A long time ago, my friend (and expert collector) David Weiner and I had a discussion about autographs and the proliferation of forgeries. I remember him saying, “If something is too neat, there’s always the possibility that the bandleader’s secretary signed it. Real autographs, done when the star is leaning against a building, are always messy.”
(This is especially true for artists whose calligraphy wasn’t Palmer-perfect, such as Louis Armstrong. If the signature is all graceful loops and swirls, it’s fake.)
Here’s a lovely example: one of my heroes, drummer (and painter) George Wettling, signing a fan’s autograph book on April 2, 1945:
Without the identifying picture, I wouldn’t have recognized this as a Wettling autograph. But it’s clearly authentic because it is so unclear. And it’s valuable because of that. Here is the eBay link — in case you want something genuine to remember one of the greatest (and least celebrated) jazz percussionists ever.
And here’s some sonic evidence:
The other heroes are Eddie Condon, Wild Bill Davison, Bob Wilber, Gene Schroeder, Leonard Gaskin — supervised for Columbia Records by George Avakian.
George Wettling continues to uplift and propel my imagination.
May your happiness increase!