The following article was contributed by a very knowledgeable signed check collector.
A great and affordable way to collect vintage baseball autographs is by collecting autographed checks. Checks of many of the greatest players to ever step foot on a baseball field are available on the marketplace on a fairly regular basis, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Jackie Robinson and Honus Wagner. Checks from greats such as Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, Christy Matthewson and Hack Wilson surface but are much rarer and fetch large amounts of money. Other players such as John McGraw, Eddie Collins, Kid Nichols and Home Run Baker are available in the form of check cuts, which is when someone separates the signature area from the rest of the check. A full check of any of these players is rare if non existent.
Checks or even check cuts of some other players such as Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby, Sam Crawford and Tris Speaker have never surfaced on the market. However, it does not mean they do not exist. A Mel Ott check cut, the first to ever hit the market, turned up in a major auction last week. Checks typically fetch much less than signed baseballs, photographs or other more desirable mediums but they offer a degree of scrutiny that other items cannot. Except on very rare occassion the person who is purported to sign a check is the person who signed the check as it is a federal crime to forge someone’s signature on a check. Therefore, the odds are extremely high that you are getting an authentic signature. However, high quality copies plague the check market and as a result never buy a framed check unless it is authenticated by a reputable authentication company. On copies the back tends to be blank which is the tell tale way to decipher a copy from the real thing.