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David Bowie’s Autograph, Genuine or Fake? And How To Spot It, by Andy Peters

January 17th, 2021 | by admin
David Bowie’s Autograph, Genuine or Fake? And How To Spot It, by Andy Peters
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Andy Peters runs the superb website davidbowieautograph.com. It’s an excellent resource and great blog and offers some very useful tips if you’re looking to purchase David Bowie’s autograph.

Andy has very kindly written a piece for DBN on how to avoid buying one of the hundreds of fakes currently for sale.

A cleverly forged copy of Pin Ups bought in 2015 was one of the catalysts in Andy Peters setting up the davidbowieautograph.com website. Finding it impossible to get his money back (the seller had disappeared from eBay) Andy decided to start the website so that potential Bowie memorabilia buyers could compare the item being considered alongside genuine Bowie examples from the same year.

Today the website has over 1700 examples of Bowie’s signature ranging from 1963 to 2015 and includes hundreds of letters, handwritten lyrics and signed album sleeves which appear daily in the Blog section.

Offering a free authentication service, Andy received 3000+ requests last year from people asking him to verify if the Bowie signature they owned, or were considering buying, was genuine. Sadly over 95% were forgeries ranging from the clearly ridiculous to “very close to the real thing”. It’s an appalling statistic that only 5% of Bowie autographs being offered in the marketplace are potentially the real thing. Today on eBay of the 974 signed Bowie items available only 47 are authentic.

“The hardest thing to do is breaking it to people that they have a forgery, which I have to do nearly all the time. The worst case was where a lady in US had spent over £6000 on a “signed guitar” for her husband from a charity auction and they point blank refused to refund her. I felt so sorry for her that I helped her pursue it and she thankfully got her money back in the end” said Andy.

It’s generally agreed Bowie’s autograph can be really difficult to verify because he could change his signature style in seconds – particularly at mass signing sessions like he used to do for BowieArt prints or the Rex Ray Ziggy prints, of which there were 2002 signed. Add in other factors like he was signing while walking to a car or surrounded by a jostling mob of fans and you can start to see why there are often question marks about what is real and what is not.

However, there are a number of small traits that are like a Bowie finger print and without giving anything  away (to help forgers become better) there are 3 consistent factors to assist accurate verification.

To be honest, it became a bit of an obsessive hobby and I ended up taking a distance learning graphologist course. While it can be viewed as being train-spottery at least it involves a fascinating person!”

There were 4 significant changes in Bowie’s autograph during his career. From 1963 to 1965 he signed as Davie Jay or Davie Jones. From late 1965 to 1973 he signed as David Bowie, occasionally just signing his surname. 1974 to 1976 was just his surname with the year added and from early 1976 it morphed into the familiar “Bo” with an exit tail representing the “wie”.

According to someone who was close to him (Tony McGrogan, a former artist liaison manager at RCA UK) David dropped writing Bowie in full and moved to the Bo style because ‘76 was the year he started painting lots of canvases during his self rehabilitation (the Bo being easier to sign in acrylic paint) and he just carried this on for signing autographs.

“There were very, very few exceptions when he wrote Bowie in full after 1976. I know someone who asked him to sign David Bowie in full in 1980 but he politely declined and said “Sorry, this is the way I do it nowadays” however he did sign as “David Jones” on a vintage photo of himself for a friend in 2001 and as “Dave Bowie” for DJ Marc Riley as it was a joke between them”

Below is a reasonable comparison of stronger fakes that fool many versus authentic signatures…

Above is fake, sold for $600.                            Above right is genuine.

Above is fake, sold for $1200.                                  Above right is genuine.

The final push that spurred Andy on to start the website was the dreadful exploitation of the mass forgeries that appeared in auctions following his death five years ago.

The clamour to own a Bowie signature went ballistic in January/February 2016 and the pirates were clearly busy at their kitchen tables churning out their crappy squiggles on a Diamond Dogs LP and then people were paying literally hundreds of pounds or more for utter tat (as they continue to do so today). It made me really angry that eBay and other auction sites were doing absolutely zero about policing it.

I thought that when I set the site up, if it stops one person from giving their hard earned cash to some idiot flogging a forgery, then it’s doing a good job. With an average of nearly eight emails a day in 2020, I know its working. I totally agree with Mark at DavidBowie.Com that you can never be 100% sure about authenticity unless you actually witnessed him signing the item with your own eyes but I believe after collecting only Bowie signed memorabilia since 1978, I’ve got a pretty educated eye on this subject apart from the one slip with Pin Ups which turned out to be done by an auto-pen.”

The 4 Golden Rules when considering buying a David Bowie autograph..

1/ Remember there is a 95% chance that it is not authentic.

2/ Check against other examples from the same year on davidbowieautograph.com – Google images is NOT reliable.

3/ Authentic Bowie signatures currently range from £275-£5000+. Question hard any autograph that is priced less than that on a “Buy it now”. Bargain genuine Bowie signatures do not exist.

4/ Pay via Paypal or credit card. If it turns out to be forgery you have six months refund cover with Paypal and a “charge back” refund facility with a credit card.

Andy is happy to help anyone regarding a David Bowie autograph enquiry without charge at [email protected]

 

Many thanks to Andy.

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