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In the News, July - December, 2006

Breaking News:
December 31, 2006
 
 
John Reznikoff, PSA/DNA, please call......
PSA/DNA Authenticated Ethan Allen Signature Another Major Blunder

It seems like a day doesn’t pass that someone contacts us about another mistake PSA/DNA has made. The mistakes have become so numerous that we can no longer take the time to post some of the errors. We have to assume that our readers already got the message about purchasing items that come with many third party authenticators.

However, every once in a while something happens that is so ridiculous that we must post the story for entertainment purposes only.

The height of ridiculousness came this morning when www.autographalert.com was advised by a major seller of autographs that a very rare signature of Ethan Allen, the famous revolutionary war figure, sold December 17, 2006, on ebay.

The signature Certified as Genuine by PSA/DNA is illustrated below.



For comparison, the following three signatures of Ethan Allen are genuine and are signed during different periods of his life.



After just a peak at the signature passed as “Guaranteed Authentic” by PSA/DNA it is quite obvious that not a single letter in the slabbed signature compares to those in a genuine signature of Ethan Allen. Yet, this pathetic looking signature is now PSA/DNA Certified E61463 and was authenticated by the “experts” at PSA/DNA on February 22, 2006.

After looking at the signature passed as “Guaranteed Genuine” by PSA/DNA and comparing it to the three genuine signatures illustrated above, www.autographalert.com feels only one more thing needs to be said about the PSA/DNA authenticating process. Now that PSA/DNA has this Ethan Allen signature they passed as genuine on file, those in the future who submit a genuine Ethan Allen signature for authentication will probably get theirs failed. A genuine signature will not match the exemplar they now have on file that they passed as genuine.

It is well known in the autograph collecting industry that John Reznikoff is the person PSA/DNA claims they use when it comes to authenticating Americana. Mr. Reznikoff has also made these same claims for quite some time. His “printed” signature can be found on PSA/DNA Certificates of Authenticity which gives the appearance that he looks at the item being authenticated.

We have attempted to contact Mr. Reznikoff to hear what he has to say about this Ethan Allen, Certified Genuine signature, but he has blocked our emails.

Readers have to ask themselves after looking at the above four illustrations, what did the hired persons labeled “experts”at PSA/DNA use as exemplars to determine the signature they “examined” was genuine?

Someone in autograph land paid PSA/DNA for a service to authenticate the Ethan Allen autograph. There were 12 persons who bid on this item, and the winner or should we call them the looser paid $500 for this worthless piece of paper. How long can this autograph industry put up with this craziness? How long will it take collectors to become educated?

PSA/DNA states “Guaranteed Authentic”! Are they now responsible for making the refund on the sale of the autographed item or does their guarantee only refund the cost of the so called examination?

Why won’t autograph related journals and papers that deal with autographs print these type stories
in order to educate their readers. The answer is “it’s all about the money.” You won’t read a true story that’s negative about one of their full page advertisers!

While typing this story we received another email, this time from a presidential expert, advising us of another blatant mistake regarding a Franklin D. Roosevelt signature being sold on ebay . This item, a secretarial signature, was also slabbed and authenticated as genuine by PSA/DNA.

Last but certainly not least is the question: When such serious errors in authenticating are discovered, why is it so difficult to get someone at the authenticating company or associated with them to respond and explain their actions?

There is just too many costly mistakes being made by third party authenticators and the uneducated collectors are taking a beating!


Breaking News:

December 29, 2006
 

Only Seven Weeks Later..........

On Oct. 29, 2006 www.autographalert.com published an article “Sports Collectors Digest Continues To Drop The Ball.” In the last paragraph of the article it states: “....some believe the editorial staff has clearly proven, over time, that they have dropped the ball.” .....”some have suggested the only way this magazine will improve is if it replaces the current staff....”

The recent edition of SCD, page 12, in their News Briefs section states:

Brian Earnest has been named editorial director for the sports collectibles group at F+W Publications. Earnest takes over for Rocky Landsverk, who has transferred to F+W’s log home division where he will work on consumer and trade reporting.

Earnest, who also serves as editorial director for F+W’s titles in comics, games, toys and music collectibles, has been with F+W since 2000.

“We’re excited to bring Brian’s hobby knowledge, management skills and newspaper background to our sports titles,” said Jeff Pozorski, publisher of the sports and pop culture titles for F+W. “We also appreciate the many contributions Rocky made during his 12 years in our division and we’re glad he’ll continue to be an asset for our company.”


Breaking News:
December 23, 2006
James Spence of
James Spence Authentication Hits a “FOUL BALL!”
 
Even some of the skeptics are starting to ask “why does anyone still use third party authenticators”?
The amount of sophomoric mistakes being made are numerous. The autograph market has been flooded with bad items passed as good. Just as bad, many dealers are fuming over the multitude of genuine items being failed.

There are a few answers to why some auction houses continue to use those who claim to be third party authenticators. One being some auction houses like to play dumb and state they know nothing about autographs and if the authenticator says the item is real, they go ahead and sell it. Not their fault if it turns out not to be genuine. Another reason, it is a way to get spurious items passed as genuine.

Auction houses have a lot of power over some authenticators. Authenticators can write and get paid for hundreds of Certificates of Authenticity a month. Some will do what’s necessary to hold onto the auction house as an account.

www.autographalert.com has been notified by a handful of noted autograph specialists of what appears to be the hobby’s latest “major blunder.”

In a November 10-11, 2006 Hunt Auction catalog, item #474 is described as a Scarce Ed Delahanty autographed handwritten letter dated Dec. 27, 1899, the baseball Hall of Famer. In the catalog description it mentions: “Delahanty elected to leave the Washington American League...” and “Delahanty was removed from the train for rude behavior...” and “Delahanty died a sudden and early death...” This letter comes complete with a LOA (Letter of Authenticity) from James Spence Authentication.

Auction estimate for this item was $10,000 - $15,000.

Ed. J. Delahanty was born in 1867 and died at the early age of thirty-six. He was an adult for only a short period of time, thus his signature as an adult basically did not change. The letter mentioned above is dated only 3 years before his death.

The problem with the letter mentioned above is that the signature does not come close to matching what is considered a genuine signature of Ed Delahanty! So what did James Spence use as an exemplar or exemplars to come to the decision that this letter was written and signed by Ed J. Delahanty, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame?

On multiple occasions we have attempted to contact Mr. Spence regarding this letter. He has refused to respond to our requests.

The above letter sold for $29,900.00. We saved the best for last. The several times the name of the ball player is mentioned in the catalog description, his name is spelled correctly. Who ever wrote the handwritten letter sold in this auction has incorrectly spelled the players name. In the letter, the name is spelled as “Delehanty”. The mis-spelling is an observation picked up by everyone who advised us of this incident but not caught by James Spence and his staff of authenticators.
 
The "Delehanty" Signature


The above is certainly not the most costly error made by authenticators. This is just another reason why more dealers are posting notices on their web sites. A sample statement is: “refunds are not made based on an opinion of (they name the authenticating company) or those/anyone who have a commercial relationship with the authenticating company.” The reasons for such statements like this on web sites and invoices is becoming quite obvious.

Www.autographalert.com went to the James Spence Authentications website and the following are listed as the “autograph experts” working with or associated with this company.

James J. Spence, Jr., Jeremy Kraft, Jodi Birkholm, Kip Ingle, Tom Kramer, Frank Kukla and John Reznikoff..


Breaking News:
December 6, 2006
 
 
Seasoned Dealers Clarifying “No Refund Policy!”

It is well known by collectors that over 187 professional autograph dealers do not have to offer a refund for an autograph being returned because of an opinion rendered by the third party authenticating company PSA/DNA.

At a recent Florida show, one major dealer in sports autographs was purchasing a signed photograph of Mickey Mantle. He said to the seller: “...what if I send this to PSA/SDNA and it is returned as not genuine?” The seller clearly said “No refunds based on a PSA/DNA opinion.” After a quick thought, the purchaser bought the photograph anyway.

Many genuine items, some obtained “in person” have been dubbed as “Not Genuine” or “Likely Not Genuine” by PSA/DNA. Making matters even more embarrassing are items that have been tagged as “Not Genuine” by PSA/DNA or JSA (James Spence Authentication) and they were purchased from one of the PSA/DNA authentication team or from James Spence.

Autograph dealers are handling this dilemma in different ways. One dealer had a rubber stamp made which reads: “Guaranteed Genuine! Opinions from PSA/DNA or JSA Not Accepted For Refund.”
This is stamped on every one of their invoices.

Some very concerned dealers have asked www.autographalert.com what is the best way to handle this situation.

We refer them to the website of the prestigious seller of autographs The History Buff. We think their
“Terms of Sale” are thus far the best and clearest that have ever been written. The company guarantees in writing all items sold are authentic.

“Terms of Sale”
All sales are final unless it can be shown that the item was not as represented. We do not accept PSA/DNA authentication or authentication by anyone with a commercial relationship with PSA/DNA as a basis for a refund (see why-read our article on authentication.) However, we are willing to have any item, the authenticity of which is questioned, be adjudicated by another ‘expert’ who is mutually acceptable to the client and The History Buff, Inc. Once again, clients are referred to our thoughts regarding authentication that are posted on this website.

The website for The History Buff can be found by logging onto www.ehistorybuff.com


Breaking News:
November 30, 2006
 

Beware of Franking Signatures of Bess W. Truman

by Stephen Koschal


For many years envelopes bearing a dark ink franking signature of Bess W. Truman have been offered for sale. Most of them are not genuine!

Sometimes the signatures complete with postmark are offered clipped from an envelope but in most cases the entire envelope is offered.

Recently, I showed one of the free franked envelopes to several dealers and every one was troubled with why I would show it to them. Most felt the signature was genuine while a few others were more cautious only because I was showing it to them. In two cases the dealers stated: “this is one of those signatures where it could go either way.” Or: “...once in awhile you can get hung up on a dark ink signature as to whether it is right or wrong, this is one of them...”

The way to convince everyone was to show them a different envelope with the identical signature in the top right corner. The Bess W. Truman free franking signatures are printed. See both illustrations below.

 
Printed Franks by Bess Truman (above and below)



Genuine free franking signatures of Bess Truman are fairly uncommon. Most of them were signed by the former First Lady because of a special request from collectors during the 1970's. Rare are free franked envelopes where Bess Truman not only franked the envelope with her signature but also wrote the name and address of the recipient (see below).



Many of the “printed” free franked envelopes appear for sale on eBay while some others are sold by well known dealers in autographs.

To the uneducated collector, buying one of these “printed” franks could be a costly mistake. The most expensive of these “printed” free franking signatures we were able to find was offered in the Gallery of History, Las Vegas Auction in June 1998. Item #64, was a typical envelope with the printed return address “Independence, Missouri 64050." The name and address was typed and the “printed” signature was postmarked “U.S. Postal Service 640, Jan. 22, 1974.” The minimum bid was $125 and the auction estimate was $250-$500. More proof that these black ink printed signatures look genuine to some trained eyes!


Breaking News:
November 11, 2006
 
PSA/DNA Reports Significant Decrease In Submissions

Collectors Universe, parent company of PSA/DNA has reported a significant decrease in autographed items submitted for authentication for the quarter ending September 30, 2006. The number of items submitted during this quarter decreased by 38 percent.

Just recently many in the autograph industry have heard of instances where PSA/DNA may be issuing Certificates of Authenticity without seeing the original items. One place where many believe this is happening is in the monthly R&R Auctions in New Hampshire. R&R continually has numerous items in their monthly auctions that claim to be authenticated by PSA/DNA.

Recently, a very well known person in the sports autograph industry has attempted to contact Bob Eaton of R&R Auctions regarding this specific issue. The question basically was if a representative from PSA/DNA was physically examining the items that are being offered in the auctions or are the items being authenticated through scans? Mr. Eaton has not responded.

Www.autographalert.com believes the autograph collecting community is becoming more educated with regard to the activities of third party authenticators. At one time some thought the “authenticators” made mistakes because they were human. As more of these “mistakes” are being documented and exposed it is near impossible to believe they are mistakes but nothing less than incompetence. More dealers and auction houses are talking about dropping the use of so called “authenticators” and going back to the old fashioned ways of guaranteeing what they sell backed with a full refund.
 

Breaking News:
November 10, 2006
 
JOHN REZNIKOFF ON RAMPAGE

These are not our words but words from a www.autographalert.com reader who recently had contact with Mr. Reznikoff. The actual correspondence stated “Rez On Rampage.”

This all refers to several articles that have appeared on this site that refer to just some of the errors Mr. Reznikoff of University Archives has made either authenticating autographs or offering autographs for sale that were either not genuine or grossly mis-described.

Mr. Reznikoff is very upset that this information has been made public.

On April 5, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. Mr. Reznikoff placed a phone call to Steve Koschal one of the principals of this site. The call was quite threatening in nature and Reznikoff demanded that a few stories published on www.autographalert.com that refer to him be removed. Mr. Reznikoff was told “should any information in the stories be in error to please notify Steve Koschal and a correction would gladly be made. Mr. Reznikoff did not do so. During this conversation Mr. Reznikoff stated: “I will destroy you.” “I will do whatever it takes and whatever the expense to ruin you.” “If those stories are not taken down, I will create several web sites solely to create stories about you.” The last thing Reznikoff said during this discussion was : “you will get hit from every direction, you will never know where it is coming from!”

At this point Steve Koschal hung up the phone on Reznikoff. Moments later Mr. Reznikoff made other phone calls of a threatening nature to persons associated with Steve Koschal. He told one person that they had influence over me and that they should get me to take the stories down from www.autographalert.com. To this individual he stated” “I’ll ruin Steve Koschal and everyone connected to him. I’ll bring you down...”

A third person received a phone call from Reznikoff that sounded along the same lines. This individual sent us an email confirming the conversation. The following is a condensed version of that email: “Steve, I received a threatening phone call from John Reznikoff from (203) 454-0111 (Reznikoff used his fax phone). He said if you do not remove the story....he will destroy you at any expense...he told me some crazy personal stories about you that seemed outrageous and bizarre. John said this is an all out war...maybe you should remove the story just for your own safety. John honestly sounded very dangerous and desperate.”

A week before the appearance of the first web site Mr. Reznikoff spoke to a high profile person in the autograph industry saying that he will have several web sites built for the purpose of putting up articles referring to Steve Koschal.

Mr. Reznikoff apparently has kept his word. Less than two weeks after this phone call the first of the Koschal bashing sites appeared on the web.

John Reznikoff has called persons in this hobby notifying them of the website and continues to tell the person he calls that he has nothing to do with the website. Apparently he doesn’t remember telling others he would have the site built and no one would know who was managing the site. The site is run out of Las Vegas, near someone who Renikoff is associated with, and the only listing for the site is a rented mail box in one of those store fronts.

Reznikoff’s calls and tactics changed nothing! Stories regarding only a minute amount of his errors and educational articles related to the autograph industry continue to be published on the site. The site has received many great reviews and comments from many of those who read it regularly.

Reznikoff’s crusade to remove the stories about some of his recent errors did not stop with the phone calls. One of his calls was to one of the other principals of www.autographalert.com. Reznikoff’s call was to try and purchase their portion of the website. After discussing the site Reznikoff asked: “name a price.” He was refused! If Reznikoff could own a portion of the website than he could possibly have the power to remove the stories about him and have some control of what is put up on the site.

We have heard from multiple sources that John Reznikoff has applied for a gun permit but this information has not been confirmed with the State of Connecticut.

The rampage does not end here. Reznikoff contacted a woman attorney in Pennsylvania. The attorney called Steve Koschal on the phone and spoke to him for nearly two hours. She basically wanted Koschal to remove “all the stories about Reznikoff from the website.” Then she stated: “if you remove the stories of John from www.autographalert.com, he will remove the stories about you from his web sites.” This was most interesting as the attorney confirmed what Reznikoff stated earlier about building the Koschal bashing web sites. The next day Koschal wrote a letter to the attorney confirming her statement about Reznikoff removing stories from his web sites.

Www.autographalert.com has not bent an inch and continues to infom the autograph community of news that will be found no where else. There are no advertisers to offend here. It is our wish that our readers understand what we go through to bring informative information to your screens and continue to support this site with your visits.

Many of you have asked us to continue to post more stories about John Reznikoff mistakes not only because of the seriousness of the mistakes but usually because they are about high value items. Www.autographalert.com feels our readers got the message. Our files are so large regarding this issue that it would be more appropriate to just write a book about the numerous errors on Certificates of Authenticity that bear his name. It even gets more complicated and costly than that. We were recently informed of a major dealer who was removed from eBay because they placed an item for sale on eBay. The item was determined by eBay authenticators to be non authentic. The item was purchased from John Reznikoff.

Many of you have asked who is John Reznikoff and where did he come from? As a full time dealer, he could be considered a fairly new comer to the autograph industry. His background is the stamp industry and that may be a future story. We have some shocking information about a John Reznikoff who worked out of Connecticut and was associated with a major stamp deal during 1988-1989. We just want to make sure that there wasn’t two different John Reznikoff’s, in Connecticut, in the stamp business during that time.

Almost every month this site receives a record breaking amount of hits mainly because you continue to spread the word of this site amongst your friends and associates. That makes it all worthwhile.


 
Breaking News:
November 2, 2006
 
PSA/DNA
What Does This Stand For?
Let The Truth Be Known From The Horse’s Mouth!


Everyone knows this company has had sand kicked in its face for the last few years because so many of the mistakes they have made authenticating autographs have been publicly divulged.

Very few in our hobby are aware of what PSA/DNA really stands for. When we asked several noted persons in the sports autograph collecting field what they thought it meant most had a hard time getting past what they thought even the “P” stands for.

www.autographalert.com thought to investigate this matter and have discovered the true meaning of PSA/DNA. In the Superior Court of the State of California For the County of Orange, case number 04CC08657, a Deposition was held on Friday, December 10, 2004 at 11:08 A.M.

Michael Haynes, the witness appeared at 695 Town Center Drive, 14th floor, Cosa Mesa, California before Alice Sibigtroth who recorded the Deposition. Counsel present for Mr. Haynes was Keith Attlesey.

During this Deposition Mr. Hayes was asked about the position he held with the parent company of PSA/DNA. The question was : “And what is your position with Collectors Universe....”

Answer: Chief Executive Officer...”

Another question asked was if there were any other operating divisions within Collectors Universe and Mr. Haynes responded by giving three names including PSA/DNA Authentication Services.

The next question was: “What does PSA/DNA stand for?”

Mr. Haynes response: “Well, PSA – I mean, it doesn’t stand for anything.”

Next question: “So the initials don’t – in other words, they are not initials or some words?”

Mr. Haynes: “No.”

Question: “And DNA, does that stand for anything?”

Mr. Haynes: “No.”

Enough said!
 
Breaking News:
November 1, 2006
 

James Spence
James Spence Authentication, LLC
“Follow The Leader”????


It is most disturbing what we found when we took his advice and tried to “follow the leader.” What we discovered is by no means an isolated incident.

James Spence at one time was one of the “authenticators” whose signature has appeared on thousands of Certificates of Authenticity for PSA/DNA Authentication Services. The amount of Certificates that bear his signature issued with erroneous information are multitudinous!

Goose Goslin was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. In April 1994, Mr. Spence sold a Goslin Hall of Fame Plaque Card to an east coast dealer for $600.00. According to Spence, the card bore a genuine signature of Goose Goslin on the verso. See illustration below.

Years later, the dealer was able to sell this same card for $1500.00, a nice profit of $900.00. However, the new owner of the plaque sent this item to PSA/DNA for authentication. The purchaser was not aware that this plaque was originally purchased from James Spence. The item (PSA/DNA submission #140702) was returned on Wednesday, April 6, 2005 by PSA/DNA to the new purchaser as “unable to certify its legitimacy.” Mr. Spence whose signature appears on the PSA/DNA Certificate listed eight factors why the signature was not authentic. Basically the Certificate states nothing was right with the Goose Goslin signature (which Spence originally sold).

Of course, the dealer refunded the collectors $1500.00 and now the dealer had to contact Spence about this most embarrassing incident. Spence did refund the dealers original purchase price of $600.00.

There is a major lesson to learn from these type of incidents. Trusting authenticating companies decisions can be very costly. If these type of mistakes were “close calls” maybe each case can be discussed or even argued. However, we don’t expect you, the reader to be an authenticator, but look at the facts in this specific case.

The following are two illustrations of authentic Goose Goslin signatures. They were submitted to us by Ron Keurajian. Mr. Keurajian is an autograph expert and a published author on signatures of those enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Authentic "Goose" Goslin Signatures

Illustration 1

 

Illustration 2


Notice the similarity of both the genuine signatures. The slant of the signatures, the shaping of each individual letter, the speed of the signature, and so much more. It is so obvious that both signatures were signed by the same person.

Now, take a look at the below signature sold by James Spence. At first, it may look like a child’s signature. However this is a Hall of Fame plaque so Goslin didn’t sign his plaque years before it was issued!

Goose Goslin Signature Sold by James Spence

Notice the obvious shakiness in the tops of each “G” (The mark of a nervous forger). Look at the rounded “o’s”. Basically nothing in the signature Spence sold resembles a genuine signature of Goose Goslin. One has to ask themselves, what was Spence using for reference when he sold this signature as genuine? He could not have had any reference on Goslin’s signature to have made such a blunder.

With so many similar sophomoric mistakes like this being made, one has to ask themselves why any seller of autographs, card shops, and auction houses would continue to use these type of authenticators. The answer becomes quite obvious as more and more non genuine items get passed as genuine! This has become an autograph epidemic.

There is a movement by educated collectors and autograph dealers to boycott those card shops and auctions who use third party authenticating companies. In many cases these sellers of autographs will not offer refunds based on mistakes made by authenticators. It has been a great excuse by a shop owner or auction house to say “we are not experts and we sold the item based on the authenticators opinion.”

It is the opinion of www.autographalert.com that all sellers of autographs and auction houses go back to the old ways. Each dealer should guarantee what they sell and offer a 100% full refund for something returned as not being genuine.

www.autographalert.com has attempted to contact Mr. Spence on multiple occasions requesting an interview on this issue and on many other issues specifically related to his past authentications. Mr. Spence has not responded to our requests.


Breaking News:
October 29, 2006
 
Sports Collectors Digest Continues To “Drop The Ball”

The editorial staff of this once popular sports newspaper should be shaking in their shoes? Just a few years ago it would take an entire Saturday to read this weekly publication. Now a shadow of its former self, it takes us just several minutes to read. The outrageous cover cost is still $4.99 US or $6.99 for Canadians.

Why does it take just a few minutes for us to read Sports Collectors Digest lately? Because it usually lacks interesting articles and is filled with advertising, much of it being a minefield! For years, the same staff at Sports Collectors Digest has been warned about some of their advertisers and little has been done to fix what appears to be an eternal problem. They know which advertisers are a problem!

During the last several years, many of the advertisers who sold genuine autographs can no longer compete with those who sell at best questionable material. A dealer who sells genuine autographs begins to appear to be high priced. Yet, the magazine will go on publishing some of their advertisers auction results which looks absolutely foolish to the educated purchaser of autographs. For example, it should be most embarrassing for the magazine to print that John Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe signed photographs sold for under $500 by one of their advertisers. It also tells a reader that no legitimate autograph dealer bid on the item as they knew the item was not genuine. However, some unfortunate collector thought he got a bargain because of the low price and felt somewhat secure, partially because the auction house was an SCD advertiser. This all could have easily been avoided if the management at SCD took the advise of some years ago. Now what sports collectors have to look forward to is an embarrassing three quarters of a page of Vendors' ads shadowed by two full pages of how to place and price an ad. The current management’s decision to try to entice a subscriber to renew their subscription by offering 8"X10"s signed by a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame or sending a free bobble head is not the way to go. Collectors and sports fans will renew if a quality magazine is offered. The best publicity for this magazine will be by word of mouth but only if things improve.

Autographalert.com has just learned that the powers to be at Sports Collectors Digest made a recent decision to no longer publish the highly educational autograph authentication articles written by baseball hall of fame autograph expert Ron Keurajian. Talk about dropping the ball! Mr. Keurajian’s articles are basically the only reason left why we still subscribe to this magazine. For years, Mr. Keurajian’s articles educated most of the autograph community. The exemplars he illustrated in his articles are used by most autograph dealers and authenticators who care to have a reference library.

Collecting autographs is a big part of the sports hobby. Why do the people who try to do good for the hobby continually get the short end of the deal? We can only come up with two possible answers. One is they usually are not in a position to take out full page ads and secondly, as educators, try to tell the truth.

In Mr. Keurajian’s last published article in SCD, November 3, 2006 issue, he writes a wonderful story on the scarce signatures of John J. McGraw. In two areas of this article the author hits a home run with the truth. “Forged McGraw baseballs have been floating around for years and, in my opinion, many have wrongfully been certified as genuine by the major authentication companies...” and “The forgery is signed J.J. McGraw, To the trained eye (which this hobby seems to be sorely lacking) they are easily identified...” True statements however who do you think will be offended by these warnings? You guessed it...some of the full page advertisers!

So, the magazine decides to drop Mr. Keurajian and will now have to replace him. Replacing an expert is no easy task. They do so with one of whom is associated with one of their full page advertisers. Getting readers prepped with the replacement, SCD starts publishing articles the week before by a Justin Priddy of Global Authentication. You can find his name in the full page ad on the back page of the November 3, 2006 issue of SCD. Unless it's self promotion, that’s about the only place where you will see his name with regard to autographs. We never heard of him before he became an “expert”. His name is not listed as a member in any of the autograph trade organizations and he has not taken a single autograph course of the dozen or so that was available (free) to the public.

Mr. Priddy’s first article was in the October 27, 2006 issue of SCD. It was on the signature of Babe Ruth. It is our opinion that if Mr. Priddy read Ron Keurajian’s autograph study of Ruth’s signature published in the March 2, 2002, Vol.29, #10 issue of SCD and reproduced in the Standard Catalog of Sports Memorabilia, third edition, issued by Krause Publications in 2003, Mr. Priddy would never have written his article. This in itself almost proves that many of the so called authenticators do not read the educational articles written about autographs. We called on several legitimate, recognized autograph experts and authenticators to comment on the several exemplars Mr. Priddy used “as genuine” in his article. All basically agree that at least one is an outright forgery and six of the nine he illustrated are questionable. The rest of the article’s biographical info can be found on basically any informative website referring to Babe Ruth.

Mr. Priddy’s second “educational” story turns out to be another black eye for the hobby. The title of this story is “Shoeless Joe Autographs rare in any form.” Once again we have to read the usual biographical info that can be found anywhere else but where is the meat? Ah, it starts halfway through the article with “Most collectors know that Jackson was illiterate and have heard the stories of him signing his name with an ‘X’..... however, later in his life he did learn how to sign his name.”

 
Joe Jackson was born in 1887 and played in the 1919 World Series. He died in 1951 so when does one want to consider him being late in life. Most likely the years of the late 1940's would satisfy most. Illustrated below are two genuine signatures of Joe Jackson. Illustration 1 (above) is taken from a bond from the City of Greenville for the State of South Carolina for a transaction that involved Joe Jackson’s brother. It is signed by Joe Jackson and also bears the signature of the notary public. The document is dated January 12, 1915.

Illustration 2 (below), is taken from a Bill of Sale of Joe Jackson’s Pool Hall. This document bears a genuine signature of Joe Jackson and is dated October 6, 1921. Neither of these signatures can be considered signed anywhere close to “late in life.”


Of the six Joe Jackson signature illustrations used in Mr. Priddy’s article, two are so poorly copied that no one can determine the authenticity from the illustrations. However all who have been contacted agree that illustration 4 and 5 appear to be the same signature with illustration 5 being slightly enlarged.

Autographalert.com attempted to contact as many legitimate autograph experts and authenticators for their opinions of the articles on Ruth and Jackson however we were somewhat surprised of how many of these experts no longer subscribe to Sports Collectors Digest and therefore did not see the articles. As for this writer, with the absence of Ron Keurajian’s articles there is no longer a reason for us to renew our subscription.

During our calls to autograph experts we found past readers of the SCD publication very frustrated with the magazine. Some believe the editorial staff has clearly proven, over time, that they have “dropped the ball.” Their ideas and policies just don't work The industry has watched this publication basically disintegrate. Since the management continues to stay with the same policy, some have suggested the only way this magazine will improve is if it replaces the current staff. New blood, who will have a clear focus, for a new direction, might be this magazines saving grace. Because some people still believe what they read, it is up to the trade magazines to set high standards for the industry not only by policing their advertisers but also ensuring only qualified persons, those with documented credentials, write educational articles that can be trusted to be used as reference by the collecting public.

 
 
Breaking News:
October 26, 2006
 

Einstein Still Signing After His Death????
Some Autograph “Experts” Think So!

Albert Einstein, the great American physicist whose Theory of Relativity and studies of mass and energy relationships revolutionized the field of physics died in 1955. During the last few years many manuscript pages of notes reportedly in his hand, some signed, some unsigned, have appeared in dealers catalogs and in auctions.

Most interesting is when basically the same manuscript appears within weeks in two different places.The first one appears in a west coast autograph auction catalog. The manuscript is written on Hamburg-Amerika Linie stationary (a blank piece of this stationary can be found at most any paper collectible show) and advertised as 10 mathematical equations relating to his (Einstein’s) Theory of Relativity. This item, illustration #1 (below), is unsigned. Although this manuscript is undated, the auction house goes into much detail that this was written during the time Einstein was on route to New York from Europe in 1932. Auction estimate $7,500-$12,500.



Just weeks later, a sports autograph dealer offers a nearly identical item to Todd Mueller Autographs in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This item is even more attractive because this example is not only signed by Einstein (See illustration #2 (below) but comes complete with a Certificate of Authenticity issued by JSA Authentication, signed by James Spence. Mr. Spence once held the position of head authenticator at PSA/DNA. Another authenticator, who resides in Connecticut, also was involved in this incident.



It only took Todd Mueller a few seconds to realize this manuscript was not genuine. According to Mr. Mueller, the first thing that jumped out at him was that the ink was new.

How something like this gets by these authenticators doesn’t surprise us anymore!

It is suggested that anyone who has purchased a manuscript reportedly by the hand of Einstein (signed or unsigned) during the last few years should have it checked by a professional autograph authenticator.


Additionally, autographalert.com would like to announce a recent discovery of an Einstein Autopen signature. This machine example was used to endorse a check. Most collectors/dealers feel comfortable buying and selling checks and contracts as they feel secure about the signatures found on these type documents.

Einstein Autopen Samples (above and below)


Little is known and written about Einstein’s use of the Autopen. Autographalert.com can tell you that the example in illustration #3 is signed by the Autopen. This signature was used on some of his letters between the last part of 1946 and now found to endorse a check dated December 6, 1947.

This remarkable discovery was unearthed by autograph authenticator Stephen Koschal.


 
 
Breaking News:
October 16, 2006

 

Settling The Controversial LBJ Bookplate Signatures

By Stephen Koschal

For nearly four decades, there have been discussions amongst collectors and dealers whether the initialed signatures of LBJ on numerous bookplates are genuine. The answer is they are genuine!

Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson (Lady Bird) wrote a best selling book A White House Diary. Lady Bird Johnson held an autograph party on December 6, 1971, a Sunday afternoon which turned out to be an overwhelming success. The party was held at the Pioneer Memorial Library in Fredericksburg, Texas and joining her was the former president Lyndon B. Johnson.

Over 2,000 collectors and visitors arrived forming very long lines. Former president Johnson greeted the visitors saying, “The purpose of this party is to sell books to help beautify the Hill Country....I thank all of you for coming.”

After a brief ceremony, Mrs. Johnson proceeded to Milam Hall, where she started autographing copies of her book. During this time President Johnson mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and greeting some old friends.

Two hours had passed and Mrs. Johnson was still greeting each of her guests and personally autographing and personalizing many copies of her book.

It became quite evident that Mrs. Johnson could not personally personalize all the books for the hundreds still waiting in line. President Johnson came to her aide and offered to add his famous initials “LBJ” for those in line who would forego the personalization and would accept a book she had previously autographed on bookplates (Above and Right).

This helped speed up the autographing process and by 5 p.m. The Johnson’s were ready to leave for their ranch.

The autograph party was a complete success with nearly 3,000 copies of the book sold through advance orders and at the party.

Later, President Johnson wrote his memoirs The Vantage Point. Nearly 8,000 people turned out at the autograph party held at the LBJ library. According to Wayne Koschal, presidential historian, autograph aficionado who met President Johnson on several occasions has stated that the first copy off the press of The Vantage Point was presented to Johnson by Aaron Asher, a vice-president of Holt, Reinhart & Winston. The former President gave this copy to the LBJ Library Director Harry Middleton. Wayne has been able to have access to the vault in the library and see this book. It is simply a standard first edition and Johnson did not sign or inscribe the copy to the Library.

President Johnson signed bookplates that were to be inserted in his book. All these “LBJ” bookplates signed are genuine. Should you come across a bookplate that look like some child scribble on it don’t try to erase the other signature. The additional signature will be “LYN” who stole the show.

It was five-year old Patrick Lyndon Nugent who signed his name in some copies of his grandfather’s book during the autograph party (Above).


 
Breaking News:
October 6, 2006
 
Beware of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth Checks

Special Alert! Recently there has been sightings of what appears to be laser printed Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth checks being offered in the autograph sports market. To date, these checks are only being offered framed under glass!

These checks are of high quality and only a handful of seasoned professional autograph dealers can tell the difference while examining the check while still in the frame.

Upon removal of the check from the frame, one should notice the lack of the quality of the copy paper used to make the apocryphal checks. One should also notice the lack of ink strokes in the signatures of Cobb and Ruth. The lack of the overlapping ink strokes on Cobb signatures are easier to notice as he used green ink in his fountain pen verses the dark ink usually used by Ruth.

Autographalert.com suggests that collectors, dealers, auction houses and autograph authenticators start noting and recording all Cobb and Ruth checks that they see framed at shows and being offered in galleries.

It will just be a matter of time that the industry will be able to identify some of these checks by date as collectors and the legitimate dealers share information.

Breaking News:
September 30, 2006
 

REZNIKOFF BACK IN THE NEWS.....

Not long ago John Reznikoff of University Archives posted a signature of Maggie Mitchell for sale on his company website. Problem is, he described the signature as being Margaret Mitchell of Gone With The Wind fame.

As many of you, even non experts are aware, Maggie Mitchell was a 19th century actress who died eighteen years before Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With The Wind.

It was autograph authenticator Stephen Koschal who called John Reznikoff advising him of this embarrassing listing. One would think the caller would be thanked for bringing this to Reznikoff’s attention. However, to Koschal’s surprise, Reznikoff questioned Koschal about his accuracy and Koschal had to send Reznikoff examples of both Maggie and Margaret Mitchell’s autograph to prove the listing on Reznikoff’s site was erroneously described. After looking at the illustrations below, it is mind boggling how anyone, especially one who calls himself an authenticator, can make such a inexcusable mistake.



A few days after receiving the copies of both Mitchell’s exemplars, the Maggie Mitchell autograph was removed from the website.

In a similiar incident, Mr. Reznikoff was advised by an International collector that a photo of Ronald Reagan that was posted on Renikoff’s site contained a common Autopen signature. Reznikoff’s response was only two words long: “New Employee.” Another inexcusable mistake and that excuse cannot be used in the Mitchell incident.

Reznikoff and Mitchell are both back in the news. According to an Associated Press article of September 13, 2006 a fight is brewing over the papers tied to Gone With The Wind author. The papers were purchased for an undisclosed amount by John Reznikoff. Court papers state that Reznikoff and rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz claim they own the correspondence and together they tried to sell it to the Atlanta History Center.

Horowitz sent the papers to the history center’s offices so it could be reviewed. However, the center heard from the lawyer representing the Stephens Mitchell’s estate demanding the return of the correspondence. The Atlanta History Center plans to hold on to the correspondence until the dispute is resolved by a judge.

According to the Associated Press their attempts to contact Reznikoff were not successful. The writer for the Associated Press told www.autographalert.com that “he (Reznikoff) was all to eager to talk to us several months ago when AP did a profile on him....” Isn’t it funny they can’t get hold of him now!


 
Breaking News:
September 28, 2006

 

After All These Years
Setting The Record Straight!


Probably no one will deny that many of the collectors and dealers in this hobby are fairly new. Only a small percentage of active collectors and dealers are pre 1988.

So, many of you never got to personally know the “old timers” and only know and sometimes believe what you have heard by word of mouth or something published in a club magazine and what may be said on a couple of recently created web sites.

Only a handful of degenerates have been spewing their venom for a dozen or so years. These "phony-iacs" who masquerade as sellers of autographs, authenticators and possibly even a show promoter are bankrupt of morales and ethics. Most of you know who they are! For years it’s the same handful who have to create false tales throughout this wonderful hobby of ours.

Why do people say bad things about another person? It’s usually because their antics have been exposed by someone, the truth was told and now they have to find a way to get even. So, these buffoons spread their tales throughout the hobby and some new collectors and dealers may believe what they hear.

A perfect example are the attacks by a handful against veteran dealer Stephen Koschal. For years two specific attacks have been focused on this individual. One is against his highly successful marketing program of offering a check for one million dollars for the first person to come forward with a genuine alien autograph. This was in 1998 when autograph collecting was still fun. Steve was paid to write an outrageous article for the Weekly World News. Not only was he paid to be the author of the article, he was also paid as a model, as his picture was used holding a check for one million dollars. The picture was taken by the Weekly World News photographer. The article was picked up by the news media all over the world (Russian Article on Right). Hundreds of letters were written to Steve asking how they can become autograph collectors, what clubs are available to join. The interest in autograph collecting was exploding by those who were not aware the hobby existed. Seems like everyone wanted to take part in the fun. Autograph Collector magazine wrote a favorable half page story about this article in their October 1998 issue. At the time one of the top high profile dealers in the country, Cordelia and Tom Platt joined in on the fun and although they couldn’t come up with a genuine signature of an alien, produced what they hoped were gall stones from an alien. (Illustration below of Cordelia and Tom presenting the stones to Steve Koschal.) Cordelia was a Director of the UACC and both Tom and Cordelia ran most of the UACC shows around the United States for years.

Now we have someone, years later, putting on their website a story trying to turn this incident into a negative story trying to make Koschal appear to look foolish.

What one can learn from this is when you are being told something negative by someone, you can almost be assured they have an agenda and that agenda is not usually in the best interests of our hobby.

The second thing that needs to be aired are the stories about Koschal being thrown out of the UACC or look at the newly created website that was specifically built to attempt to ruin his reputation. The same handful of bozos are behind this.

The truth of the matter is Koschal was voted by the UACC membership to be one of their directors for two terms. He handled that job to the best of his ability and has a folder full of letters from members and most of the officers of that club thanking him for his efforts. He did go after some issues within the club that troubled him especially when he couldn’t get answers and stirred the hornet’s nest. He was the one who pioneered the idea of getting 351 members to sign a petition demanding the club have an accountant receive and count the votes during the next election. The president of the UACC at the time told Koschal “I just can’t turn this club over to anyone!” Koschal’s response was “why bother holding elections, who do you think we are fooling!” This and a handful of other innovative ideas by Koschal rubbed some of the club officers wrong. Since then, many of the changes Koschal introduced have been accepted and others have taken credit for them and given themselves rewards for such. So be it! But the fact is Koschal resigned the UACC. The UACC created many false accusations against him and created a sanction against him. They broke their own club rule but stating he had no right to appeal the created sanctions.

Koschal wrote each individual board member asking them if they voted for the sanctions and not one replied.

It was shortly after this incident that some Board members may have felt they were out of the loop or that they may have been duped by one or two of the club officers.

Koschal started getting correspondence form those prominent in the UACC. An October 2, 1998 letter from UACC Director Roy Deeley, illustrated below, states in part: “....even Bob Erickson (President of the UACC) agrees with me and it was he who suggested that I ask you to rejoin the UACC...” If Koschal truly did what the created sanctions said he did, there is no way two top club officials would want him to rejoin the club. Sounds like a few were on a guilt trip.

There were more letters to Koschal. Another dated November 29th, 1997 from Michael Hecht (present president of the UACC) is illustrated below. In this letter Hecht says in part: “Word has just reached me that you have resigned from the UACC. If this is true I want to say a few things. One, you are an excellent autograph scholar whose books no one can take away from you. Two, you are an excellent autograph dealer and are welcome at my autograph fairs. (Thanks for the eternal invite but let’s not continue to break club rules. Only members of the UACC can take a table at a UACC show, or at least that’s what the members are told.) Three, during your service to the UACC many of your suggestions were adopted....no one can take your years of service to autograph collecting away. Four, you fought the fight with all your strength. I will remember how you worked to get a bad dealer expelled, regardless of his position in the UACC, and no one can take that from you.....”

After all this, there are still a few who would like you to believe otherwise. The next time some mean spirited individual gets your ear and tries to spew their venom, simply look at the source.

There is one other point to be made. The UACC received a letter dated June 27, 2001 from a dealer in Michigan. We have a copy of the letter and have no record of it being answered. From the way the letter is written it appears the person may be an attorney. We would like to quote parts of the letter. “I am neither a member of the UACC, nor the IACC/DA. I am merely a dealer interested in aligning myself with a credible organization to better my business within the autograph industry. However, I am quite perplexed by some information I have received concerning the UACC, and the IACC/DA. I have written to the Board members of the IACC/DA regarding these matters, and now I inquire of the members of the UACC Board in regard to these matters.

Upon your website, I found a section entitled “Wall of Shame”, on which I found a censure directed toward a Mr. Stephen Koschal. In my considering membership in an industry club, I heard many wonderful things about the UACC, as well as the IACC/DA. Also in my research, the name of Stephen Koschal came up numerous times as an upstanding member of the autograph community. After calling many friends of mine within both organizations, I was given information, pro and con, about both the UACC, and Mr. Koschal, regarding this censure, and I wanted to know more from both sides before I pay money to align myself with either organization.

After printing, and reading, the censure, considering each detail, I called Mr. Koschal, and he gave me his side of the matter. As he was the “defendant” of the matter, I was very skeptical of many of his answers, and decided to a few acquaintances, that are members of both organizations, to verify Mr. Koschal’s accusations.

According to the UACC Resolution #37 - Censure of UACC Director Stephen Koschal, Mr. Koschal was guilty of....
1. Abuse of Power (nine counts).
2. Dereliction of duty (2 counts)
3. Failure to perform assigned duties (one count).

According to three members of your club (UACC) that I have spoken to, it is my understanding that what Mr. Koschal was accused of was just a retortion against his attempting to stand behind the UACC Code of Ethics. In attempting to get the truth, I am going to refrain from using Mr. Koschal’s defensive statements, and rely on the facts as I have gathered them from other individuals.

According to your Code of Ethics, Article #1....
1) UACC members are required to abide by all Federal, state, and local laws and regulations to the purchase, sale, or other related transactions concerned with the securing of autographs, or autograph related items.

Also Article #6...
1) Members agree not to knowingly sell, exchange, or advertise for sale any autograph or autograph or related material which is forged, or where the signature is a mechanical reproduction, or is otherwise not genuine...

As per three separate phone calls, with three members of the UACC, it has come to my attention that Mr. Koschal, in an attempt to uphold the Code of Ethics he was, as a Board member, bound to uphold, did respectfully bring charges against a fellow Board member that he himself had received telephone complaints against. According to all parties, Mr. Koschal, as a result of his petition, was, himself, quietly accused of bringing false accusations against a UACC member, and his violation of the Code of Ethics petition, brought against a fellow Board member, was discredited, and never reached the Ethics Committee the club had for such complaints.

If my three UACC sources are being truthful, then the supposed governing body of the UACC did, in itself, violate its own Constitution that was set up in 1965, adopted by said Board, and membership, and Board members are sworn to uphold.

According to said Constitution, the Board violated two of their own governing objectives...

Article 1, Section 2, Subsections G and H

G) To protect, and uphold, the highest standards of honesty in the activities of the members of the UACC.
H) To expose, and take vigorous action against, any individual, or organization, that seeks to defraud our members.

If, by the acquired testimony, you did refuse to act upon an Ethics complaint, then you, by action, blatantly violated Art.1, Sec.2, Sub. H.
Furthermore, is said testimony is truthful, you also violated Code of Ethics Guideline D...
D) The highest level of impartiality, and fairness, shall be observed by the Ethics Board members at all times.

Furthermore, by the Ethics complaint being ignored by the Executive Board, it never made it to the Ethics committee, and therefore, by definition, the Ethics committee was prevented, and restrained, from doing its duty, as described by its Code. Furthermore, by acting on behalf of the Ethics committee, the Executive Board did willfully breach its own Ethics, Guidelines, and Constitution, by not only acting as the Ethics committee, but by also showing partiality to a club member sitting on the Board.

I am also of the understanding that only two of the Board members were aware of the Censured charges against Mr. Koschal, and that the remaining 2/3s needed for sanctions has to be appraised of the situation by one of the knowledgeable two, and were practically “bullied” into casting their vote for censure.

I also understand that the Board member against whom the complaint was made was also part of the Censuring vote process. I believe this violates conflict of interest.

Further information also made me aware that Mr. Koschal was never given the opportunity to know of the vote, (and he was a Board member), nor was he made aware of the Censure, until after the fact. Here again is another violation of your clubs Code of Ethics...

Ethics, Guidelines, J

J) The sanctioned party shall have the right to appeal an Ethics Board decision to the UACC Executive Board.

Interestingly, the fact now would be that Mr. Koschal wouldn’t have been able to appeal to the Executive Board, as the Executive Board acted as Ethics committee to author, and vote in, said censure, so, if all this be true, then Mr. Koschal didn’t have a snowballs chance in Hell, as a political agenda was being perpetrated against him clandestinely......”

It’s plain to see, the whole censure of Koschal was a farce. The present Board of Directors, many of whom are the same folks who took part in this censure, allow the false claims against Koschal to remain posted on the club website. This is just another reason to run their election process in a different manner. During this time the UACC boasted of having over 2,000 members with most residing in the United States. About one third or more of the members who were aware of the real facts did not renew their membership in the UACC. According to the UACC’s own recent posting their US membership is down to an embarrassing record low of only 950. Many of those old members never rejoined and to this day neither has Stephen Koschal. He will not until the club cleans up its act, some of the dead wood is removed from the Board and the club holds an election where they don’t continue to count their own votes.

As Paul Harvey has said for years: “Now you heard the rest of the story!”


Breaking News:
September 21, 2006
 
Simply Outrageous!
By Stephen Koschal

An very prominent autograph dealer phoned me on Tuesday, September 19, telling me he received a phone call from John Reznikoff. Mr. Reznikoff told this dealer that a story would be put up about me reportedly forging autographs on a website.

Late last night, on September 20th I received the following email:

 Dear Mr. Koschal,
I am writing to you at this time because in the past our ezine had been questioned by some of your protractors in the industry as to whether we had gotten your side of a particular story for some of the past articles we have published on our industry news website, autographdealernews.com.
 
Recently we have obtained, and verified through second sourcing; a private taped interview between one of your relatives and one of our industry news contributors. As part of our due diligence we are extending this opportunity to you to make your side of the story known.
 
The allegations listed below will be encompassed in the article. We are extending this opportunity for you to respond to the allegations being leveled against you.
 
The article is due to be published by week’s end, so a timely response will ensure your rebuttal is considered for our final draft of this article.
---------
According to the interview from June of this year you are being accused of forging, and selling multiple documents which include but are not limited to the following:
 
Richard Nixon resignation letters
Helen Keller
Geronimo
Salvador Dali
 
The witnesses stated that you had been seen on several occasions practicing signatures against known copies and then selling them once you were satisfied with the results; sales were made to both clients and dealers, through catalogs as well as at shows.
 
According to our sources this practice went on for a period of at least 5 or more years that they were aware of.
---------
Since these accusations are egregious to say the least, I felt it my obligation to give you an opportunity to respond.
 
Thank you for your timely cooperation.
Alissa
Editor
autographdealernews.com

The following is my response to this email that will be found only on this site. This response is being posted before their story is posted on their website.

Ms. Allissa (no last name???)

It’s very difficult to respond to anyone who does not identify themselves. I don’t know who you are and as far as the trade is concerned the website you claim to be associated with was solely created to write negative articles concerning me.

John Reznikoff of University Archives phoned me and told me if the articles about him were not removed form www.autographalert.com that he would create multiple web sites (through others) for the sole purpose of printing negative articles about me. Mr. Reznikoff was foolish to say the same thing to one other autograph dealer who can be a witness. After Mr. Reznikoff’s call, nearly a week later, two web sites were created. On Saturday, a Philadelphia attorney whop claims to represent Mr. Reznikoff, phoned me stating that If I removed the stories that refer to Reznikoff, he would remove the stories about me from his web sites.

I am not familiar with your web site as I have never logged onto it. However, I have been told by others who have attempted to locate the source of your web site that you hide the name of the host. No name is published who is responsible for the site and the site address is hiding in a private mail box in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mail to this box does not have to be signed for by the owner so their identity is curiously hidden.

Those with whom I have spoken are aware of the sole purpose of the site. The site has no creditibility!

I am shocked by your statements about me by what you claim is an unidentified family member of mine. It is my opinion that no person of sound mind would make such an outrageous statement unless they were coerced and paid to do so.
 

Breaking News:
September 12, 2006
 
Voted The 20th Century Premier Autograph Forgery/Scandal
 
The 20th Century had its share of autograph forgers. Some of you may be aware of Joseph Cosey, Charles Weisberg, Eugene Field II, Harry Sickles and John Laffite who all did their damage during the 20's and 30's.

One major forger whose autograph forgeries still appear for sale at stamp and autograph shows are those of Henry Woodhouse. Everyone believed the items Woodhouse sold were genuine and why not. This man had credentials! Woodhouse was president of the Aerial League of America and president of The Historic Arts Association. He was known as “The Father of the Airport.” He was an early aviation supporter and endorsed Polar Expeditions. He founded and published the magazine Flying (1912-1920). Mr. Woodhouse is also remembered for searching for the original passport given by George Washington to the aeronaut J.P. Blanchard. On January 9, 1793 Blanchard made the first aerial ascension in the western hemisphere which carried the first American flag.

Most of you may remember Mark Hofmann (left) noted for his Mormon related forgeries and the murder of two. He also forged signatures of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln and many more. Many of his works were sold privately and some were sold through Sotheby’s auction house. Hofmann is currently serving a life sentence in Utah State Prison.

According to our survey, none of the above come even close to being popular as the John F. Kennedy/Marilyn Monroe forgery incident and scandal. This forgery case got media coverage but little was published of the details in autograph related journals. Probably the best coverage was published in Manuscripts the journal of The Manuscript Society.

The forger in this case was Lawrence X. Cusack III. During the early 1990's he was doing business as University Archives Gallery, a Delaware Corporation with the principal place of business in Connecticut. The collection of forgeries consisted of about 300 pieces supposedly written by President Kennedy. The items were to prove the strongest evidence of linking John F. Kennedy to all sorts of sinister activities from ties to the mafia to a letter that would revel he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe and planned to buy her silence for $600,000.

More than one hundred fifty individuals bought about 150 documents spending millions of dollars. One of the brokers of the documents was Thomas G. Cloud who also spent more than $200,000.

Early on, Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" hired Duayne Dillon a handwriting expert to examine the letters and documents. He came to the conclusion that the writing was not by Kennedy’s hand, they were all forgeries.

In Benjamin Weiser’s New York Times article of Oct. 12, 1997 he writes of the Kennedy/Monroe forgeries and states in part: “..if fake, they would constitute one of the most audacious hoaxes in modern letters.”

According to Benjamin Weiser’s New York Times article of Oct. 15, 1997 he also writes in part: “...Mr. Cusack worked with two associates in authenticating the materials: John M. Reznikoff (right) a dealer in collectibles from Stamford, Connecticut and Thomas G. Cloud a dealer from Atlanta....a number of investors were interviewed last week said they were shown certificates of authenticity and that they believed the documents were genuine. They included some sports figures, lawyers and Mr. Cloud who invested more than $225,000 in some of the papers. Mr. Reznikoff has declined repeated requests for comment about his role and could not be reached by phone last night...”

Weiser’s New York Times article of March 17, 1998 states in part: “...John M. Reznikoff, a Connecticut autograph dealer hired by Mr Cusack to help authenticate the papers.....Mr. Cusack appeared to have hidden most of the $5 million in profits that he believed to have earned as his share of the $7 million in sales. The rest went to Mr. Cloud and Mr. Reznikoff...”

In Weiser’s article of Oct. 12, 1997 he continues to say: “....Mr. Cusack said that he and Mr. Reznikoff then chose a more circuitous means of authenticating the papers. Mr. Cusack’s wife - using her maiden name , Jennifer Rush - offered to sell insignificant pieces from the trove to two of the better known handwriting experts....the apparent hope was that the experts would buy the documents - none of which contained explosive material like the Monroe references - then resell them with their personal guarantee of authenticity...within weeks, both dealers (one gallery bought one document for $900 and a California gallery bought 2 cards for $700) were contacted by Michael Zarillo, a history buff from Texas, who then purchased the same three documents for $3,600.00. In fact Mr. Zarillo said in a telephone interview Friday, he bought the documents because Mr. Reznikoff asked him to.” He said “I bought them and sent them to him (Mr. Reznikoff) and he sent me the money.” “He said he had known Mr. Reznikoff as a respected dealer and was happy to do him a favor. He said he had had no earthly idea that he was helping the original owners buy back the documents secretly.”

The article continues: “...the usual process of authentication taken by Mr. Reznikoff and Mr. Cusack...followed what he said are familiar patters of a hoax. The seeming authentication of a minor item is used, to suggest legitimacy for records that may include a startling fraud...”

Yet the existence of the papers became publicly known when ABC television news program “20/20" revealed that two forensic specialist concluded that the most controversial documents were fake. All the more embarrassing for the so-called autograph authenticator is it was determined that the typewriter used to type the main document in question was not even manufactured until years after the date on the document. Another document bore evidence of correcting lift off tape that was not available until the early 70's, a decade after the deaths of Kennedy and Monroe. Another document bore a zip code before zip codes went into effect.

Mr. Cusack stated to Mr. Jennings on “20/20" that “....his own experts would back up the assertion that the documents were authentic...”

According to Benjamin Weiser’s New York Times article of April 15, 1999 he writes in part: “.....Mr. Katzberg (Cusack’s lawyer) repeatedly referred to Mr. Cusack and his two partners in the sales, John M. Reznikoff, a prominent autograph collector in Connecticut who had acted as Mr. Cusack’s agent, and Thomas Cloud a dealer in collectibles in Atlanta who helped sell them to investors...” The article continues: “...it was in 1993...that Mr. Cusack told Mr. Reznikoff of the Kennedy papers, convincing him that they were real. Mr. Reznikoff believed him....telling Mr. Cusack that the papers linking Kennedy to Monroe were to collectors the Holy Grail.”

In closing Mary Jo White, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, called the alleged scheme “an audacious attempt to distort American History for private profit.”

Autographs of those associated with major forgery cases and autograph scandals are sought after by collectors from around the world. The prices of items signed by Cosey, Weisberg, Woodlouse and others bring high prices.

Those associated with the modern scandals can be contacted at the following addresses:

Mark Hofmann
Utah State prison
14000 Pony Express Rd.
Draper Utah 84020
Currently serving a life sentence in maximum security in a 7'x10' cell. He narrowly avoided the death penalty.

Mr. Lawrence X. Cusack III 41632-054
F.C. Evens
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 879
Evens, MA 91434
On Oct. 15, 1999, US District Judge Denise Cote sentenced Cusack to 10 years and ordered to pay $7 million is restitution. He is expected to be released on November 22, 2007.

Thomas G. Cloud
8735 Dunwoody Place
Atlanta, GA 30350
Last known address, his name has been dropped from the latest autograph club membership lists.

John M. Reznikoff
University Archives
49 Richmondville Ave.
Westport, CT 06880
Still active within the autograph community authenticating autographs.

Breaking News:
September 6, 2006
 
Presidential Oddities In
The Harry Truman Administration

Harry's First Bomb!
On August 6, 1945 the first atomic bomb was dropped. However that bomb known as "Little Boy" may not have been the first major bomb Truman dropped.

His first bomb may have been dropped on none other than Bess Truman, The First Lady, also known as "The Boss."

Apparently weeks before the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Mrs. Truman was spending time at their home in Independence, Missouri. On July 7, 1945 Harry wrote Bess a letter from The White House and addressed the envelope to "Mrs. Harry S. Truman."

We can only imagine the stress President Truman was under just two weeks before the bomb was dropped. However he found time to write Bess once again. This time on July 22, 1945 he addressed the envelope to "Miss Harry S. Truman."

For the record, Harry and Bess were married in 1919. They were only married 26 years when Truman wrote this envelope so it is impossible the marriage could have slipped his mind!

In both cases, it is most interesting that Harry wrote the printed style "S" for his middle initial during his presidential years.

One can only imagine how mystified "The Boss" was after finding this envelope addressed to her in this way. Did she think Harry was asking for a divorce? One can only assume before this envelope was even opened he got one heck of a phone call at The White House.

These envelopes were discovered while doing research at the Truman Library. We want to thank the research staff at the library for making these envelopes available to us.

President Rayburn?

Many collectors of presidential autographs include a signature of David Atchinson in their collections. It is said that he was the President of the United States for one day (March 4, 1849) when Polk's term expired on Saturday, March 3, 1849 and Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath day. Taylor did not take his Oath of Office until Monday, March 5th.

Harry S. Truman wrote the noted autograph collector King V. Hostick on August 10, 1960. In his letter Truman states: "....regarding Mr. Atchinson who is supposed to have been President for one day, I have always been interested in situations like that and they have happened on several occasions. Sam Rayburn once was president for twenty-five minutes..........Mr. Atchinson is not in a class by himself."

We found the content of Truman's letter to be most interesting and decided to do more research on this subject. Our contacts at the Sam Rayburn Library in Texas were able to tell us that President Truman had no Vice-President when his first term ended at 12pm. On inauguration day January 20, 1949 he was sworn back into office at 12:29pm using two different bibles. One was his personal bible the other a Gutenberg Bible donated by the citizens of Independence. So in Truman's own words, Sam Rayburn was once the President for nearly half an hour.
 

Breaking News:
September 1, 2006
Autograph Authentication Travesty Continues

Just when you thought you heard all the negative comments that could possibly be said about autograph authenticators/opinionators, a new story breaks that shocks the autograph community!

This article is by no means to single out any individual person or company. We offer autograph news that will not be found anywhere else. We have no advertisers to offend. Many will find this story to be unbelievable, but we can assure you that what we write is accurate and the information comes right out of an auction catalog. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, should what we write be found inaccurate, an apology and correction will be made to that article. This has not happened to date.

Many of the complaints we hear from autograph collectors and dealers are about their experience with an autograph authenticator. Recently, www.autographalert.com has held interviews and concluded that there is a movement to blacklist autograph sellers and auction houses who use third party authenticators. During the last few weeks two major autograph auction houses have dropped the authenticating companies they utilized. It appears that collectors want to go back to the old ways of sellers guaranteeing the material they sell. Unfortunately, some sellers know little about autographs so they will hire a third party authenticator. If these authenticators/opinionators state “the item looks good” the item is put up for sale under the terms “ALL AUTOGRAPH SALES ARE FINAL.”

The “authenticator/opinionator” is hired and paid by the seller. Some of these authenticator/opinionators can be easily influenced by the seller. The buyer will never know if the authenticator/opinionator has actually seen the item being sold. Many decisions are made by simply looking at a scan of the item to be sold. Always keep in mind the authenticator/opinionator is hired by the seller and many authenticators/opinionators do not want to loose a good client over a few “questionable” items so these items can get passed as genuine.

Educational articles on autograph collecting have been written for decades. Most are informative but few basic. The very basic is rarely written about since most writers assume the readers have basic knowledge about writing which they should have learned in grade school.

We would like to address the simple practice of a secretary signing a letter for her boss. A subject which we were not aware has been ever written about in any autograph journal. Probably never touched on since writers assume anyone with a high school diploma knows the answer.

A recent high profile autograph auction was held in Illinois on April 19, 2006. Item # 647 was an Alcoholics Anonymous Archive Including letters from Bill Wilson. Part of the catalog description read as follows: “....Offered is a one-of-a kind archive highlighted by five letters from Bill Wilson. These five Wilson letters date from July 1965 to August 1968. The three letters from 1968 describe Bill Wilson’s interest in the B-3 vitamin experiments that were going on in that time period....All five of the letters are typed on Wilson’s personal stationery and signed ‘Bill’ with each signature grading a ‘10.’”
 


It should be obvious to anyone looking at the illustrations that four of the letters are signed by the same hand (Bill Wilson) and the fifth letter signed “Bill” in a totally different hand with initials written below.
 
 
The point of this short basic educational course is that anytime one see’s a letter signed, and below that signature is initials, means that those are the initials of the secretary who signed the letter for her boss.

Continuing with the catalog description, it states: “LOA’s (Letter of Authenticity) from Steve Grad and John Reznikoff/PSA DNA.” This in itself shows that the authenticators/opinionators were not aware that a signature with initials below indicates a secretary signed the letter.

If this lot was actually purchased, it is the hope of www.autographalert.com that the buyer of this collection be contacted and advised that one of these letters is not signed by Bill Wilson but by his secretary. A corrected “Letter of Authenticity” should be issued.

 


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