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What's It Worth?

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Q: I have an autograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and would like to know its value. My father got the autograph in the 1960s when he was a chef at The Jefferson Hotel. It reads "Best Wishes, Martin Luther King" in blue ink on plain white paper. — D.T.

A: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68) was a prolific autograph signer, and there are many signed items in collections and on the market.

Even though there seems to be a lot of material, his autograph is still relatively rare because his life was cut short and people are holding on to his signature. Good examples are expensive, even outpacing some American presidents. There is no need to authenticate this autograph because you know its history. King often included "Best Wishes" with his signature.

King was gregarious and signed just about anything that was handed to him, including his books, napkins, programs, tickets and, as he did for your dad, blank pieces of paper. King rarities are signed letters, since he preferred meetings and the telephone.

The autograph would retail for $1,000 to $2,000, depending on who is selling it and the presentation. If you are in the market, take your pick of well-known dealers on the Internet seeking autographs.

Q: I would like to know if my desk made by the Monitor Furniture Co. is antique, if it is made of walnut and how much I should try to sell it for. — C.M.

A: Your slant-front desk, a reproduction of the desks first made in England and America in the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, appears to be made of maple. The desk probably was manufactured in the 1950s or early '60s.

Monitor Furniture Co. was organized about 1920 in Jamestown, N.Y., and mostly made good-quality Early American-style furniture. It absorbed other furniture shops along the way until its assets were sold in 1981.

This desk qualifies as used furniture, but it would cost a fortune to duplicate today. Try offering it at about $250. You can always lower the price.

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