Tukufu Zuberi (left) of PBS’s “History Detectives” interviews Westport, CT autograph expert John Reznikoff University Archives. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
A PBS “History Detectives” series crew spent last Monday with University Archives' president John Reznikoff at their offices in Westport, Conn. Why? To see if John could help them solve a mystery about aviator Charles Lindbergh, famous for his 1927 nonstop flight from New York to Paris aboard his single-engine plane, “Spirit of St. Louis.”
Tukufu Zuberi, one of the show's hosts, interviewed Reznikoff for the program, which airs in June. They wanted him to authenticate autographs purportedly of Lindbergh and Igor Sikorsky on a piece of plexiglass-covered fabric and dated August 1943.
The autographs are owned by Jimmy Patterson of Staunton, Va., who said that his father worked at Sikorsky in 1943 when Lindbergh was a consultant. The autographed fabric was given to his dad as a souvenir.
Patterson said his father said the fabric was from the “Spirit of St. Louis,” but he didn't know why helicopter inventor Sikorsky signed it. His father died when he was a teenager, before Patterson thought to ask more about it.
Zuberi asked Reznikoff if he thought the autographs were real and if the fabric actually came from the historic plane. Reznikoff been an innovator in the field of relics, and even holds a Guinness Book of Records entry for this field.
Among the relics University Archives currently owns are two of John F. Kennedy’s cars, Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter, Annie Oakley’s gun and Abraham Lincoln’s desk.
“History Detectives,” in its ninth season, explores the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.