In this business, from time to time you get to experience the ultimate oxymoron; ecstasy and agony almost simultaneously. And so it was when I received this sketch back from film icon Clint Eastwood.
One of the great pleasures in autograph collecting is seeing an envelope come through the mail box with your own handwriting on it, which means someone has returned something. I carefully ripped open the letter. First the ecstasy. Yes! Then the agony… it was probably a secretarial (that means one of his staff signed it). As the numerous ‘experts’ and killjoys on the numerous Clint Eastwood forums (yes, they exist) will gleefully tell you, Clint hasn’t signed TTM (Through The Mail) since 1985.
While ideally I like to get my sigs signed in person, it’s not always possible. I have been in the presence of Mr Eastwood on a few occasions, but never managed it. I decided to send this drawing to an address while he was on location with a recent film.
He is a very good signer in person, but chooses his moments. A few years ago, while filming in London, he returned to his hotel after an evening meal to be greeted by about sixty people wanting his autograph… or ten autographs each!
Some, in fact the majority, were dealers. Clint was happy to sign one for everyone as it all started in an orderly fashion, but that quickly turned into a scrum as the aforementioned bottom feeders wanted more than a single sig each.
This is a regular ploy of this species of signature hunter, as during the resulting mayhem they can gather a harvest of ‘graphs because the celebrity is blindly signing everything that’s put in front of them. Consequently his minders called the whole thing off and ushered him into the hotel.
I have seen Clint sign in person. Obviously at 84 his autograph has been subject to a number of variations with the letter formation becoming more slanted and erratic. Authenticators say that Clint tends to reach up with the final ‘d’ while his secretarial tends to form it like a lower case ‘g’.
In frantic situations, which is normal for Clint, his rushed graph tends to be more bunched up with the customary loop of ‘o’s and the ‘d’ – in fact the ‘d’ resembles an ‘of’ but he does continue the down stroke very below the rest of the ‘graph.
Apart from all the movie stills sent to Clint for signing, the occasional drawing pops up. One person proudly posted a signed sketch to one of these forums. He had been trying to get it signed for some time, only to have the ‘experts’ quickly tell him it was a secretarial.
However, a respondent whose expertise was not recognised, but seemed to speak from experience did say that from time to time the great man will be shown a piece of art that someone has taken the time to draw and will sign it.
I did see some examples of Clint’s handwriting and his lower case ‘r’ formation is the same in my dedication… so you never know. He is after all, Clint Eastwood, so he can do what he likes.
Clint is not the only one to use secretarial, it’s part of the business and that’s life. At worst, someone who is authorised by Clint in his office obviously liked the sketch enough to sign it and in reality it still ‘made my day’.