The world's first autograph collection is credited to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who collected maps and manuscripts. Today, nearly 2300 years later, the hobby of autograph collecting is bigger than ever before. All collectors are keen on making good deals while building their collections. Therefore it’s essential to know the actual value of an item before buying or selling. With over 60+ world-leading experts, Value My Stuff offers valuations of all types of autographs and handwritten material. Read more about Autograph Valuation below.
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The autograph hobby gained a lot of popularity during the beginning of the 19th century as the world gradually got more and more internationally famous people. Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to name a few. If you're interested in a famous person, the best way to connect with them is to own their autograph, as it's as personal as it can be. And it's convenient. At that time, writing a letter to the person and asking for their autograph was normal. It was easier to get in touch with them. You could send a letter to The White House and ask for Roosevelt's autograph. For obvious reasons, you can't really do that today. Well, you could – but you shouldn't expect an answer.
Let's begin with the most critical factor, namely authenticity. The sad truth is that everyone can forge an autograph. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper. However, it's extremely difficult to get away with it. Many details in one's handwriting often are unique. We write letters differently, we use different pen pressure, we use different flows, etc. To examine handwriting and to tell if it's real or not, is very difficult. You need a "trained eye" and the knowledge and understanding of what to look for.
Value your autographs by following these easy steps!
Even if someone says that they got, let's say, Ronald Reagan's autograph signed in-person, then it may not be the truth. Everyone can state such a thing. If you have photographic proof, then that's probably the best authentication there is. But again, it's very seldom people have evidence of that kind. The best way to ensure that an autograph is authentic is to have a Letter of Authentication (LOA) or a Certification of Authentication (COA) from a trusted third-party authentication service such as PSA/DNA, JSA, and Beckett. Then there are also specialized experts such as Frank Caiazzo for Beatles autographs, and John Reznikoff for historical autographs.
The world's most famous autographs are often connected to history's most famous people. Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, and Pablo Picasso all have famous autographs, and they are all on top of their respective fields. Then we also have exceptions such as John Hancock. Hancock isn't a household name, but he's strongly associated with his autograph – so strong that a "Hancock" is synonymous with "autograph". The reason is that he signed one of the world's most famous and important documents, namely the Declaration of Independence from July 4, 1776. Although there are 56 signers of the document, there's one that stands above all. It's written at the top of all other autographs, it's centred, and it's by far the biggest. The autograph in question is, of course, John Hancock's.
Another great example is the autograph of Walt Disney. In contrast to John Hancock, we all know the name of Walt Disney. The American animator and film producer Walt Disney is a global icon, mainly because his name is connected to one of the world's most famous and beloved brands – Disney. The Disney logo is probably among the world's top 5 most famous logos. And what's interesting about the logo is that it's Walt Disney's signature! Walt Disney had elegant and beautiful handwriting, and his signature was flawless. So flawless that it became his company's logo.
Read More: The World's Most Famous Autographs
There's a difference between rare and famous autographs. Princess Diana's and Barack Obama's autographs are both famous, but they aren't necessarily rare as you can buy them any day at platforms like eBay. Let's look at the Declaration of Independence once again. Out of the 56 signatures, there are two autographs that are extremely rare. Those two belong to Georgia Governor Button Gwinnett, and South Carolina representative Thomas Lynch Jr. Autographs of Gwinnett and Lynch are extremely expensive due to their rarity, not because of their historical significance. If we'd only consider historical significance, then John Adams' and Thomas Jefferson's autographs would be more expensive than Gwinnett's and Lynch's. But that's not the case due to rarity, as the value is a result of demand and supply.
Another very rare autograph, which also happens to be the world's most expensive autograph, is William Shakespeare's. The English playwright has written some of the most important and well-known works in English literature. Yet, no handwritten manuscript of Shakespeare has survived. However, six autograph examples of Shakespeare do exist. In 2006, Sotheby's sold one of the six examples for 4.5 million pounds.
Read More: The World’s Most Expensive Autograph
It's impossible to give a general answer to such a question. It all depends on who the signer is. Then there are factors such as condition, inscription, provenance, etc. Another factor that can change the price from four figures to six figures is the format. If it's Beatles autographs on a piece of paper, then the value can be £7,000. But if it's the same autograph on one of the band's most famous LPs, then the value can be £180,000. Again, it's all about rarity. Neil Armstong, the first man on the Moon, stopped signing autographs in the mid-'90s, which gradually made his autograph even rarer and gained a higher value over time. Steve Jobs, another example, wasn't so keen on signing autographs either. So there are often many details that come into a factor of the value of an autograph.
Contact an autograph expert here at Value My Stuff, so you can find out what your autograph collection is worth today!
The interest in sports autographs is very high. All the all-time greats in various sports, such as Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Maradona, etc., all bring big money to the table. But what's most sought-after is autographs on items connected to their sports, namely, jerseys, balls, equipment, and even sports cards. Just a signed paper cut isn't of great interest when it comes to sports, but on the other hand, a signed paper cut by Einstein or Churchill is indeed highly sought-after.
Entertainment memorabilia is a worldwide hobby, and one of its main fields is autographs. Like sports, the greatest and most iconic entertainment stars often bring the highest value. Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean, John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix.
Read More: How to Value Pop & Rock Memorabilia
The most essential measure to take in finding the value of your antique mirror is to seek professional valuation. At Value My Stuff, you have access to 60+ experts in all fields of collectables. If you have an autograph in your collection that you want to value, then follow these easy steps.
Our Autograph expert is an Art History graduate with a lifelong interest in collecting autographs. He began collecting handwritten material at an early age and continued to collect, study and lecture on handwriting throughout the 16th century to the present day.