Rare Henry Wade letter
Since I am having the hardest time trying to post (keeps going poof) this in reply to a thread that already exists, I am creating a new thread to see if I can finally get this to post.
I found this interesting. Since I am into collecting Supreme Court Justices’ autographs I occasionally come across autographs of people associated with landmark Supreme Court opinions during my searches. I remember seeing this letter signed by Henry Wade in the Roe v Wade decision.
It is kind of obscure and rare to find Henry Wade’s autograph and this was the first time I saw his signature when I did a recent search in completed eBay auctions after the Roe decision was overturned in June. It started at the low price of $3.99 and shockingly sold to the single bidder for that price (plus $4.80 shipping). Quite a deal.
Today I noticed this same letter sold for $75 Buy It Now by a new seller. It sold immediately after it was posted it appears. So I am guessing not only was the original $3.99 sale a bargain but the $75 sale was too. No idea of true value since I only ever seen one Henry Wade signed item.
On the other hand I have seen several Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) signed books and other items and they usually bring $200-$400 especially after Roe was overturned and interest has increased.
This is now being offered on RRAuction. Will be very interesting to see what it ends up bringing. The original sale was about $10, then $75 and now it has a starting bid of $200 on RRAuction. I don’t know if something like this is a good investment. Will be interesting to watch the bidding nonetheless.
It's one of those obscure but historically important signatures that was always hiding in plain sight. I'm a little surprised more people didn't get his autograph (including me ) since he was literally part of the name of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases of all time.
It's a different scenario but it reminds me a bit of an item I bought on ebay some years ago. It is a 1972 letter from a property management company in Washington DC, addressed to a security company commending one of their guards for discovering a burglary in one of their buildings. The person who signed the letter is no one anyone would recognize.
However, the building where the guard was working was the Watergate complex and the burglary the guard discovered was the Watergate break-in. At the time the letter was written none of the larger significance was yet known.
I paid between $30 and $40 for it, and I am sure in the right auction it would go for a lot more than that. Unfortunately the original owner (the security guard) had it dry-mounted, but I think it's historical value makes up for the condition issues. (The next time I come across it in my moving boxes I'll take a photo).
I am not sure if Henry Wade signed ttm afterwards. That might be why I have never seen his autograph outside of this or other letters he signed in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
Another obscure but now known figure is Mark Felt (aka Deep Throat). I know of only one person who managed to track him down and get his autograph ttm (I think he got three examples in that single request) but then he shortly died after he revealed his identity. So that is one VERY rare autograph.
I just did a quick search for Mark Felt autographed items and surprisingly I found two but both quite expensive. A signed and inscribed book is $450 Buy It Now and a signed booklet authenticated by Beckett was over $2000!
Now I must ask: Is something like this a good investment in the long run? Will people care/collect Watergate related items in decades to come? Or will that fade away into history? I know events like the American Civil War will always be desirable since it was such a significant event in American history. There are many events that are significant but will people care about them enough or just focus on the major wars?
To think of events from 100+ years ago. I know there are odd “events” like the Lizzie Borden murder mystery and the sinking of the Titanic (and to a lesser extent the Lusitania) that for some reason still bring quite a bit of interest while other events fade into history such as the murders of Presidents Garfield and McKinley. I remember having the opportunity to purchase the autograph of Garfield’s assassin for about $100 a few years ago but declined due to I never heard of him or knew about the circumstances/events leading up to Garfield getting assassinated. Very few people can name Garfield’s (and McKinley) assassin but most anyone can name Lincoln’s and Kennedy’s (I know these Presidents are far more significant to history but still). Also most people don’t really know a lot about Andrew Johnson and why he faced impeachment. Just a lot of stuff gets lost to history for the general public but other things that seem less or equally significant are very well known.
I knew that Charles Guiteau was Garfield's assassin, but McKinley's assassin is usually just described as an anarchist. I looked up just name and it was difficult to pronounce so I can see why.
Yes, it was a Charles Guiteau signed cut/card that I got offered. I feel like he wanted $150 or something for it. I think it was personalized and looked vintage so I was thinking it was probably authentic but since I didn’t know anything about him at the time I was afraid it could be fake somehow. I had that bad experience with the secretarial signed JFK letter so I didn’t want to make a similar mistake again. I am curious though if $150 was a steal or fair price for an inscribed Charles Guiteau signature.
That Mark Felt inscription is interesting. It was written long before his role in Watergate was officially revealed.
One thing to be careful of is assuming that current or recent notable people will remain notable as years pass. All of the people mentioned above might, or might not, remain "famous". They will always have a connection to historical events, but the fame or importance of those events might wane over time.
One favorite example is the battle cry "Remember the Maine". Every single American knew what that meant in 1898 or 1900 or for some years later, but very few people do today.
In 1941, December 7th was a "Day that will live in infamy", but finding mention of the attack on Pearl Harbor on each annual anniversary is getting tougher and tougher.
One other consideration is that if unusual autographs start to sell for huge money, new supplies might be discovered or uncovered.
A few examples of historic autographs that have come onto the market in quantity in recent years, mostly on checks: Orville Wright, Eliphalet Remington, Maxfield Parrish, Ernie Pyle, Jack London, Benjamin Harrison, Frederick Douglas (on legal documents).
I have actually heard of the "Remember the Maine" when I learned about that in US history in middle school. I am well aware of the events of Pearl Harbor and knew about the Infamy speech FDR gave on December 7th and how they had to declare war on Japan (and Germany) as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. But I know what you mean by it is rarely talked about each time December 7th rolls around. UPDATE: Ironically “Remember the Maine” came up in a Jeopardy question today and of course I knew the answer (so did the contestant).