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Autographs – If you like it, buy it!

Collecting can seem like a closed shop to people just getting into it I feel, for example I once knew a chap that had twelve J P Mannock cues. At the time I thought it strange that someone should have twelve cues all the same. Now I realise that if you consider the wood used in the construction of these cues as well as what is written on the badge, there are at least 7 distinct versions of a Mannock cue and suddenly his preference doesn’t seem so strange after all.

Some people only collect non mass-produced items, such as personally autographed items; perhaps they feel closer to the subject of their collection by owning things that their subject has touched?

I have two autographed books myself; one is Horace Lindrum’s How to play snooker and billiards for the amateur and the other is Tom Newman’s advanced billiards. I must admit that the Newman book is one of my favourite items that I own. He probably signed hundreds and yet to me it is still significant.

I have a friend who owns two autographed cues a Joe Davis and a Horace Lindrum, I think that the Joe Davis cue is his favourite item from his collection, I have asked him to leave it to me in his will. 

Even these items may seem trivial to the likes of Roger Lee and yet most of us would probably like to get a hold of similar items and would value them quite highly, if they found there way into our relatively modest collections.

As I said previously, my collection started with the reprint of John Spencer’s book, Spencer on snooker. Incidentally I met John Spencer at the world snooker championships one year and approached him to ask if he would sign my copy of Ladbroke international snooker a kind of promotional book for a tournament that John had played in a few years earlier. I said inanely “you’re John Spencer” he replied with practised humour “I hope so I’ve been sleeping with his wife”. I felt a little foolish but his genuine smile assured me that his humour was designed to make me feel O.K. rather than mock and he signed my book saying “its not often we older end get asked to sign anything these days”. I hope that he enjoyed the compliment that I intended to pay him?

The book that I asked John Spencer to sign, was the only book that I had with me at the time and fortunately it featured him inside its pages. So asking him to sign it seemed appropriate, I wouldn’t have felt right asking him to sign Alex through the looking glass however.

Two years later I visited the crucible again and bought a copy of Ken Doherty’s video “A great day for the Irish” which tells the story of his world championship win the previous year. This particular year myself and a friend had booked an afternoon and an evening session. We were just on our way back to the theatre, when my friend saw Ken Doherty and a small group of friends coming the other way. I asked Ken if he would sign something for me, he said yes, I delved into my bag and found the video that I had bought earlier in the day. I slipped the cover out and asked Ken to sign on the inside of it, which he did. I have since thought about how lucky this was as I had swapped some books for the video with Dave Johnston-Allen less than three hours previously. I wished Ken all the best for the remainder of the tournament and as you know my influence proved slightly less potent than I had hoped, yet he did get to the final. I am still waiting for the cheque to come in the post.

A good book for those of you who wish to collect autographs is Terry Griffith’s book, “Championship Snooker”. This book has quite a few pages that are blank at the beginning and at the end. My copy is becoming something of an embarrassment to me as it now contains the autographs of Joe Johnson, Wayne Jones, Ray Edmonds, Jimmy White, Mark Williams, Mathew Stevens, Roger Lee and Willie Thorne. My embarrassment comes from the fact that I haven’t managed to secure the autograph of the author in these well-scribbled on pages.

After all, this autograph hunting it seems strange to confess but I don’t really enjoy bugging people for their signatures as it seems an intrusion, and yet it has provided me with these, I hope humorous memories. In sharing them I further hope that I have encouraged you to look out for items that give you pleasure, other people’s opinions may often be noteworthy or interesting but your own pleasure should be of paramount importance when collecting. Good hunting.

David Smith

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