Opinion: So, how much would you pay for Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s autographs?


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We have to say, we like the (admittedly fanciful) image. Barack Obama sits down at a small table, whips his checkbook out of his jacket pocket, fills out a check for $4,600 (with Michelle Obama smiling and nodding somewhere nearby) then hands it off to Hillary Clinton, who endorses it and passes it off to an aide for deposit.

But it got us wondering. Could that campaign contribution be worth more than the $4,600 Obama presumably scrawled out on the ‘amount’ line? We doubt that Clinton personally endorsed the donation check Obama gave the campaign Thursday -- in fact, we doubt she even saw it -- but if she had, what would such an historic document be worth to collectors? A check signed by the nation’s first bi-racial major party candidate endorsed by a woman who came within a hair of her own historic nomination?


We asked George Houle, of Los Angeles’ Houle Rare Books and Autographs, who appraises and deals in historic documents and signatures. He said the value to collectors would be determined by whatever happens in November. ‘Autographs of politicians are not in much demand, until they get to the White House.’ Harry Truman checks, he said, can be had for $250 to $500. An Abraham Lincoln check ‘brings $7,500 and up. A check to his wife Mary and endorsed by her could bring double that amount.’

Right now, Houle said, the canceled Obama contribution check would be worth $300 to $500 though ‘having her ... endorse it for deposit would add considerably to its value. But, should he get elected, the value could triple or quadruple.’

Supply and demand comes into play too: ‘Ultimate value would depend on how many autographs of his come to the market,’ Houle said.

-- Scott Martelle