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TIGARD, Ore. – John Hier feels a certain tingle as he carefully fingers the signed documents he has amassed in nearly four decades of collecting presidential autographs and other American history memorabilia. “There’s a certain amount of drama when you’re sitting there holding a piece of paper that was signed by Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War or by George Washington at the close of the Revolution and realize that for at least an instant in time, they were touching that same piece of paper,” Hier says. Hier’s collection is a virtual treasure-trove of American history. It includes autographs of every American president – except for John Adams which he is still seeking – and more than 400 unique volumes authored by U.S. presidents. One of the prize books is This Country of Ours, written in 1897 by Benjamin Harrison and which is inscribed to his wife. Hier, vice president of marketing for NW Preferred Federal Credit Union in Tigard, comes by his interest in American history quite naturally. His father taught American history in junior high school and the topic was always being discussed at home. Family vacations always had some connection with American history as well, he recalled. Hier’s first acquisition was the signature of Harry Truman, which he has kept to this day. He has also gone beyond signatures of American presidents; his collection includes such things as the autograph of favorite actor Humphrey Bogart as well as Benjamin Franklin and other “more obscure people.” “They aren’t just the signatures cut out of a letter,” Hier notes. “They’re on full letters or they’re on documents.” One of his favorites is a pristine naval commission document signed by Abraham Lincoln. “When you consider that during the Civil War we didn’t have a huge Navy, it’s not a very common document,” he says. Hier’s penchant for American history has resulted in his involvement with the Carter Center in Atlanta. In February, he was scheduled to interview former President Jimmy Carter for a magazine article dealing with autograph collecting and Carter’s prolific output as an author. Hier said he encourages others to get involved in the hobby of autograph collecting, noting that “it’s an awful lot of fun and you’re always learning something.” “It’s just a matter of time, money and patience,” he says. -

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