How Do You Sign On a Dotted Lion?

One of the wildly useful things I have learned from books is that it is exceedingly difficult to autograph a coconut. I have forgotten, at the moment, why the members of the Monty Python troupe had offered to sign coconuts, but apparently it wasn’t a pretty sight. In any case, it is useful information to have in case somebody comes up to you with a coconut and a pen.

We have, over the years, been given a number of signed objects: a couple of footballs (both Bears), a baseball (White Sox AND Cubs…and Red Sox and Rangers—he got around), a calendar (Alberto Varga), and a multiplicity of Show Biz photos (everybody from a prima ballerina to John Forsythe as Blake Carrington.) But this is the first year we’ve been given signed board books: two of them so far, in entirely different donations.

A board book, for those of you unfamiliar with this highly technical lingo of bibliophily, is a book with really thick pages, usually as thick as the cover. These began as children’s books: the pages are hard to tear and, if the book fails to amuse, are tough enough for teething. I get a LOT of board books with toothmarks in them, and I never blame Rover.

Of recent years, more and more board books for adults have been published: I’ve seen cookbooks and one book on neurosurgery done in this fashion, and I bet there are more. Whichever kind I get, I sigh a bit and set them aside. See, I can’t price them the way I price other books. The pages are heavily coated, and marking them on the first white page in the upper righthand corner has to be done with a little sticker. A pencil or pen would just gouge into the page and make permanent marks. Permanent markers could be used, but in that case the price tends to wipe off on the first thumb to come across them.

Which means that autographing these things takes a little planning. Each one we have has taken a different road to the goal. The book signed by William Wegman, in which his famous Weimeraners teach us our numbers, has been signed in permanent marker on the front cover. This means part of the signature is slightly rubbed, but enough grey has stayed on the page to identify the name (and to color coordinate with the doggues.)

The Clifford book signed on the first page by Norman Bridwell—as much a giant, in my opinion, as his famous red dog—has been signed in ballpoint pen. Now THAT is one permanent autograph. You could take this book in the shower with you and not lose much of the signature. (Uncle Blogsy does not recommend taking books in the shower with you unless a: the book is waterproof and has been made for shower use or b. You sit in the shower with the water turned off. This will probably result in your nieces sneaking in to take pictures of you and post them online, but will do the book no damage. We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog.)

I think both methods worked reasonably well—I intend to price them both reasonably high, anyhow—and I look forward to the next challenge. I just KNOW somebody’s going to turn up one day with a signed Kindle, and I know just how to deal with that.

I’ll throw a signed coconut at them.

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