Let the Buyer Beware .......

Guide to buying Laurel & Hardy autographs  

 Laurel and Hardy Autographs


The Memorabilia Exhibition at the N.E.C. in Birmingham was a magnificent spectacle, and had everything to offer the Movie Collector: from Stars Wars' Luke and Hans, to Sons of the Desert's Laurel and Hardy. One thing did however ruin the day for me and that was the discovery on an unknown dealer's stall of a certain Laurel and Hardy "autographed" picture. The signatures were as authentic as the C.D. "Songs from The Phantom of the Opera," as performed by Stephen Hawkins. I just hope that no-one was fool enough to part with the £260($420) being asked, as here is what was wrong with the item:

1) Laurel and Hardy's "autographs" were on a still from the film "Air Raid Wardens". This film was made in 1943. but the picture could not have been signed in that year as both signatures were in ball-point pen, and Hardy only acquired his pen in 1947 (at the Ideal Homes Exhibition in London).

2) Had it been signed later than 1945 then, as the Boys were no longer making films, its origin would most likely have been one of the British tours. However, on the tours, Stan and Babe always signed publicity handouts - and always portraits, never stills.

3) Stan's signature was also in ball-point. I have over one-hundred and fifty examples of Stan's signature, and I have NEVER known him to sign in ball-point - only fountain pen.

4) Stan would always sign over on "his" side of the photo, and Ollie on "his". This piece had the two signatures, one on top of one another, dead-centre on the picture.

5) The final clincher: The still was on a postcard that was first printed in the ‘SEVENTIES'.

I rest my case. The only problem is that anyone who is unfamiliar with Stan and Babe's signature will not always have the benefit of someone at hand who can tip them off as to the authenticity of an item, or otherwise. So here are some basic guide lines:

a) Because of the advance in computer copying and printing it is getting harder and harder to distinguish what is authentic from what is computer-generated. Again, be doubly suspicious of anything in frames. If you can handle an autograph page, you will find the impression of the signatures, or ink-marks, on the reverse side. If the autograph is in a frame, ask the dealer to remove the back. If he's reluctant, walk away. Two words: ...... "pig"........"poke".

b) A good initial approach is to ask the vendor the history behind the piece. Most have a story behind them, like "I got it off a woman who's mother was an usherette at the Glasgow Empire, and she used to get the autographs of all the stars." Another way to continue the enquiry is to ask what other autographs were in the book. Tell them you're interested in Will Hay, or Terry-Thomas, or Peter Sellers. Anything to get them to produce evidence of the original autograph book.

If the autographs are on a photograph, remember points 1) to 5) above. Or carry with you a photocopy of the Stan and Ollie signatures we have reproduced for you, below. Remember the old adage: "A fool and his horse are easily parted from water," or something like that.

The good news is that in England events are now being targeted by Trading Standards Officers with autograph experts, they are taking strong action with dealers selling fakes. But, this will not protect you if you are buying from Internet auctions or privately.

Webmasters Note: We also saw the autograph at the NEC. Several of our expert members confronted the dealer, who later took it off his stall. However, there are dealers that have a very good reputation.

We recommend that you come to one of our conventions, as we have experts on hand to advise you on buying the real thing. Our expert Dave Tomlinson always puts on a good display of FAKES to avoid and compares them with the genuine article.

Dave Tomlinson with part of his convention display.


BS. The suspect photo was L&H crashing into a tree in their Model T...be warned!


Laurel and Hardy Autographs



*Laurel and Hardy FAKE AUTOGRAPHS

There are many genuine autograph dealers who sell on Internet auctions and most are members of The  respected Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC). This information page is  NOT directed at those genuine dealers  or sellers who sell REAL L&H autographs.
Be careful of some autographs from Europe on PLAYBILLS, they look like they have been done with a calligraphy pen. The seller has made his feedback private and hid the bidders identities so we can not warn them its a fake .  The feedback system on internet auctions was set up so buyers and sellers can read comments to see if the person has a good reputation. So ask yourself this question...WHY HIDE IT . We have seen this EXACT SAME item up on an auction site three times now.

BE ON YOUR GUARD...I have also seen some rather dodgy Stan Laurel autographs for sale recently. BEWARE OF A NEW SCAM, we have noticed an identical autograph at least half a dozen times over the last year and each time sold...rather ODD don't you think? We keep an eye on ALL L&H autographs listed.

Oh, another thing to lookout for is the word PREPRINT, or described as the autographs are part of the photograph. These are of course just copies of original items. In some cases nothing more than an ink-jet computer print. BUT, I have known people to think they were buying real autographs. Although, not necessarily passed off as original, some sellers descriptions can be a bit vague to say the least.
Another trick is to actually buy an old original still (so the paper passes the age test), but fake the autographs on it. Yet, another more modern faking technique is the autopen. I recently came across a so-called signed photo of L&H, but it was on a still from one of their compilations, made after they had both passed away. OH...a certificate of authenticity...well that means the dealer will give you your money back...if YOU can prove it is fake.  You really want Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC) backed COA if possible or a guarantee that you can have a full refund if you are not happy.


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