JFK LETTER ON SENATE STATIONARY (REPOSTED FROM ACCIDENTALLY PUTTING IN COINS FORUM)
I could use some opinions and some advice.
A little background about this letter. My father was seeking an appt. to the USMA at West Point in the mid 50's. He sent letters to his Senator and Congressman. JFK was notorious for using his picks for the academies and giving them to his biggest campaign donors for their kids Even though my father got in via his Congressman Sen. JFK continued to send my dad letters encouraging him to reapply next year and what openings he would have available. It's 2 pages and has historical significance as it discusses the opening of the Air Force Academy the coming year in 58. Dad had already been accepted and was graduating in 58. So he just ignored it.
Anyway I've had this for a long time, I've heard every possible thing to look for, and did my own forensic examination since PSA want $150.00 smackers because its JFK.. i suppose Im going to have to give in, if I want to sell it.But let me show it and tell you what I did to come to my conclusion.
First I just slid my pinky over it to feel if the ink was raised, and looked at the back to see if there was uneven pressure indentations, then used a 32x loupe and looked for swish marks and signs of ink bleeding. Which it had all of. Then I got examples of all the Secretaries forgeries, and got as many authentic example of JFK signatures as I could find. I would open a known authentic signiture in PS CC then embed a cropped copy of mine on top and lower transparency putting the signatures side by side. I even got one authenticated by PSA and it looks to be authentic to me.
i've had this and 2 others for over 20 years now, and feel I've grown to be fairly knowledgeable about his signature.
I have researched this ad infinitum. And I pretty sure its authentic as after finding a experts book once I learned a tell for secretaries copies. I also dont recall a secretary using the middle initial. And knowing how proud JFK was about his military service I think he would have attended these himself
Here are a few pics of this signature embedded in some I know are authentic. Even one from PSA
Im positive these arent robopens , there are swish marks, and ink bleeding spots along with uneven pressure marks on the back when tilted under light. Im pretty sure this is the same hand as the authentic ones I posted here.
Have you found an example that matches it 100%? That would be proof it’s printed or autopen.
I'm not sure I follow the reasoning here. "Ink bleeding spots" on the back are a big red flag (but not necessarily proof) pointing to an autopen. That happens when the autopen starts or stops.
Notice the end of the Y on your letter. It ends with a defined stopping point whereas all the other examples you show have a graceful tapering of the final stroke.
Also, what you have isn't really a letter, it's a general memorandum. JFK barely signed actual letters - I can't imagine him sitting down and signing a stack of memorandums.
The style of your signature seems to match the other examples you show, but you seem to have focused on comparing to authentic and secretarial examples. I would research known autopen examples for comparison. (The fact that you call them "robopens" suggests you haven't done that).
Just my opinion...
I did a little googling on JFK autopens and ran into your post on Autograph Live from 9 years ago. You got some replies but mainly from one member. He said that JFK used an autopen starting in 1959 but I found other sources that said 1958.
I also found images of various secretarials, some of which were pretty convincing.
JFK is a real minefield, for sure.
We'll see if @JMS1223 has any other ideas....
I saw that post on Autograph Live too and agree, JFK is definitely a minefield. Very difficult to authenticate. However the one you posted definitely screams autopen to me. I will see if I can find a perfect match to prove it.
Yep that was me, as for robopens Ive seen many examples and they always look like it was a robopen, but 2 other reasons its not, is this letter is from 1957 discussing appts for the year 58. Also robopens dont show swish marks bleeding on the front , or uneven pressure marks on the back. Also I have copies of all the secretaries examples and there was only 1 that was close secretary number 3. She nor any of the secretaries from what Ive seen used his middle initial. And number 3, who was close had a tell, 2 tells actually. I met a guy who had a copy of this experts book and he identified something she did, JFK didn't at the end of Kennedy.
Besides how can you look at the graded PSA and not think its authentic. lol it's actually like all the authentic ones. More so than any secretary's.
JFK is a minefield, there is however a caveat. Especially since JFK actually had several different signatures. Wildly different. You can see examples from just viewing the authenticated ones at most reputable authentication sites. When I was at a baseball expo in Santa Ana, PSA had a table there and I got to talking with one of them who said what they do is take signatures from the same time period because he went through periods with one signature then changed to another style, but it was usually after years not all at once. All the authentic ones I used for comparison are Senatorial and pre 1958, No robopens and fewer secretaries, and because of the aforementioned reason and the likeness I dont believe its a secretary.
My recommendation is you send it in and get it authenticated. I couldn’t find a matching autopen pattern even though I would bet it is autopen by the looks of it. I could be wrong and that is why it’s worth sending in especially because I couldn’t find an exact match to rule autopen out completely.
I'm checking out of this discussion after this post, since I think you have an opinion that you want affirmed but not challenged. So, nothing I have to offer will sway you. It would be a waste of my time and my decades of experience collecting if I gave it any more thought.
You have apparently dismissed out of hand the possibility that it is an autopen, so you presumably have not researched known autopen patterns.
Furthermore, your stated assumptions about autopens are incorrect.
An autopen can hold any kind of pen, so the presence of "bleeding" does not in any way prove that it is not an autopen. If fact, this effect is more common on autopens as the pen lands on the paper, pauses at turns, and finishes at the end of a name or initial.
I don't know what "swish marks" are but autopens can simulate some of the features of a real signature.
As for your suggestion that since it matches an authenticed signature then it must also be real, if it was an autopen then of course it would look like an authentic signature since it would have been based on one.
One ray of hope is that your memorandum might predate when JFK started using an autopen in his office, but even that date is in dispute if you search on the internet.
JFK's "signature" appears on so many letters, photos, books, etc. The reason his authentic autograph is so valuable is that so many of those "signatures" are not authentic.
I really hope that yours is real. But, you can't rationalize your way into a determination. The odds are so much not in your favor considering JFK's signing habits.
At this point, since you won't consider any answers that contradict your assumptions, I think you should just go ahead and pay for a formal authentication, especially since you are apparently just looking to sell it.
By all means, come back and post the results once you get the good news. Everyone here will he happy for you.
P.S. - The memorandum says that in JFK's "competition" there will be 400 people competing for slots. Do you really think JFK signed 400 of these generic memorandums?
I did have a couple questions Id like to ask.
Obviously especially these days I'd have to have it authenticated. Unfortunately they want $150.00 for a JFK. Which I dont have at the moment, when I do and all goes well, how much do you think this would be worth considering it's 2 page and of it's historic significance discussing first time appointments to the Air Force Academy opening the coming year? I am downsizing and have a lot of things I need to unload. Mostly all manner of paper goods, Militaria items I collected growing up on air force bases in the 1960's and stuff from West Point. But I also got my BS in Geology, and have collected mineral specimens and I have a collection of cut faceted gems Id like to sell , some nice Emeralds and aquamarines from Colombia.
Does PSA ever buy things themselves? And does this forum deal with other paper goods? I also have a signed 1920 document with seal from the cigar makers union addressed to and resigned by Samuel Gompers founder and president of the AFL-CIO. It to is about a historic union protest and walk out in Florida.
There is an ever so slight tear at the top.
Wow you surmised a great deal from 1 or 2 posts from me. and if thats honestly how you feel, and what you think Im doing then you should check out of the discussion. Personally I reserve judgments like that about people until I actually get to know them. And rationalizing involves illogical unsubstantiated notions not researched informed facts. Which by the way is the antithesis of opinion, my opinion didnt even factor.
Now you made some harsh and dare I say unjust assertions about me, my letter, and your conclusion about Autopens.
I didnt come here looking to insult anyone, and forgive me, but I dont think I did. Like I had said I have had this for a long time, and have tried very hard to prove its not authentic. I would be happy to share some of what Ive learned because honestly thats all I was doing in the discussion. Im not sure why you took offense, I was not derogatory in anyway I can see.
Maybe I can explain. As I said and maybe you missed this, because it isnt dismissing out of hand, it isn't an assumption, and it has been heavily researched.
"Every authority Ive read and heard of says JFK didnt use autopens until the year he ran for president in "59", this letter is from 57. This is from RAAB auction and collectors galleries.
John F. Kennedy started using auto-pens at the beginning of his presidential campaign in 1959 and continued until his death. Strangely, however, his patterns bear little resemblance to his typical, authentic signature as president, so separating the authentic from the auto-pen is not difficult.
As I tried to note initially I looked into all the possible ways this could be a fake, Auto-pens, secretarial examples. I read a great deal about them and obtained examples from all the secretaries.
All the tutorials and experts I read about autopens say the same thing I tried to elaborate to you. It seems you were of the idea I was just spouting my opinions. These are from another collectors gallery.
Warning sign #1 - same thickness and pressure,
Warning sign #2 - shaky signature
Warning sign #3 - it looks identical to other signatures
Well yes, it matching and authenticated signature is what one would use to indicate its real. Is that not part of what they all do to authenticate? And no I dont think autopens look lie authentic signatures, and neither do any other people writing tutorials on this stuff.
I have searched on the internet, I did again just now, I also searched under images for autopen JFK . In every case they were dated on or after 1959
The bleeding I was referring to, is in the actual letters in his signature, but yes I see the dot at the end of the Y , and yes I had read that could be indicative of a Autopen if there was one at the beginning and one at the end. Could be indicative of someone who just paused at the end of signing something too.
You are correct about it not being an actual mailed letter. The way my father tells it, when applying for an academy appointment. You go through a bunch of stages. Initially you show up at his office with all the personal recommendations you were required to get, all your civic accomplishments you were involved with Boys club, Boy scouts etc. When you arrive you pick up 1 of each letter like this one I have here. But its unsigned. They ladies in the office take your Photo and your paperwork and your application, run it into JFK's office if everything was done right and he finds your eligibility in order he signs, ((supposedly he signs)) it, and you then have to do all that stuff and appear before the committee. All your grades your whole life have to be sent to him, Your medical records, everything.
So when you ask do I think he signed 400 letters well no I doubt it was even close to that, since that 400 was expected to participate, many dont show to that initial application process, many are disqualified, for immigration issues, Inability to fulfill tasks. Dad said they were always checking you for that. But the letter was signed when the ladies came out, the question is who signed it? My money is on JFK. And of course I want it to be the outcome. But I dont rationalize, I dont assume, and I didnt dismiss out of hand, as I've explained. I not only dont think auto-pens are convincing but they are rigid shaky and obvious. As I pretty much see everyone saying. Heres one from a template you can find its exact match on all kinds of different letters. I never seen one exactly like mine.
Sorry you got offended it truly wasn't my goal . I was merely legitimately knocking over challenges to its authenticity which is my goal, if I cant prove its a fake then its gotta be real.
This is a pattern that gets used frequently, and it looks pretty obvious to me. So I hope you can see I wasn't being cavalier, or unkindly dismissive, all the info Ive seen and have says It just couldn't be a robopen,
Upon looking at a clearer picture of it, I believe it’s actually printed or stamped.
It reminds me a lot of the the Obama preprint letter JSA wrongly authenticated. Looks very authentic in person (I had an Obama letter just like it) but when I found an exact match I knew it was printed/stamped/copied onto the letter.
Exact match found:
I also own a Robert Kennedy letter with a similar printed signature that looks like it was signed in ink. But I also found an exact match to prove it’s not authentic.
I will continue looking to see if I find an exact match for your Kennedy.
Wow thats gotta suck to have it authenticated then find its not.
Would you believe they have found examples of the opposite being true also. Im sure its not advertised much at all, but I read an article once about a man who submitted a autograph he knew was authentic but needed the COA. They sent it back to him with a fail. He fought with them over it for a long time until eventually he found another way to prove its authenticity. I cant remember the name of the company or if he sued them, but it was a interesting story.
Some else asked about it being stamped once, I haven't had anyone suggest printed, maybe because in 57 that would have been less likely. When I heard that i got a loupe and ran my pinky over it ( I was told use your pinky its more sensitive and has much less oils and is usually less dirty)
All I can say is it felt raised as when there's ink, with the loupe, and I dont know if this photo is good enough to see it but there is a swish mark coming down from the middle of the K into the first upswing of the second letter. It is skinny and lighter than everything else, and would not be there in the case of either a Auto pen or stamp. On the back if you hold the paper horizontal and up to the light. you can see uneven pressure marks from a pen. Now this is just my opinion but I dont think its printed, for some of the same reasons I mentioned, and the main letter is typed you can look at the back and tell. And I dont think they had many printers around back then but if they did why wouldn't they have printed the whole thing, and printing doesn't usually appear at angles or in blue. At least they wouldn't have in 57 if they had one available at all.
You guys are right , I just need to send it in. It has to be done. But I haven't worked since the quarantine. And I dont have the extra 150 dollars right now.
Personally from everything I've read about JFK, says he was seriously proud of his military career, and for academy appointments and the opening of the Air Force Academy maybe just maybe he thought those important enough to have his signature on them,
I really have exhausted myself looking into this, even comparing it to secretaries, the only one that came close was number 3 secretaries 4 through 14 sucked they weren't even close, then they came out with new ones and they were horrible to number 3 was the only that was close but she did something when she broke at the end of Kennedy before the D it didnt look like Kennedy's. His always looked like 2 u's hers looked like an ei together or it had a cursive tail at beginning or end it never matched his
Thats exactly what Im doing now, looking for not just one that matches but is identical, and it should be without needing a perspective adjustment. I have never even seen another letter about academy appointments and if he was writing that many every year you'd think Id see one. Anyway I appreciate the chat and comparing notes, and your diligence. I dont have any other friends who collect, Thanks again Ill keep checking to see if you find one. Im going to start a few more posts of some other things I have I need to sell. Cheers