Rate Tim Lincecum’s Autograph: A Progressive Analysis – Part I
Mario’s recent entry on Timmy’s signature today gave me an idea. He asked me if I had seen an instance where he signed out a longer autograph. I thought about this for a moment and concluded no, but it did make me wonder the progression of a player’s autograph. A player’s signature evolves over the course of his career. Many times, this is for the worse because of either laziness or the inability to replicate. This is the case for many old timers such as Hank Aaron, whose autograph has deteriorated over the years due to old age.
I set out to analyze Tim Lincecum’s autograph over the past couple years to take a brief look at the evolution of his John Hancock. I am going to split this entry into two parts just to make things interesting. As a whole, I want to know if a detectable change in signature is attributable to progression over the years or just plain laziness. In this first part, I will look at his signature from several products over the 2006, ’07, and ’08 season. they are chosen at random and chosen due to signifcant differences in appearance.
In analyzing these signatures, I am by no means implying that I know what I am doing. In fact, it is amateur at best. But I’m guessing it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick apart obvious differences. I think deciphering penmanship, as is the job for authenticators, is a lot like telling if someone is lying. If you’re good or even decent, you can definitely tell if somone is lying, but if someone is truely a good liar, just like if someone is really good at forging a signature, then it can pass. So here we go with this first exhibit:
Right off the bat, you can tell that his signature from 2006 products are significantly different from his signature since ’06. Here we have a prime example from 2006 Just Minors – Justifiable. This is the only year where I have seen him dot his i’s in his first and last names. It also looks like he abbreviated his signature as “Tim Lin.” The “T” is more like the number 2 type stroke or if you’re writing a backwards “S” and notice the sharp angle of the “L.” Moving on to 2007, the signature has eliminated the dotting of the i’s and you also see less detail in the letters other than the “T” and “L.” The formation of the “T” also seems like it’s one quick stroke rather than two. The loop seen with the formation of the “L” is also broader and larger, but still retains some angles. Moving on to the 2007 Exquisite signature, there is even less detail in the signature. You see a couple bumps to signify the other letters, but nothing else. It seems like a transition signature between the 2007 and the current 2008 signature. In 2007 Bowman Chrome, notice the disappearance of the other letters. You can barely tell with a few nubs here and there. In addition, the shape of his “L” loop is almost completely ovular. Finally in 2008 as exemplified by Baseball Heroes, you see complete and utter disappearance of any letter other than the “T” and “L.” The “T” is formed by a half circle and the “L” with an ovular loop.
It’s really interesting to see the progression of a player’s autograph because in most cases, once a person changes their signature, they rarely convert back. It either gets only better or worse. Does this mean his earlier signatures are worth more? I’m not sure, but it definitely shows that they are different. I don’t think it’s a lack of motivation to sign well in this case, but rather an evolution in chirography. What about the question of whether a player’s signature quality drops off or not during the course of signing hundreds of cards? I will answer that question in Part II coming up over the weekend.