U.S. Autograph Clubs in Dire Straits
By Stephen Koschal
U.A.C.C. – Universal Autograph Collectors Club
The United States has only two groups to join if you are a collector of autographs. One is the U.A.C.C. It was established in 1965 and “claims” to be the oldest organization in the hobby. That’s getting off to a very false start as they are not even close to being the first U.S. autograph organization.
The other club is the Manuscript Society. They were founded in 1948. That’s the truth.
However both groups appear to be a dying breed.
Much has been written about the U.A.A.C. throughout the years. This club does not resemble the slightest bit of its former self. Not long ago they boasted that their membership was over 2,200 persons. Now they won’t give out their membership numbers and some estimate it to be appx. 700, maybe less. We would like to finally hear from this group and get the correct number but the club won’t even issue a membership list as they did in the past. No membership list, no printed club magazine, no club sponsored autograph shows, not much of anything. Many we speak to didn’t even know that the club still exists after they stopped printing the club magazine for about two years.
Although I have been asked to rejoin this club by one of their club officers who was given the OK by the club president, I could not associate my name (50 years in the hobby) with several of their members in good standing. I am aware of several ethics complaints filed against their members including presidents and officers of the club. None of which received a response! Most of the complaints were extremely serious. Many of the officers were breaking their own club rules but the regular membership will not know of this.
For decades there were attempts to obtain a copy of the club’s accountant yearly report. The last report published by the club stated the accountant couldn’t give an accurate report because he did not receive all the required information. Today it is estimated that membership dues and advertising fees amount to a minimum of $30,000 a year.
The list of so-called autograph dealer members who sold and still sell bad autographs is just too long to publish here. Some of their names are published on the club’s web site. However quite a few more are still members in good standing. For this reason, a list of preferred autograph dealers names are published elsewhere on this web site.
Not too long ago the club journal boasted a 1500 membership. This club not being embarrassed, at least publishes a Directory of Members. The Membership Directory published in 2016 lists only 755 members. One hundred and forty-five of those members are libraries and museums. In my opinion this is not a club for the average autograph collector or seller of autographs. It appears many professional autograph dealers felt the same way. Not long ago the club magazine had quite a few advertisers. There were 21 dealers who took out full page ads, today seven. Seven dealers took out half page ads, today two. Twenty-four dealers took out quarter page ads, today six.
Thirty-seven autograph dealers no longer taking an ad, that’s got to hurt, big time!
What was The Manuscript Society thinking when they made Michael Hecht of the U.A.C.C. their head of Member Services? That position was short lived! The result was that membership in The Manuscript Society crashed just as it did in the U.A.C.C.
After almost 50 years of being a member, and I thought about this for several years, I finally dropped my membership and advertisement. I can’t ever recall someone placing an order for an autograph just because I was a member of The Manuscript Society. It got to a point that I could not find an interesting article to read in their club journal. The content of most articles seem to lean towards librarians and historians.
Worst, looking at the membership list I find forgers of autographs. One even admitted in writing to being a forger of presidential autographs. His name is Herman Darvick. Darvick today is selling on ebay with a feedback of 2,937. Another Darvick ebay site is “teacher33188” with a feedback of over 2,114.
My files on Herman Darvick are huge. The following is just a very small sample.
“..I knew Herman very well when I lived in new York. I purchased thousands of dollars worth, I am talking 1980 dollars, of bogus garbage from this purported expert..” Joe (last name withheld.
“Darvick sold bad material. I remember he sold two fake Honus Wagner 3”x5” cards to Ted (last name withheld). I called Darvick and told him they were fake. Finally got a refund after threatening to call law enforcement….” (name withheld)
“..I purchased many autographs from Herman Darvick that I assumed were genuine…In recent years I have consigned some of them to (name of auction house withheld) some have come back as being secretarial of unauthentic”. “I need to get a refund since he guarantees them for life.” “I am out several thousand dollars…” Herb (last name withheld. Author’s Note. Herman Darvick has recently stated that his lifetime guarantee no longer applies as he is no longer in business. Guess he’s the only one in the hobby that thinks selling thousands of items on eBay is not a business.
“this signature of Ruth because it was authenticated by Herman Darvick as item #285 in his 1991 auction. The signature was part of a 21 word note which proves Darvick has no clue to what a genuine signature of Ruth should look like nor is he familiar with Ruth’s handwriting. Anyone making such a horrendous mistake should never be authenticating for anyone…” ( name withheld)
“..I need an address for Herman Darvick but I really think he’ll avoid refunding my money. I asked him for COA’s many times but he never did. I should have let that be a red flag but I trusted him….” (Name withheld)
“…I took on consignment a vintage photograph of Ruth & Gehrig fishing which came with a COA from Darvick. It sold for $10,000 plus a buyers and sellers commission. Then PSA stated it was a fake. Since Darvick authenticates for PSA….I contacted Darvick who stated since he was no longer selling autographs his lifetime policy expired…” (name withheld)
Darvick turns on the U.A.C.C. “….tell me what you want me to write about….I’ll write something great for the book jacket which will really upset the U.A.C.C….just offering..” Herman Darvick
“…like that fat little schmuck, Herman Darvick whom I will dismantle the next time we meet. A very, very bad go with that fellow, who took two years to make an auction payment of $46,000. Hitler signed documents, promised to pay interest lost, but never did. He has also forged stuff he has sold. Too bad for him but I, like the elephant, Never Forget..” (name withheld)
Published from Hauls of Shame. Illustrated were on the left are authentic Joe Jackson signatures from legal documents. On the right are four highly questionable offerings by Herman Darvick that several experts have deemed Jackson forgeries.
The above is just a sample from the Herman Darvick files. Herman Darvick is a forger of autographs. Some of his original forgeries are in the files. What’s worse, a forger or a thief?
Herman Darvick can claim to be the recipient of both titles. From personal experience Darvick auctioned off my entire autograph collection. Over 500 books signed by presidents of the United States and First Ladies. A complete set of Presidential signed items frame. A room of signed books and albums of autographs. Darvick need to rent a van to remove the items. Darvick created many lots. Unsold lots were never returned! It took years going after Darvick to return the unsold lots. At one point we met at a sports show in New Jersey and Darvick promised to return boxes and shopping bags of unsold items. This was said by Darvick in front of two witnesses. A year later this is what Herman Darvick did. He started selling my unsold items on his eBay site. See below.
HERMAN DARVICK IS A MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING IN THE U.A.C.C.. AND THE MANUSCRIPT SOCIETY!
I find more than one shill bidders as members and another who seems to hold the world’s record for selling forged autographs (well documented). I see another dealer who I had to sue for nonpayment of $3,000 for an autograph he purchased. I trusted him and mailed the item first because he was a member of The Manuscript Society. All the above and more are still members in good standing in The Manuscript Society!
Just recently, the inventory of a listed dealer member in The Manuscript Society was offered for sale. His name is Lawrence Hirsch and goes under different names such as Memorabilia Memories and Memories and Legends. Mr. Hirsch’s huge collection filled rooms wall to ceiling. I would estimate half the items or more are forgeries. One that stands out were 52, 8”x10” glossy photos of Roberto Clemente. Each photo has a two word sentiment and signature written with a black ink Sharpie pen. See one example listed below.
COA - Memories and Legends
Take note that the COA states Lawrence Hirsch is both a member of the U.A.C.C. and The Manuscript Society. So much for being a member in good standing in both of these clubs.
These type members make one wonder who is it safe to purchase an autograph from.
Remember purchasing an autograph from a dealer member in these clubs guarantees nothing. Pay the yearly membership and you can display the club logo.
As mentioned earlier, look for the list of recommended autograph dealers elsewhere on this site.