How much value does the author’s signature add to a golf book? In this newsletter we explore the question.
In general, a signed copy adds quite a bit to the value of the book. For purposes of our discussion we have ignored books that were issued in a signed state when printed. These are almost always limited editions. Included in this category are the myriad of modern signed slipcase editions and older volumes such as Robert Clark’s A Royal and Ancient Game or Bobby Jones’s Down the Fairway. We have excluded these because the value of the signature cannot be separated from the book since it was issued as such and it is relatively easy to determine their value by looking at their condition and at prices of recent sales.
A little background on how signed copies are often described will be helpful. There are many ways a signed copy can be described aside from purely indicating it is signed. An “Inscribed Copy” is one where the author has written a small inscription of note to an individual, often at their request. A subset of an inscribed copy is a “Presentation Copy” or one that was done as a gift by the author, often spontaneously. It is not always possible to tell the difference, and in our experience it doesn’t really matter to the collector. Presentation copies with a demonstrated relationship between the author and the recipient (an “Association Copy”) are indeed more valuable than those merely signed one after another by the author sitting a table at Barnes & Noble.
The prices indicated below are estimates of what a book signed by the author are worth, assuming at least good condition. Like the pricing of most items, the value of a golf book with a signature is determined by supply and demand. Palmer, Player, Nicklaus and Snead signed a lot of books, thus, although between them they have won 41 major championships, their signed books are not the most valuable.
One of the most valuable singed golf books we found in our research was by George Fullerton Carnegie whose Golfiana or Niceties Connected with the Game of Golf, third edition, published in 1842 sold for $31,000 in 1998. Subsequent copies without Carnegie’s signature sold for about $5,000 less.
Similarly, a signed copy of Aleck Bauer’s 1913 book Hazards sold for $11,500 in 2009, $2,000 more than an unsigned copy two years earlier. Our overall survey of the field shows that the rarest signatures are those of Alister Mackenzie, Jerome Travers, Aleck Bauer, James Braid and Walter Travis.
ESTIMATED VALUES OF SIGNED GOLF BOOKS
The estimates below are just that – very broad estimates. The intent of the classification below is to show the relative value of the signatures.
Less Than $100
Herbert Warren Wind
$1,000 – $2,000
$2,000 – $3,000
Willie Park, Jr.
Ian Fleming (Goldfinger)
More than $3,000
Although not the highest value signature, Bobby Jones’ is very sought after. Jones signed books in several different forms. He often signed as “Robt T. Jones, Jr.” but also sometimes as “Bob Jones”. His later signatures are a bit shaky due to his illness. It is best to be cautious when buying something with Jones’ signature on it. Unless it is a signed limited edition (Down the Fairway), an association copy where you can clearly establish provenance, or have the signature authenticated, be cautious of forgeries.