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Autopen signed lithos were often sent out from NASA during the 60's and 70's when space travel was at its peak. Even today, NASA still use the Autopen machine to sign lithos of the various crews to satisfy the demand from the collector of space signed images.
On a weekly basis we are asked to value collections of signed images which were collected through the post during this period, and always with the note that "i obtained these direct from NASA, and i can see that they all are signed with a pen, so they must be genuine and worth a geat deal by now!" Well yes, they may have come from NASA, and yes, they are signed with a pen, but not by a human but by a machine!
The Autopen machine is designed to recreate a signature using a matrix created from an original signature. So by putting a photo, book or page into the machine, the pen will then recreate the signature from the matrix. The machine can only do one signature at a time, and can only recreate a signature from a matrix, it cannot simply recreate any signature that you want, as is often thought.
These Autopen signatures can be very good, indeed good enough to fool most collectors, especially if they have not made a study of them, or understand how the machine works. Collectors often use these Autopen signed items to replace missing signed images within their collection, or simply as a seperate collection, as they are often considered an important part of space history.
We have written an article about Autopen and machine drawn signatures, and you can find it here. It should be noted that it is not only NASA that used an Autopen machine, but music film and sports stars too, as well as most American heads of state, UK royalty, Prime Ministers etc. We advise that any collector should have a few Autopen signed items in their collection, so as to be able to study and understand what to look for, or you will end up with some in your collection without realising it!
The items listed here are Autopen signed items, and are not authentic hand signed signatures, but reproduction signatures as produced by the Autopen machine.