How many of us have met someone we know in the past, but never asked for their autographs? Did you know that the signatures of many famous people can be worth hundreds? So what do you think now, maybe I should have asked them after all?
My own collection started when I was only 14 years old and 45 years from today I still collect but now I have a firm eye on the value of investment.
Over the years we’ve reached a point where the hobby of autograph collections and interest in ‘celebrities’ can be ten deep in the premiere crowd of a big movie, sign up for the many pictures or books they hope to be movie stars. Some of these will be professional collectors who are only interested in making a profit, as the market has grown exponentially in the last 15 years to more than £ 20,000,000 in 2011.
The price of these few autographs has risen better than the inflation rate at the time, and with interest rates now at their lowest (December 2011), it is understandable to look for alternative investments, and autographs must be considered.
Just ten years ago, you could buy a signature portrait of the first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, for less than £ 300, but that same signed portrait can now cost you more than is 2,000.
The potential for real investment comes when the demand for a signature increases and sadly, it usually means when someone dies. At this point, supply is cut off, demand increases, and prices rise accordingly, and although the initial spike will come down after a short time and the price will go out, it will still be at a higher price than before their death!
However, this kind of growth only happens with more familiar names that have gained a worldwide reputation for something important (so you can forget about ZWARD!). Everest winner Edmund Hiller’s signature, for example, used to sell for about 15 15 before he died, but now you probably have to pay £ 70 and they will continue to grow in value.
Among the current names in the investment are the UK’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, the silver screen legend Christopher Lee or the Apollo astronauts, especially those who have set foot on the moon or achieved some of the existence of space.
Look for people who have really achieved something that is recognized around the world, for example Roger Bannister and the first sub 4 minute mile. These are currently available for less than 30 30 but remember the current price of Sir Edmund Hillary!
The value of the signature depends on what the signature is, the size of the item, the condition and of course if it is dedicated to you or someone else. Usually signed photos are the best, the bigger the better and remember that some dealers or collectors will only buy undetected items, as these are very easy to sell. The condition is always important and like everything else the better it is in condition the more valuable it is.
Truth is the most important thing and you can buy from well-known and established traders to help protect yourself here. There are several well-known associations that will include most good dealers, the most common being USC, but make sure your dealer is actually a USC registered trader and not just a collector! Anyone can join this association, and unscrupulous traders will only join as a member and use these newly obtained ‘certificates’ to try to create an air of established and reputable business.
Some associations, such as Aftal or Padar, accept only established dealers and have strict membership rules and simply do not allow anyone to join. Any good dealer in these three associations will be explicitly listed on their respective websites, so do not accept dealers for the term that they are members, AlwaysCheck first! And if they are members of nothing? Okay I’ll leave you to make up your own mind! Just remember that if any sale is wrong for any reason. You can find yourself trying to get back. If the dealer is a member of a recognized association, you have a much better chance of resolving the issue.
There are plenty of books available to help with authentication and collection but nothing better than experience, and you can get it by simply studying the signatures, meeting celebrities and learning more about their signing habits, the paper and pen used Be real mining field, but it can be very fruitful.
One thing you should be very careful about is ‘Provenance’ because a lot of meaningful people will tell you that it’s all important, but it’s not, because most of the proverbs given with autographs are not valuable and there is very little ‘proof’ ‘ In fact most of the proverbs are just a story and nothing more. “My aunt Olwich signed an autograph book while working at Utherat in Granada. The Beatles played there in June 193.” And is that the autograph book? Does this prove that the signatures must be authentic because it contains the short names of others in the same period? Well that autograph book could easily be bought on eBay for 20 by attaching the Beatles signature to the seller. This is a very common scandal that will fool the uneducated every week. So education is the key here, and only experience can provide that education.
The actual evidence for the autograph could simply refer to a good and applicable link from one good source to another good source as the related item was in the hands of several well-known and knowledgeable dealers. Each of these dealers had the opportunity to check and double check any item for authenticity and it is doubtful that a few would make the same error of passing most of the Autopen signatures as authentic for example. Labels of free items have been shown as free proof that they are Christ or somewhere else, because sometimes these labels just get stuck after being printed on a home computer.
There are also cases where an item may have some deception because it was signed into a payment order arranged by a known merchant. Many of them have done this work and many celebrities have participated in autograph shows or events through which they will sign items for money. However, you still need to be sure about these signatures, because buying an item just by signing in was known to be less intelligent and then when they used the image when signing, they returned home to create another 50 and ‘prove’ any item Authentic.
What about a COA? Any dealer who is worth his salt will tell you the same thing, they are worthless and will only prove where and when you bought this item, no COA can ever prove that an item is not true, but it can only tell the truth if the dealer Either way dude, then your COA is too bad! Any good dealer must issue a COA or similar and most importantly, it should always have their full contact details with it, but with an autograph it never comes with a COA.
If you are just looking for an investment and have little knowledge of autographs, try to establish a relationship with a dealer, you will learn a lot more and you will often be provided with items that dealers are not likely to catalog regularly, as they may be interested in your purchase. Maybe be aware of that kind of thing.
The autograph market is driven by a lot of nostalgia and there is demand instead. So look for names that are reminiscent of that time, place, or job, whose names are known to people all over the world who will remember this name for years to come. John Lennon is a perfect example, as his music is heard every day around the world, it reminds them of their wedding, first date, their youth and many important places and times, so his signature will always be present there the most investing autograph.
Some names give better rates than others but make the right choice, buy at the right price and you can make a substantial profit when selling.