Autographs from celebrities have been collected for centuries. For many years the most common form an autograph available to collectors a letter, either handwritten or typed, a document, or on a photograph. Many autograph collectors preferred canceled checks signed by celebrities.
Why are canceled checks so attractive for autograph collectors? Checks signed by celebrities are desirable for many reasons. The primary reason is that signatures on canceled financial documents are usually real. Unlike photographs, slips of paper, or index cards where a signature may be open to question, a canceled financial draft is a legal document where a signature has been authenticated by a financial institution. Forgers would not usually bother to forge a celebrity signature on a canceled check because it is usually not a cost-effective method of deception. Beside, forgers of legal documents checks are subject to a variety of commerce laws where punishments can be quite severe.
Checks can be so attractive. Unlike many modern checks with similar styles and conventional logos, vintage checks have elaborate engravings and beautiful imprints. They can be quite attractive. Many financial documents have the added benefit of handwriting of the celebrity in the body of the check. The additional handwriting is also useful for validating the authenticity of the document.
Checks are a moment in history that can be very revealing. We have seen financial documents from Edgar Allan Poe to his publisher, a bounced draft from James Dean to the New York Telephone Company, and a curious check from Robert Frost to a travel agency. Why is the travel agency on the Frost check so remarkable? Well, it was written shortly before he traveled to Washington to recite poetry at John Kennedy's presidential inauguration. The handwritten draft by Frost to his travel agency was probably related to travel expenses to attend the inauguration.
Certain dealers and collectors specialize in checks autographed by celebrities. So consult with a knowledgeable financial document collector before you throw away your shoebox canceled checks stored in your attic or basement. You could be sitting on a treasure trove of great autographs.