Diamonds Are Marilyn’s Best Friend

In 1953, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Russell scored with the song, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” It was the hit number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  But there was another big hit in Marilyn’s future. Actually a big hitter.

Just around the corner, there was a new romance waiting with one of American’s greatest sports heroes. But before love, disappointment. Marilyn had hoped that Oscar also preferred blondes. She had her fingers crossed that an Academy Award might be in her future.

No such luck...   

Autograph Appraisals: What YOU Need To Know


There has been a great deal of 'chatter' lately about unqualified appraisals of autograph material.  Improper and unprofessional appraisals are being provided to many unsuspecting collectors and donors. The potential financial damage to you and your collection can be devastating.  Proper appraisal procedures are not being followed.  Important valuation techniques are being overlooked.   Untrained, incompetent appraisers are ignoring IRS regulations and appraisal standards. 



We’re not talking about Brian and Leon - - - we’re talking about small figures that wiggle their heads. (I guess maybe we are talking about Brian and Leon).  They’re called bobbing heads, wobblers, or bobbleheads.

Sports bobbleheads first appeared on the baseball scene in the 1950’s.  They were paper mache figures, about four or five inches tall, that had stationary bodies and a spring that fastened the head. Any slight movement would cause the head to move back and forth, up or down, or just “bobble.”

Take Me To Your "Holograph"


If you ask Leon Castner “What's a holograph?” and he’ll say, “It’s all Greek to me.”  He’s right!

Holograph come from the Greek words “graph” (writing) and “holo”  (with the hand).

Ask Daniel Webster, and the old dictionary writer would probably reply, “It’s a document written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears.” Way to go, Dan!  And although you might be tempted to confuse them with holoGRAMS, holoGRAPHS are a very collectible kind of autograph.

While he was in office, President Lyndon Johnson may have signed lots of legislation, but he hardly ever wrote anything entirely by hand. That’s why an LBJ holograph letter may be worth 10 times more than a similar piece of
correspondence produced on a typewriter, but with his signature. (Remember, in Lyndon’s day, they didn’t use computers the same way we do today!)

Andrew Jackson's Autograph Turning Point

By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Officially, all land grants were required to be signed by the President of the United States.  All Presidents prior to Jackson signed many thousands of land grants.  Jackson apparently had enough of this procedure, and by the beginning of his second term, (1833), passed the task along to his son.  Other Presidents continued the “tradition” after Jackson left office.  Almost all land grants after that date were signed by secretaries and not by the President.

Wallace Nutting: A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

By Leon Castner

Wallace Nutting was a nationally known printmaker and furniture expert of the 1900-30's era. His work is highly collectible and now recognized by most antique lovers. Decorators particularly love his simple and somewhat romantic view of the American Colonial era. Museums as well as collectors avidly seek his furniture, which copied early pieces of historic Pilgrim and Federal examples. His work was detailed, careful and of high quality.

Robots That Forge Signatures

By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Terminator III?  No....   R2D2 turned crook? No... Robocop gone bad?   No...   This mechanical forger goes by the name of "Autopen."  It has become a modern technological wonder for busy VIP's, celebrities, and politicians, but has become a headache for autograph collectors.

Knowing that autopens exist is not enough.  An autograph collector must be able to determine which signatures in his or her collection were written by this mechanical forger.  That is not an easy task.

The term "Autopen" has become the standard term for all machine signed signatures, just like "Jello" has become the generic term for gelatin.  The Autopen is a machine designed and manufactured by the International Autopen Company of Arlington.   The machine uses a fabricated matrix to reproduce signatures.

Collecting Contemporary Entertainer Autographs


By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Collecting contemporary entertainers is an incredibly popular hobby.  Movie stars, TV personalities, comedians, stage actors and actresses are just some of the categories collectors love.   It is my opinion, based on over forty years of experience as a dealer, collector, and a certified appraiser, that the vast majority of contemporary entertainment autographs in the marketplace are not authentic.  Collectors must understand the volume of requests that overwhelm an entertainers’ mail.  Celebrities combat this onslaught with secretarial signatures, printed signatures, pre-printed postcards, and pre-signed photographic reproductions.