- John Reznikoff, PSA/DNA,
- PSA/DNA Authenticated Ethan
Allen Signature Another Major
It seems like a day doesnt
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.
The signature Certified
as Genuine by PSA/DNA is illustrated below.
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.
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
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
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 expertsat
PSA/DNA use as exemplars to determine the signature they examined
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
Why wont autograph related journals and papers that deal
with autographs print these type stories
in order to educate their readers. The answer is its
all about the money. You wont read a true story thats
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!
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
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+Ws log home division where he will work on consumer and
Earnest, who also serves as editorial
director for F+Ws titles in comics, games, toys and music
collectibles, has been with F+W since 2000.
Were excited to bring
Brians 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 were glad hell continue to be an asset
for our company.
- 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 whats necessary to
hold onto the auction house as an account.
has been notified by a handful of noted autograph specialists
of what appears to be the hobbys 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"
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.
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..
- 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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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!
- 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.
- 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
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 Ill ruin Steve Koschal and everyone
connected to him. Ill 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 doesnt
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.
Reznikoffs 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.
Reznikoffs 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.
Reznikoffs 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 wasnt two different
John Reznikoffs, 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.
What Does This Stand For?
Let The Truth Be Known From The Horses 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
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
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 doesnt
stand for anything.
Next question: So the initials dont in other
words, they are not initials or some words?
Mr. Haynes: No.
Question: And DNA, does that stand for anything?
Mr. Haynes: No.
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
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
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 dont
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.
Goose Goslin Signature
Sold by James Spence
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 childs signature. However
this is a Hall of Fame plaque so Goslin didnt sign his
plaque years before it was issued!
Notice the obvious shakiness
in the tops of each G (The mark of a nervous forger).
Look at the rounded os. 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 Goslins 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
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.
- Sports Collectors Digest
Continues To Drop
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
managements 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. Keurajians
articles are basically the only reason left why we still subscribe
to this magazine. For years, Mr. Keurajians 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. Keurajians 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, thats 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. Priddys 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 Keurajians autograph
study of Ruths 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 articles
biographical info can be found on basically any informative website
referring to Babe Ruth.
Mr. Priddys 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
Jacksons 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 Jacksons
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. Priddys
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 Keurajians 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.
Einstein Still Signing After
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 (Einsteins)
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
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 doesnt
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
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 Einsteins 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
- Breaking News:
Settling The Controversial LBJ
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
Johnsons 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
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 dont try to erase the other signature.
The additional signature will be LYN who stole the
It was five-year old Patrick Lyndon Nugent
who signed his name in some copies of his grandfathers
book during the autograph party (Above).
- 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.
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 Reznikoffs
attention. However, to Koschals surprise, Reznikoff questioned
Koschal about his accuracy and Koschal had to send Reznikoff
examples of both Maggie and Margaret Mitchells autograph
to prove the listing on Reznikoffs 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 Mitchells
exemplars, the Maggie Mitchell autograph was removed from the
In a similiar incident, Mr. Reznikoff was advised by an International
collector that a photo of Ronald Reagan that was posted on Renikoffs
site contained a common Autopen signature. Reznikoffs 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 centers offices
so it could be reviewed. However, the center heard from the lawyer
representing the Stephens Mitchells 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....
Isnt it funny they cant get hold of him now!
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 its the same handful who have
to create false tales throughout this wonderful hobby of ours.
Why do people say bad things about another person? Its
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
couldnt 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 couldnt get answers and
stirred the hornets 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 cant turn this club over to anyone!
Koschals 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 lets not continue to break club rules. Only
members of the UACC can take a table at a UACC show, or at least
thats 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. Koschals
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. Koschals 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 wouldnt
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 didnt
have a snowballs chance in Hell, as a political agenda was being
perpetrated against him clandestinely......
Its 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 UACCs 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 dont continue to count their own votes.
As Paul Harvey has said for years: Now you heard the rest
of the story!
- 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 weeks 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
- 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
- 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???)
Its very difficult to respond to anyone who does not identify
themselves. I dont 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. Reznikoffs 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
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.
- 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 Sothebys
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 Kennedys
hand, they were all forgeries.
In Benjamin Weisers 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 Weisers 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
Weisers 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 Weisers 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. Cusacks
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
According to Benjamin Weisers New York Times article
of April 15, 1999 he writes in part: .....Mr. Katzberg
(Cusacks 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. Cusacks
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:
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
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
49 Richmondville Ave.
Westport, CT 06880
Still active within the autograph community authenticating
- Presidential Oddities
- 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.
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,
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.
- Autograph Authentication Travesty
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.
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 Wilsons interest in the B-3 vitamin
experiments that were going on in that time period....All five
of the letters are typed on Wilsons 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 sees 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: LOAs
(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