Presidential Autograph Collector’s Passion for Collecting Stems from a Love of History

Presidential Autograph Collection

George’s interest in obtaining presidential autographs stems from a love of law, history, and politics. “I was a history major in college, so that always interested me,” he shares. In 1978, his work as part of a Senate political campaign afforded him the opportunity to meet George H.W. Bush before he became president. He wrote possible-Presidential candidate Bush a letter of support and received a personal note in return. “He was famous for being very diligent in his correspondence. After my wife and I got married over 10 years later, she had it framed really nicely with a great picture of him.”

Shortly after that, he visited an old bookstore in Houston and came across a book about the US Senate autographed by then-Senator, Lyndon B. Johnson. “I’ve always been fascinated with LBJ,” George shares. This became the second signature in a collection which continued to grow. Over the years, he collected autographs from every president of the 20th century, as well as a few into the 21st century; meanwhile, he started to pick up a few presidential autographs from the 1800s, such as Grant, Lincoln, and Monroe. He doesn’t have any autographs from the 1700s due to how rare and expensive they are to obtain. Lincoln’s autograph is also very rare, and it is one that George decided to splurge on.

Another interesting piece is a document—a Dallas Morning News 1960 election supplement—that then-candidates Nixon and Kennedy autographed, featuring paired photographs of the two men. This is a rare and treasured piece because, “It’s extremely rare to find a document they both signed,” George explains.

One autograph he has yet to collect is that of former President Barack Obama. “One of my best friends has President Obama’s signature, and I have first dibs if he ever sells it,” says George. “[It’s] on a copy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which my friend was learning for an acting part at the time.” The friend ran into then-candidate Obama at an airport and was carrying a copy of the play. He asked Obama for his signature on the book, as it would make the friend’s wife very happy, and Obama smiled and complied.

Over his 25-30 years of collecting, people have contacted George with valuable signatures along with an offer to purchase others. He always examines each one and then either rejects it or purchases it depending on supporting documentation, provenance, and comparison to proven signatures.

Besides US Presidents, George has a few other interesting autographs. He has Hilary Clinton’s autograph, for which his daughter stood in line for two hours at an Austin bookstore in 2015. He has a few autographed early edition books by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, and Harper Lee. He has Winston Churchill’s autograph on a bound volume containing Churchill’s secret wartime speeches to Parliament. He has Muhammed Ali’s autograph of the totemic picture of Ali looming over Liston on the canvas. He has autographs of Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura on an iconic picture of Ryan holding Ventura in a headlock after Ventura charged the mound.  He also has numerous album covers autographed by the artists, including Led Zeppelin, the original Eagles, the Rolling Stones, Jackson Browne, Dylan, and Springsteen.

Each Presidential autograph is displayed in a frame in his office, with a few exceptions. For example, his signature from President Bill Clinton is actually an autograph on Clinton’s memoir, which is not so easily displayed. He also has the book autographed by Lyndon B. Johnson, which is not displayed, though another LBJ signature collected more recently (and also autographed by former Speaker Carl Albert) is on display.

 

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