Question: Attached is photo of a baseball autographed by Ted Williams, dated "9-5-1953." It is inscribed to my aunt, Marion Harvey, but no one in our family can provide further information about it. I suspect she may have received it while at a game in Philadelphia. Please authenticate and value this item. - V.C., Ocean City
Answer: Theodore Samuel "Ted" Williams (1918-2002) played professional baseball as leftfielder for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 to 1960. Although his career was twice interrupted when he served as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean War, Williams achieved fame as a two-time American League MVP, two-time Triple Crown winner and 19-time All-Star inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.
Although your ball's handwritten "To Marion Harvey, best wishes, Ted Williams" inscription appears to be authentic, the "9-5-1953" date added below is somewhat mysterious as the Red Sox team is not recorded as having played in Philadelphia that day. However, Boston did play the Philadelphia Athletics there on 9-6-1953 and Williams, re-leased from his Korean War military service in July of 1953, may have played that game.
Recent prices paid for Ted Williams autographed balls have ranged from $122 for an example bought at one of the 1990s sports autograph and card shows to $15,000 for the 1959 Ted Williams 2,500th Career Hit Baseball sold last year.
A trio of leading sports memorabilia appraisers kindly sent their summaries about your ball for this column. "Antiques Roadshow" appraiser and gallery owner Leila Dunbar offered a ballpark estimate worth of $300 to $500 as did Tom Sage of Morphey Auctions. Kevin Bronson, representing Leland's worldwide sports auction house, noted your playing career ball could bring $400 to $600 and added if it had not been personalized, its value might have been $1,000 to $2,000, possibly more.
All specialists noted evaluations were based on you receiving a letter of authentication, a document certifying your ball's autograph authorship. James Spence of JSA Authentication in Parsippany can provide such a letter. To contact Spence, call 973-898-1300 or email
Question: I own a full-size, unused white cotton "George Washington" chenille bedspread made by Bates Mill more than 50 years ago and would like to know if it has value. - M.D.
Answer: Once Maine's largest employer, Bates Mill textile factory was founded at Lewiston by Benjamin E. Bates in 1850. In 1858, Bates introduced America's first factory-made bedspread and by the mid-20th century, spreads were the most important Bates Mill product. The company became Maine Heritage Weavers in 2001.
Offered in ivory and white with long, knotted fringe, heavy, post-World War II Bates "George Washington" hobnail chenille spreads were advertised as the original bedspread pattern George Washington chose for his bride, Martha. A favorite cover for popular 1950s and 1960s reproduced Early American four-poster beds, the all-cotton George Washington initially offered in twin and full sizes later was available in cotton-polyester queen, king and dual-king models.
Textile collectors and folks whose specialty is chenille items search for Bates George Washington bedspreads with no discoloration, tears, holes or pulls and perfect fringe. Based on age and condition, used full-size spreads bring $35 to $60 apiece, while unused ex-amples with an original blue Bates tag fetch as much as $100.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.