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The Eisenhower-Signed Book That Snagged Hundreds Of Dollars On Pawn Stars

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How do you know a seller has a fighting chance at a more-than-fair price at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop? They bring in an item that triggers Rick Harrison's memory. During one episode of "Pawn Stars," when a seller named Randy comes in with a book authored by Dwight D. Eisenhower, that's exactly what happened. Right away, Rick reveals a personal connection to the former U.S. President.

"Eisenhower is, I think, my dad's favorite president, because as far as my dad is concerned, basically, if you were a lifer, in the military you're all right," Rick says. "And if you didn't spend your entire life in the military, you're not."

"Crusade in Europe," published in 1948, tells the tale of Eisenhower's campaign in Europe from beginning to end, and Randy's copy has an extra-special element: It's autographed by the major general himself. All the pieces are in place for a pretty good take for Randy. "I feel fairly confident about it," he says. "Certainly hope that there is a big payday at the end of this."

But as Rick soon proves, in his world, you can't always predict how a deal will go down.

Autopens were a thing even in Eisenhower's day

From the get-go, Rick is intrigued by the history that inspired "Crusade in Europe." He notes that Eisenhower was in charge of all the fighting in Europe during World War II. The prospect of learning about D-Day from Eisenhower himself excites Rick — so much so that he tells Randy he's willing to consider offering him $1,000, the amount Randy initially hopes to get for the book.

But before he sets a sale in motion, Rick wants an expert's opinion. Rebecca, a manager at the Las Vegas Gallery of Bauman Rare Books and the book expert of "Pawn Stars," tells Rick that the book itself is common, and that major generals often write a memoir about their experiences during war. What interests her more, however, is the signature. "One thing that we have to worry about is that Eisenhower actually had an autopen. So there is the possibility in this time period that he could actually have the autopen sign for him," she says. Per Smithsonian Magazine, autopens are devices that "can store multiple signature files digitally on a SD card" to produce digital, rather than manual, signatures.

With those words, Rebecca changes everything. Is there any chance the autograph is authentic?

A dust jacket is worth a lot more than you'd guess

Rebecca has with her the same book, in a signed limited edition copy, for comparison. It's time to see if the signatures are a match. In Randy's favor, his copy contains a full inscription. Judging by the uniformity in the ink and the handwriting, Rebecca can tell it wasn't done with an autopen. There's another hurdle standing in the seller's way, though. "The other thing that you might worry about with Eisenhower is actually that it could be secretarial," Rebecca explains.

After a tense moment, she declares the autograph real, and Rick and Randy are both relieved. They're also happy to learn the book was a first edition. There's only one more question: What was the book worth?

If the book had a dust jacket, Rebecca could have valued it at $3,000, but Randy's doesn't have one, so his is worth only $1,500 — a little too close for comfort to his original ask. Rick appears to know he'd gained an advantage and thus drops the price to $800. However, he ends up agreeing to $900 when Randy sticks to his guns for that price. The deal seems to leave both parties satisfied.

"This was a total no-brainer. A book written and signed by a five-star general who later became president?" Rick says. "I just hit the jackpot."