The nimble folks atjgautographs” had their hands full of surprises . . . although their holdings range from Frederick Douglass to Marilyn Monroe to Irene Dunne, Stephen Sondheim, and Thomas Edison, it’s the jazz ephemera — no longer ephemeral — that fascinates me and others.  Here’s a sampling, with a few comments.  (The seller has many more autographs, from Sonny Rollins and Eubie Blake to Gene Krupa and Conrad Janis, so most readers of this blog will find something or someone to fascinate themselves.)  For those who want(ed) to buy what they see here, the auction ended this evening: if you are curious, I bid and lost on the Ivie Anderson and Jimmy Rushing; I won the Henry “Red” Allen and will be giving showings at a future date.  Check Eventbrite for tickets.

A number of the older autographs were inscribed to “Jack,” as you’ll see, and some of the newer ones to “Mark,” “Mark Allen,” and “Mark Allen Baker,” which led me on another path — more about the latter at the end of this post.

Husband and wife, very important figures in popular music, now perhaps less known.  Arranger Paul Weston:

and warm-voiced Jo Stafford:

Yusef Lateef lectures Mark:

while Louie Bellson is much more gentle in his inscription:

Lady Day, to Jack:

and Billie’s former boss, who called her “William”:

Notice that the Count’s signature is a little hurried, which to me is proof of its on-the-spot authenticity, because artists didn’t always have desks or nice flat surfaces to sign autographs after the show.  His calligraphy is in opposition to the next, quite rare (and in this case, quite dubious) signature:

Beautiful calligraphy, no?  But Helen Oakley Dance told the story (you can look it up) that Chick was embarrassed by his own handwriting, and when Helen asked for an autograph, Chick said, no, his secretary should sign it because her handwriting was so lovely . . . thus making me believe that this paper was not in Chick’s hands.  People who are less skeptical bid seriously on it, though.

Blossom Dearie, who arouses no such doubts:

And James Rushing, of that same Count Basie band:

I saw Mister Five-by-Five once, and his sound is still in my ears:

another Jimmy, happily still with us:

yet another Jimmy, playing at the Hotel Pennsylvania:

Would you care to join me for dinner?

Perhaps you’d like to meet both Dorsey Brothers?

and we could stay for the “Bombe Borealis,” whatever it looked like:

A woman I would have loved to see and hear, Miss Ivie Anderson:

She continues to charm:


Jay Jay:

and Cee Tee:

The wondrous Don Redman:

Ella, whose inscription is elaborate and heartfelt:

One of the million he must have signed:

Jim Hall, always precise:

One can’t have too many of these:

an influential bandleader and personality:

one of Lucky’s great stars — and ours — from an era when you noted what instrument the star played, even if you couldn’t quite spell it:

Here’s the musical background, in the foreground:

finally, something that deserves its own scenario, “Mister Waller, could I have your autograph?”  “Of course, young lady.  What’s your name?”  “Mildred.”

which raises the question: was the bus ticket the spare piece of paper she had, or were they both on a Washington, D.C. streetcar or bus?  At least we know the approximate date of their intersection:

Neither Fats nor Mildred can answer this for us anymore, but here is the perfect soundtrack:

Mark Allen Baker, in the pre-internet world I come from, would have remained a mystery — but I Googled his name and found he is a professional writer, with books on sports teams and boxing, but more to the point, on autograph collecting.  So although I would have hoped he’d be a jazz fan, my guess is that his range is more broad.  And the autographs for sale here suggest that he has found the answer to the question, “Why do you collect autographs?” — the answer being, “To hold on to them and then sell them,” which benefits us.

May your happiness increase!



    Nice stuff, note what a fine hand Fats had! Re Paul Weston and Jo S., they of course were a couple and aside from many other accomplishments was their notorious Jonathan and Darlene Edwards LP cover of which showed two left hands at the keyboard. This wonder of singing and playing in the wrong keys and murdering songs in other ways should be revived (and think there was a follow up as well). I had the pleasure of witnessing a rare live performance at an outing at a trustee meeting of NARAS. If you’ve never heard this maybe can find it via the magic internet wand. Jo was Billie Holiday’s favorite, and one of Lester’s as well. “Jo and Jazz” a good one, including Ben Webster, with charts by the seriously underrated Weston, not even listed in Feather-Gitler. She said in an interview with Gene Lees that when quite young and supposed to be asleep she would listen to Louis b’casting from the LA Cotton Club (Frank Sebastian’s version) on an undercover crystal set (anyone beside me remember what that was)? She made her recording debut as part of a three-sister vocal group with Louis Prima (long before that worthies’ Las Vegas stage, he was a damn good trumpeter and the man who brought jazz to 52nd Street—with Pee Wee on board…..Russell, not Hunt😛). IJS has great autograph stuff, including Chu Berry! Should be online…


  2. Regarding the dubious authenticity of the Chick Webb signature, one wonders if he really would have placed quotes surrounding “Chick”.

  3. I saw that too! And I agree. “Michael.”

  4. I’m wondering who may be interested in an exclusive EDITION OF ONE: Autographed Silver Gelatin Original photo prints – including Miles, Basie, Mulligan, Gato, Freddie Green, and several more! Please let me know your suggestions, and get in touch!

    I am Ornette’s stepdaughter, Dee Dee, and raised with Monk in the house a lot… began documenting musicians in 1964.(a formally trained art photographer 1964 – 68 by jazz photographer, and Metronome Magazine’s photo editor, Herb Snitzer ).

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