For Autograph Hound Super-Sunday, Brian Leno checks in during an autobiographical mood:
One of the bad consequences about working for 37 years in the gambling profession is you start to see things in terms of wagers placed. Bets won and lost. So when I saw Kevin Cook’s George Allan England example — very desirable, no doubt about that — I couldn’t help but think “I’ll see your England, and I’ll raise you a Cummings, an Erle Stanley Gardner, a Finlay and perhaps most rare of all, an Anthony M. Rud.”
All of these endorsed checks, except the Rud, were purchased years ago from Robert Weinberg, around 1977-78, I believe.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think the price was about 25 bucks for the lot. You won’t see that anymore.
Weinberg was a nice guy and I recall speaking to him over the phone, one time, when he was explaining the condition of the Weird Tales issue he was selling to me for $25. He wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting and was busy pointing out any flaws the mag might have.
It contained the first installment of Robert E. Howard’s “Beyond the Black River,” and I was excited; it was to be my first pulp purchase.
Anyway, we didn’t talk too long. The call was long-distance (yes, I am that old) and I was scared how much the call and the magazine were going to cost me.
Of course the pulp still rates a high place in my collection, but, being the lover of autographs that I am, the four Frank A. Munsey checks are very special to me.
I like signed books, but I love autographs that can be framed and displayed, and these checks certainly are pleasing to the eye. Now the bigger question is finding the wall space.
(And of course a side aspect of collecting these checks is finding the magazines which contain the stories — or the artwork — they paid for.)
Ray Cummings, who wrote the classic The Girl in the Golden Atom is, just like England, available if you’re willing to spend the coin.
Everyone knows Gardner as the creator of Perry Mason and he is perhaps the easiest one to locate, but you won’t get him with your allowance money.
The artist Virgil Finlay — well, I have more than one of his autographs.
I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I only collect signatures with the idea of turning a profit later on — money won’t be able to pry these checks away from me.
They’ve been with me for over 40 years and I’ll still have them when it’s time to take my journey on the river Styx. Ferryman Charon will have to be paid, but I’ll make a bet with you — gamblers can’t help it — that I’ll be asking that old swamp rat for his autograph.