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View Full Version : OT - James Naismith Autograph


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06-13-2007, 03:23 PM
Posted By: <b>Alan Elefson</b><p>Hi-<br /> First off, if this is too Off Topic, please feel free to delete post haste. <br /> Second, I love this memorabilia forum! Being an active flea marketer, there are always more memorabilia than cards at any given flea market. The knowledge here is incredible!<br /> Third, I recently found a book at a flea market that I would like some help with. It is an 1899 Spaulding Football Rules guide in very poor condition (covers missing, first three pages torn in half, heavy staining etc.) I purchased several Spaulding guides from this same dealer over the course of the last few months. One of the first books I bought from him had a stamp on the inside first page that read "Property of James A Naismith". The dealer claimed that all of the guides he is selling came from Naismith's personal library. I have since sold the book with the stamp although I am sure I could obtain a scan if needed.<br /> I mention all of the above because when I brought my 1899 book down to a dealer to sell this weekend, I started to show him the damage by flipping through the pages (he was planning on purchasing it for around 100.00 from me) when I discovered page 43. Please see the scan below. It appears to be a foutain pen signature of J Naismith. Obviously, I told him I could not sell him the book until I had researched this autograph, and he said he understood (I also jokingly told him he could have the book if he game me 500.00 right there, not knowing until later that Naismith's autograph is fairly rare). I still cannot believe I almost sold the book without seeing the signature!<br /> Here are my questions:<br />1. Is this a real James Naimsith signature?<br />2. I know his son was also named James Naismith. Any ideas where Icould get samples of his son's signature to compare?<br />3. I compared the few "real" Naismith signatures I could find online. I am not good at this type of thing, but to me several letters match exactly. Could the son and the father have very similar handwriting?<br />4. Why would Naismith have signed his name in this book on this page? Did he contrbiute to the creation of any Football rules or leagues? I theorized he was taking notes and used his signature as a means for returning back to the passage for further reading.<br /><br /> There is a second page that I have not scanned that also contains J Naismith signature. I will update this post again tommorrow when that second signature is scanned. There are also a few other pages with random writing including a page that shows the University of Kansas football team with a word written near the picture (I cannot decipher the word). However, this was the Unniversity Naismith moved to in 1895 to coach. <br /> To recap, I purchased this cheaply believing it to be an 1899 Spauding Football rules guide three weeks ago. I nearly sold it this weekend for a small but nice profit, so even if the signatures are not real I am not losing anything. I am planning to send it to an authenticator and then an auction house if it is real, but I figured I would brag/ask board members for their opinions. If it is real and I could make a find like this every week, I could quit my day job! <br />Thanks in advance,<br />Alan Elefson<br /><img src="http://www.network54.com/Realm/tmp/1181676183.JPG">

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06-13-2007, 03:27 PM
Posted By: <b>Max Weder</b><p>If I recall correctly, it was Lelands that had a number of Naismith signed items up for auction recently. Their auctions can be searched at <a href="http://www.lelands.com" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.lelands.com</a><br /><br />Max

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06-13-2007, 03:32 PM
Posted By: <b>Dan Bretta</b><p>Compare it to this one from Lelands.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.lelands.com/bid.aspx?lot=289&auctionid=709" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.lelands.com/bid.aspx?lot=289&auctionid=709</a>

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06-13-2007, 03:42 PM
Posted By: <b>Alan Elefson</b><p>Hi-<br /> I did not realize Lelands had some recently (I found a few that Heritage sold a year ago). The last name looks similar in all signatures I have looked at, but there are some differences. Does anyone have any opinions based on the link above? Again, to me, they look similar, but I am not an expert. Thanks for the quick information!<br />Alan

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06-13-2007, 03:53 PM
Posted By: <b>Alan</b><p>What happened was that Naismith's grandaughter found a bunch of letters, autographs, documents, etc,... in her basement. She consigned them to Heritage. The ones that didn't sell were then either consigned to or sold to Lelands for their recent auction. Try contacting either Heritage and/or Lelands and they maybe able to help you...<br /><br />Alan

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06-13-2007, 08:15 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>You really should have an expert look at it, because if you want to sell it you will need documentation anyway. It is odd that he would sign his name on page 43 of a football guide. I once auctioned a large portion of Amos Alonzo Stagg's sports library and there were signatures everywhere, but they were typically on the front covers (more an owner's identification than an actual signature). Signing it randomly in the middle of the book is unusual, even if it was from his personal library.

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06-14-2007, 10:40 AM
Posted By: <b>Alan Elefson</b><p>Thank you very much for every one's help on this piece! I sent the scan above to Heritage Auction and their buyer said it looked real to him (I have also shown it to a few other folks as well). I know I will need to authenticate it to sell it on a bigger stage, but I also know a few collectors who are interested in it based on their own authentication. I agree that it is very odd for the name to appear on two random pages in the middle of the book, so I am continuing to research the possibility that Naismith contributed to those pages or decided to use them in the Basketball Spaulding guides. I also find it difficult to believe that any one else would sign Naismith's name on these pages if it were not him. No matter what, I am fairly sure it is worth more than the 40.00 I paid for it.<br />Thanks again,<br />Alan Elefson

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06-14-2007, 04:43 PM
Posted By: <b>Rhys</b><p>If you have the financial means to do so, you would probably maximize your value by waiting a while before consigning it to an auction. The market for Naismith signatures is extremely flooded right now due to the recent finds of literally hundreds of his autographs. He used to sell for $2000-$3000 on something like you have and now I would say the market is only about 10% to 15% of those numbers.<br /><br />They look good to me based on ones I have seen in the past, and the ones I have seen in the catalogs and at shows on display since the hoards that have hit the market. You cant beat the price you paid!<br /><br />Rhys<br />