Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Hey Coach's Corner"-- What's Next, Alleged Bonnie & Clyde Signatures Cheaper by the Dozen?!?

Ah it's Spring-- the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and the warmth of the Sun-- is providing renewed hope for Summer. And along with this change of seasons, you guessed it-- it's time again to defend the only truly authenticated scripts of B&C, and profile yet another indefensible pair of alleged Bonnie & Clyde signatures-- from some memorabilia seller with perhaps a less than stellar reputation. This time it's Coach's Corner, returning with their 2nd "suspect" B&C offering in 6 months. How "do" they do it?!? As this is the 4th of these profiles I've done, some background is useful here, before discussing Coach's Corner's latest B&C offering.

Just last December, I profiled what were clearly "dubious" alleged B&C signatures, sold by this notorious
Souderton, PA based memorabilia outlet. A search of the Internet, revealed numerous articles and internet expose's concerning not only this seller-- but many memorabilia sites, which have been accused of less than upstanding tactics concerning the sale of historic signatures.

I addressed my concerns with one of Coach's Corner's "authenticators"-- Ted Taylor from Stat Authentic. I found it interesting Mr. Taylor certified the Clyde signature among the pair, but wouldn't verify the Bonnie?!? Although Mr. Taylor was pleasant enough, I found my e-mail exchanges with this self styled authenticator a fruitless exercise. It was clear to me that Ted Taylor knew little of B&C signatures or their values, and that Coach's Corner couldn't defend their purported B&C scripts-- based on such a cursory examination and without provenance. I guess their B&C signatures just materialized out of thin air?? But without provenance, which is so important in determining the credibility of historic scripts-- who's to say these alleged signatures didn't come from the forked tip of a forger's pen??

True forensic document examiners, hold accreditations such as from The Board of Forensic Document Examiners (BFDE) or The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB). Perhaps it's revealing to quote Mr. Taylor's qualifications as posted on his Stat Authentic website-- "Jeff Stevens and Ted Taylor have over 75 years of hobby experience-- running shows, collecting autographs, designing collectibles, hosting signing sessions, etc. What we give you is our best opinion. We will VERIFY that a signature is/or is NOT authentic based on our experiences over the years". Well in "my" best opinion, that description offers neither the right experience or accreditation, to authenticate historic signatures of the rarity and magnitude of a Clyde Barrow or Bonnie Parker.

Concerning this 1st dual B&C offering, it was illogical-- that Stat Authentic would back the purported Clyde signature, but not support Bonnie's-- when both sat side by side on the same piece of untested paper. Mr. Taylor stated they couldn't locate exemplars for Bonnie's signature. That's strange-- as of course 3 really good examples do exist-- within my known dual B&C signatures, and on the verso of Steve Haas' known Bonnie Parker poem "The Street Girl". Ah-- but to use known and authentic Bonnie Parker scripts for comparison, would have disqualified the Coach's Corner B&C signatures from any claim of authenticity. To the trained eye, it was clear the Coach's Corner Bonnie script was nothing more than a copy of the debunked signature-- from the Bonnie Parker Highway Patrol fingerprint card.

Many are aware of this alleged B&C artifact, which after much research begun in 2006-- I consider non-authentic. My conclusion was later confirmed, as having also been voiced by J. Edgar Hoover in 1933. The newly uncovered Dallas FBI files on Bonnie and Clyde, contain a number of documents concerning the Bureau's exhaustive search for this alleged Bonnie Parker fingerprint card. Based on a search led by Hoover himself, among Bureau records in Washington and through an investigation in Kaufman, Texas-- Hoover concluded it was apparent that no fingerprints of Bonnie Parker were taken by the Kaufman Sheriffs department, and forwarded to the Bureau as stated. As Bonnie was arrested only once in Kaufman County in 1932, and later no billed and released-- no other source of this rumored fingerprint card could have been the case. Of course only her left hand prints were available, when fingerprinted in death in May 1934-- and no signature would have been possible.

So I guess you could call Stat Authentic's "authentication" of Coach's Corner's 1st B&C signatures offering (Clyde only-- but "Hey what about Bonnie")-- a case of "selective" non-forensics. But they don't seem to use much cutting edge forensic analysis over at Coach's Corner anyway. Instead, they seem to rely on "authenticators"-- who rely mostly on comparisons to known exemplars. I suppose if that's the narrow standard employed by some to judge the authenticity of historic signatures, my suggestion would be to make sure the exemplars your using-- aren't forgeries themselves!!

Interestingly, Coach's Corner advertised that only Clyde's signature had been authenticated-- but that Bonnie's was "just as nice". Now there's a quality description of a signature "so" rare -- that just 3 complete verified examples are known to exist!! And now they've rolled out the "nice" lingo yet again, in touting their latest B&C treasure. But at least knowing this, might reveal the mentality of the sellers at hand here. I suppose it would be expected, that in the end-- these quite questionable scripts would sell for next to nothing, which they did.

Something that troubled me in exchanging e-mails concerning B&C signatures with Ted Taylor-- was his choice to characterize Bonnie and Clyde as pathological killers, and criticize the prices asked for known and authenticated Clyde Barrow signatures. I suppose the proper response to such crass and non-professional comments might be-- "Well then, what's a Hitler signature worth"?? Discussion of criminal intent is proper in historical terms, but seemingly out of place within a forensic discussion. I felt it most odd, that someone hired to pass judgment on the authenticity of alleged historical signatures-- would make negative personal comments concerning the potential source of those signatures. I view that as a conflict of interest, if not a telling commentary on perhaps Mr. Taylor's worth-- as an "authenticator" within the scheme of things here??

For the record, the asking price for Clyde's Frank Hardy letter including Clyde's fingerprints is $95,000. and $35,000. is being asked for Clyde's November 18th, 1931 letter to his mother Cumie Barrow. Letter.html True examples of Clyde's signature are exceedingly rare-- and Bonnie's extraordinary script, is flat out one of the rarest ever sought. So I'm sorry to disappoint you over at Coach's Corner, but real Clyde Barrow signatures don't sell for 200 bucks. And the $95,000. and $35,000. prices, asked for Clyde's rare script, are for Clyde by himself. Add Bonnie-- and I suppose state your price. I've been asked many times, what I would sell my dual signatures of B&C for. I have a ballpark figure in my head, but needless to say it's not within the Coach's Corner range. It's important to note that entities such as this, with their lack of diligence and bargain basement prices-- have trouble garnering respect, when compared to major auction houses within the historical signatures marketplace. But make no mistake, the affects of these sellers is felt in a negative way-- concerning their potential impact in devaluing truly authentic pieces.

And now onto the current Bonnie and Clyde offering from the vaulted Coach's Corner. Please view the photo attached. My 1st comment is, for a memorabilia shop who sells purported super rare signatures as if they were candy-- can't you take a photograph that's in focus?? Perhaps it's more desirable, that an image illustrating such remarkably rare alleged signatures be out of focus-- so people can't see them clearly?!? This latest purported B&C is remarkably similar to the December offering-- same wrong Bonnie signature, seemingly copied from the Highway Patrol fingerprint card-- and same Clyde signature of sorts, easily copied from a number of sources. But unlike their last B&C offering, no claim of authenticity and no forensic testing is mentioned.

Concerning these latest alleged B&C signatures let me say this. January 15th, 1957
was a Tuesday. So when I say I was born on a Tuesday but "not last Tuesday"-- I mean what I say. I am rarely fooled by shams, shenanigans, hood winkers or insincere people-- and I'm not fooled by this. Nor should anyone else be. Here's the listing for the current Coach's Corner supposed Bonnie & Clyde--

I'm never quite comfortable making a statement such as this-- except that it's true. I am now within my 5th consecutive year of focused research and experience, in discerning the signatures of Bonnie and Clyde. In owning the only truly authenticated signatures of B&C known to exist, along with the help of some of the world's finest forensic experts-- I possess unique knowledge concerning the scripts of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, which perhaps no one else can claim. My investigation into the rare signatures of these iconic outlaws, remains the only coordinated inquiry into this specialty known to date.

In my e-mail to Lee
Trythall, co-owner of Coach's Corner I told him I found this 2nd offering of purported signatures of B&C, both remarkable and offensive. I asked Mr. Trythall to state the provenance of either professed B&C signatures Coach's Corner has offered. I also asked specifically, for the forensic testing performed on their signatures-- ie: inks, paper, writing instruments, energy dispersive x-ray spectometry and "true" Forensic handwriting analysis-- not just someone's opinion, in comparison to certain exemplars which are often fake themselves. I asked if he would stake his reputation on the authenticity of his B&C offerings, by having them examined as I did-- in authenticating my dual signatures of Bonnie & Clyde.

As many know, I utilized the services of the world renown McCrone Group of Chicago-- who performed the material science testing on The Shroud of Turin and specifically their Senior Research Microscopist Joe Barabe-- who led a team of McCrone scientists in authenticating the inks in The Lost Gospel of Judas. I also employed an equally renown and independent Forensic Document Examiner in Ms. Emily J. Will D-BFDE to perform the Forensic signature analysis for my signatures. Among a myriad of impressive professional accomplishments, Ms. Will may best be known as the CDE hired by CBS-- to authenticate the President George W. Bush National Guard Papers. It was Emily Will who discredited those bogus Pre-Presidential documents, which led to a firestorm of media and political fallout-- resulting in perhaps early retirement for one rather famous Anchorman, and the firing of the CBS Producer who hired Ms. Will. Those are my experts Mr. Trythall-- who've you got??

I suppose "authenticators" like Christopher Morales. Morales is the authenticator with the checkered reputation, who was used by The Art of Music in Las Vegas-- to try and back purported B&C signatures I fought against last Fall. I went toe to toe with The Art of Music as well, over "their" indefensible B&C signatures. I am attaching a link here on Christopher Morales, as it appeared in Autograph Magazine. This article on Morales is titled Christopher Morales: The Forger's Best Friend. Within this article "remarkably" it's Lee Trythall of Coach's Corner who rebukes Morales saying-- "There are authenticators whose work seems better". "There are guys who are more qualified." But then just this month-- who does Coach's Corner use to back it's controversial cut Beatles piece?? None other than Christopher Morales. What does that tell you?? Hell-- is there a bed big enough for all these guys??

Here's a simple question I've asked before in debunking fake B&C signatures, and which I asked Lee Trythall. If anyone truly believes they have authentic B&C scripts, why are they themselves not taking them to a major auction house and cashing in-- instead of seemingly just giving them away, to people who may not know any better?? I suppose the answer is "volume". Coach's Corner always seems to have a "slew" of reputedly rare signatures for sale, at dirt cheap prices. But how could that be?? The answers is, if all these signatures were real-- it can't be.

One might ask from a business point of view, whether Coach's Corner wouldn't be better off financially-- selling their purported signatures via major auction, rather than taking the tact they do?? Of course they would if they could-- unless a lack of brains is an issue. But that's provided their signatures could be independently verified-- and apparently in the vast majority of cases, they can't. By the way, regarding my now 4 e-mails to Lee Trythall-- just as in Beatles 65, you guessed it-- No Reply.

It pays to have friends who care to alert you, when something like this-- which could affect the integrity of something you hold near and dear comes to light. It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But that's not true concerning artwork or autographs. Fakes can be a problem, as they have the potential to undermine the integrity of originals-- by creating doubt as to what is real and what is not. Forged signatures have been an issue for decades, but never more than now-- when the Internet creates quick and voluminous opportunities for scammers to peddle their wares freely, and without oversight.

There are few safeguards in place to protect the public, except through the dedication of loyal industry publications and individuals-- who care about this fascinating and most enjoyable hobby. I
applaud these crusaders for good, be they from the media, autograph industry-- or just honest and dedicated autograph collectors. But also don't forget, the collection of historic signatures is very much about the preservation of history-- so there's added importance in upholding the integrity of a legitimate artifact. For you see, there's no history in a forgery. Hopefully in the future, stringent regulations will be enacted-- to force unscrupulous sellers out of the historical signatures marketplace.

Back to Coach's Corner-- I don't feel I have to do much to debunk their current B&C offering. The Bonnie is wrong-- and the Bonnie's together with a dubious Clyde. So unless some miracle happened, where a non-authentic signature somehow became paired with an authentic one-- then both must be fakes. It's amazing, how almost identical and easily debunkable supposed B&C scripts keep popping up at Coach's Corner. Hey an endless supply!!-- but of course that can't be true. This one's not even noted to be authentic, or backed by any "authenticator" touting unspecified exemplars.

Sometimes when attacked, I understand certain autograph entities and "authenticators"-- like to issue threats and orders, to stop negative comments from being published about them. Rest assured if that were to happen to me, I would make sure the source and "forensic" testing of every document ever sold by that outlet-- or "authenticated" by an "authenticator" be made public. I would also bring a counter action-- for damages to my authenticated B&C signatures, for which I hold a copyright. I doubt very much, those busy selling or backing "rare" $200 historical autographs, would want to travel that road.
There are currently dozens of articles and videos available accusing this entity and others of far worse than I have. I would imagine if push came to shove, any discovery process would be quite insightful-- in finally uncovering the shrouded sources of thousands of questioned signatures.

I wholeheartedly support the efforts of those, who fight against what are sometimes called signature mills-- who offer "rare" and "valuable" autographs at nonsensical prices. I'm pleased to lend my voice and expertise to this fight. Schemers beware-- I "will" defend my authenticated B&C signatures against all "suspect" signatures. Through a well documented and publicized investigation now into it's 5th year, and within the bounds of available forensic science-- I feel I've proven my B&C signatures. Now it's up to those who sell "dubious" super rare signatures for a couple hundred bucks-- to prove theirs. "Really" prove them-- not just use self styled pseudo proof from their "in" crowd.

I can't hope to influence the self regulation of signature outlets, concerning exercising proper due diligence regarding all their signatures. But I can call on this entity and others, who market highly questionable or bogus Bonnie & Clyde signatures without legitimate authentication-- to stop marketing them. Historically and forensically, if a Bonnie and Clyde signature can't be backed-- it shouldn't be portrayed as genuine. No pseudo forensics-- No semantical fluff-- No nonsense. A detailed report on my signatures, can be found blog right>> The following are additional articles on this topic-- including Coach's Corner's BBB ranking. Thanks for your time, and as always-- "Buyer Beware".

1 comment:

Bill Panagopulos said...

Bravo - well-written & informative! We historic manuscript dealers thank you for your efforts.

FYI we sold the Barrow "fingerprint"letter years ago...

Best regards,

Bill Panagopulos
Alexander Autographs, Inc