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JUDGING A JUSTICE'S SIGNATURE



Dear Chatelaine's Antiques,
My father used to work with former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas. When I was young, Justice Fortas gave me a signed a copy of his book, Concerning Dissent and Civil Disobedience. It's in pretty bad shape and he was a good friend of the family, so I don't want to sell it. However, I would like to know if the book has any historical significance.
Jane K., Texas


Dear Jane,
Beginning in 1965, Justice Fortas served four important years on the Supreme Court. He was even nominated for Chief Justice.
 
 Justice Fortas wrote Concerning Dissent and Civil Disobedience during the 1960s. It explains the constitutional issues surrounding free speech, civil disobedience, antiwar protests, and other prominent topics of the time.
 
 Under ideal circumstances, we would put a $150 value on your inscribed copy. But because the book is in such poor condition, he says the signature and inscription are worth about $20.
 
 Some collectors prefer non-personalized autographs, but we believe a personal inscription adds "more of the author's life or 'ink' to the item." Plus, it makes authentication easier.
 
 The most collectible Justice signatures are those, not surprisingly, of groundbreakers. Signatures of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Court, John Jay, the first Chief Justice, and William Howard Taft, the only president to serve on the Court, are prized by collectors.

 

 


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