Authenticating Terry Pratchett
December 7, 2012 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I think I bought Terry Pratchett's autograph at the Goodwill. That's really cool, only I have no idea what to do about it.

I grabbed a copy of Good Omens on a whim from my local Goodwill. When I got home and opened it up, I saw this (apologies for crappy image). I've googled images of his autograph and it looks good to my untrained eye. I thought at first it might be printed, but that ink and only that ink has bled through to the opposite side of the page.

I'm not at all interested in its monetary value. For various reasons this feels like a gift and I'd like to take good care of it. I'd like to authenticate and possibly display it but I'm not sure how best to do that. So my question is twofold:

1. Can you recommend an authentication service? I'm VERY leery of shipping this thing off somewhere, so someone in northern Colorado or even southern Wyoming would be preferable.

2. How best to go about displaying this autograph? It's on the title page inside a paperback, which isn't in great condition as it is.
posted by Perthuz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1) It's probably real; Pratchett is not so famous as to warrant forgeries, and if it were a cunning forgery, it would not have been dumped at the Goodwill. Compare web images. I don't think you need to get it authenticated. It's probably from a book signing at some Barnes and Noble somewhere.

2) if you want to display it, cut it out of the book and put it in a frame with UV glass so the paper doesn't change color. I'm not an appraiser, but I don't think this specimen has a lot of value, particularly if the book it's in is beaten up.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:17 AM on December 7, 2012

You can buy a new, signed hardbound copy for 20 quid. Paperbacks are 10.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:18 AM on December 7, 2012

I got a set of Ogden Nash books at a book sale, and one is autographed. I've decided I don't care if it's authentic--I like to think it is, and I know enough to know it's not particularly valuable, just a cool thing to have and a cool story to tell.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:20 AM on December 7, 2012

Pratchett's autograph may or may not increase in value as the years go by - I doubt it will ever be a rare one, since presumably he's done many booksignings. But no matter what the value of his signature ever becomes, cutting it out of the book it's signed in would reduce the value, as you would have removed it from its original context. On the other hand, maybe this doesn't matter to you as, like people have said, it's not likely to be a rare autograph.

Paperback books are made from very acidic paper. The best thing you could do to preserve it would be to keep the whole book away from light and water, in an acid-free box. You could even get acid-free tissue paper and interleave the pages where the signature is (or, heck, the whole book if you liked). As the paper ages, it will turn yellow and brittle, but you could keep it in good condition for longer simply keeping it out of the light.
posted by PussKillian at 6:37 AM on December 7, 2012

He's a very popular author who has done lots of signings. It's great that you don't want to sell it because it's probably not worth any money, just sentiment.

If you want to get really intense, you can figure out by way of edition and printing date what kind of paper was used, which can lead you to information on how best to care for it. But paperbacks, particularly ones from the 70s through 90s, are made of the sort of acidic paper that yellows and crumbles much much faster than a higher quality, more modern, or much older, book. You would perhaps best be served by keeping it in a dark box in a cool corner. However, preserving a paperback like that is kind of a losing game, and honestly the enjoyment of reading Good Omens from a clearly much-loved copy might very well outweigh the hassle of not keeping it on your shelf. You can quite easily buy Pratchett's autograph for display on something that won't crumble in sunlight in 15 years, and consider the book your inspiration to do so.
posted by Mizu at 6:47 AM on December 7, 2012

I found a Smiths single in a Manchester book/comic/magazine/general junk shop in a bin of 50p singles, appearing to be autographed by all four members. It was in pretty bad nick, but it didn't make sense for it to wind up in a bargain bin. I took the same view as Mizu - they're all still alive, and there are probably a lot of signed items floating around, so it wasn't like finding a record with (potentially) all four Beatles' signatures.

Some bookstores in the UK host signings and ask the author to sign an extra few, which are up on the shelves alongside the others until they get sold - it's entirely possible someone may have bought one of these purely to read the new novel and then ditched it when they had space as they weren't as big a fan.
posted by mippy at 7:15 AM on December 7, 2012

That's definitely a TP signature, or a very good reproduction (which, as has been said above, would be kind of pointless). They're not all that rare - he's done lots of tours, and before his health started to deteriorate he customarily had no limit on how many books he'd sign per person. I've got stacks of signed Discworld books because I'd take a backpack-full to a speaking event and come away with the whole lot autographed.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:18 AM on December 7, 2012

Pratchett signs so many copies of his work that the word 'Pratchetting' is sometimes used in sf fandom for the rampant signing of books.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Terry always maintans that he's signed so many books that the ones without a signature are more valuable.
posted by hardcode at 7:37 AM on December 7, 2012 [15 favorites]

Terry has always been good about signing books, so it won't be at all rare, or have any significant additional value. But it'll be nice to keep.

I have the first two or three signed, from around 1988, if I remember rightly. In one of them, he draw a box labelled 'the acme rubber stamp company', with his signature in the middle. In another, he draw some claws and talons for the publisher's Corgi symbol at the bottom of the title page, and labelled it a were-corgi.
posted by daveje at 7:48 AM on December 7, 2012

Thanks everyone! Good Omens is a damned good read, and I picked up this copy despite having at least two others laying around because I just can't stand seeing it on a thrift store shelf. The original intent was to use it as a stocking stuffer.

Regarding 'value' - I was lamenting the other day that I'd likely never get to attend one of Pratchett's book signings. I came to his work late and he's become something of a hero to me. To have this fall into my lap by pure chance gives it much greater value to me than I'd ever get back out of it.

I'm not convinced yet that I want to cut that page out, but it seems the best way to display it. Perhaps I'll do as Mizu suggests, and take this as inspiration to obtain something that will last a bit longer.
posted by Perthuz at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a shadow box frame? That way you can have the book open to the title page, but keep it intact.
posted by Vaike at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2012

seconding shadowbox -- make sure you get UV protected glass though or it'll yellow up in no time.
posted by custard heart at 10:08 AM on December 7, 2012


A) Buy a new signed copy of something on less acidically awful paper (my vote would be for Where's My Cow, of course).

B) Preserve the one you've got for a little while by interleaving acid free paper around the signature page, until you can

C) Buy or Build a ridiculously overkill shadow box to protect & display your ridiculously well-loved copy.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 6:21 PM on December 7, 2012

IKEA Ribba frames (I think? The deep square ones anyway) work as shadow boxes - if the book fits, it might be a cheap way to display it.
posted by mippy at 5:05 AM on December 8, 2012

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