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  #1  
Old 06-07-2018, 06:02 PM
SullyV SullyV is offline
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Default Icon Authentics

I came across an item on eBay that had a LOA from Icon Authentics/American Icon Memorabilia. Has anyone ever heard of them or could provide insight?
http://www.iconauthentics.com/
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Old 06-08-2018, 08:03 AM
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No personal info listed about the actual authenticator on the website.
Operating out of a PO Box.
I do not know them but those two things make me pause.
Why not put up a link to the item on ebay?
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:57 PM
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From their site...

Any further questions?
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  #4  
Old 06-08-2018, 02:31 PM
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So what do you need to become an autograph authenticator? A Ph.D. in a science field? A super high IQ? I'd love to know, so I can become one too, just like you guys.
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Old 06-08-2018, 11:46 PM
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This is the item in which I found the coa from them. The seller doesn't do a good job of clearly showing it.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HANK-AARON-...gAAOSw0fhXiTb8
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  #6  
Old 06-09-2018, 08:25 AM
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So what do you need to become an autograph authenticator? A Ph.D. in a science field? A super high IQ? I'd love to know, so I can become one too, just like you guys.
I'm reading this as you are trying to be snarky to Richard?? Are YOU the authenticator for Icon?
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:32 AM
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No, I have no idea who is behind that site, but no one else here does either.

I just found it funny that they're throwing mud on someone they don't know, in a non-scientific field that has zero educational requirements and/or barriers to entry.
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:27 AM
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I trust Richard and Jim Stinson above anyone else. If they would have an issue with an autograph, I would stay away.
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Old 06-09-2018, 10:15 AM
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Authentic Hal Aaron
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Old 06-09-2018, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by SetBuilder View Post
No, I have no idea who is behind that site, but no one else here does either.

I just found it funny that they're throwing mud on someone they don't know, in a non-scientific field that has zero educational requirements and/or barriers to entry.
Perhaps it's because they've seen so many "authenticators" pop up and fade away that they are a bit jaded. Perhaps they're saying if you have no history, claim as your exemplar file a company that is known as a sham, and you aren't willing to put any name whatsoever with your company, you deserve some mud.

But perhaps these experts here are wrong. I suggest an experiment: you send something to these guys and report back your experience.
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Old 06-09-2018, 12:55 PM
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Perhaps it's because they've seen so many "authenticators" pop up and fade away that they are a bit jaded.
None of the major authenticators are required to train as Certified Document Examiners (CDEs), who at least try to be scientific. That's why authenticators keep popping up.

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Originally Posted by earlywynnfan View Post
But perhaps these experts here are wrong. I suggest an experiment: you send something to these guys and report back your experience.
I would never send them anything. Because I wouldn't collect stuff I can't authenticate myself, and I don't know why anyone would. I especially wouldn't pay to have them look at anything older than 1950, since there is no way they can scientifically examine the item for the amount of money they charge to authenticate it.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 06-09-2018 at 12:56 PM.
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  #12  
Old 06-10-2018, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
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None of the major authenticators are required to train as Certified Document Examiners (CDEs), who at least try to be scientific. That's why authenticators keep popping up.



I would never send them anything. Because I wouldn't collect stuff I can't authenticate myself, and I don't know why anyone would. I especially wouldn't pay to have them look at anything older than 1950, since there is no way they can scientifically examine the item for the amount of money they charge to authenticate it.
Can you name one CDE who examines autographs that you think is doing a good scientific job??
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  #13  
Old 06-10-2018, 04:53 PM
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Can you name one CDE who examines autographs that you think is doing a good scientific job??
Excellent question.

I don't know one Forensic Document Examiner (FDE) or Forensic Authenticator that is actually knowledgeable about sports autographs.

The ones that I am aware of, are either complicit or incompetent.
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  #14  
Old 06-10-2018, 05:19 PM
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No, I have no idea who is behind that site, but no one else here does either.

I just found it funny that they're throwing mud on someone they don't know, in a non-scientific field that has zero educational requirements and/or barriers to entry.
Manny, I think that the point is, if you're going to advertise yourself as an authenticator, it's best to build a reputation ahead of time, let the people who are respected in the hobby know who you are, and not issue COA's into the atmosphere. While it doesn't take a Ph.D. in science, it does take both experience and the confidence of those who are in the hobby day-by-day. That's my opinion, anyway.
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Last edited by saltbox68; 06-10-2018 at 05:19 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-10-2018, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
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No, I have no idea who is behind that site, but no one else here does either.

I just found it funny that they're throwing mud on someone they don't know, in a non-scientific field that has zero educational requirements and/or barriers to entry.
Very true. We have no idea who is behind that site.
And why is that?
Because whoever is behind the site will not tell us his name and uses a PO Box.
I think that criticism is warranted here.
I did not impugn them personally, I just stated facts.
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  #16  
Old 06-11-2018, 03:19 AM
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Can you name one CDE who examines autographs that you think is doing a good scientific job??
My point is that CDE's are too busy working on criminal cases to bother with autographs. It's considered taboo in their field to do autograph authentication and it's career suicide. This is from an article I read about them, I forget the link.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 06-11-2018 at 03:19 AM.
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  #17  
Old 06-11-2018, 07:49 AM
bbcard1 bbcard1 is offline
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So what do you need to become an autograph authenticator? A Ph.D. in a science field? A super high IQ? I'd love to know, so I can become one too, just like you guys.
Probably about the same qualifications as a grader.
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  #18  
Old 06-11-2018, 08:57 AM
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None of the major authenticators are required to train as Certified Document Examiners (CDEs), who at least try to be scientific. That's why authenticators keep popping up.



I would never send them anything. Because I wouldn't collect stuff I can't authenticate myself, and I don't know why anyone would. I especially wouldn't pay to have them look at anything older than 1950, since there is no way they can scientifically examine the item for the amount of money they charge to authenticate it.

Honest question....Looking at that site, would you trust those people with your memorabilia? I don't care if you would send something or not, just look at the site and ask yourself if you think that it is a reputable source.
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  #19  
Old 06-11-2018, 09:16 AM
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Honest question....Looking at that site, would you trust those people with your memorabilia? I don't care if you would send something or not, just look at the site and ask yourself if you think that it is a reputable source.
It's too boilerplate, so probably no. Not enough biographical info.

If they advertised a very narrow specialization? Maybe.

If I met them at a trade show? Maybe.

There is a duopoly in authentication at the moment so it's tough to go anywhere else, especially since re-sale value is tied to the reputation of the COA.

Still doesn't change the fact that the person behind that site could have good intentions and actually be a very talented grader. It's just tough to start out in an industry controlled by two firms, where you're slandered viciously by other authenticators at the beginning.
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:33 AM
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It's too boilerplate, so probably no. Not enough biographical info.

If they advertised a very narrow specialization? Maybe.

If I met them at a trade show? Maybe.

There is a duopoly in authentication at the moment so it's tough to go anywhere else, especially since re-sale value is tied to the reputation of the COA.

Still doesn't change the fact that the person behind that site could have good intentions and actually be a very talented grader. It's just tough to start out in an industry controlled by two firms, where you're slandered viciously by other authenticators at the beginning.
Please point out the vicious slander.
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  #21  
Old 06-11-2018, 11:19 AM
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Please point out the vicious slander.
"Who would ever send an autograph to that guy?!"
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  #22  
Old 06-11-2018, 02:01 PM
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"Who would ever send an autograph to that guy?!"
Who said that here?
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:09 PM
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"Who would ever send an autograph to that guy?!"
Sorry, if that's vicious slander to you, you've got some pretty thin skin!
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:56 PM
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Who said that here?
Are you being sarcastic, or are you just bad at inference?
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:08 PM
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Hey, if someones business practices and experience don't stand up to harsh, or even ordinary scrutiny they're probably headed for failure.

Saying "we'll compare your stuff to stuff we find on the internet" doesn't exactly inspire complete confidence does it.

Heck, I can compare stuff to stuff I find on the internet. And I suspect I'd be wrong a LOT.
Based on a not incredibly scientific "survey" where I look at autographs presented here, compare them to my massive exemplar file (the internet) and decide if I think it's good or not. Then I wait for the more experienced opinions. The results are iffy at best.

But then I'm not making COAs for pay. And that's not a bad thing when it comes to autographs.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:01 PM
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[quote=SetBuilder;1785121]None of the major authenticators are required to train as Certified Document Examiners (CDEs), who at least try to be scientific. That's why authenticators keep popping up.





What is scientific about opining autographs?
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:12 PM
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Are you being sarcastic, or are you just bad at inference?
First off in writing it's libel, and I don't think libel can be "inferred"
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:16 PM
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What is scientific about opining autographs?
With enough known good and bad exemplars out there, I'm sure that a graduate student/staff at a university could come up with a machine learning algorithm that could be as good, if not better, than any human at rendering a good/bad opinion.

Just look at what we can do with fingerprinting (on your iphone), facial recognition, retina detection, etc. And that software is in use today.
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:43 AM
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[quote=thetruthisoutthere;1785844]
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None of the major authenticators are required to train as Certified Document Examiners (CDEs), who at least try to be scientific. That's why authenticators keep popping up.

What is scientific about opining autographs?

For modern autographs? Not a lot. It's more art than science.

For the old autographs? A lot. For instance, all pre-1935 autographs penned in blue ink could be tested for the presence of Phthalocyanine blue pigment, which didn't exist before 1935.

Just one example.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 06-12-2018 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:35 AM
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That test would be nearly worthless for all but a handful of items.
Maybe on a dated item like a contract, or perhaps a multi signed item with signatures that rule out any date but pre 35 for all the signatures. but not on some memorabilia.

With the new pigment.
Pre 35 item dated - ok, but only exclusionary.

pre 35 item undated - means nothing. For example a 33 Goudey signed in 1940 could have the new pigment. On something like a team ball, if one signature had it but others didn't that would be suspect, but not certain proof that one signature is fake.

Without the new pigment
Pre 35 dated - looks good, but a faker at the time like a clubhouse guy or wife would have used old ink too.
Post 35 item - means less the closer the assumed date is to 35. Old ink stocks, inks that don't use that colorant etc.

As an ink pigment, there were plenty of inks that didn't use it even into the 1960's. (as determined by the Postal inspection service who presumably knew what they were doing. )
https://scholarlycommons.law.northwe...2&context=jclc

since pthalo blue is mostly lightfast, it's very likely that blue inks without it are still used today.


should autograph experts add some science to their "toolbox"? Probably. Is that science expensive? sort of, I looked at machines for non destructive spectroscopy, and it seemed like a minimum of $30K and I couldn't find one with a generalized database - databases specific to metals or other narrow fields yes, generalized ones no. Not a deal breaker, but that would force a user to interpret the raw data themselves, and not everyone knows the chemistry well enough.
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:35 AM
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Steve,

With prices of autographs doubling every 5 years in the hobby, it's surely going to attract a whole new level of forger. Probably from the art or antiquities world. New tools will be needed in the toolbox, even if only marginal.

The ink test would probably be most useful to filter out inks that couldn't have been used during the player's lifetime. For instance, Parker "Quink" ink, which came out in the 1950's with a special drying solvent. If you've ever used Quink, you'll see that it has a distinct gold chemical sheen to it when you tilt the paper sideways near a light or under magnification. Dead giveaway that it's modern. Old ink would have contained a primitive pigment like indigo.

Like you said, it's not perfect. But forgers make mistakes.

For example, one of the most successful art forgers, Wolfgang Beltracchi, was only caught because he used a white paint containing titanium white. He forged a Heinrich Campendonk painting, and titanium white wasn't available when Campendonk died 1914.

As far as the cost of spectrometers and other equipment, it will probably come down over time. There's already prototypes of mini-spectrometers that can be plugged into a smartphone. I imagine that the authenticator of the future will carry one around in their pocket.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 06-12-2018 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
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Are you being sarcastic, or are you just bad at inference?
You put the quote in "quotes" implying that it was an exact statement that you were quoting not implying.

"Who would ever send an autograph to that guy?!"
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Last edited by RichardSimon; 06-12-2018 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:12 PM
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I have been to several antique shows where dealers are selling ink in jars that is quite old.

Ink tests while they can be very good at certain times at other times they cannot help. And they are very expensive.
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Last edited by RichardSimon; 06-12-2018 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:06 PM
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There's a lot of nuances to old ink.

For example, Confederate stamp cover dealer and forger John Fox was pretty good at his craft. He even engraved his own postmarks on metal. But even with all his knowledge as a stamp dealer, he didn't realize that 1860's postal ink was made from a mixture of lamp black (carbon soot) and linseed oil. Instead of mixing his own ink, he used some type of modern ink without oil, and as a result, the ink didn't spread evenly across the metal postmark, leaving a spotted, "mottled" look to the ink. That gave him away. Super small detail, right?

See report here. It's on the last page.
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:10 PM
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There's a lot of nuances to old ink.

For example, Confederate stamp cover dealer and forger John Fox was pretty good at his craft. He even engraved his own postmarks on metal. But even with all his knowledge as a stamp dealer, he didn't realize that 1860's postal ink was made from a mixture of lamp black (carbon soot) and linseed oil. Instead of mixing his own ink, he used some type of modern ink without oil, and as a result, the ink didn't spread evenly across the metal postmark, leaving a spotted, "mottled" look to the ink. That gave him away. Super small detail, right?

See report here. It's on the last page.

If there is a way to be crooked, someone will have the willingness to do it.
Sad comment on the state of human nature.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by SetBuilder View Post
There's a lot of nuances to old ink.

For example, Confederate stamp cover dealer and forger John Fox was pretty good at his craft. He even engraved his own postmarks on metal. But even with all his knowledge as a stamp dealer, he didn't realize that 1860's postal ink was made from a mixture of lamp black (carbon soot) and linseed oil. Instead of mixing his own ink, he used some type of modern ink without oil, and as a result, the ink didn't spread evenly across the metal postmark, leaving a spotted, "mottled" look to the ink. That gave him away. Super small detail, right?

See report here. It's on the last page.
Are you a USPCS member too? Not many cross over between hobbies at any sort of high level.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:18 AM
SetBuilder SetBuilder is offline
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Originally Posted by steve B View Post
Are you a USPCS member too? Not many cross over between hobbies at any sort of high level.
No, but I do have a small collection of 19th century stamps and covers.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:51 AM
steve B steve B is offline
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There are some projects for stamps that are using spectroscopy to solve a few long standing questions. All of them so far have relied on outside funding - grants etc.

They've found some interesting things. Like a certain reddish brown ink that has been assumed to be rust particles in linseed oil somehow includes exactly no iron whatsoever. So much for what's been "known" for over a century!

Old ink formulations were often trade secrets, especially the ones for printing.

The specific info about ink formulations and other stuff would probably apply somehow to older autographs, but probably not baseball.

Most authenticating of stamp stuff is done a lot like autograph authentication, examination by someone experienced with the exact specialty. I've seen one of the experts doing a bit during an antiques roadshow type thing they did at the 2006 international in DC. Stuff I was fairly sure of after a few hours of checking he confirmed in under a minute!
At least I was right..... (One good news, the other not so good but no loss so an inexpensive lesson. )

Currently there isn't much science involved, but that's slowly changing as the science gets more affordable.
I have a stamp out at the PF currently that will be the first of it's kind certified assuming they agree. A variety of one of the 1873 officials that was only discovered and identified fairly recently.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:52 AM
steve B steve B is offline
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And apologies for veering so far off topic.
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:02 AM
SetBuilder SetBuilder is offline
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Originally Posted by steve B View Post
They've found some interesting things. Like a certain reddish brown ink that has been assumed to be rust particles in linseed oil somehow includes exactly no iron whatsoever. So much for what's been "known" for over a century!
Perhaps a Walnut ink of some sort? Not all was iron gall back then. For the average person it was too complicated to make, so many people would grind up bark, walnut husks, or insects, boil it, and then mix it with a binder. No iron sulfate was added.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 06-13-2018 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:22 AM
steve B steve B is offline
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Originally Posted by SetBuilder View Post
Perhaps a Walnut ink of some sort? Not all was iron gall back then. For the average person it was too complicated to make, so many people would grind up bark, walnut husks, or insects, boil it, and then mix it with a binder. No iron sulfate was added.
The primary components for the 5c 1847 are - Calcium carbonate, Lead sulfide, and lead sesquioxide (red lead)
http://chronicle.uspcs.org/pdf/Chronicle_252/21674.pdf

That may not come through, as the articles after a certain date are members only.

Printing inks would of course vary a lot from pen inks, as the properties need to be a lot different.

Last edited by steve B; 06-13-2018 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Added info.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:47 PM
Michael B Michael B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve B View Post
The primary components for the 5c 1847 are - Calcium carbonate, Lead sulfide, and lead sesquioxide (red lead)
http://chronicle.uspcs.org/pdf/Chronicle_252/21674.pdf

That may not come through, as the articles after a certain date are members only.

Printing inks would of course vary a lot from pen inks, as the properties need to be a lot different.
Do you think they had any concerns about lead poisoning when they licked that Ben Franklin stamp?

I was also at the 2006 World Stamp Expo in D.C. Drove down to the APS in Richmond last year. I used to collect quite a bit more. Now I usually buy Olympic related postal covers (1960 Italian set, 1968 US Trials set) to get signed by athletes.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:03 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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Probably no concern at all. What with hats made with mercury, clothes dyed with arsenic and most of it flammable they had other concerns. Which didn't really bother the wearers as much as the people making the stuff.

Washington was amazing, as was the display for Atlanta in 1996. Seeing the actual letters inviting countries to the first Olympics and a lot of similar stuff was very interesting. And totally changed my perspective on what made for an "important" collectible.
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