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Book Review: ‘Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs: A Reference Guide’

by Rob Bertrand (12/17/12).

Currently ranked number one in the Sports Memorabilia category of Amazon, Ron Keurajian’s “Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs: A Reference Guide” is published by McFarland and it is available online with a retail price of $49.95.

In his new book, “Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs: A Reference Guide,” author Ron Keurajian, himself a collector and self-taught authenticator, provides a detailed look at the hobby of collecting autographs from baseball’s greatest players. His cautionary tale serves as the backdrop for one of the most accurately detailed reference pieces the sports collectibles market has ever seen. His ability to clearly communicate the complexities of handwriting analysis makes this an ideal tool for collectors.

The purpose for the book is clearly to protect the collector from the rash of fraudulent material available in the sports collectibles marketplace. Keurajian provides a compelling case for the truly limited number of authentic autograph pieces in existence from the games players that have been deceased prior to the 1970s. This reality offers a stark contrast to the prevalence of their supposed existence at major shows and auction houses around the country.

The book itself is much more then expert commentary. The majority of the book is comprised of detailed signature analysis, complete with exemplars of every baseball player enshrined in Cooperstown. Keurajian gives collector more than a singular example, however. Knowing that signing habits change over time, multiple examples (where they exist) are detailed, including samples of known forgeries. This affords collectors the opportunity to compare existing autographs in their own collection for authenticity or to compare against potential future purchases. Armed with this educational ammunition, autograph collectors of any experience level will benefit tremendously from this information.

From the book’s back cover: “The book provides experts and beginning collectors alike a definitive guide to authentication of Baseball Hall of Fame autographs. Richly illustrated with examples of genuine and forged signatures, the studies provide examples across the players’ lives. For example, the Ty Cobb study includes 11 different signatures from various periods of Cobb’s life. The section on known forgeries gives detailed descriptions of common and well-known forgeries. The level of detail is such that a collector will be able to compare signatures in their collection to the description in the book and determine if they own a forgery. No previous book has ever remotely approached the level of detail to be found in this book.”

Having collected autographs of Hall of Fame players as a hobby, long before it became in vogue, the author clearly understands the reasons it has become a multi-million-dollar industry but provides entertaining anecdotes from a simpler era. Particularly eye-opening, jaw-dropping and green-with-envy turning was the revelation that at one time you could routinely acquire Willie “The Say Hey Kid” Mays’ autograph for $5.

Currently ranked number one in the Sports Memorabilia category of Amazon, it is published by McFarland and it is available online with a retail price of $49.95. Before you invest a single dollar in an autograph, get yourself a much needed Ph. D. from Ron Keurajian and “Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs: A Reference Guide.”

Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.

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