20th-Century Aviation Autograph Collection

Value (2007) | $12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
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GUEST:
My father was able to meet Admiral Byrd in 1927 and got his autograph, and he decided at that point to try and get more autographs. And he lived in northern New Jersey and at that point you didn't have to have a driver's license, so at 12, he was able to just get in the car and drive to Teterborough, and he hung out there and he met all these people. And by 1933, he had 250 to 300 autographs. And so now it numbers 990 autographs.

APPRAISER:
Let's take a look at a few--

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
--of the individual examples. Let's start out with one of my favorites and America's favorites and the world's favorites, I think: Amelia Earhart, signed shortly before she disappeared.

GUEST:
Yeah. Right. Yeah. In June of '37, and she died, I believe, in July of '37-- or was lost.

APPRAISER:
She's certainly one of the most sought-after aviation autographs there is. And right below Miss Earhart we have the... famed Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong.

GUEST:
Neil Armstrong.

APPRAISER:
How did he acquire this particular one?

GUEST:
Well, actually, my dad worked on this through the '20s and the '30s. And then he became involved with family and job, and, at that point, my grandmother was a widow. So she sat in her apartment in California and wrote off these letters to people and got, often, long responses back. And that's, actually, she's the one who got Neil Armstrong. And particularly with the Armstrong, I'm really impressed with the note he wrote on the bottom here: "I'm very pleased to have you place my name alongside so many fine aviation pioneers. Neil Armstrong."

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
That makes it very personal--

GUEST:
Yes, it does.

APPRAISER:
--and precious, I think.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And then we've got Alan Shepard. And then up at the top here, we have all seven of the Project Mercury astronauts signed on...

GUEST:
Right. On here.

APPRAISER:
…a piece of ephemera issued back in 1959, I believe.

GUEST:
Yeah. Yeah.

APPRAISER:
Then, below here, we have the famous John Glenn's autograph. And then Chuck Yeager below John Glenn. Then, over to the far side, by you, we've got the famous Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. And that's definitely one of the ones that my dad got. And then the famed French aviator Louis...

GUEST:
Bleriot. Yes.

APPRAISER:
...Bleriot. He was the first man to cross the English Channel in 1909. And then, lastly, up at the top here, "Wrong Way"... the infamous "Wrong Way" Corrigan.

GUEST:
Infamous "Wrong Way" Corrigan.

APPRAISER:
It's just an absolutely marvelous, marvelous collection, and it stems from, you know, ballooning history in the 19th century, right up to the whole period of modern aviation, and into the astronauts of the late 20th century. And it's so comprehensive at almost 1,000 different pieces. We can only show a fraction of the pieces here today. At retail value, Amelia Earhart is $2,000 to $2,500. The Neil Armstrong a couple of thousand dollars. The autograph signed in 1961, some years prior to his walk on the moon, so his autograph as a moon walker would be higher percentage.

GUEST:
I see. Even though this one's older, it's worth less. I see.

APPRAISER:
It's similar to, you know, American presidents. The most collectibility is during their tenure as president. So during their famous days as an aviator or during their tenure as an astronaut would be their highest value. Just what we've examined today, at retail value, the collection would bring $12,000 to $15,000. And more for all the hundreds of other autographs that you have in the collection, as well.

GUEST:
So these are just the ones that you actually were able to find.

APPRAISER:
We looked at. Yes.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, Utah
Appraised value (2007)
$12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Event
Spokane, WA (August 04, 2007)
Period
20th Century
Form
Autograph
Material
Paper

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