Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ruth and Gehrig Autographed Photo... What did JSA Say About My Prized Piece?

Hey guys, Drew back here. For good reason, I almost completely forgot about posting about this. Back in March when I went to the White Plains card show, I took a huge piece with me. At the shows they hold there, many authentication companies are always present, to be exact: James Spence Authentication (JSA), Global Authentics, and Autograph Certification Experts (ACE), as well as a few grading services such as Beckett. It's safe to say that they certainly are on top of things in terms of authentication.

So, back a couple of months ago, my Pop Popps bought me an awesome gift of two frames featuring all sorts of autographs, of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Honus Wagner, as well as tickets from all throughout the early 20th century. He got them for less than $500, and we thought it is a steal of a lifetime. Here are a few pics to refresh your memory:

From the very start I had suspicions of whether the autographs were real. Two of the autographs were on vintage Goudey cards, and while they looked authentic, from my prior card knowledge, I knew that the Goudey cards were much bigger than the actual original size. Reprints weren't around back then, so there's no way that Ruth and Gehrig could have signed them.

But the pictures above show one particular picture, of Ruth and Gehrig posing together during their barnstorming league. On the back of the photo, it states that the photo is a copy of the autographs, but Ruth and Gehrig supposedly signed the copy to make the photo more authentic. Judging by the 2 autographs of each player on the photo, that could have possibly made some sense.

Anyway, I took the large framed photo with me to the last show, and at about noon, I brought it to the "kind" folks at JSA for them to take a look. I got an immediate response... and it wasn't so pretty. His response was "Here's my free advice, rather than you having to pay me $200 for me to tell you it's fake, its fake." Some kind of guy, gee, thanks for not having me pay $200. I tried asking him why it's not real, and showed him the back of the frame, but he wouldn't budge. Another guy was in line, so he shooed me away and pretty much ruined my day.

So, apparently, it's fake, and I'll take that, because of my prior suspicions of other parts of the frames. But the way he went about telling it really killed me. I came up exclaiming about how I love this great piece that my grandpa gave me, blah, blah, blah, and he responded with a pretty much "Get lost kid, it's not real."

But I still have my questions about it. First, what would you do with it if you were in my shoes? I personally might still hang both of the photos up in my room, even though I assume all of the items were reprints, because it looks pretty sweet nonetheless. Also, do you guys have any idea as to why this item is a fake? I have my reasons, but still, I doubt the item would be forged because the owner seemed to be a very good man.

Alright everyone, See Ya.


  1. I'd hang it up, its a great looking piece!

  2. I'd hang it up, that's for sure. As for if its real or fake, well, I understand the replica sigs and all, but why would it have one sig right under the other? I don't think they would have very good reproduction techniques back in that time to print a photo with their sigs on it and then the guys be able to sign them again... but who knows. Maybe someone on the blogosphere can shed some light on it for everyone else..???

  3. It's a nice piece for sure, and I'd display it, real or not.

    But as for why it could be a fake, he may have seen that photo before, or something immediately told him it was fake by looking at it. Your scans appear to be of the item in the frame, and I can't tell for sure with the scans, *and* I am by no means an expert, but there are signs that would give it away immediately as a fake or reprint, such as paper type, gloss or yellowing, the way the autograph would reflect off the photo, the way the image actually looks, so on - even the photo size. And that's without even looking at the actual autograph. If it couldn't have been signed during the period when Ruth and Gehrig were alive and after this photo was originally taken, it's a fake. I did a little bit of research and it appears that photo has been "double signed" at least a few times, probably printed as a souvenir at events featuring Ruth and Gehrig who would then sign the photo again beneath their preprinted signatures. However, it seems that these authenticated photos sell for about $14,000 - at least one of which was authenticated by JSA. But the photo with the preprinted signature seems to get around a lot. I'm guessing JSA authenticators are fairly familiar with what to look for on this exact photo and similar ones from its time.

    But again, it's an awesome framed item, and I'd still display it! And I don't think the owner forged the signature. He could have been fooled into thinking it was real, or maybe it is real and JSA just doesn't know it. Now, if the PSA and Beckett folks would look at it for free just like JSA and say the same thing, then you know the deal. But as the JSA guy says, you could end up paying $200 to be told your autograph is fake.

  4. Drew

    Hang it up, it looks cool.

    But, I can't begin to tell you everything that is wrong with it, separately and together.

    1. The sigs are so far off. Spotting a fake Ruth or Gehrig is like day 1 of authentication school. I would recommend that you look at the autos, compare and as you are doing so, write down every difference that you can spot. Every single one of them. You should have at least 6 just in "Lou".

    2. These reprint photos are everywhere and faked so often that unless you have a pic of ruth and gehrig signing it, it won't pass authentication.

    There are others. The reason why the guy was a jerk is because he deals with this so often. Take the $200 you didn't waste and count that as money earned and the guy did you a favor.

  5. I've been collecting autographs and baseball stuff for a long time and I think the reason he was able to say it wasn't real almost immediately is because that picture is a pretty well known reproduction of an actual signed picture. I've seen that picture several times at shows in the $5 bin. I've seen it as an 8X10 as well as once on a 16X20 poster that was being sold at the dollar store.

    I still think the way everything is framed up looks really cool.

  6. Hang it up and just enjoy it for what it is. I feel bad your dad payed good money for it though.

  7. Thanks everybody for the input!!! I definitely will consider hanging it up now, even though its not real.

  8. Interesting short story to follow up this post: I saw this exact picture (again) at the show last weekend, and the guy tried to tell me it was real. Hah! That one, seeing in person, was really easy even for me to ID as a reprint. JSA was there - I should have took it to their booth and asked their opinion!

  9. Thats good to know, yeah, I mean I knew the photo has been famous for fakes, but the double signature thing didn't make sense for a while. Thanks to everyone again for clearing it up for me, I really appreciate it.


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