How many of us have ever met someone famous, but have never asked for an autograph? Did you know that the signatures of many famous people can be worth hundreds of pounds? So, are you thinking now, maybe I should have asked them after all?
My own collection started when I was only 14 years old, and today, 45 years later, I still collect, but now with my gaze fixed on the value of the investment.
During those years, we’ve seen the hobby of collecting autographs and interest in ‘celebrities’ have risen to a point where the crowd at a great movie premiere can be ten in depth, many with photos or books that they expect the stars of the movie to do. sign for them. Some of them will be professional collectors, only interested in the profits to be made, as the market has increased enormously in the last 15 years to over £ 20,000,000 in 2011.
The value of some of these autographs has risen well above the inflation rate of the time, and with interest rates now at an all-time low (December 2011), it makes sense to look for alternative investments, and autographs are without doubt one that should be considered.
Just ten years ago, you could have bought a signed picture of the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, for less than £ 300, but that same signed picture now could cost you more than £ 2000, which is a huge increase in value to anyone’s eyes.
The real investment potential comes when demand for a firm increases, and sadly that usually means when someone dies. At that point, supply stops, demand rises, and prices rise accordingly, and even though that initial peak will drop after a short time and the price will stabilize, it will still be at a higher price than before it disappeared!
However, this kind of increase only happens to the best-known names who have achieved worldwide fame for something significant (so you can forget about Jedward!). Everest Conqueror firm Edmund Hilary, for example, used to sell for around £ 15 before he passed away, but now you may have to pay £ 70 or more and its value continues to rise.
Current names to invest in would include Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the big screen legend Christopher Lee, or any of the Apollo astronauts, especially those who have walked on the surface of the moon or have achieved some of the space firsts.
Look for people who have actually accomplished something that has been recognized around the world, Roger Bannister and the first mile under 4 minutes, for example. These can currently be found for under £ 30, but keep Sir Edmund Hilary’s current pricing in mind!
The value of a signature can vary greatly depending on what the signature is in, the size of the item, the condition, and of course, whether it is dedicated to you or someone else. In general, signed photos are best, bigger the better, and remember that some dealers or collectors will only buy non-dedicated items as they are much easier to sell. Condition is always important and, as with everything, the better you are, the more you are worth.
Authenticity is of course of the utmost importance and you can help protect yourself here by buying from well-known and established dealers. There are several well-known associations that most good dealers belong to, the most common being the UACC, but make sure your dealer is a registered UACC dealer and not just a collector member. Anyone can join some of these associations, and the unscrupulous distributor will simply join as a member and use these new “credentials” to try and create an air of an established and knowledgeable distributor.
Some associations like AFTAL or PADA only accept established distributors, have very strict membership rules and do not allow just anyone to join them. All good distributors who are members of any of these three associations will appear clearly on their relevant websites, so don’t think that the distributors claim they are members. ForeverCheck first! What if they are members of nowhere? Well, I leave you to decide for yourself on that! Just remember if a sale goes wrong for any reason. you may find yourself alone when you try to get a refund. If the dealer is a member of a recognized association, then he has a much better chance of solving the problem.
There are also many books available to help with authentication and collection, but there is nothing better than experience, and it can only be obtained by studying signatures, meeting celebrities, and learning more about their signing habits, the paper and pens used, etc. It can be a real minefield, but it can be well worth it.
One thing you need to be very careful about is “ provenance ” as many well-intentioned people will tell you all of this is important, but it is not, as most of the provenance that is offered with autographs is not. it has no real value and is very rarely. ‘proof’ of any authenticity. In fact, most of the provenance is simply a story and nothing more. “My aunt managed to sign the autograph book when she was working as an usher at Woolwich Granada, when the Beatles played there in June 1963” Certainly the Beatles played in 1963, but that piece of information can easily be found on the Internet or through the many books documenting the Beatles’ career. And the autograph book he’s in? Surely that proves that the signatures must be genuine since it contains other minor names from the same period? Well that autograph book could have easily been bought on eBay for £ 20 with the seller adding the Beatles’ signatures himself. It is a very simple scam that fools the ignorant every week. So education is the key here, and only experience can bring that education.
The actual provenance of the autographs can only mean a good and demonstrable link from one good source to another, such as the item in question having passed through the hands of several well-known and knowledgeable dealers. Each of those dealers would have had the opportunity to verify and verify the authenticity of any item, and it is doubtful that several would make the same mistake of perhaps passing an Autopen signature, for example, as authentic. However, beware of auction labels on items as “proof” that they have passed through Christies or elsewhere, as sometimes these labels have simply been printed on a home computer and attached later.
There are also cases where an item may have some provenance because it has been signed in a paid signature organized by a known dealer. Many stars have done this, and many well-known people have attended shows or autograph events where they sign items for money. However, you should still be sure about these firms, as the less scrupulous know that they are simply buying an item from a firm and then creating 50 more when they get home, while using the photo they took at the firm to ‘prove’ that an article is authentic.
What about a COA? Any self-respecting merchant will tell you the same, they are worth nothing and only prove where and when you bought the item, a COA will never prove an item is authentic, it can only say it is authentic, but if the merchant is a Failure then your COA is a failure too! Any good dealer will, of course, issue a COA or similar and more importantly they should always have your full contact details, but never an autograph just because it comes with a COA.
If you are simply looking for an investment and have little knowledge of autographs, be sure to try to build a relationship with a dealer, this way you will learn much more and will often be offered items that may not be on the market. regular catalog of dealers as they realize the kinds of things they may be interested in buying.
The autograph market is highly driven by nostalgia and, in turn, by demand. So look for names that remind people of a time, place, or event, whose names are known to people all over the world, who will continue to be remembered by that name for many years. John Lennon is a perfect example, as his music is heard every day around the world, it reminds them of their wedding, their first date, their youth and so many important places and moments, so his signature will always be at the height of the most invertible autographs.
Some names are better rated than others, but choose the right option, buy at the right price, and you could make a considerable profit when it comes to selling.