Most collectors don't realize the work that can go into authenticating an autograph. We are not talking about those who claim to authenticate at shows. Hired hands go behind a curtain and look at examples on eBay. They would have no clue as to whether the one on ebay is genuine or not. This explains the thousands of mistakes made by all the ABC type authenticating companies.
Most of the mistakes they make are horrific even limited editions of 1,000 copies claimed authentic were obvious forgeries to a professional.
Some of these ABC types even have authenticated names spelled wrong and issued a certificate as authentic. When cornered on TV some of these so-called experts will say the forger did a good job. $150 down the drain!
We here in Colorado Springs do a fair amount of authenticating for people who really want to know if the item they purchased is genuine. The other side of this business are the crooks who know their item ins NOT genuine and hope the dummies at ABC type authenticating will pass the item. It many cases this is done because the seller of bad autographs who mixes in some good ones is a good customer and the authenticating company cannot afford to loose a guy who gives them 50 or more items a month.
Some autograph collectors don't realize what goes into authenticating an autograph. A professional authenticator can spend on average from 15 minutes to a few hours and in some cases a few days to determine whether a signature is genuine or not. On a rare occasion it may not be able to be done at all depending on the lack of reference material on a very rare signature.
A very common question from some new comers is: "I would hate to pay $50 for an authentication to find out if the signature is not genuine. Can i get an initial assessment prior to the authentication process?"
It takes time to professionally authenticate an autograph. Our process includes different powers of magnification under three different lighting. Regular light, florescent lighting and natural light just to determine whether the signature was written in ink verses a printed or machine signed or stamped signature. In some instances even black light will be used. Then we work with over 50 years of actual exemplars, not ones taken from the internet or ebay. Most of our exemplars are from periods before the rash of forgeries that hit the market. This is the reason why all the ABC type companies who claim to authenticate autographs have come to us for help! See: www.stephenkoschal.com click on the Link for Testimonials. These are just some reasons why our Certificates of Examination are prized worldwide.
Most of the reasons for all the mistakes made by these ABC type authenticators are they started in this business well after the rise of forgeries. Someone in the business before the late eighties mostly only saw genuine autographs. These autographs are embedded in their minds and in files. Those that came into the business later never only saw genuine autographs, now they have to "Try" and figure out the real from the fake and they have not done well at this.
For us it takes the same amount of time to come to a conclusion whether a signature is genuine or not. We then issue a Certificate. We need to get paid for this work and for the time put in.
Maybe now collectors can understand if they want a professional authentication where they will know for sure whether their item is genuine or not they need to pay for this service. Also, most important they need to know the person who did the examination which is almost impossible in most cases. One signature on the bottom of the Certificate should be the individual who did the examination. They will forever be prepared to defend their decision!