By Joe Cushnan

I collect autographs. It is almost but not quite as nerdy as train spotting and stamp collecting, but an odd thing in its own way.

Like many things in life, however, it is becoming a tougher challenge to get responses because a growing number of celebrities assume that a request for an autograph is just one step away from an online auction.
I am sure their fears are justified, but I can put my hand on my heart and say, that apart from one, I have never sold any item from my precious collection.

For the record, it was a Kenny Everett signed photo and it fetched £10 about twenty years ago – all in the best possible taste, of course.

Whilst some celebrities do not trust the motives of some autograph hunters, it is true to say that some autograph hunters are sceptical about autograph providers. I will offer a true story.

In the 1980s, I was working for a prestigious company that decided to sponsor a premium golf tournament. The face of the tournament was a very, very famous golfer – let’s call him Al Batross. One day, as I walked along one of the office corridors, I stuck my head round the door of the guy who was coordinating the event on behalf of the company.
We chatted about the exciting launch and he even allowed me to hold the very first trophy. On his desk, I noticed a pile of photographs of Al Batross and I asked about them. The guy said that he expected quite a few letters from the public requesting signed pictures and he wanted to be ready for the onslaught.

I commented that Al would be busy signing the photographs on top of his other commitments and the guy laughed saying that Mr Batross would not be signing the pictures.

“He’s far too busy for us to bother him with a job like that. Someone from the office will sign them as ‘Best wishes, Al Batross’. Who’s going to know?”

I was flabbergasted and to this day I wonder how many people have treasured signed photographs of Al Batross (wink, wink) not signed by him but probably by Doris in accounts or Colin in goods inward.
The top golfer, no doubt, was oblivious to all of this but it stands as an example of how easy it is for autograph hunters to be duped. But as I rummage through my box, I have to rely on gut feeling and believe that what I have in my possession are genuine signatures.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own