Wednesday 18 July 2012

Tale of a Forger

Is there any reason for a bookseller to be delighted by the discovery of a fake Edgar Allan Poe autograph? Yes, when the culprit is a celebrated master forger.
"Part of [Joseph] Cosey's genius was that when he offered his work he never claimed it to be authentic; he left it up to the buyer to decide. If the work was subsequently judged to be faked he was in the clear; it was the dealers who erred in their evaluation. I imagine that he offered this early exercise as a test to see if it would fly. It, apparently, did. At the time the unknown duped buyer (perhaps Walters, or the bookseller or collector who commissioned the binding) purchased it autograph and manuscript forensics were in adolescence, few dealers had deep experience with Poe autograph material (there was not much genuine material recorded at the time - nor now), and the quest for Poe material likely blinded those involved to err on the side of hope."

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