Celebrity Autographed Letters, ca. 1960

Value (2009) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

GUEST:
When I was in school, I decided to write to Queen Elizabeth just to see if I could get a response, and she answered my letter through her lady-in-waiting. And the next time I saw John F. Kennedy on television and I thought he was such an eloquent speaker that I wrote him a letter. He was senator at the time. And he sent me back a letter thanking me for mine. And that year he also sent me a Christmas card saying, "Best regards, Jack." Well, that started me on this, and whenever I heard anybody I was impressed with, I wrote a letter to him. And then as I got older, when I was active in the church, I created a celebrity auction to raise money. So I would write to well-known movie stars and television stars and ask them to send us a package back unopened and we would have an auction and auction off these unopened packages, and we raised a lot of money not knowing what was inside.

APPRAISER:
Well, you were so ahead of your time having celebrity auctions back in the '60s and '70s. One of the things that you had as a bonus is these personal letters. This Joan Crawford is a wonderful big signature, but believe it or not, she signed tons of stuff, and so her signatures are only worth about $20 to $30, which would surprise most people. This Mickey Mantle is actually a stamped signature, which we see very often with celebrities who just didn't have time for responses. Now, this Robert Kennedy, an original signature like that, on Senate paper, that's going to be about $2,000. And then we have these early signatures of JFK. And JFK is one of the signatures that's almost always a secretarial signature. So here we have a letter from 1956, which although it almost looks like an autopen signature, it is actually an original signature. And that's a signature that has a value of about $2,000 to $3,000. But what I really love here is the Christmas card. "Best wishes, Jack." That is such a lovely, authentic, wonderful signature and someone would love that salutation. Usually a senator's signature is worth less than a presidential signature, and especially one that's not a full signature, but this one, because it's so personal and so lovely, it would also have a value of about $2,000 to $3,000. So, you've brought just an amazing collection. We have about 30 letters and envelopes. For auction, on the whole collection, I would put a value of $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Really? Unbelievable.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Material
Paper
June 28, 2010: After this segment aired, a viewer wrote in to question appraiser Kathleen Guzman's conclusion that the Robert F. Kennedy letter on Senate letterhead bears an original signature by his own hand. After further research, Guzman agrees that the RFK letter was more likely signed by autopen, and as such has a lower value, in the range of $200 to $300.

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