Q: We have an original typed letter handed down in the family from a relative who was a union leader in the 1950s. The letter, dated Aug. 30, 1958, is from Sen. John F. Kennedy and refers to “two enclosed speeches” he made on the Senate floor, one about national defense and the other about labor reform. The letter is signed “John Kennedy.” The stationery has a verifiable watermark and we have had the letter authenticated by a local historical society. What is it worth?
A: We’re not sure if you had the stationery or the autograph or both authenticated. And we also don’t know if your local historical society employs or has a relationship with an autograph authenticator. It’s a tricky business, especially with public officials. Kennedy is known to have used autopens as early as the 1950s, before he was elected president in 1960. It is also generally known that Kennedy often asked his secretary to sign his letters. If the letter is original but the autograph an autopen signature, the letter would sell for under $100. If the signature is real, the letter is worth $2,000 or more.