An autograph is a memory captured in time. It remains as one of the most sought-after collectables to date, covering celebrities and superstars, politicians, and scientists, to live streamers and sports stars.
Securing an autograph from your favourite public figure is a feeling that is totally unmatched, so it’s no wonder you’d want to keep your autograph collection in the best possible condition, giving you years and years of enjoyment.
We’ve created the ultimate guide on collecting autographs, how to store them and care for them to keep them looking as fresh as the day you got them.
How to get an autograph
Autograph collecting has been part of popular culture for centuries. Whatever you’re interested in, be it music, movies, games or sports, there is plenty of figures within each specialist community whose signatures are highly sought after.
Depending on whether the person of interest is living or deceased, the method of collection differs slightly.
For those that are still with us, one of the simplest ways to secure yourself an autograph is by sending them a letter of request. Many celebrities or other public figures will have an agent or manager office addresses available to find online through websites such as FanMail.biz.
Once you’ve found an address, simply send a polite letter of request along with any items you’d like signed. This could be a card, photograph, poster, etc. Make sure to include a return envelope and stamp to cover the correct postage too!
Of course, you aren’t always guaranteed a reply, but it is the simplest method to try.
Some other options you could try are:
- Trying to catch the attention of your favourite sports star as they enter or exit the pitch or playing field.
- Wait outside theatre doors or shooting locations for your favourite actor or singer to enter/exit.
- Attend talks or conferences with meet and greet options.
If the person of interest is deceased, there are plenty of dealers and auctions who often have more historical autographed items available for sale.
How to store autographs
Once you have secured an autographed item, you’re going to want to ensure you take care of it properly to avoid any damage or fading, as well and ensuring it holds its potential to grow in value!
Depending on what type of item your autograph is written on, there are several different ways to store it:
An autograph book is an ideal way to keep all of your autographs secure in one place. While it may not be the best choice for displaying several autographs at one, it does make a great focal piece to show off to your friends and family.
How to make an autograph book
There are a whole range of autograph books available to buy online, but if you want to go one step further and really personalise your book, you can make one yourself.
You can find free printable autograph book templates online, or you can follow a template and draw one out yourself. Many local printing companies or libraries will provide binding services, so it really depends how creative you’re looking to get with it!
A very popular way to collect autographs, particularly for sports stars, is on clothing such as jerseys or football shirts.
How to preserve an autograph on clothing
Make sure to keep the autograph away from direct sunlight. Even exposure to lamps or overhead lighting can cause your autograph to fade, so make sure it is well shaded. Try to avoid displaying it in any rooms that are too hot or too cold, and that have a constant humidity. If you aren’t planning on displaying your autograph, keep it wrapped in tissue and stored in a box or other secure container.
Autographed photos are great display items, and as such should be framed in a secure and deep-set frame which prevents the autograph from touching the glass. Direct light can fade your photo and autograph, so try and keep it away from harsh lighting.
Here are a few of our top tips to consider when collecting autographs:
Best pens to use for autographs
Depending on what you’re having signed, the best pen for the job can differ slightly.
It is widely acknowledged that, in general, Sharpie’s or other permanent markers are one of the best all-round pens for autograph collecting.
But the simple ball point pen is a great choice for items such as cards or photographs, as well as baseball bats or books to name a few.
How to stop autographs fading
Correct storage of your autograph is the key to keeping it from fading. Try and keep it away from harsh or direct light – both natural and false.
If you can, try and keep the curtains closed during the day in the room you’re displaying your autograph in.
For pictures or cards that aren’t in an autograph book, invest in a sturdy and deep frame to prevent any damage and add an additional layer of protection.
How to verify autograph authenticity
Here are some tips to ensure your autograph is legit:
- Compare the signatures upside down.
- Look out for stamped signatures.
- Grab a magnifying glass and look to see if the edges of the autograph are unnaturally smooth.
- Hold it up to the light – if it glows a shaded purple colour, chances are it’s been reproduced.
- Avoid private auctions or privacy requests from the seller.
- Go to a reliable authentication source.
Depending on the age of the autograph or its significance in history or popular culture, some can fetch astronomical prices!
Here are some of the highest prices autographs in the world:
- George Washington’s Acts of Congress: $9.8m
- Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: $3.7m
- John Lennon’s Murderer Signed LP: $525,000
- Joe Dimaggio & Marilyn Monroe Baseball: $191,200
Many modern-day autographs reach into the thousands:
- Queen Elizabeth II: $2,250
- JK Rowling: $1,875
- Madonna: $1,200
- David Beckham: £999.99