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Mechanical Autographs  

Mechanical Autographs

Mechanical autographs are signatures constructed by artificial methods. Rubber stamps, robotic pens, and digital imprints are the most examples of mechanical autographs. These items may have intrinsic value as mementos. However, collectors seeking true value need to be able to distinguish genuine autographs from those that are mass-produced by mechanical or electronic methods.

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The robotic pen (also known as an autopen) affixes a signature on flat objects such as letters, cards, and photos. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first American president to use an autopen while president at Columbia University. John F. Kennedy was the first American president to use an autopen while holding office as U.S. president. The robotic pen is programmed to duplicate a person's real signature. Signatures constructed by robotic pens are easily recognized by the knowledgeable observer. Robotic pens use a variety of writing utensils such as ink pen, felt tip, pencils, and crayons.

The following features characterize ink pen signatures by robotic pens:

1) Uniformity of ink impression Most authentic signatures doe with ink have pressure points where the signature is darker and thicker. Signatures produced by robotic pens usually have a uniform appearance.

2) Robotic Pen Patterns Photographs and similar items signed by robotic pens have identical signature patterns. Although thickness of signatures drawn by robotic pens may differ according to the flow of ink from the type of pen utilized, the signature pattern remains the same from one signed item to another.

3) Signature dotting Unlike natural signing that entails engagement of the pen at an angle with paper, robotic pens are descend perpendicularly to engage the paper. Each time the robotic pen touches paper from a vertical orientation, a release of ink produces a small dot or slight expansion of the signature before continuing to stroke the signature.

The quality of robotic pens continues to improve in their ability to replicate signatures. When in doubt, look for examples of items produced in large quantities.

Preprinted signatures are typically found in mass produced photographs. In this situation, printed signatures are copies as part of the photograph. Unlike genuine signatures that flow of top of the paper, preprinted signatures are actually part of the paper.

Rubber stamps have been used for imprinting signatures for over a century. Rubber stamp signatures resemble robotic signatures with their uniform imprint. Rubber stamp signatures are often smudged and show bleeding at the margins of the signature, especially if the rubber stamp has been applied to glossy paper.

Laser imprinted signatures represent advanced technology and are used on many mass produced items, including those that are three-dimensional. Items that are laser imprinted include baseball gloves and bats, footballs, and baseballs. Signatures imprinted by laser devices usually have a uniform appearance that resembles preprinted facsimile signatures or those produced by robotic pens.

Politicians and entertainment celebrities often use devices that produce mechanical autographs to satisfy requirements for mass communication and to meet the demand from autograph seekers. Such items are valuable mementos in their own right and should be appreciated for what they are.