Thursday, July 08, 1999

Charles Conrad - Rest in peace

Gemini / Apollo / Skylab astronaut Charles Conrad died today. For some time he was a generous through-the-mail signer. As indicated on the 6/24 entry, he recently stopped signing through the mail. Last month, I received a handwritten note from him directing me to "Stand By" for his new website. Sadly, he will not be around to see it through. Charles Conrad will be missed.

Thursday, June 24, 1999

Charles Conrad stops signing through the mail.

Apollo 12 astronaut Charles Conrad will no longer sign autographs through the mail.

Sunday, June 06, 1999

George HW Bush Museum autograph sales

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum offers signed items for sale including baseballs, FDCs and books. Almost all the prices are prohibitively high (the signed baseball is $325).

A copy of A World Transformed signed by Bush and Brent Scowcroft can be had for $60 -- not a bad deal.

Friday, June 04, 1999

Gregory Peck autographs through the mail

A year-and-a-half ago I sent a request and photo to Gregory Peck. Today it returned unsigned along with a "too   busy" form letter. In the letter Mr. Peck notes, "I've never believed in having a secretary or assistant "forge" my autograph."

I would have loved a success in this case, however, I would always rather get back an unsigned item rather than a stamp, Autopen or secretarial.

Saturday, May 22, 1999

Phil Rizzuto and baseball bats for signing


I had the pleasure of meeting NY Yankee Hall-of-Famer Phil Rizzuto at a signing today - I had him sign a baseball bat. Mr. Rizzuto was a real gentleman and was sure to exchange a few words with each person before him. Sadly, this is not always the case at public signings. Some celebrities cannot be bothered to look up and acknowledge your presence. Others refuse to add personalizations / inscriptions.


Typically, signing fees for bats and other equipment are prohibitively high. However, occasionally there will be a signing with a flat fee for any item. That's why I always keep  at least one unsigned Louisville Slugger bat on hand. (You can't count on getting an unsigned bat on short notice. The bats at sporting goods stores almost always have popular modern players' names stamped on the barrel.) This is a good guide for what type of bat to get signed:

  • Louisville Slugger H&B Model - players from before 1970
  • Adirondack - players from 70s and early 80s
  • Modern Louisville Slugger and Rawlings - players from 1985 to present

I prefer to get a blue Sharpie signature on an ash (light colored) bat. Anaconda Sports has good pricing and super fast service. (Note: old style blank bats may not be listed on web site. Call 1-888-914-6319 to order.)

Thursday, May 06, 1999

M*A*S*H Autographs

I've added a new gallery that focuses on the long-running TV show M*A*S*H. This has always been one of my favorite shows -- a true showcase of superb acting, writing and direction. Because the show's humor was based on timeless human conditions, the show is not dated and seems funnier than ever.

Fortunately, all the primary performers - with the exception of MacLean Stevenson - are living and willing signers. I hope to get signed photos from some of the more eclectic characters in the coming months.

Friday, April 16, 1999

Paul Tibbets and Celebrity Homepages

Enola Gay Pilot Paul Tibbets now has a website. The site offers historical information and one can purchase photos and memorabilia signed by General Tibbets, as well as other Enola Gay crew members.

It seems as if many celebrities (sports, entertainment and historical) are now selling signed photos online. This is not an entirely unwelcome trend. Granted, nothing beats a free authentically signed photo through the mail. However, I feel that the days of major celebrities signing and sending a free photo are coming to an end. The volume of mail these people receive must be tremendous, and it would cost a small fortune to handle the mail and send out free photos -- not to mention take a lot of time. My guess is that celebrities such as historical figures just can't afford to honor free requests any longer.

There are several benefits to homepages like the Enola Gay mentioned above: 1. you can be sure it's authentic, 2. the prices are usually cheaper than what a dealer would ask, 3. the photos available are often better than photos you could find to send yourself, and 4. it's easy and fast. Check out my Resources Page for more celebrity homepages.

Sunday, March 21, 1999

Signed Comic Books

I've collected autographs for about 5 or 6 years now. My first hobby was collecting comic books, which I've done since I was about 5 years old in 1973. Recently, I've started going to comic shows and getting many of my comics autographed by the artists and writers. I'm very happy with the results so far.

The artist/writer guests at comic shows usually sign your items for free, and seem to be thrilled to casually chat with fans. Also, they typically have original drawings and prints available for purchase at very reasonable prices.

It's a real thrill to meet the people who wrote and drew comics which have given me so much pleasure over the years. And, I find signed comics to be very compelling and dynamic additions to my comic and autograph collections.

Monday, March 08, 1999

RIP: The Yankee Clipper

Joe DiMaggio died today. In the past several years, he did signings at one or two card shows a year. Typically, the cost for a signed ball and a moment with Joe would cost about $150. I always put it off because of the price. Now, I wish I had sprung for the signing. The memory would be worth far more than the $150.

Monday, March 01, 1999

Guralnick On The King

Peter Guralnick has written two superb books on the life of Elvis Presley. Historians will certainly judge these works as the definitive biography of the most compelling entertainer to ever live. I'm now reading "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley." It traces Presley's life from 1960 until his death in 1977. There are several interesting passages on autographs.

According to Guralnick, when Presley was in the Army, serving in Germany, an entire room in his rented home was full of fan mail. Presley's secretaries and friends would answer the mail with signed photographs which they very skillfully forged. Additionally, Presley set aside one-half hour every night (7-7:30 pm) to go out to the gates and sign autographs. He was always happy to sign for his fans.

To the autograph collector this means that there a great deal of authentic -- and fake -- Presley signatures in existence. This should be of great concern to anyone thinking of purchasing his autograph. Certainly, there are many secretarial signatures that have been certified as authentic simply because they are old and seem to "match" known samples. But who is to tell the "known" samples were not other secretarials? Before buying a Presley signed item, one should take great care and be very sure of the pedigree of the signature.

Monday, February 22, 1999

Send a Photo

More often than not, I send a photo (or other item) for a celebrity to sign. I feel that this increases one's chances of success -- especially with tough celebrities. I'm surprised at how often I get my photo back signed, as well as another signed photo provided by the celebrity. It's nice to get an extra. Perhaps the celebrity appreciates the gesture of providing a photo and rewards the writer with a little bonus?

On the same note, almost always I include a couple of blank index cards with my requests. Very often these will come back signed. These are excellent for building cast or group items later on. I also like to send signed cards as a "thank you" to fellow collectors who help me out with information or tips.

Sunday, February 07, 1999

To Bother or Not

Often, I have seen celebrities in public; places like Tower Records, restaurants or just walking in the street. I won't ask for an in-person autograph, because I feel as if I'm intruding in the celebrity's personal space and time. However, events designated for signings are fair game, as is the mail.

My feeling is a celebrity can choose to grant or dismiss mail requests at their own time and on their own terms, so I am not excessively intruding upon them.

I feel that there is another advantage to mail collecting. Through the mail, I am a person with a name, thoughts and opinions. Assuming the celebrity reads his mail, my comments may impact his thoughts and feelings. I may get a considered response. Conversely, with an in-person encounter, the seeker is typically just another faceless person with a Sharpie and an 8x10.

Monday, February 01, 1999

Slick Goodlin

Chalmers H. "Slick" Goodlin is a legendary test pilot and the first man to fly the Bell X-1, the plane that Chuck Yeager eventually flew to break the sound barrier. If you are interested in aviation, drop him a nice letter -- he is a true gentleman. Mr. Goodlin will gladly sign your item for free, and for $10 he will send a great black and white photo signed. He has other signed items available as well. Write him for details. (As always, a s.a.s.e. is a MUST!)

Chalmers H. Goodlin
2615 Granada Boulevard
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Thursday, January 28, 1999

Hotlips!

M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit is now charging $20 to sign photographs. (Other items such as hats, baseballs, etc. are $35!) The signing fees go to a number of animal humane organizations. Checks should be made payable to Loretta Swit.

Loretta Swit
Mail Boxes
23852 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Thursday, January 21, 1999

Lewinsky

From the New York Post: In Los Angeles, MONICA LEWINSKY explained to autograph dealer/seeker Michael Wehrmann why she will not sign autographs. "I don't feel comfortable signing autographs yet. I'm kind of known for something that's not so great to be known for." It's estimated that a Lewinsky autograph would fetch about $500 now, but the price would drop considerably if she does signings once her book comes out.

Tuesday, January 19, 1999

The Beginning

To add a more personal element to my page, I've decided to start this journal. Admittedly, the idea is not entirely original. Stephen Beck has an Autograph Notebook on his page, and I've always found it to be interesting, and a good reason to return to his site. I'd like to publicly thank Stephen for all his help over the past year. I've collected autographs for some time, but Stephen was very helpful in getting me going on "through-the-mail" collecting. He is a class act and his input is sincerely appreciated.

That said, I think there is more than enough room for several ongoing Collector's Journals. I plan to fill the Journal with insights and information that may not be categorized neatly in any other section of this site. I hope you enjoy reading the journal, profit from the information and make this site a regular stop in your web surfing. As always, your comments are welcome.