ResellingRevealed: In this day and age, almost any “original painting”, autograph, manuscript, etc. can be purchased off of eBay will a Certificate of Authenticity to match.  When Kirstie and I were buying a house, I was looking for a housewarming gift for her on eBay and was surprised to find hundred of “original doodles” signed by Dr. Seuss and authenticated by various body’s.  Not only Dr. Seuss drawings, but original Picasso’s, undiscovered autographs from sports stars, original Disney movie sketches, etc.  I messaged a few of the sellers and got some very vague answers in return.  I wasn’t very wise at the time and was unaware of the number of fakes on eBay.  Luckily I didn’t end up buying any of them as closing costs on the house ended up taking up any spare money we might have had, but looking back now with what I know, all of the items I was looking at were fake.  The following guide is meant for authenticating autographs on eBay but will also help you to determine the authenticity of paintings, original documents, etc.  As always, a professional opinion is the best opinion but hopefully this will keep you from getting duped by any of the common crooks!


Hi, as you all know, most (80-90%) of all autographs on Ebay are fakes, 
This is a simple guide that will help you figure the probability that an autograph is real. 
Simple math is all thats required to determine your final score before you bid. While nothing can be foolproof, this is based on many years of expirence and a low probibility score can help you decide if that autograph is worth taking a chance on. If you score falls to 0 or below – Don’t even think about buying it as an autograph. As a nice decoration for a restaurant wall, perhaps, or wallpaper for your bathroom, but not as part of a collection.The lower the number the lower the chance that it is real. Shall we begin? 
Start with 100 – Thats 100% real. 
Now we can calculate the odds. 

​1) Is the autograph auction a “private” auction (no matter what the reason)? if yes – subtract 20 points 

2) Does the listing avoid saying this was hand signed by X” but gets around it by just saying its “Personally signed” or “hand signed” but not directly by WHO – if yes, subtract 10 points. 

3) If you do a google search for the sellers name – do you find accusations of fakes? – If yes, subtract 20 points – if more than one from different people – subtract 40 points 

4) Does the seller claim to have “Thousands” of personally obtained autographs? – If yes – subtract 10 points 

5) Is the autograph of a very popular actor / actress but inexpensive? – If yes, subtract 30 points 

6) Does the listing say its a “preprint” or an “Autopen” or “Stamp” – if yes, subtract 100 points 

7) Does the seller hide his or her feedback? – If yes.- Subtract 50 points 

8) Does the seller offer a COA (Certificate of authenticity) as its only proof of authenticity? – if yes – subtract 10 Points 

9) In the seller a member of a world or nationally  recognized autograph dealer organization in GOOD standing? – If no – Subtract 50 points 

10) Will the seller provide you with the place and date the autographed was signed or the EXACT place or person from whom they obtained it other than a vague “well respected collectors”? – If No – Subtract 10 points 

11) If the seller have have many autographs for sale but lives in Iowa or someplace far from where autographs can be obtained? – If Yes – subtract 20 points 

12) Does the seller claim the autograph was obtained by a “chance” encounter with the star and they just happened to have a color glossy 8×10 for them to sign? – if yes – subtract 30 points. 

13) Does the seller agree to let you see a scan of the signature to authenticate it? – If no – subtract 30 points. 

14) Does the seller offer “Pre-Authenticated” autographs – if yes – subtract 50 points. 

15) When you real the sellers feedback, read the negative ones. Are they over authenticity? If Yes – Subtract 10 points 

16) Does the seller have many “removed” feedbacks? – If yes – subtract 30 points 

17) has the seller been a member for less then two years? If Yes – subtract 20 points 

18) Has the seller had 2 or more ebay id’s – if yes – subtract 10 points for each change of ID 

19) Does the seller claim that only after you buy the autograph they will refund your money if it does not pass authentication? – If yes, subtract 50 points. 

20) Does the seller request a money wire, western union or cash, but does not take checks, paypal or other legitimate traceable funds exchange? – If yes – subtract 100 points 

21) Does the seller offer you a “Similar” item outside of an ebay sale? (No listing) – if yes – subtract 80 points 

22) Does the seller have a verified paypal account? (this is only for sellers that accept paypal) – if no – subtract 20 points 

23) For sellers that accept paypal, is the account less then a year old? – if yes, subtract 20 points 

Quick side note – to check a sellers paypal account, ask the sellet for their email address for verification, then go to your paypal account and click on “Send money” and set the amount at 1 penny then loos at their stats, length of time, if they are confirmed ect, then CANCEL – do not send the penny. 

24) Does the seller have many of a similar autograph  – same photo and many many listing for autographs on the same photo? – if yes – subtract 20 points 

25) Did an authentication service say that its legitimate? – If no – subtract 90% 

26) Have you compared this signature to many other signatures by different sellers and collectors, (on and OFF of ebay) and found them to be very similar writing? (keep in mind that that may have signed in a hurry or written part of their namee or their whole name – it all depends – in a hurry – it may be little more than a scribble) – If no – subtract 50% 

27) Did the star misspell their own name? – If yes – Subtract 100 points 

28) Does the seller have thousands of sales of autographs  in their feedback?  – If yes, subtract 20 points 

This test is designed from expirence of the warning signals of fake autographs and how often they occur, it is not fool proof and is designed to be an aid. You must make the final decision if you believe it to be legitimate or not and if you want to buy it. A score of 100 will not guarantee its authenticity – nor will a score of zero or less guarantee its a fake – these are rules of thumb to help you decide and it is usually VERY accurate but the final decision is yours and yours alone. 

100 Points – its a pretty safe bet this is the real deal 
80 – 99 points – A good chance this is real, use your instincts. If it feels wrong – don’t buy it. 
60 – 79 points – Risky, but not impossible 
 40 -59 points – this is a flip of the coin – your about 50/50 chance at it being the real deal 
20- 39 points – Its unlikely this is the real thing but not impossible 
1 – 19 points – Very tiny chance this is real – most likely – it is not. 
0 or less – The chances if this being real are about non existent. 

Good luck and happy bidding! ​​​