He was a composer, teacher, publisher, bandleader and musician.  William Christopher Handy, best known as W.C. Handy, earned the title Father of the Blues.  His most famous works; St. Louis Blues, Memphis Blues, and Yellow Dog are known worldwide.

Handy was born in Florence Alabama on November 16, 1873, the son of a preacher. He started work in the iron mines and played his coronet just about everywhere he went.  One of his memorable moments was his performance at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

He was the first to codify music in the style that became known as the blues.  His publishing company specialized in blues and jazz.  Throughout his successful career he wrote many books including his autobiography “Father of the Blues.”

The authentic illustration is an early dedication and signature on sheet.  His preprinted signature is found frequently on a letter describing his 79th birthday party.  The facsimile example is printed in blue ink.  The standard characteristics of a printed signature are clearly visible:  Even and consistent ink intensity, a “flat” appearance, and the absence of pen nib furrows.

The letter recaps Handy’s 79th birthday party gala.  He chronicles the event in three pages.  Handy tells of poems that are read, music played by special celebrity guests, awards presentations, and he also describes the host, Mr. Ed Sullivan.  The letter thanks all those who had a part in the planning and participation in this memorable event.

Knowing a little about the person signing is always of great help.  Now you don’t have to be a forensic scientist to figure out that this blind, 79 year old man did not sign hundreds of these thank you letters.  If you want to determine authenticity, first learn about the person whose signature you are authenticating.  Examples in books and references help, but there is no substitute for biographical research.

Handy died in New York on March 29, 1958, but his music lives on.  It’s playing in my office right now.  – – – – I got de Saint Louis Blues — Jest as blue as I can be — yeah, yeah…

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