Say it ain’t so Dolly…
Many of you may remember the ploy that Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne tried to pull in 2020 to get Ozzy’s “Ordinary Man” album to #1. They pre-sold a limited number of “hand signed” CD’s by Ozzy via his website for $14.00 each. Once the CD’s shipped, fans discovered the albums were not “hand signed” and that three autopen signatures were used so fans would think they were legit.
Sadly, one of America’s national treasures, Dolly Parton has followed in Osbourne’s footsteps and this time around the fraud is way more costly for fans. Parton’s “Signed Limited Edition” version of “Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” sold by Chronicle Books in October 2021, cost a whopping $325.
Die hard Dolly fans happily paid for their hand signed “Holy Grail Item” and felt lucky to own one of the 150 books that had been “signed” by Dolly. Since the “Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” book arrived shrink wrapped most fans kept it sealed and didn’t bother to open the book. The handful that did open the book discovered that the book wasn’t signed but instead there was a “signed” album sleeve in the book.
This was the first wave of disappointment, the second wave would be even more costly. Parton is currently promoting her new book with James Patterson titled “Run, Rose, Run” again offering a limited number of books that were supposed to be signed. She posted this on social media “teasing” the possibility of getting a signed copy.
Fans who purchased the signed edition of “Run, Rose, Run” began receiving their orders this week with many posting photos on social media of their “autographed” Dolly books. Fans and collectors that had opened their “Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” book quickly realized that the autographs were identical to those seen in “Run, Rose, Run”. This caused more fans to open their sealed “Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” to compare the graphs only to be crushed both emotionally and financially. After some quick research and comparison, it has been determined that Dolly and her team used three autopens and rotated gold, silver, and black sharpies to try and fool her fanbase.
The autographs in both books in addition to being identical contain what’s known in autograph collecting circles as “the autopen dot”. This “dot” happens when the pen first hits the paper and remains for a split second before beginning the signature. The initial pressure and the extra split-second cause a “dot” at both the beginning and ending of an auto-penned signature.
Unfortunately, this fraudulent marketing tactic is becoming more commonplace as writers, authors and publishers are desperate to meet projected sales the “opening week” their album or book is released. The strength of the artist’s fanbase community combined with the knowledge of the collectibles community more often than not exposes the fraud. Late last year magician David Copperfield was exposed by fans as selling auto-penned versions of his book. Steve Grad, the lead authenticator at one of the top autograph authentication companies and a regular on Pawn Stars quickly spoke out against the distributor. They ended up refunding everyone.
The irony is that David Copperfield had submitted autographs from his personal collection to Steve Grad in the past to make sure they were real. He understood the desire as a collector to make sure what you have was authentic but then used autopen deceiving his own fans.
In the end these tactics are almost always discovered and the reputation of the publisher, the book seller and the artist are tarnished. Sadly, most of those people willing to pay $325 for her book were her most die hard fans.
Shame on Dolly & her management!!!
Story contribution from collector Brian Nielsen @briansvault