Carolina Camera: Questions about ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson’s signature

Was that really ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson’s signature?

We’ve got a follow-up to a story the Carolina Camera brought us last week about that signed photo that sold for nearly a million and a half dollars.

In the collector’s world, sometimes folks will question the authenticity of such things. John Carter was asked how do we know that signature is real because after all it was signed more than a hundred years ago.

So, we took a deeper look and asked if that was ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson’s signature.

Shoeless Joe Jackson is the former major league baseball player from Greenville, South Carolina. He was one of the best to ever play the game, although his career was cut short after he was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

Last month, an autographed picture of Jackson was sold at auction for $1.47 million, the most ever paid for an autographed sports photo.

Questions have been raised about the signature’s authenticity, in part because Jackson was illiterate and basically couldn’t write.

He just didn’t sign many autographs. In fact, his wife Katie actually signed many documents for him and it is said Jackson would often trace his signature from hers whenever he did sign something.

Later in life, we know he did sign several documents himself such as his driver’s license, the deed to his home and his will.

The Joe Jackson signed photo may be one of the most highly vetted signatures ever because it’s believed to be the only signed Jackson photo in existence.

The process of authenticating was extremely complex, multi-layered and time-consuming; it took months.

At least two nationally recognized, reputable independent authentication companies were involved. The companies that auctioned the photo are respected around the world.

That scarcity of Jackson’s signature, the rarity of photos from that era and the storied history of Jackson combined to bring that record price at auction.

In other words, when you get into the Joe Jackson level of autographs, you better believe there’s a lot of research that happens.

The bottom line here: whether you’re buying a million and a half dollar signature or going to your local sports card dealer, do your homework so you can feel confidant about what you’re buying.


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