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Lithos are High-Grade Copies of Original Artwork

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
November 6, 2005

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Discuss in the Collector Zone

Dear Babe: I wonder if you could tell me why it seems to always be called a lithograph. I have what I certainly consider an original that I bought, but it's called "a signed print personally autographed ... ." It's a Ron Lewis 500 Home Run Club picture that I purchased in the 1980s. It's 22x40 inches in size.
Pat Dooley, Pensacola, Fla.

For starters, lithography is just a printing process. A litho can be of high quality, but it's still a copy of an original print. Let's face it, an artist is not going to sit down and paint 500 posters of the 500 Home Run Club. Instead, he creates one and a litho is made. Pensacola is the home of the Navy's Blue Angels. The jet demonstration team produces a high quality 16x20 litho each year. All the pilots sign the original and then several thousand are made. Other than the first one, none of those lithos have original signatures. In the case of the Lewis litho, the litho was made and then the players signed some. First and foremost, you need to be sure you have a litho with original signatures. Next, you have to determine if the signatures are authentic. The general consensus in the world of sports memorabilia is that there are far more Lewis lithos with forged signatures than ones actually signed by the members of the 500 Home Run Club. Unless the person who sold it was there when it was signed, you're depending on the company that sold it and in turn whoever that company bought it from when it comes to its authenticity.

If it has authentic signatures, then it should be worth $1,800-$2,500, said Steve Grad of PSA/DNA.

Dear Babe: I am 98 years old. I have a ticket (photocopy enclosed) to the 45th annual International 500 Mile Sweepstakes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1961.
E. Nicholson, Hemet

I think you earn the honor of being the oldest person to write Da Babe. I have to admit, I didn't realize that the Indy 500 was known as the International 500 Mile Sweepstakes. It looks like your stub is worth $50, said David Kohler, president of in Laguna Hills.

Dear Babe: I have some memorabilia that my father left me from the Washington Senators. I have a metal lapel pin that has a red, white and blue ribbon attached as well as a gold-toned ball and glove. I also have some scorecards. I have an unused book of matches that has the Capitol dome with the name "Griffith Stadium" on the front. Inside, the blue tipped matches are all there as well as a 1952 home schedule.
Susan Lumpkin, Ball Ground, Ga.

It's a nice array of Senators memorabilia, but not that valuable. I'd say the pin might fetch $15-$25. The programs, assuming there are no stars on the cover and nothing special happened at the games, might be worth $10-$15. The matches are probably of more interest to a matchbook collector and have little value.

Dear Babe: I attended the University of North Carolina at the same time as Michael Jordan. I recently discovered that I have his first Sports Illustrated cover (Nov. 28, 1983, the college basketball preview issue) autographed by Jordan and Sam Perkins.
Lisa Fey, Atlanta

"I sold one just like this about three years ago for $400," said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert. "The Jordan was very legible, unlike the ones we've come to see in the past 20 years or so. I'd put it at about $500 now," Breeden said.

BABE NOTE: Fans attending the Nov. 13 Orlando Magic home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers will receive a special set of 16 Upper Deck/Pepsi/Sun Sports cards. The set includes Stacy Augmon, Tony Battie, Kelvin Cato, Travis Diener, Keyon Dooling, Steve Francis, Pat Garrity, Grant Hill, Dwight Howard, Mario Kasun, Jameer Nelson, DeShawn Stevenson, Hedo Turkoglu, coach Brian Hill and Stuff, the team's dragon mascot.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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