80020: 1916 "Shoeless Joe" Jackson Signed Voucher.
Even the most casual collector of sports memorabilia is aware that Jackson's autograph stands as one of the hobby's "Holy Grails," the vast gulf between supply and demand fueled by the legendary slugger's illiteracy and his supreme baseball relevance respectively. Typically Jackson would avoid signing autographs whenever possible, allowing his wife to tend to those duties when possible, and only assuming them himself when legal matters demanded.
Here we encounter just such an instance, providing one enterprising hobbyist the opportunity to elevate his collection to a level that few others could match. This rarest of baseball autographs was coaxed from Jackson in the course of a transaction relating to the purchase of a new home in Savannah, Georgia, a chapter well documented in Donald Gropman's biography of Jackson, Say It Ain't So, Joe!: The True Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson. He writes, "Ever since his season with the Savannah Indians in 1909, Joe had thought of moving to Savannah. Then his little sister Lulu got married and moved there. Finally, in 1916, Joe and [his wife] Katie bought a house on the Savannah waterfront for ten thousand dollars. His mother and little sister Gertrude came to live with them, but Joe and Katie were only there during the off season."
This purchase came during an anxious time for the star slugger, whose underwhelming first partial season in Chicago left many sportswriters wondering if Jackson's best days were behind him. Perhaps buoyed by the support of the club, validated by team secretary Harry Grabiner's guarantee of payment, to be deducted directly from Jackson's salary, Shoeless Joe rebounded with a brilliant 1916 campaign, leading the American League with twenty-three triples and 293 total bases. Only with the scandal of the 1919 World Series and his banishment from the game at the close of the 1920 season would Jackson's fortunes again falter.
The voucher, promising payment of $500 to the "Savannah Realty Investment Corporation," is completed entirely in an unknown hand, with Jackson providing only the 8/10 black fountain pen signature at lower right in his clumsy, childlike scrawl. Protocol dictated cancellation of such documents with punches through the authorizing signature, and we find four intersecting the autograph. This must be accepted as further validation of the authenticity rather than a detriment, and the autograph presents well regardless. The voucher itself survives marvelously, with light toning, a tiny chip at right edge and two barely visible vertical storage folds all that merits mention. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.