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What A Clark Gable Short Snorter Dollar Was Actually Worth On Pawn Stars

How much can a signature from a famous figure possibly be worth? The answer is probably a lot higher than most people would guess. If we look at Finances Online, they list the highest valued signature at $9.8 million — granted, that's the appraised cost of George Washington's signature on the Acts of Congress, but that's still an absolutely wild amount of money.

As for non-political figures, the prices can still be steep. A Babe Ruth baseball, for instance, is worth around $388,375. Bottom line: if the figure in question is well-known, if their signature is less common, and if the signature is on something that either is itself valuable or connects in a meaningful way with the signer, then the signature can be quite valuable.

And that's definitely the thought that the owner of a Clark Gable signature thought when she appeared on "Pawn Stars" to sell what she had. The item Gable signed was a one-dollar bill. If that sounds like a strange thing to sign, well then, hold onto your hat because the story of the signature is actually a lot more interesting than the signature itself.

The seller wants $5,000 for the signature — does she get it? Let's talk about the story of the signature, how the sale turns out, and if that sale should've gone a different way or not.

Clark Gable: actor and member of the Air Force

First of all, in case you were unaware, Clark Gable was one of the most famous actors from the 1930s through the 1950s. He's best known for roles in films like "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "It Happened One Night," but his most famous role at this point is undoubtedly Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind". In fact, if you factor in inflation, "Gone With the Wind" has the highest box office gross of all time, at $3.73 billion all told.

So here's the natural question — why is Gable's signature on a one-dollar bill? Here's a hint: it's not just the first thing a random fan had available for Gable to sign. This is no ordinary bill, it's a World War II-era short snorter. A short snorter is a bit of local paper currency that is signed by people traveling on an aircraft together. The tradition was started by Alaskan bush flyers back in the 1920s, but, relevant to Gable's signature, signing bills become common practice during World War II for people on bombers after a successful mission.

Not entirely unlike Elvis Presley famously did later, Gable also enlisted — and he did it relatively late in life. Gable had already been traveling with his wife Carole Lombard after the attack on Pearl Harbor to help incentivize people to buy bonds to help in the war effort. But in early 1942, tragedy struck and Lombard died in a DC-3 airliner crash that was returning her from a war bonds tour.

In the wake of his grief, Gable decided he needed to do more to help his country and, despite an insistence from then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt to "STAY WHERE YOU ARE," Gable volunteered to join the Army Air Forces. And by all accounts, Gable flew in no less than five combat missions — not too shabby for a 40-something actor. It was somewhere around this time that Gable signed the short snorter being offered on "Pawn Stars," and, yes, it is genuine. But is it worth $5,000?

A Clark Gable signature is not as valuable as Gone With the Wind

According to seller Amy, her uncle flew in World War II along with Clark Gable. In addition to Gable's signature, the bill was also signed by the other members of the crew of that particular flight. You can also see that the bill was signed in Napier Field, Alabama, on January 17, 1943. Napier Field was actually constructed to be a military base during World War II, per the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

The story is real ripped-from-the-headlines stuff, the signature is obviously incredibly old, but, sadly, the price tag is nowhere near the $5,000 Amy was hoping for. The "Pawn Stars" team called on their colleague Drew, who is a forensic document examiner, and he valued the signature at $500 if it was framed. Drew believed the signature would've been more valuable if it were on a contract or something similar. The "Pawn Stars" team only offered the seller $100 and she declined the sale.

Was Drew right in his appraisal of the short snorter? Interestingly, there's a near-identical query on JustAnswer regarding a $1 bill signed by Gable that is owned by the child of someone whose father flew Gable around for war bond rallies. The person listing the signature also wanted to find out its value, and, as it turns out, the first person to respond estimated that a Gable signature would sell for between $200 to $500. According to the antique expert on JustAnswer, Gable's signature is relatively common.

The silver lining here is that if you ever wanted a signature of Clark Gable from his time actively aiding in combating the Nazis, it'll likely only cost you a couple of hundred bucks!