Over the years I’ve been asked numerous times to verify signed Mary Millington items. I’m fortunate to be the custodian of several incredibly rare pieces of memorabilia – including signed photographs, private letters, magazines, books and even the notes Mary wrote on the night she died. They are all genuine articles, but if you want to be a collector of Mary ephemera it’s important to know that not all signatures purporting to be ‘real’ are actually genuine. There was, in fact, actually more than one ‘Mary Millington’ wielding a biro.
During the height of ‘Mary mania’ in the mid to late-1970s Britain’s #1 model just didn’t have the time or resources to respond to the sack-loads of fan letters which arrived each week at the headquarters of David Sullivan’s Roldvale Publishing empire. Many admirers requested signed photos or magazines, or even personal correspondence. David has told me that he regularly got his then-secretary Doreen Millington (no relation), or other staff in his office, to “sign on Mary’s behalf”. The punters were happy, since they thought they were receiving a genuine signature from their idol, and for Roldvale it made perfect business sense to keep up the pretence.
Obviously, after Mary started working in the Whitehouse Shop in Norbury (between 1975 and 1978), and then at the International Sex Centre in Tooting (from 1978 to 1979), she was happy to sign magazines face-to-face to customers who came into see her; but she never did it free-of-charge. Of course, Mary wasn’t serving in her shop every day – or even every week – and her staff often signed items in her absence. I know this to be true as they’ve confirmed it to me.
Here’s a genuine Mary Millington signature (left) compared to an example of Doreen Millington’s handiwork (right):
The huge difference between the two handwriting styles is apparent to any budding-graphologist. They are unquestionably not the work of the same person. So if you ever spot a ‘rare Mary Millington autograph’ on an auction site for a hugely inflated price, check first, because, just like a devoted fan in 1975, you might only be buying a slice of fantasy, rather than reality.
All words strictly © Simon Sheridan 2016