Dark Lord of the Typos
All right. So you’ve written your letter, and are patiently waiting for a response. Let’s talk about the different types of responses you might receive. The types of response vary greatly, and include the following:
NONE – That’s right, you might not get a response.
RTS (Return to Sender) – This means your stuff gets sent back, either opened or unopened. Usually it’s because there is no forwarding address.
Successful Response – A successful response means you get something back. However, you don’t always get autographs back. Sometimes you get photos or promotional material. If you do get what appears to be a signature, it might fall into any of 4 categories.
Of the four listed, only the last one is actually signed by the celebrity.
A PREPRINT is something that has a signature printed on it, or rather, in it. Like a photocopy. The signature is just another part of the photo. The easiest way to tell a preprint is by moving it underneath the light. If the glossy light reflection covers the signature just like it does the rest of the photo, it’s a preprint. Think of preprints as very cool publicity photos.
One similar response is a stamped signature. Very few people do this, but items, including yours, could be stamped with a rubber stamp signature. These are really obvious, and frankly, insulting. Mark Hamill’s agent back-logged all his fan mail for several years. Then to catch up, all the items received were stamped with signatures. Not cool. :toed:
SECRETARIALS are what they sound like – they are signed by someone’s secretary on his or her behalf. So…real signature, but not the celebs. These are usually easy to tell apart if you research them on the internet and compare to known authentic signatures. Most secretarials don’t look like the real celebs sig. But, it can be tricky. Carrie Fisher, for years even to this day, has been known for sending secretarials. If you send her a request through the mail, you get her secretary’s signature. I’ve got three of them myself. There’s no real positive spin on secretarials. They are simply authorized fakes.
Even worse are AUTOPENS. An autopen is a machine that uses a template of a celebs signature to trace a signature onto a photo. These are quite nasty to tell apart sometimes. Even worse, autopens wear with time, so the sigs eventually vary a little. However, the templates have to be replaced every year or so. Vincent Price was notorious for sending autopens late in life.
So, the bad news is: real signature, matches the celebs signature, but is no more signed by them than a preprint is. Good news is you can determine if it is an autopen, especially with experience. First off, again, compare it to pictures on the internet. If you see identical sigs online, it’s an autopen. Think of them as clones. If you get more than one item signed, and they match identically, it’s an autopen.
Another way is like this: When you sign your name, you hold the pen at an angle, usually pretty close to 45 degrees. When you make the loops in you name, the pen or especially marker, get thicker and thinner. For example, a lower case “L” has a very thin peak, but the sloping sides would be much thicker. Autopens are tracing using a template, and sign at a large angle, almost 90 degrees. That means that the signature is almost uniform from start to finish. Same thickness. Sort of like holding a marker like a lightsaber and trying to sign your name with the bottom of the hilt. Usually, autopens are fairly obvious, but it takes practice to discern them at a glance.
Last are AUTHENTIC SIGNATURES. That’s right…the real thing. You might be sent a signed picture. Or it could be personalized to you. The celeb could sign items that you have sent. Any way you look at it, you got a real autograph. The key here is check it out online and compare if you are worried about authenticity.
Here are a few terms you might run across if you hit autograph websites:
SP = signed picture
ISP = inscribed signed picture (aka personalized)
SC = signed card (like an index card)
ISC = inscribed signed card
C = color
BW or B&W = black and white
For example, I received a BW 8X10 ISP from Frank Oz.