Taking My Hacks

Authentic Deception

Joe Orlando

Just when I thought I had seen it all, a new form of deception was shown to me recently and it comes from the world of autographs. This time, however, the deception was not directed at the collector. The deceptive tactics were directed at the signer of the item. In this case, the autographs are 100% authentic so you are probably wondering where the deception lies.

At this point, I am sure that most of the readers are confused so let me explain. Some autograph chasers, individuals who follow celebrities, are obtaining authentic signatures on blank (pure white) photographic paper. Later, after obtaining the autograph from the celebrity, they are printing an image of their choice on top of the blank sheet where the authentic autograph appears.

So, some of you are probably wondering why anyone would bother doing this. Well, many celebrities are selective about the types of images they will sign and this practice goes back decades. In the past, there were rumors that Joe DiMaggio refused to sign certain items that contained images of his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe. For example, he refused to sign the first issue of Playboy Magazine, which shows Marilyn on the cover, or similar risqué Monroe images.

That said, it has been said that he was "tricked" into signing a few items like that. The person looking to obtain DiMaggio's autograph would conceal or mask the item by covering portions of it. This was done, in essence, so it looked like... at least to DiMaggio... he was about to sign something entirely different. In fact, in some cases, players would sign things like a blank canvas and then, after the fact, an artist would paint or draw an image around the original signature... making it look like the player signed the finished product.

Following so far?

Today, these autograph chasers are now placing images over the top of the authentic autographs for the same reason, at least most of the time. They figure they have a better chance at getting a celebrity to sign a blank sheet of paper than anything else. In the chaser's mind, they can always add an image later on... especially if it is controversial. This is where things get really bizarre and creepy.

Often times, the images being printed after the fact are related to a movie, television show or a public appearance. The chaser is of the mindset that, if the image is more recognizable, it is more desirable. Here comes the creepy part. There is a small group of people who are doing what is described above but, instead of printing a famous image from a classic movie scene, they are printing fake images of female celebrities in the nude.

Yes, you read that correctly. For example, the chaser will find an image of Jennifer Aniston's head and, with the help of a computer, attach it to someone else's naked body and then print it on top of the blank photo paper where the authentic Aniston signature resides. So, the finished product looks like a signed "nude" of Aniston when, in actuality, it is nothing of the sort.

If you are like me, then you are probably wondering why anyone, most likely a guy in this case, would want to own something like that in their collection. The answer is... I have absolutely no idea. My suggestion is that these guys should try meeting a real woman and, with all the Internet dating sites out there, it is easier than ever. I'm just saying.

The moral of the story is that deception comes in many forms, even when the autograph is authentic. It really is a case of authentic deception.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief


Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.