Autographed Diploma with 20th-Century Presidential Signatures
Appraised Value: $7,000 - $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:55)
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & Senior Specialist, Rare Books and Manuscripts
APPRAISER: This is your high school diploma, right?
GUEST: That's correct.
APPRAISER: And down here it's signed by the principal. This shows you finished high school.
APPRAISER: But you got a lot of extra things here, and some of them are quite unusual. Beginning over here with Lyndon B. Johnson, moving up here to Bill Clinton, over here-- "To Jim, best wishes, Gerald R. Ford." And then the big, heavy inscription here, "George Bush." Beneath him, George Bush Sr. Nice ink inscription, very clear. And down here, fading a little, unfortunately, we have John F. Kennedy. Now, tell me how this came to have all those extra signatures on it.
GUEST: Well, it started when I graduated from high school. We had a little gap of time between the graduation and when I started my summer job.
GUEST: And we, a couple of friends, decided to drive down to the Senate Office Building to see if we could have a few senators sign our diploma, with the idea that they may turn into be president of the United States.
APPRAISER: So you were thinking ahead.
GUEST: Yes. And at that time, we were able to have Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy as the two signatures that turned into presidents. That started me, and then we sort of put it away for years, didn't think about it, and then a friend of mine knew Jimmy Carter, and he was able to have Jimmy Carter sign it, and then I put it away again for years, and then another close friend was able to obtain the signatures of the four presidents at the top.
APPRAISER: So in the end, you ended up with a diploma signed by seven presidents of the United States.
GUEST: That's correct. Wasn't much security at that time, and it was pretty open, so you could get in without much trouble.
APPRAISER: There is collector demand for items signed by multiple presidents. The most I've seen on one document is five. So you take the cake there. I would say one thing about the condition-- that two of the earliest inscriptions, the Kennedy and the LBJ, are beginning to fade a little. And that's the result of ultraviolet light. Even if it's indirect sunlight, even bright lights in a hallway or a study can do that. So what you may want to do with this, Jim, ultimately, is get it framed with U.V. filtering glass to protect any of these other ink inscriptions that might be volatile or fugitive. But it's a great thing. My guess, based on other multiple-signed presidential documents, is you're looking at $7,000 to $10,000 as an auction estimate. Could even bring more, you never know.
GUEST: Wow! That's something. I'm surprised.
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