The world of autograph collecting is like most hobbies which involve collecting memorabilia or collectibles in that it becomes addictive, sometime to the point of obsession. Like many of these hobbies it is fraught with dangers and pitfalls. For the novice it can be very scary and for those who aren’t scared then it can be very expensive. Unless you get all your autographs in person, which is virtually impossible then at some stage you are likely to purchase a fake or forged photo or other item; perhaps one that is a preprint or a secretarial or is in much worse condition than you expected. However, for the true collector this is merely part of the journey and lessons learned are future problems avoided.
There are collectors for just about every item under the sun on this planet. From Star Wars to Dr Who autographs to the most unimaginable items. I recall seeing a man on the ABC Collectors Show in Australia collecting his own navel fluff and filling a jar with the stuff!!!
Fortunately, Mark Honeyball is a collector of distinction, who likes his Martinis shaken not stirred!!! And as one of the world’s foremost collectors of James Bond autographs and memorabilia he has brought his brilliant collection alive for the world to enjoy on his wonderful blog site:
Mark’s site is fast becoming one of the Bond bibles for collectors of authentic James Bond autographs. Using Mark’s high quality scans collectors can view literally thousands of signatures from Bond actors and production staff to check the veracity of their own collection, or just to see what might be available to them of the different Bond characters. Mark’s archives are worth sifting through if you wish to build a database of authenticity or just to enjoy the wonders of this amazing collection, which Mark has been building over the last two decades.
Mark’s professional work while being employed by BMW, as well as the hobby itself has brought him into direct contact with hundreds of Bond stars, both past and present and has also led him to representing quite a few Bond actors at various signing shows and functions. Mark has enjoyed time on set during the filming of The World is Not Enough in Leicester Square, visited Pinewood Studios several times and has been to dozens of collector shows in the UK and Europe.
I consider myself to be a very minor dealer in the world of 007 autographs and I have always found Mark to be super helpful when I’ve had questions about the 007 franchise in relation to autograph collecting and he has helped me avoid some of the pitfalls which can catch out collectors and dealers alike. So, I thought it would be fun to approach Mark and ask him some questions about his collection and to find out what he thought about the autograph industry in general along with his own adventures as a collector. Hopefully this interview will also help Bond collectors everywhere improve their own collections and help them avoid the various problems which so often plague autograph collectors.
David: Like most males of the species, your love of James Bond started as a kid. Can you recall your earliest Bond memory and also when, and what, was your very first Bond autograph?
Mark: I have loved the Bond movies ever since I can remember. I was a kid in the dark times before we had DVD and video – and the only chance to see a Bond movie was at the cinema, or on TV at Christmas – so they were real treats! And back then, there were only four channels to choose from!
The first Bond movie I saw at the cinema was Octopussy in 1983, when I was 12. I remember going with my mother and brother. My mother wasn’t a big fan of “boring spy movies”, but she came out raving about “how much action there was” and how “it never slowed down”….she became a convert that day!
I had obviously seen many Bond movies on TV prior to then. The first I remember seeing was “You Only Live Twice” on TV one Christmas. I had some grey jersey pajamas that I thought looked just like the jumpsuit Connery wore in the crater scenes. My father was in the RAF – so he lent me his balaclava so I could run around pretending to be Bond!
My very first Bond autograph was actually Pierce Brosnan. I was running some of the marketing for BMW and Land Rover, and we supplied some cars for Goldeneye. Part of my job was to look at the marketing of the cars and the film, so I was fortunate enough to go on set. I met Pierce briefly and he signed a press photo for me. It was quite bizarre, as I obviously hadn’t seen Pierce as Bond at the time – as Timothy Dalton was the last Bond seen on film at that point. I then discovered e-Bay and I remember buying a Richard Kiel signed 8x10 from Autografica…through that I discovered the wonderful world of signing shows, as the listing said “signed at Autographica” – since then, I have specialized in taking Bond guests to the shows around the UK and Europe – all as a hobby!
David: Of course there have been dozens of wonderful actors involved in the various Bond films, spoofs and radio/TV guises going right back to Barry Nelson in the 50s. Thinking back, can you name your favourite three Bond ladies, Bond villains, Bond films and, of course, your all time favourite 007?
Mark: Difficult question – as each is probably a favourite for very different reasons!
My three favourite Bond Ladies would have to be Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), Teresa (Tracy) Bond (Diana Rigg) and Barbara Bach in the leading lady roles (there are so many wonderful ones to choose from!) Pussy Galore was such a strong character – Honor was so beautiful, but at the same time quite devilish – you were never quite sure whether she was on Auric Goldfinger’s side, or Bond’s side – it made her quite scary. I also loved some of her flirting, and the lines she had – and – of course – the name itself is true Bond!
Teresa Bond (or Tracey di Vicenzo) was such a different type of Bondgirl for me. She was a lost soul who was totally changed by Bond. She was also the first Bond girl he fell in love with (although some would argue that this is now Vesper Lynd), and of course married. She was naturally beautiful, and had an air of unapproachability about her, which Bond broke down. And I was stunned into silence and mourning for days when I first saw the scene when she dies. She was a tragic, but wonderful bondgirl.
The other Bond girl I would choose would be Barbara Bach – she was the spirit of a bond girl – sexy – extremely beautiful (in my mind the most beautiful), dangerous and more than anything it was the Russian accent – fraternising with the enemy.
Some of the best Bond girls are good friends – so I must include them too – Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon, Madeline Smith, Martine Beswicke, Maryam D’abo, Caron Gardner, Sylvana Henriques, Britt Ekland, Rachel Grant – sigh – I am so lucky!
My three best Bond villans would have to be Blofeld (the quintessential Bond Villan), Jaws and Dr No. Blofeld is just the essence of the Bond baddie – an egomanic who wants to take over the world. I loved the idea of the secret organization of master criminals (SPECTRE). Although several actors played Blofeld, there is only one that stands out as the archetypal Blofeld for me – and that was Donald Pleasance – he was so menacing.
Jaws has to be included here too – he was the villan you loved – and you knew that there was a good side to him too…..he was almost as much of a hero as Bond himself. He also added humour to the Bond villan roile – something that hadn’t really been seen before (although that may be more to do with him being introduced in the Moore era)
It is difficult to chose the last of the three – there are so many – from Drax to Kanaga, and Zorin to Scaramanga, but I think the third has to be Dr No. It was the madness, and “take over the world/create my own world” thinking that made him so scary – although I still can’t believe that anyone would be scared off by a fire breathing tractor!
The best films for me are Casino Royale, The Spy Who Loved Me and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, although I also love You Only Live Twice, Goldfinger and The World is not Enough. Casino Royale took Bond back to his roots – it was such a good action movie – let alone being a Bond movie…can’t wait to see how Craig develops into Bond in QoS! The Spy Who Loved me had everything – the most beautiful Bond Girl (Barbara Bach), Jaws, Underwater liars, submarine cars, the skiing opening sequence – need I go on? OHMSS is actually my favourite of all the Bond movies. This might sound odd – but it was a great love story as awell as a Bond action movie. You got to know so much more about Bond – the character in this movie, and I actually think Lazenby was a bloody good Bond!
Regarding my favourite Bond – I hate answering this – it’s like choosing your favourite child. Connery is the essential Bond and I would have to say is perhaps my all time favourite. I was very anti-Craig when it was announced and the first press photos worried me (when he had the longish hair on the boat in the Thames), but I have been so impressed with Daniel Craig – he is perhaps my second favourite. I loved Brosnan too. Lazenby was much better than most make out – he was closest to Flemings idea of Bond…and I think he was superb in the role. Moore was my Bond when I was growing up, but these days I find his Bond a little too comical. I did find Dalton a little dark for Bond – although I am not sure if this was the scripting or direction rather than the man himself. I would also love to see Clive Owen as Bond one day perhaps.
David: Over the years you have met or worked with many 007 actors especially since you became involved in working at various conventions as an agent for a number of these stars and I wondered what you found to be the most interesting moments doing these shows and which one is your all-time favourite.
Mark: I’ll be shot if I mention my favourite – I love them all! Haha. Some have become close friends who I socialise with aswell.
The most interesting moments are usually in the evenings when we all go to dinner and have drinks in the bar. It can be quite weird going out for a meal, and people in the restaurant looking over seeing Jaws, Le Chiffre, Naomi, three Octpussy Girls and half the Cast of Eastenders – all at one table. It’s also quite interesting during the day to see the people coming up to the guests – I liken it to the cantina scenes in Star Wars – such a variety of people – some dressed up as Jedis, as stormtroopers, monsters – even 1 year old babies dressed up. Some people bring the most wonderful things to get signed to.
Perhaps my favourite moment was clubbing with some of the Octopussy Girls – Carole Ashby, Alison Worth (it was Alison’s birthday), Helene Hunt and Cherry Gillespie. We were in a restaurant/bar. The dancefloor was full of 18 year girls strutting their stuff, and thinking they were beautiful (and to be fair – some were)….then the Octopussy girls hit the dancefloor – bear in mind that they are all now in their forties and even fifties (I hope they don’t mind me saying that!). Well – they showed why they were Bondgirls – they stood inches above the 18 year olds in their high heels and sexy dresses. They all are absolutely stunning – long hair and sexy dresses. Carole is a bit of a party girl and started the sexy pouting and running hands down the body etc. Every guy in the place was staring at these four women – and not the young 18 year olds – quite a change – and that’s why they are Bond girls!
David: As a maniacal Bond autograph collector with more than 6,000 related Bond autographs, could you also tell us any of the horror stories you have encountered regarding fakes and forgeries or other disasters? And perhaps we could show our readers an example or two of these forgeries that have been ousted from your collection?
Mark: I have had a few disasters – usually when I was first starting to collect. Particularly with the rarer and major stars – most items are fakes (especially those on e-bay). I did a study of the Bond’s for the Autograph Council, which I presented to e-bay’s lawyers in the UK. We studied Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan particularly. We showed that over 90% of the signed photos on e-bay for each of these artists were fakes (even most of the pre-printed autographs were copies of fakes!). E-bay are still unwilling to do anything about this as they say it is “buyer beware”. I would say – if anyone has any doubts, contact someone who knows what they are doing – or check against my Blog site, Bondcollectibles.de or Bondstars.com.
I was so pleased when I got my first Roger Moore – a great B/W 8x10. It was not long after I started collecting on e-bay. A couple of months later, I started to get to know Roger’s signature more intimately, after I got one back through the mail. Clearly, my first attempt was wrong – I burnt the photo in anger as the seller had disappeared!
You do also have to be very careful – even sending through the post directly to an artist. Mary Stavin’s agent signs her photos in the UK when through the post. It’s only by meeting the actors in person that you can be sure to get a 100% authentic autograph.
There have also been some very funny fakes on e-bay – I’ve seen countless “authentic Sean Connery’s” signed as Shaun Connery, I’ve seen a 1990’s corgi Goldfinger finger car which was signed by “oddjob” in a shopping centre in Hemel, Hempstead in 2005 ( I even e-mailed this guy who sent me back a photo of him with “Oddjob” – a lookalike), to multi-signed posters with every Bond, Oddjob, Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya etc – all on one poster! Which is hard to do after you’re dead!!!
David: Could you tell us a little about three or four of your all time favourite photos and how you came to get them?
Mark: I have so many photos that I love in the collection – and for different reasons. There are a couple that I do absolutely love…..
Yvonne Shima – who played Sister Lilly in Dr.No. I have never seen another of her autographs. I picked this one up by pure chance on e-bay from a very reputable autograph dealer for around £12. It wasn’t advertised as a Bond autograph – they didn’t even know the name – it was marked as “vintage Chinese actress”….. I was just lucky. It is a stunning 7x5 vintage photo signed in fountain pen. The picture is also stunning. I would also think this is one of my best investment pieces.
OHMSS multi-sign – I have been taking this 10x8 backstage shot all over the world getting new OHMSS signatures on it….so aswell as being one of my favourite Bond movies, it has some very rare autographs – at the moment it is signed by George Lazenby, Peter Hunt, Terry Mountain, John Glen, Alec Mills, Catherine Schell, Harry Myers, George Leech, Nikki Van de Zyll, Martin Grace, Jeannie Simms, Sylvana Henriques, Angela Scoular, Jenny Hanley and Mike Reed.
My Pedro Armendariz is also a prized possession – it again was advertised on e-bay – but e-bay in Uraguay, being sold as a signed Mexican actor postcard. It was advertised at $25 – I asked if they would accept a Buy-It-Now – they agreed at $50…another great investment piece!
The last of the four would be my Harold Sakata – signed a couple of months before he died. I have two Harold Sakata 10x8’s – this was perhaps the one I spent the most money on acquiring – around £800 ($1600) if I remember correctly. But worth every penny and more!
David: Which Bond star did you never get the chance to meet, whom you wish you’d had the chance to meet? And who is on your must meet/collect list these days?
Mark: I would have loved to have met the late Desmond Llewellyn. From what I’ve heard, he was such a nice guy, down to earth, and really friendly. I could have talked to someone like that for hours. Donald Pleasance, Lotte Lenya and Cubby Broccoli as well.
I also used to kick myself for not getting things signed when I could have done. I met Michael Billington a few times – I met him last at Pinewood Studios where he was signing at the Bondstars George Lazenby event. I forgot to take a rare BW shot of him in bed with Barbara Bach that I was desperate for him to sign. He died a couple of weeks later. The same happened with Bruce Boa (who had a small part in Octopussy). I met him at one of the shows where he was signing Star Wars photos. I didn’t have any Bond shots – I said I would catch him at he next show – he died a few months later and I never got that Bond shot signed by him – the moral is get them signed when you know they are there!
There are still a lot on my must have list – most are the support actors. I would love to find an Anthony Dawson, John Kitzmiller, Bob Simmons, Lenny Rabbin, Anthony Chinn, Teru Shimada, Richard Graydon, Yuri Borionko, Irvin Allen, Earl Jolly Brown, Marne Maitland, Olga Bisera, Marilyn Galswrothy, Irka Bochenko, or Michaela Clavell. (There’s a list of another 200 or so!)
David: In your extensive collection, which particular signed photo was the toughest for you to get and why?
Mark: Quite a few have been hard to get. One does stick in my mind – that was Lesley Crawford who played Felson in OHMSS. A good friend of mine knew his son, but he only found out that his friends father had been in a Bond movie when he was speaking to him about how his father was seriously ill. His son agreed to take some photos to get signed by Lesley. Lesley only managed to sign a few photos as he was so weak. I also struggled to get decent photos – so I had to do some dvd grabs – which didn’t come out as well as I hoped. Lesley died a couple of days later. I now only know of four people with his autograph.
David: If you could be Q for a day, what ingenious contraption would you make for 007’s next adventure?
Mark: Well – I’m not 100% sure of the detailed storyline of Quantum of Solace yet, but my guess is that Bond (as most men) needs a contraption to allow him to tell if a woman is on his side – or just after something. I think he’s going to have trouble deciding whether Gemma or Olga is on his side. Kind of a lie-detector. It would have to be in the form of a broach, ring or pendant
Most men probably need a watered down version – so that we don’t need to second guess what answer we are supposed to give when she asks “does my bum look big in this” without the inevitable backlash whatever you answer.
Interview (c) David Priol 2008
Photos (c) to their various owners and used here for educational purposes (signature) only