May 28th, 2008

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

Is this letter legit?

Ever since "Carole & Co." debuted last June, one of the fields we frequently examine is Carole Lombard memorabilia, particularly items that come up on eBay and other auction sites. Perhaps some of you feel at times we overdo it, but I think it's good to show the sheer amount of material out there...and also to review many of these items to make sure they're the real deal and that potential buyers aren't being sold a bill of goods.

For example, the other day I came across this item on auction at eBay:



It's said to be a "thank you" note Lombard mailed in November 1934 to a fan who had sent her a birthday card (Carole had turned 26 on Oct. 6). It's typewritten:

Dear Jeanelia Kastner:

Thank you so much for your little birthday card and all the good wishes you send me. You were sweet to think of me.

I wish I could write you a great, long letter, but of course you know how busy we are on "Rumba." Mr. Raft and I do so many dances that I'm just about "tuckered" out when it comes time to answer mail!

Again -- many, many thank-yous, and best wishes.

Cordially,

Carole Lombard




The question before the jury is whether this letter actually is legitimate. The time frame is right; Lombard was indeed making "Rumba" with Raft in November 1934 (the film was released the following February).

Of course, the all-important factor is the signature, and to examine it, we have Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, who has extensive experience with the signatures of Lombard and other Golden Age stars. When asked for her comments, here was her reply:

"It has all the hallmarks of an authentic piece. I've not seen that stationery design before, but she had several different styles of personal stationery she used. The signature appears to have a small bit of damage (possible water spot?) between the "m" and the "b" in the last name. Plus, the date would line up with the years Fieldsie [Madalynne Fields] handled secretarial duties, and the CL:M. would indicate that Fieldsie possibly typed the letter.

"The form of the signature is accurate for that time frame, and the flow of the signature is good.

"I'd say it's legit."


I should also note that the seller of this item is including this attractive still photograph in the package:



The item is at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180246748279&indexURL=0&photoDisplayType=2#ebayphotohosting. As of this writing, there were only two bids, with the top bid at only $21.09. However, bidding will continue through next Wednesday, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the winning bid be at least 10 times this amount.
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