Paper Money

Collectors combine autographs with check history

Collectors of historic checks and autographs of famous people can combine their love of both collecting fields with a single collectible.

RR Auction is offering in its 905-lot online auction closing Aug. 9, multiple lots of checks signed by famous individuals from a wide range of disciplines, including sports, music, military, authors, entertainment and more.

Among the lots offered are a check signed by Dallas businessman Jack Ruby, who mortally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald two days after Oswald is alleged to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy; checks signed by three of the four members of The Beatles; checks from professional baseball greats Ty Cobb and Roberto Clemente; and checks from authors James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson and J.D. Salinger.

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Checks are collected for many reasons. Some are collected for their ornate designs, the banks that issued them, and for the autographs of famous people from all walks of life they bear.

Assassin’s assassin

Dallas businessman Jack Ruby, owner of the Vegas Club, signed a $30 check on Sept. 7, 1960. On Nov. 24, 1963, Ruby was arrested after he fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who two days earlier had been arrested for the assassination of President Kennedy.

Oswald was shot while in police custody as he was being escorted from the basement of the Dallas police station for a court appearance.

Drawn on the Merchants State Bank, the Ruby-signed check carries an estimate of $300+.


Three individual lots offer single checks signed by Beatles members John Lennon, Ringo Starr (signed as R. Starkey revealing his given name, Richard Starkey) and George Harrison. All of the checks are drawn on the National Westminster Bank Limited in London.

Exploring art, monuments, and coins”Connecting coins, the arts, and American monuments: Another column in the August 7 monthly issue of Coin World continues with the art theme, as the artists who’ve designed our most gorgeous pieces of paper currency are profiled.

Signed April 23, 1970, Harrison’s check is drawn on the Apple Records Inc. business account. The signed check is estimated at $1,000+. 

Signed Oct. 14, 1970, Lennon’s check is a Maclen (Music) Ltd. business check. The estimate is $4,000+.

The check signed by Ringo Starr on July 26, 1971, is an Apple Publishing Ltd. business check. Its estimate is $400+.

Play ball

Two of professional baseball’s greatest players are represented in Tyrus R. “Ty” Cobb and Roberto Clemente. The Cobb check, signed Feb. 24, 1951, is drawn on the First National Bank of Nevada. The estimate is $600+.

The Clemente check carries an estimate of $2,000+. The check is dated Aug. 17, 1972, four months before Clemente was killed in a plane crash en route to delivering humanitarian aid in Nicaragua.

Author, author

Estimated at $1,000+, a check bearing the signature of author Charles Dickens payable to Higham Church for £5, was signed April 3, 1866.

The check signed by Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger is dated Oct. 23, 1992, and estimated at $1,000+.

One lot offers single checks signed by Emerson and Cooper, with a combined estimate of $400+. Emerson’s check, signed “R. W. Emerson,” is dated Sept. 23, 1874, and drawn on Atlantic National Bank in Boston. The Cooper check, signed “J. Fenimore Cooper,” is drawn on the Otsego County Bank in Cooperstown, New York, and dated April 24, 1869.

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