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Old 12-16-2003, 12:26 PM
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Posted By: Hankron 

Just thought this interesting. Watt Espy and Roy Pitts, both of Alabama, had the hobby of collecting autographs through the mail in the 1940s-80s. They obtained autographs in all areas, from sports to entertainment to politcs to science. They wrote to people ranging from Mickey Mantle and JFK to the Idaho Secretary of State. Originally, Espy wrote asking for autographed photos. However, his autograph collection grew so physically large that he wrote a second time to many of the people asking that they autograph an index card, so he could remove the photos from his house. Pitts, who just recently died, collected through the mail over 250,000 autographs. Realize that this was mostly before the autographs had financial value.


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Old 12-16-2003, 12:35 PM
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Posted By: Adam J. Baxter


Whoa, If that collection ever went up for sale, it would take an army of people just to catalog it all. Great post, thanks for putting it up. It's good to hear about collecting for the sake of collecting once in a while. It's amazing to hear about that kind of collecting dedication, especially at a time when value wasn't a consideration. Isn't it true that autograph collecting as a hobby itself has origins going back to the 19th century?

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Old 12-16-2003, 03:16 PM
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Posted By: jeff s

Marty Appel's book Slide, Kelly, Slide, suggests that Mike "King" Kelly was the first major figure whose autographs were pursued as they are today. That is, kids would chase after Mike trying to get him to sign a piece of paper or something.

Appel's book is not terribly reliable and is very poorly documented, but this is plausible, given Mike's superstar status and the fact that virtually all of the baseball player autographs from before 1890ish come from letters, contracts, and the like.

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