My wife was a waitress back in the early ‘50s. One day she waited on Jimmy Durante in a Howard Johnson’s and got his autograph on the back of an order blank. She is wondering if it has any value and where she might bring it to sell. We would appreciate it if you could help us.
Autographs are a business in itself. Some can bring astronomical money in the market and some can bring just a couple of dollars.
Autographs are sometimes not about being antique but more about who wrote them and how many that person did during his or her popular time in history. A hand-written signature by a famous president, athlete, movie star, astronaut, etc. could be worth a lot but may not be if they provided so many that they are not hard to find even today.
Sometimes you can find autographs on the weirdest things, like your wife’s receipt or other objects that people just happen to have had on hand when seeing the famous person. I think it’s sweet to have one of Jimmy Durante’s on a Howard Johnson’s order slip.
When I asked my youngest daughter if she had heard of Jimmy Durante, she didn’t know who I was talking about so I had to explain to her and show my age. I explained he was great actor and comedian from the 1920s through the 1970s. He died in 1980, which is part of the reason — her being born in 1989 — that she wasn’t aware of him.
I did research and found Jimmy was a man who did a lot of autographs and the values of several different ones fell into the $200 range, with some lower. So I think your wife had two nice things happen to her that day. She got to meet him, and she now has a treasure.
Donna Welch has spent more than 20 years in the antiques and collectibles field and owns From Out Of The Woods Antique Center in Goffstown (fromoutofthewoodsantiques.com). She is an antiques appraiser and instructor. To find out about your antique or collectible, send a clear photo of the object and information about it to Donna Welch, From Out Of The Woods Antique Center, 465 Mast Road, Goffstown, N.H., 03045. Or email her at email@example.com. Or drop by the shop (call first, 624-8668).