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Old 01-29-2019, 01:13 PM
SetBuilder's Avatar
SetBuilder SetBuilder is offline
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Default A Fake $5,000 Benjamin Franklin Autograph.

Whoever purchased this framed cut made a bad decision.

eBay link:

There are several things wrong with this "autograph."

First, take a look at the medium. It's on a late 18th, early 19th century contract. It's the typical period contract that begins with "Know All Men By These Presents...". You can find these contracts of unknown people at any antique auction house for $100 or less. I've seen hundreds on eBay.

Now take a look at the placement of the signature. It's on a location of the contract that people didn't sign. It's awkwardly placed on top of the typeset text that has the year, location, details, etc., and directly on top of the filled in date. Why would Franklin sign a contract there? The place for the parties to sign was way down at the bottom right side of the sheet.

This is exactly the kind of medium an opportunistic forger would put to use. Take a low value contract signed by unknown people, and put a signature near the text so that it looks "official." The only reason it wasn't signed anywhere else is because all the spaces reserved for signatures already had signatures and the Franklin couldn't be squeezed between them. That would be too awkward. Besides, the "official" looking text would be great for luring in an amateur buyer who thinks it's a government form or something similar.

Second red flag is the COA. These people are claiming to be big time forensic experts. Like something out of CSI. Not knowing basic historical details would be super embarrassing, right? It would surely raise red flags and cast doubt on the entire authentication and "opinion."

Let's start with the first paragraph at the top (red boxes were drawn by me).

"The examined signature was written with a drip pen."

What the hell is a "drip pen?" You mean a dip pen. Pens before fountain pens had to be dipped in an ink well. Basic stuff.

Then they serve up a load of total bullsh*t about how the ink would get lighter by the end. A skilled writer like Franklin could probably write several sentences before the ink would start to run out. I doubt it would be all spent by the end of his signature.

"Medium: Wood Pulp Paper"

Not just wood pulp, but "coarse" wood pulp paper. Wrong. They just made this up. Paper back then didn't have wood pulp because that kind of paper didn't come into use until the late 19th century. Wood pulp paper is the kind of stuff newspapers are printed on. It was the worst quality paper that existed back then.

A contract like this would have been made from high quality cotton or linen rag pulp in a place like England. It is "coarse" (not the best choice of adjective. More like grain or tooth.) not just because it was made by hand, but because it was laid paper. Laid, as in those little horizontal lines running parallel across the sheet. That was the kind of paper style that was preferred during Franklin's lifetime. "Coarse wood pulp paper" is a laughably inaccurate description.

"Ink Type: Steel Tipped Pen."

Ben Franklin died in 1790, and steel nibs hadn't hit the market yet in the United States; not until the beginning of the 19th century. Franklin would have used a quill pen. Made from feathers. Again, basic stuff.

Finally, the ink looks off. It's slow and muddy, and looks different than the ink used for the date. That's because the original ink is oxidized from legitimate age and the one used for the "Franklin" is not. It was put on recently, probably with the wrong type of pen. I doubt it's even iron gall ink. I have a hard time believing that the people behind this creation would have taken the time and effort to mix their own period ink. Yeah. Right.

What a waste of $5,000.
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File Type: jpg fakefranklin4.jpg (74.9 KB, 351 views)

Last edited by SetBuilder; 01-29-2019 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 01:51 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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They even left the n from "Ninety" or "Ninety two " or . visible. Since he died in April that makes a really narrow window. He was president of the Pa abolition society, and did write some stuff that year. But not this.

First glance I thought it might be preprinted on some form making an appointment or something, but then noticed it was in the space for the date.
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Old 01-29-2019, 01:58 PM
Case12 Case12 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 146

Very educational. Thanks so much! I would not caught but one of things myself. It's because I collect US antique patents. Contractual documents. Before 1836, they were signed by presidents. I have only seen them signed at the correct place noted for the contract. Same for land deeds. It would seem wierd that a signature would basically be written over the official contract. Plus $6,000 can't be anywhere near a true value. Andrew Jackson on a patent contract would be at least double that - and that's mid-1800. Thanks for taking the time to point out things...

Last edited by Case12; 01-29-2019 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 02:53 PM
Michael B Michael B is offline
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Additionally, it appears that they had tried to sign it previously then removed the first attempt. You can see the remains of other ink below the signature and it is not feathering or smudging.
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:28 PM
thetruthisoutthere thetruthisoutthere is offline
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The Forensic Scam known as Guaranteed Forensic Authenticators and Stephen Rocchi.

Ebay seller Aliwalia2005 calls him an expert.

Another freaking bad joke!!!
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:29 PM
chalupacollects chalupacollects is offline
Ti.m H.
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Lastly, everything else he is selling is junky kids toys...
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Old 01-29-2019, 07:20 PM
Aquarian Sports Cards Aquarian Sports Cards is offline
Scott Russell
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You forgot to mention the most damning evidence. Stephen Rocchi certified it. I thought his certs weren't allowed on ebay anymore?
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Old 01-29-2019, 08:31 PM
thetruthisoutthere thetruthisoutthere is offline
Christopher Williams
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Originally Posted by Aquarian Sports Cards View Post
You forgot to mention the most damning evidence. Stephen Rocchi certified it. I thought his certs weren't allowed on ebay anymore?

Ebay doesn't even enforce their on Banned COA list.

Below is a blog I posted on Ebay reps at the 2018 National.
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Old 01-30-2019, 10:09 AM
Aliwalia Aliwalia is offline
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Default Ben Franklin Not Authentic

I am the unfortunate person who bought the Ben Franklin and wanted to sell it to help pay my wife's medical bills. We purchased it from Antiquities in Las Vegas in 2017 with every assurance from them that it was a real signature, complete with a backstory as to why it was a fragment of a document. We had never bought anything like that before and completely trusted that we were getting something genuine. We are not the kind of people who spend this kind of money on a regular basis - we bought it to share with children at a school for the underprivileged. After learning that it might not be real, I began doing the kind of due diligence that the impulse purchase didn't allow. I read about how someone bought a guitar supposedly signed by the Rolling Stones at the Las Vegas store and found it was not genuine but how for a while they really enjoyed it. This was our story - we thought we had something really special. I just sent a copy of some of the comments from this thread to Antiquities to try and get our money back based on the guarantee they provide. It states "should the autograph ever be proven not to be authentic and is documented in writing by a certified handwriting expert" they will refund our money. Does anyone have any experience with this company actually refunding money and can anyone direct me towards an expert who won't cost too much?
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Old 01-30-2019, 12:18 PM
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RichardSimon RichardSimon is offline
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When an autograph company says: "should the autograph ever be proven not to be authentic and is documented in writing by a certified handwriting expert" that is part of the script for a scam. The certified experts who operate in the hobby have all been discussed here in past threads. Sad to say but I doubt if a refund will be coming your way. I do suggest contacting an attorney if the money involved is high enough.
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