Autographs: George H.W. Bush 'Worthless,' Obama Priceless

The most expensive autographs are from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Presidential autograph collectors have a sure-fire solution President Obama could employ to cut the deficit: Start selling some of his John Hancocks. "A hand-written letter by Obama would be worth a fortune, like $20,000," says Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Autographs.

He's got proof: Several presidential autographs he has up for sale in an online auction June 3-4 show just how valuable and rare certain signatures from presidents are.

On the top end is Obama. For a simple autograph, something the prez handed out during the 2008 campaign, expect to pay up to $300. In the sale, he's got two: One on a June 2008 Esquire cover and the other on a Democratic National Convention guest pass.

But Panagopulos says that he's seen no autograph of Obama since he became president and no longer hand-written material or even any official White House letters from Obama which would go for far more, especially if the content on those letters was newsy or controversial. "We haven't seen anything, not even his auto pen," the historical collector said in reference to the pen machine that typically signs presidential memos.

At the bottom of modern presidential autograph values, however, is former President George H.W. Bush's memos and autographs. He wrote so many notes, says Panagopulos, that the value is minimal. "He's worthless or very little. He wrote lots and lots of stuff."

In the middle are presidents like former President George W. Bush. "Obama is much more rare than George W." Unlike his dad, Bush wasn't a big scribbler, but there are some items of his people have put up for action. Because he was president for two terms, some of those include letters and documents, boosting value, like a 2005 thank you note on White House stationary valued at $700-$900.

For big dollars said Panagopulos it has to be from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln and he's got several valued at up to $30,000 in next week's auction.

BARACK OBAMA (b. 1961) The 44th and current President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office. His signature, in black felt-tip pen, on an offical guest pass to the Democratic National Convention (4" x 7"), held in Denver, Colorado, Aug. 25-18, 2010. Minor corner wear at top left corner, else very fine condition. Estimate $ 200-300
BARACK OBAMA (b. 1961) The 44th and current President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office. Bold signature on the cover of a copy of Esquire Magazine, June 2008 which included the cover story on Obama. Fine condition. Estimate $ 200-300
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