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Tips for autograph hunting success


Q: I started collecting autographs two or three years ago. I occasionally find a photo of a celebrity that I send in to be signed. Unfortunately, I only get back one signed photo for every seven or eight that I mail, which is not a very good return. Can you give me some pointers so that I can add to my present collection? – Cole, Tucson

A: More than 5 million Americans are serious autograph collectors, which makes it one of our top hobbies. Most collectors specialize. For example, some are attracted to political signatures while others pursue specimens representing sports, literary, history or entertainment. It is still possible to request autographs through the mail but by following a few rules you increase your chances of being successful.

Always include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage to mail the autograph item back to you. Write a polite, courteous letter requesting the autograph. Make the letter sincere and personal but keep it short. Celebrities are busy people. It really isn’t important if you type or hand-write your letter, just keep it neat and sign it personally.

Be patient. A friend once requested an autograph from Jack Nicholson and over a year passed before he finally received it. Be aware that you might not hear from certain people. The late Mae West was notorious for keeping items sent to her, and secretaries, more often than not, process requests sent to major stars and celebrities.

Values vary and depend on the person who signed, demand, scarcity, condition, what was signed, and content. A handwritten letter is usually worth much more than a simple signature on a photograph.

A quick check with several established dealers revealed the following values: Clark Gable, signed photo, $1,250; Charles Manson, letter, $350; James Dean, letter, $10,000; John Adams, land grant document, $2,000; Dwight Eisenhower, photo, $650; Jack Dempsey, menu, $150; and John F. Kennedy, document, $2,500. A nice period photo of actress Kim Novak sells for about $75.

A local expert is Brett Sadovnick, owner of Tucson Coin & Autograph, 6470 N. Oracle Road, and 219-4427. For a second opinion, contact Brian Kathenes, P.O. Box 482, Hope, NJ 07844.

Q: I know that you review cookbooks for the Tucson Citizen and wonder if you can give me a ballpark figure for the following: “The Sunset All-Western Cook Book” from 1933; “Cooking with Dr. Pepper” from the 1960s; and “The I Hate to Cook Book” by Peg Bracken, 1963. – Barbara, Tucson

A: I found all three of your cookbooks referenced in the Antique Trader Collectible Cookbooks Price Guide by Patricia Edwards and Peter Peckham (Krause, $21.99). The ranges are $32-$56, $10-$18 and $32.56 respectively.

Editor’s note: Due to the imminent closure of the Tucson Citizen, this column will no longer accept antique or collectible questions from the readers.


This wonderful old punch bowl with 12 matching cups would add sparkle to almost any occasional. The set is $65 at Annabell’s Attic, 6178 E. Speedway Blvd.

Follow these tips for autograph hunting success

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