KISS has appeared on more trading cards than any other band — they had 2 releases in the 70s, several in the 90s, and more as recently as this year! Back in ’97 Cornerstone was producing KISS cards, and they promised band signatures would be included in the next set. This was HUGE for 1997, which autograph cards were still relatively new, and big names were pretty few and far between. The set never materialized, but eventually the set of 4 unsigned autograph cards were released. They are gorgeous looking cards, a tantalizing promise of what was possible. . . but they weren’t signed. . .
Until they were. Eventually lots of signed KISS cards started hitting the internet. I’m not sure where they originated, but they were cheap, damn cheap, and the sellers all claimed they were legitimate. While I had little reason to question them I always felt a little leery of these cards — to the point that, even when they were cheap I never bought any.
Today these don’t pop on to the market all that frequently, but I noticed all 4 on eBay tonight, so I took a close look. Unfortunately the scans are low resolution so the images don’t really blow up at all beyond how they appear.
I first clicked on the Gene Simmons autograph. . . I admit I’m a fan of Family Jewels, so I started with the Demon. Right off the bat I noticed the ‘g’ in Gene wasn’t smooth, it was sort of angular and just didn’t look right. Next I noticed dots at the end of every line in the signature. Peter Criss was next, and he has the same dots at the end of each line in the signature. The dots, of course are a potential indicator that these were signed mechanically. I continued to look at all four autographs — all had uniform line thickness — not just in each signature, but across all the signatures the line thickness is nearly identical. Also there is no feathering (lighter areas) in any of the signatures. These are all HUGE red flags, and while we can’t confirm these signatures are counterfeit since Cornerstone is no longer around, and I lost Gene Simmon’s phone number, I would never buy them.
Even with all these red flags I kept examining the signatures, and it was Paul Stanley that interested me the most. . . it is really difficult to tell in the scan, but looking closely, and messing around with the image in an image editing program it looks to me like the signature was signed backwards — or at least out of order. The line that crosses the ‘T’ appears to be under the rest of the signature, indicating it was signed first, and the line that makes the base of the T looks like it cuts through the edge of the ‘a’ indicating the ‘t’ was written after the ‘a.’ I attempted to get better scans out of the seller, who first claimed he didn’t have time to scan it again, then claimed there something must be wrong with my computer. Conveniently, when I asked the seller to look at the card to see if he could verify what I was talking about he stopped responding. He also told me he wouldn’t guarantee the card was authentic. Here is the conversation I had:
I am very interested in this Paul Stanley autograph card. Can you send a higher resolution scan to firstname.lastname@example.org? The scan posted is a little blurry on my computer. Thank you!
Sorry, I just got back from out of town & won’t be able to get it to you in time.
It is unfortunate that you cannot get a better scan out to me. Do you guarantee this card is legitimate, and hand signed by Paul Stanley? The signature has virtual no feathering, or variation in line thickness, which indicate the signature may have been created by a machine. Additionally, and it’s hard to tell from the scan, but it looks like the line crossing the ‘T’ in Stanley may be under the base of the ‘T’ — indicating the crossing mark was signed before the ‘St’ in Stanley. Also, and again very difficult to tell from the scan, but it looks like the base of the ‘t’ in Stanley is signed over top of the ‘a’ in Stanley, which would indicate the ‘a’ was written before the ‘t.’
This signature also has a ‘dot’ at the end of each line, which is a potential indication of an autopen signature. The Peter Criss and Gene Simmons autographs you are selling have prominent dots at the end of each ‘line’ in the signature as well. Sorry to tell you these are all potentially counterfeit.
No I can’t guarantee it. I am not even close to an expert. That is why the companies say they are authentic on the back of the cards so we won’t have to. The scan I made is huge and crystal clear so it must be your computer so if I sent you another scan it wouldn’t help anyway. Sorry
Ok, except that companies can’t prevent people from counterfeiting cards, and Cornerstone actually never released signed versions of these cards as the set was never produced.
My computer is just fine, the scan you have posted may be ‘huge,’ but it is low resolution. When you look at the card, can you see the things I am mentioning?
So, the seller stopped responding after that, and refuses to guarantee the cards are authentic — which doesn’t mean anything because eBay won’t allow you to sell counterfeit goods, so if you get caught they’ll side with the buyer 100% of the time. I’ve already reported these as counterfeit to eBay so the buyer shouldn’t have any trouble returning them if they feel the cards are counterfeit.
All this said, I believe the seller is legitimate, and are stuck in the middle with what is likely counterfeit goods that they picked up unknowingly, but it is still disappointing that they refuse to stand by what they sell. I will still attempt to get high resolution scans of these cards, and will also attempt to find out the buyer of these cards so they are aware they should be taking a close look.
What do you think? Legit, or autopen?
Full size scans are available here: