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Buying "unidentified" or "mystery" autographs

JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭

Has anyone ever bought an unidentified autograph either before or after figuring out who it is?

Here is a recent pickup. I paid $10 for it as an unidentified autograph, but I had already figured out who it is.

The clues were in the letter - a writer, and mentions "Magnolia Street". I Googled the words "author magnolia street" and the answer popped right up: Louis Golding.

He is not a household name by any means, but he was a famous English author in the 1920s thru 1940s or so. A letter from him might retail for $20 to $40.

The funny thing is, I had pretty much figured out the signature without the internet search - I guess I spend too much time looking at old handwriting.

My only fear with so-called unidentified autographs is that the seller can avoid forgery accusations if they don't claim to know whose autograph it is.

In any case, if you are careful and diligent there are some hidden opportunities out there. I have done this sort of thing a few times.

Comments

  • doubledragondoubledragon Posts: 22,913 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very cool letter, thanks for sharing!

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 1, 2020 2:58PM

    The endorsement signature on the back of this check was not a mystery to me but the seller did not know who it was.

    The seller also missed the payor's name (although it is not in his handwriting): Eliphalet Remington, the founder of the Remington Arms Company.

    In any case, the check (certificate of deposit. actually) was made out to F. E. Spinner. Francis Spinner would later serve as Treasurer of the United States during the Civil War and then for another ten years.

    Spinner's signature is very elaborate and distinctive as it is easily recognizable to anyone who has seen it.

    In this case I had to buy the lot of five similar checks (four did not have this important signature) to get this one, and if I can sell the others for a decent price then this will have been a reasonably good buy.

  • PipestonePetePipestonePete Posts: 1,923 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow...nice job of spotting that. I collect currency and have several specimens of Fractional Currency which feature Spinner's signature....not handsigned, of course (although notes with his "vanity signature" do exist), one of which I have attached here.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's a nice fractional.

    That's where I first saw his signature - on notes of that era.

    Spinner actually signed a lot of stuff before his time as Treasurer since he had various positions at a bank in NY in the 1850s. Checks with his signature are not necessarily rare, but tend to be overpriced on eBay. Even this "bargain" one I got will end up costing me close to a realistic auction price unless I can sell off the other checks that came with it for decent money.

    Still, I didn't want the Spinner endorsement to be unidentified and unappreciated so I decided to buy it.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭

    An interesting feature of your fractional note is that the "p" in the printed Spinner signature extends below the bottom of the note and the top of yours shows the bottom of the "p" of the note above it.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This Eleanor Roosevelt letter was not unidentified but rather listed in the incorrect category on eBay. It was listed under "First Ladies - Collectables".

    There are various categories on ebay for autographs and I feel it might have gone for more if it was properly categorized. I was the only bidder at $1 and there was a $1 shipping charge.


  • LarkinCollectorLarkinCollector Posts: 8,975 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JBK said:
    This Eleanor Roosevelt letter was not unidentified but rather listed in the incorrect category on eBay. It was listed under "First Ladies - Collectables".

    There are various categories on ebay for autographs and I feel it might have gone for more if it was properly categorized. I was the only bidder at $1 and there was a $1 shipping charge.

    That's pretty incredible! I'm not even a collector of First Lady or Presidential autos, and I'd gladly pay double that ;)

  • LarkinCollectorLarkinCollector Posts: 8,975 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, I just found the listing. Even being in the wrong category, if it had "auto" "autograph" "signed" etc. in the title and/or spelled her first name correctly, it would likely have received a lot more action. Tough lesson for a low volume seller since it looks like it should have went for anywhere from $40-100 based on comps?

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,738 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I figure it was an easy $30 to $40 on a bad day. More if the seller started it higher and was patient.

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