18th-Century Clipped Signature Collection of Famous Americans

Value (2004) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

GUEST:
Uh, these are signatures that came from my great-great-great-great-- I think that's enough -- grandfather. He was Thomas Melville. He was in the Boston Tea Party, and he was also a grandfather to Herman Melville, the writer, and these were just passed through the family. When we got them... I think my father is the one who put them in this book, but when we got them, they were just a bunch of signatures in a box. And somewhere along the way, somebody cut them all off of the documents, so it's just the signatures.

APPRAISER:
The autographs we see here are actually from contemporaries of Thomas Melville, so it is likely that he's received them. What we just have trouble with is proving that they were actually sent to him. So here's, for instance, a very significant signature by John Hancock that was obviously attached to a larger document. Here we see the signature of George Washington and Jefferson on the same document, presumably, we don't know, but presumably from a ship's paper. That's the most likely document that both of them would have signed at the time. You get James Monroe. All those are cut signatures. This one we can't even tell whether or not it was a letter or a document. It just has the full signature of James Monroe. And here is Roosevelt's signature that obviously wasn't attached or sent to Melville. That was a lot further along. I don't know where that one came from. And so it... probably someone in your family had the signatures and also added this one just as a... as an addition to the collection. What is sad about the group is that they were cut and it was something done, usually, at the turn of the century, that they were, you know, the documents were cut down and then people just used the signature. And with this Roosevelt letter, you can actually see what happened to it. You have the two parts that actually... This is the letter, and here you get your signature. You can see how it was, you know, cut out. You get the actual letter, but that is-- that's too bad. People, you know, assign value to... to certain things and in this case, they thought it was the signature, and today, it is the signature and the actual letter. The value for the cut signatures in this group is about $8,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Oh, that's... that's a lot more than I thought.

APPRAISER:
If we had the letters, and if the contents of the letter was good, it could probably be ten times the amount.

GUEST:
Well, that was before my time. Nothing I can do about it.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, you're not responsible for it, but it's.. it's unfortunate. But it's still a good group of autographs.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, New York
Appraised value (2004)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
St Paul, MN (June 26, 2004)
Period
18th Century
Material
Paper

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