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The Paper Chase

For Autograph Collectors, the Search for Signatures Is Singularly Satisfying
Edward Kiersh
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99

(continued from page 4)

An air of excitement certainly surrounded a Lincoln condolence letter ("in this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all: and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony..."), which Christie's put on sale in December 1997. Buyers waited expectantly to see if this comforting 1862 note to Fanny McCullough, the daughter of a slain Union soldier, would realize $600,000 at auction and signal an upward turn in the market. The pundits were not optimistic, insisting that this was a down time for usually popular Civil War artifacts. They turned out to be right: the letter sold at a hammer price of $400,000, or $442,500 with the premium.

Meanwhile, the experts were bullish about other collecting specialties, such as Hollywood, twentieth-century presidents (particularly Truman, FDR and Eisenhower) and Apollo space program heroes such as Neil Armstrong, which some say are undervalued and therefore sound investments.

"Hollywood is America's royalty," Max Rambod says emphatically. Bogart, Judy Garland, Groucho Marx and other cinematic icons "are all great buys. A collector doesn't have to go for an expensive Marilyn Monroe. Many Hollywood items with terrific investment potential are hot right now." (One word of caution about trends and passing fancies: nineteenth-century Swedish opera star Jenny Lind, the "Madonna" of her era, was also once a hot collectible, yet now sparks little interest.)

Raab is equally enthusiastic about Hollywood, saying, "It's a very undervalued market with some terrific pieces." Using Monroe as a metaphor, he adds, "Marilyn is Hollywood personified. We love her and her contemporaries. But beware! So do the forgers."

Florida-based writer Edward Kiersh is a frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado. Autograph Authorities

For further information on autograph collecting, consult the following sources:

Lion Heart Autographs
David Lowenherz
470 Park Avenue South, Penthouse
New York, New York 10016
(800) 969-1310 or (212) 779-7050
Lowenherz is the co-founder and past president of the Professional Autograph Dealers Association and specializes in autographs from the worlds of art, history, literature, music and science.

The Manuscript Society
350 North Niagara Street
Burbank, California 91505
An international group of collectors, dealers, librarians, archivists, curators and scholars who meet annually to discuss topics of interest. The society publishes a quarterly journal and newsletter.

Professional Autograph Dealers Association
P.O. Box 1729
Murray Hill Station
New York, New York 10156
(888) 338-4338
An organization that accepts only dealers who offer unconditional guarantees of authenticity. The association furnishes a free brochure and a membership directory.

Steven S. Raab
P.O. Box 471
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003
(800) 977-8333 or (610) 446-6193
Raab handles autographs, manuscripts and signed photos in all fields of interest.

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