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  Value of Gus Grissom signed letter

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Author Topic:   Value of Gus Grissom signed letter
zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-24-2015 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a signed letter from Gus Grissom my mother received in 1962 and am wondering about its value.

It is signed "Virgil I. Grissom", so I don't think it is an "autopen" signed letter. It is a short response to an idea my mom submitted, also have the NASA envelope.

Thinking of selling it, but need advice first. Thanks.

calcheyup
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Registered: May 2014

posted 01-24-2015 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You'll want to post a hi-res image of it here for others to truly give you an idea.

I don't know a whole lot about the market for Grissom autographs, but a quick search of RR Auction has items like Grissom signed cheques and index cards going between about $400-$800, so I would suspect your item would be in that range.

Someone with lightyears more knowledge on this subject will, I'm sure, be able to give you a more precise estimate depending on your item's authenticity, condition, etc., so please do post an image if you are looking for a serious quote.

zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-25-2015 04:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the fast reply, The letter's authenticity is beyond question, as my mother has had it for 52 years! It is very pristine, no yellowing, color NASA letterhead. Have envelope and a copy of my mother's suggestion.

It is short, but Grissom was known as a man of few words.

I have been told a personal non-autopen signed letter, could be worth much more than $800.

Steve Zarelli
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Posts: 508
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-25-2015 06:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the $400 - $800 range... and likely the lower end for routine "thanks for your letter" type content.

The only way it is going to be more is if the content is superb, ie., detailed flight information, discusses another astronaut, etc.

stsmithva
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Posts: 1579
From: Fairfax, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 01-25-2015 06:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A letter signed "Virgil I. Grissom" sold for $300 at auction just a couple of months ago, but it was glued to an old album page.

In the last several years, others have sold at auction pretty consistently around $600-$700. (They usually start with "Thank you for your congratulations and thoughtfulness. Your reaction as a fellow American has been most heart-warming and encouraging to me. I am very proud to have been a part of this step in our space program..." and then there are another couple of sentences. Is that what yours is like?)

Keep in mind that if you consigned it at auction, even if it sold for $700, you would end up with about $500 after the fees are taken out. If you're interested in selling it, you might want to try for a quick direct sale here for about $600.

zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-25-2015 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the opinions.

The letter is more personalized than a form "thank you" though only two sentences long, it reads:

Thank you for your letter enclosing the sketch showing the proposed method in aiding recoveries of capsules.

Your booklet is being forwarded to the Research and Development Division of this Center for further evaluation.

Sincerely yours,

(signed in blue pen)

Virgil I. Grissom
Major, USAF
Mercury Astronaut

My mother's idea was technically sound (I am an aerospace electrical engineer myself) and I can see Grissom looking it over for perhaps 30 seconds!

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 31643
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2015 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The letter may be brief but because it is Grissom, its content may command a slight premium. Grissom's Mercury 4 (Liberty Bell 7) capsule was lost as sea (until 1999) so his mention of "aiding recoveries of capsules" is relevant to his history.

zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-28-2015 05:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are scans of the Grissom letter and NASA envelope (I removed the address since these postings are publicly viewable).

Steve Zarelli
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Posts: 508
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-28-2015 05:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A clear, sharp closeup of the signature would be helpful.

kosmo
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Registered: Sep 2001

posted 01-28-2015 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the Grissom autograph authentic? Something looks off!

The signature just looks fat to me, maybe spread out would be a better discription, and it just looks like the person signing was thinking about it to much, it's not very fluid. Also the loop at the front if the G in Grissom as well as the stop in the loop at the top of the G, doesn't look right.

Steve Zarelli
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From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-28-2015 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good eye, Kosmo. That is why I noted a better image would be helpful.

Based on the available image, it appears to be a slowly, and carefully applied signature lacking natural flow and speed.

In all fairness, I have seen instances where image compression causes distortion that makes a signature look odd, so I would reserve final judgement for a better image.

Chuckster01
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From: Orlando, FL, USA
Registered: Jan 2014

posted 01-28-2015 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did Grissom ever use secretaries to sign for him? I know I have a Shepard secretarial from about the same time period.

Steve Zarelli
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Posts: 508
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-28-2015 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
Did Grissom ever use secretaries to sign for him? I know I have a Shepard secretarial from about the same time period
Secretaries did sign for him occasionally, but he tended to favor the Autopen rather than secretaries.

Secretarial examples were usually signed "Gus Grissom" and were fairly obvious. There are some examples in my online Gus Grissom Autograph Study.

mjanovec
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Posts: 3688
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-28-2015 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, there is very little chance this signature is authentic. There are multiple red flags throughout the signature. At best, it's possibly secretarial, but it doesn't match the known secretarial style for Grissom.

zulumex
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From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-29-2015 12:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can assure you that the letter is authentic and unaltered, and has been in my mother's file cabinet since 1962 (she is quite proud of it).

If someone other than Grissom signed it, it was done at NASA!

I was first disheartened when I recently heard about autopens and secretaries signing letters, but was encouraged when the signature did not match known examples of either.

I am no signature expert, but even my signature can vary greatly depending on how fast I draw it, so I would not read too much into every curve.

I will see if I have a less compressed scan. Thanks for the opinions.

benfairfax
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From: Australia
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 01-29-2015 05:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for benfairfax   Click Here to Email benfairfax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not meaning to be rude, but as a collector I can also assure you that many people have assured me their piece is authentic. Unfortunately, whilst your word may be that of a scholar and a gentlemen, many others have created an environment of uncertainty and paranoia. Please forgive members here of wanting experts such as Steve Zarelli to have input.

kosmo
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From:
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 01-29-2015 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would venture to say that there are probably not to many of us out there, in our wide eyed enthusiasm for the space program, didn't acquire an autograph, only to find out later on, when it became a hobby or business, that it was a autopen or secretarial signature.

Your letter is still a neat souvenir of that time and has sparked some new conversation, that we can all learn from.

zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-29-2015 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Turns out the "scans" I thought I sent from a hi-res flatbed, where actually pics taken with a my digital camera (I liked the blue ink color better with the camera). In magnifying the original camera pic, the ink signature is only two pixels wide!

I did the scans two years ago before carefully sealing up the letter. I will try and find the flat scanner image with better res.

I was never asking folks for advice on whether this letter is authentic (as I already think it is).

The only question I have is if it was autopen signed or secretary signed, but it does not match the examples I have seen. Also in 1962, autopens and secretaries were just starting to be assigned to astronauts, so it is not impossible that Mr. Grissom signed and maybe typed the letter himself! (My mom says the letter looks typed by a non-pro on a manual typewriter.)

Of course, my last statement is just speculation.

I always though that if I sold it, it would first need to be evaluated by an expert in person anyway, so my question to this group is for advice on how to sell it, and what the value range would be based on the ASSUMPTION that the letter is authentic.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 31643
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-29-2015 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by zulumex:
Also in 1962, autopens and secretaries were just starting to be assigned to astronauts...
The autopen machine was in use for the Mercury astronauts since at least 1960, and all of them had secretaries assigned by then as well.

You're correct that it is does not match Grissom's known autopen patterns, but the signature includes what appears to be pauses at places where Grissom did not and would not have any reason to pause while signing his autograph.

There may never be a way to definitively answer who signed the letter, which may make it a poor candidate for sale.

zulumex
Member

Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 01-29-2015 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well that's too bad, but I do appreciate all the expert advice.

I'll call my brother tomorrow to see if I can get the better scan, but of course that would not explain the "pauses".

If he didn't sign it, curious as to who would have.

Perhaps in the future, some advanced latent fingerprint recovery could be used, or even DNA!

zulumex
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Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 02-14-2015 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I finally got my hi-res scan file of the Gus Grissom signature.

I believe it is authentic, as it seems his secretary never signed for him as "Virgil I. Grissom." If she didn't sign it, who else would have besides Grissom?

I understand that if this signature is "non standard," it would be hard to sell. If true, so be it, I'll just keep it.

golddog
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Posts: 193
From: australia
Registered: Feb 2008

posted 02-19-2015 02:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cannot help with the signature, but am very curious to know what your mum's suggestion was. Can you tell us?

zulumex
Member

Posts: 10
From: sun valley california USA
Registered: Jan 2015

posted 02-19-2015 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zulumex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My mums letter was in response to the 4th Mercury launch with Scott Carpenter which was 10 months after Grissom's flight.

That capsule landed off course, 250 miles from the carrier and Carpenter's condition was initially unknown, as he was out of radio range.

My mums suggestion was after landing, the capsule would eject a helium balloon with an antenna. This balloon would be tethered to the capsule by the antenna lead wires so that the locator beacon and/or voice com in the capsule would have a much greater range.

Actually a very good idea from a non technical house wife!

golddog
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Posts: 193
From: australia
Registered: Feb 2008

posted 02-20-2015 03:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great story! Thanks for sharing.

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