Collecting Country Music’s Most Valuable Autographs

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Jim Reeves autographed Grand Ole Opry photograph $191.20

Country music collectors are crazy about their autographs. Here are seven legendary country music performers whose autographed material can bring top dollar in today’s marketplace.

Patsy Cline (1932-1963)

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932, Patsy Cline scored her first charted single, the haunting “Walkin’ After Midnight,” in 1957. Her subsequent hits included such standards as “I Fall to Pieces” (1961), “Crazy” (1961) and “She’s Got You” (1962).

On March 5, 1963, while returning home from a benefit concert in Kansas City, Kansas, the 30-year-old Patsy Cline, along with fellow country music performers Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and pilot/manager Randy Hughes, lost her life in a tragic plane crash near Camden, Tennessee.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 promotional photo, lengthy inscription: $1,626.73
  • Signed 1957 LP album Walkin’ After Midnight: $3,612.15
  • Handwritten 1957 six-page letter from Cline to her fan club president Treva Miller: $2,868
  • Signed 1962 performance contract for American Bandstand: $1,000

Patsy Cline handwritten letter from 1957 $2,868

Hank Williams Sr. (1923-1953)

Hiram King “Hank” Williams was born in Mount Olive, Alabama, on September 17, 1923. A prolific songwriter, the fabled “Hillbilly Shakespeare” recorded eleven number one hits in his abbreviated career, including such gems as “Lovesick Blues” (1949), “Why Don’t You Love Me?” (1950) and “Cold, Cold Heart” (1951).

The 29-year-old Williams – suffering from drug addiction and alcoholism – died in the backseat of a Cadillac on January 1, 1953. His son, Hank Williams Jr., later followed him into country music stardom.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 MGM Records publicity still: $2,076
  • Signed 1948 Hank Williams songbook: $2,031.50
  • Signed 1949 Acuff-Rose royalty contract: $2,629
  • Signed 1951 “Me and My Broken Heart” royalty contract: $1,912

Jim Reeves (1923-1964)

James Travis Reeves was born in Galloway, Texas, on August 20, 1923. Known for his smooth, velvety voice, “Gentleman Jim” recorded a number of country music hits, including “Mexican Joe” (1953), “Four Walls” (1956), “He’ll Have to Go” (1959) and “I Guess I’m Crazy” (1963).

On July 31, 1964, 40-year-old Jim Reeves, along with manager and pianist Dean Manuel, died in a single-engine plane crash while en route from Arkansas to Nashville, Tennessee. Reeves, a licensed pilot, had been at the controls when his Beechcraft Debonair encountered a violent storm.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 WSM Grand Ole Opry publicity photo: $191.20
  • Signed 1960 canceled check from Jim Reeves Enterprises: $179.25
  • Signed 1962 songwriter’s contract to acquire Jim Carroll’s “Dig Your Taters”: $358.50

Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933)

James Charles Rodgers was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on September 8, 1897. Known as “The Father of Country Music” (as well as “The Blue Yodeler” and “The Singing Brakeman”), Rodgers is duly recognized as one of the first country/western music superstars. From 1927 to 1933, Rodgers recorded such classics as “Blue Yodel No. 1” (1927), “In the Jailhouse Now” (1928), “Train Whistle Blues” (1929) and “Pistol Packin’ Papa” (1930).

Suffering from tuberculosis, the 35-year-old Rodgers – in New York City for a recording session – died of a lung hemorrhage on May 26, 1933.

Country Music’s Jimmie Rodgers (not to be confused with pop singer Jimmie “Honeycomb” Rodgers) rarely comes up for sale in the autograph field. Snaring a coveted Rodgers autograph years ago was country music singer and collector Marty Stuart, who acquired his from a fan in Mississippi. A signed 1920s Oscar-Schmidt Company-made guitar once owned by Rodgers is on display at the Mountain Music Museum in Bristol, Tennessee. The guitar’s owners, naturally, call it “priceless.”

Auction results/Estimated values:

  • Autographed photo: $1,632 (auction)
  • Handwritten letter: $1,500-2,000+ (estimated value)
  • Signed music contract: $2,000+ (estimated value)

Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. Although known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Presley is duly recognized for his many contributions to country music as well. As such, Presley was inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

On August 16, 1977, the 42-year-old Presley – who had successfully fused country, rockabilly and rhythm & blues – died of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 b/w publicity photo, “Lovingly Elvis Presley”: $1,792.50
  • Signed 1975 canceled check with handwritten memo: $2,629
  • Signed 1964 contract between Elvis and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps: $4,780
  • Signed 1974 leasing contract for a General Motors Stutz Blackhawk muscle car: $5,377.50
  • Autographed 1955 Sun label “Baby Let’s Play House” 45 rpm record: $1,553.50

Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

J.R. “Johnny” Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on February 26, 1932. An early artist for Memphis-based Sun Records, Cash’s many hits included “I Walk the Line” (1956), “I Got Stripes” (1959), “Ring of Fire” (1962) and “A Boy Named Sue” (1968).

In ailing health, the 71-year-old Johnny Cash died at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 12, 2003. Less than four months earlier, Cash’s second wife, June Carter Cash, had passed away at age 73.

Johnny Cash autographs are not rare, but the huge demand is always there. Collectors love the vaunted “Man in Black,” and are willing to pay top price for signed items.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 color movie still from A Gunfight (1970): $40
  • Signed white index card, “Best to you Johnny Cash”: $64.53
  • Signed 1950s 8×10 b/w photo with concert poster from the Terp Ballroom, Austin, Minnesota: $597.50
  • Signed 1968 television contract for a country music awards show: $448.13

Johnny Cash signed index card $64.53

Cowboy Copas (1913-1963)

Lloyd Estel Copas was born in Jefferson Township, Ohio, on July 15, 1913. A one-time vocalist for Pee Wee King and His Golden West Cowboys, Copas recorded such hits as “Filipino Baby” (1945), “Tennessee Moon” (1948), “Candy Kisses” (1949) and “Alabam” (1960).

The 49-year-old Cowboy Copas – one of country music’s hardest working performers – died on March 5, 1963. He perished in the same single-engine plane crash that took the lives of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes.

Cowboy Copas autographs are somewhat rare. Many collectors pursue them because of Copas’ tragic link to the equally ill-fated Patsy Cline.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 b/w publicity still: $230
  • Handwritten 1945 three-page letter on personal stationery discusses his first records: $350
  • Handwritten 1950 thank-you card: $175

Auction Results and Images Source

  • Heritage Auction Galleries 
  • R&R Auction

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