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Signature/Autograph Database?
Home away from home
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I noted the separate forum and read the posts before I found your notice on it. Personally, I think it a great idea. Such items truly belong in their own forum. Although I am not thinking of collecting any such items (I have one treasure and it could not be surpassed to my thinking), I remain curious about and like to see them, and I like the comments and sometime debates about such items.

As the question of signature authenticity comes up rather often, I am wondering if there is a (simple) way to collect/catalog and access the photos from items and create a database of examples of JRRT's signature. Should anyone have a question about a new item, it would eventually be a source of dozens (if not more) for comparison and discussion. I would be happy to contribute a photo of my calendar, for instance. I envision a short form (book or item details such as ISBN, date if known, publisher, printing, etc, date entered into database, source [private collection, eBay auction, etc], authentic? not? unknown?) to be completed by the submitter to the db. I recall a signed paperback Hobbit showing up on eBay multiple times. This would be a great entry.

I suppose it ought to include examples of outright fakes (as Beren has on Tolkien Library.)

Just a thought!

Away from The Green Hill Country,

Parmastahir

Posted on: 2008/12/18 15:20
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Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise can not see all ends.


Re: Signature/Autograph Database?
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I must hold the largest collection of signature samples in on 'off line' database... I have samples over 1500 Tolkien autograhs and from early to late signatures. I have made it for my own use and also because I was studying the subject. It was my initial idea to publish a large article or write about in a book. But it scares me a lot to have 'public' and 'online' resources like this. It is already so bad on the market that almost monthly we can find some fakes out on the market.

Resources should stay in hands of experts (it took me years and many hours to compile) and not freely available to people who want to fake stuff.

Posted on: 2008/12/18 15:30


Re: Signature/Autograph Database?
Thain
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I agree with Beren for the most part here - one of the biggest problems with fakes right now is that it is so easy to duplicate from high-res images.

I don't know if you all recall, but when the Children of Hurin signed bookplates came out (the New York Barnes & Noble version from 2007), they were appearing on eBay almost immediately, and most/all had good provenance. About a week later, someone posted an eBay auction for one, and included a very large, high-res image of the bookplate. As an unfortunate aside, the bookplate itself is just a black and white design, that reporoduces very well with a good scanner/printer. Suddenly, there were dozens of copies of the "signed bookplate" on eBay, all looking remarkably the same, and with no provenance.

I think there might be a good market for having an online set of articles and images to help the collector, that are "destroyed" for purposes of reproducability/faking (watermarked, low-res, other possibilities), but I haven't figured out a good way to do anything like that that would help the collector but be of no use to the forger. I would love to hear more opinions/discussion on this!

One possibility is to have a tight-knit circle of trusted people that would have access to the database, but anything online is hackable or expensive. One question to pose to you all is, would it be worth enough to you to have access to something like this to have a fee attached to it?

Posted on: 2008/12/18 17:13
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Re: Signature/Autograph Database?
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Personally, I wouldn't pay anything to view such a database, and when it comes down to it, regardless of what security measures you take to prevent people from reproducing or trying to fake the signatures you upload to this website, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of other sites and pages that contain Tolkien letters and signatures. In addition, many of the auction houses now have archives of many of the Tolkien letters that have sold (or not sold) with pictures and all you have to do (at the most) is sign-up for a free account to view the images. Then you have eBay and random personal pages and the list goes on and on. I think, if anything, this site has done an outstanding job in spotting the fakes and seeking to counter and eliminate them. I think we should continue to be in dialogue about Tolkien signatures and their authenticity, and if that means uploading pictures occasionally, I'm all for it. I can see Beren's point, but I just disagree that a forum like this is going to contribute more to the counterfeiting; in my opinion, the counterfeiting is going to go on whether this site exists or not.

Posted on: 2008/12/18 18:40


Re: Signature/Autograph Database?
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I do agree with Beren and Jeremy. I cherish and guard copies of Beren's overview of the development of Tolkien's signature precisely because he has trusted me with them.

As to the question of fee, I am not a collector of or trader in signatures or signed works. To me, such a database represents knowledge that is of interest to me for satisfying my personal curiousity; additionally, it may enable me to warn or advise people, more importantly, to pinpoint the limits of my expertise. But it does not represent monetary value that I'm likely to realise. On the other hand, it could represent considerable monetary value to the faker, so considerable incentive to him hack, with the necessary security therefor concomitantly expensive. In short, I would expect (indeed almost advise) that a higher fee should be put on this than I would be prepared to pay.

Posted on: 2008/12/18 19:08
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Then in the name of the king, go and find some old man of less lore and more wisdom who keeps some in his house! - Gandalf in Minas Tirith [LR 5 VIII:70]



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