Masters of Golf: Henry Picard


— Autograph February 2009


My favorite golfer of all time is Henry Picard. I got to know Picard in the late 1980s and corresponded with him often. Known as “Pick” to his friends, Picard was one of the finest dressed golfers ever to hit the links. Sporting finely knitted sweaters, he was the textbook definition of the gentleman golfer. Picard burst onto the golf scene in 1932 by winning the Mid-South Open. He captured the 1938 Masters by edging out long ball hitter “Lighthorse Harry” Cooper. A year later he won the 1939 PGA Open for his second major. By the time he retired in the late 1940s, he had won 26 PGA tournaments, and was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. Picard remains a legend of the Great Depression era golf and one of the all time good guys of the game.

A signed check from 1973

Picard signed in a very flowing and legible hand. His signature shows a nice right slant and his letter construction is strong. It’s extremely legible and has good eye appeal. He usually signed his name as “H. G. Picard,” but on occasion he signed as “Henry G. Picard.” His hand remained rather consistent throughout his life, but early signatures tend to be a bit more rounded and softer than modern ones. As the years progressed his hand became more pronounced and the signature became bolder and more compact. Picard’s hand remained strong nearly his entire life, but material signed in his final months show a slightly labored appearance. His signature is difficult to replicate, so well executed forgeries are very limited.

Picard was a willing and gracious signer throughout his life, but he never received many autograph requests, so the population of Picard material is limited and generally restricted to index cards. Golf scorecards, 8×10 photos and gum cards are uncommon. Picard’s life-long love affair with golf translates into a limited amount of fine content letters. Letters, both typed and handwritten, are scarce and highly desirable. About 40 vintage letters originated from the estate of famed golf instructor Alex Morrison and were quickly absorbed into the market. Picard golf balls are scarce and are on most wish lists. The majority of Picard golf balls in the market are forged, so be careful when purchasing one. Picard told me that he rarely signed golf balls or equipment of any type. Canceled bank checks are the toughest to come by—there is just a handful known and they should be considered rare. To sum it up, Picard has a scarce signature for which demand far outweighs supply.

Prices of Picard material have increased at a continuous and moderate pace. Signatures sell for $75. Signed 8×10 photos are desirable and sell for around $200. A typed letter signed sells for $150-$200, while autograph letters signed are valued at $400-$500. On the occasion of coming across signed golf balls, one in good condition will sell for $300-$400. Bank checks are typically valued at $400-$500. I think that Picard’s signature will increase in value in the years to come and will be a fine investment.

Masters of Golf: Byron Nelson

Featured in Autograph January 2009

Title page to Winning Golf, signed and inscribed by Byron Nelson in 2001 with his occasional paraph.

Fabled golf writer O.B. Keeler tagged Byron Nelson with the nickname “Lord Byron” for his gentlemanly and regal nature. As one of golf’s greatest ambassadors, Nelson set what many consider the greatest record in all of sports history—even greater than Ty Cobb’s 12 batting crowns record. In 1945 Nelson won an incredible 18 tournaments with 11 consecutive wins, a record that will likely never be broken. Nelson captured five majors, including the 1937 and 1942 Masters. Like Gene Sarazen (Autograph December 2008), Nelson is considered one of the 10 greatest golfers of all time.

Nelson’s autograph is simply one of the nicer golf signatures. He signed in a flowing hand with effortless strokes and a nice curvy look. It’s a signature that developed throughout the years. Early signatures are less appealing and appear rough around the edges when compared to modern examples. It lacks any measurable slant and is basically vertical in nature. Letter construction is marginal and letters tend to blend together, which adversely affects legibility. Nevertheless, the wonderful strokes of

Signed photo.

his hand make for a signature with excellent display value. Nelson’s extremely flowing hand makes replication very difficult, so there are no well executed forgeries in the market. Forgeries of Nelson exhibit a labored appearance with thick methodic strokes and generally stand out with little examination. One final note, on occasion, Nelson would add a paraph under his signature, a variant form of his signature that is uncommon.

Nelson was a gracious signer throughout his life and the amount of genuine material is sound, but not overwhelming. He is generally found on index cards, scorecards, photographs and gum cards. Letters are also available but should be considered scarce, albeit borderline. Nelson also signed golf balls but it’s my understanding that it was not one of his favorite things to do, so signed golf balls are uncommon and many forgeries exist.

In the last year of his life, Nelson restricted his signing due to

Close up of Nelson’s signature that he penned less than a week before he died.

health concerns, but he would still sign on occasion. Nelson died in September of 2006, and material signed only days before his death still exhibit good flow though a slight unsteadiness is evident. Nelson’s hand never produced a truly shaky signature.

As a price guide will show, Nelson material has increased greatly since his death and it’s safe to say that his is a very good investment signature. Index cards and other non-premium items are

Earlier examples of Nelson’s signature have less of a slant.

valued at less than $50. Signed 8×10 photos sell for $75-$100. Typed letters signed sell for $100-$150, while autographed letters signed sell for $250-300. Golf balls have, in recent years, jumped in value and now easily sell for more than $200. A signed copy of his 1946 book, Winning Golf, is a rare find and will sell for nearly $400.