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Forgery in Signed Books; Maya Angelou

By Joachim Koch. Jan 23, 2010. 3:26 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Unfortunately, fraudulent behaviors and practices don’t stop.  This time, a Maya Angelou first edition of Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now.

Found at a Pennsylvania bookseller, Books Tell You Why inspector Christopher Koch identified this forgery: a traced signature.  How is this being done?  Usually, the forger (1) takes the silhouette of a signature, printed or real, and portraits it onto the target area, either with a projector on top or with a light table from underneath; (2) then, usually with a pencil first, traces the signature; (3) the pencil signature is then traced with the final pen/marker, most always a thicker marker is used to not make the signature appear “jittery”; (4) as a last step, the pencil signature is erased again.

When looking at this particular “signature” under a magnifying glass or a high-resolution scanner (1,200 dpi), a number of identifiers became apparent.  Most obvious were the “thick”, non-fluid signature and the underlying impression of the pencil tracing:


Maya Angelou forged signature

Maya Angelou forged signature

Maya Angelou forged signature

The real signature of Maya Angelou looks quite different, it is fluid and elegant:


Maya Angelou authentic signature

For a list of authors and signatures to assist in the authentication process of signed books, please refer to the Reference Autographs & Signatures at Books Tell You Why.

Joachim Koch
Book buyer. Bookseller. Factotum Generalis. Believes in not attempting to be the smartest person in room and enjoys growing success.


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