A lot more 1960s autographs are around than signatures from the 1950s. For collectors that’s a great thing because in many cases it keeps the prices down – and enables you to put together a good collection without having to re-mortgage your house (although there are some exceptions).
Autographs from this decade – especially if you get a sheet with signatures of a complete band – can also prove to be a good investment. That’s particularly true if you can find the top groups of the period, although you’ll soon discover that those don’t come cheap.
Who to Collect?Almost any familiar name is a good answer, but you shouldn’t expect that set of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch autographs to fund your retirement. The bigger the name, the more the autograph is worth. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a fortune. A set of both the Spencer Davis Group (including a young Steve Winwood) and Herman’s Hermits can be had for less than £40, and even a set of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, with future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor as well as blues legend B.B. King, sold for a mere £60.
In other words, there are still plenty of bargains to be found. Even such great figures as Bob Dylan or the Doors won’t send you to your bank manager to extend your overdraft.
Where To Buy?Reputable memorabilia dealers are a good source for autographs, but for the high end of the market, you’ll need to deal with auctions and auction houses.
You will find autographs for sale on eBay, but without some kind of certificate of authenticity, be very wary; after all, forging an autograph costs nothing. If you see autographs of major names with a low starting bid, steer very clear – there’s a strong chance they’re fake.
FakesYou’ll find forgeries mostly among the bigger names. Some of it is quite deliberate, but there are also “accidental forgeries.” Pop stars didn’t have time to answer all the letters and send autographs. Stuff, usually fan club secretaries, did that, including sending signed photos of the artists. These weren’t attempts to defraud, by any means, but a number of them come up for sale today, only for sellers to be disillusioned after all these years.
Beatles autographs, especially, are faked, to the point where at least one man has made a comprehensive study of their signatures and how they changed. If you are contemplating spending a few thousand on, say, a set of top star autographs, you’d be well advised to have them authenticated first.
The Big NamesThe big names are when you get into a range of more than £500 – and several thousand isn’t outlandish for some items. A set of autographs for Cream can cost £600, and, depending on the item, Dylan autographs are up to £1,500.
The true pots of gold, however, lie with the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, just as they do with almost anything connected to the 1960s. Hendrix can be more collectable – and more expensive – than the Beatles. A set of Jimi Hendrix Experience signatures brought in well over £5,000 at an auction, although that’s unusual, even for Hendrix.
When you get to the Beatles, demand far outstrips supply, no matter what the signed item. For the most desirable, like an LP cover signed by all the members, expect to pay up to £15,000. That’s very much on the high end, but any set of Beatles signatures will cost well into four figures. Even individual Beatle signatures are costly, and for most people, just a dream.
If you start small, collecting smartly and sell with some thought, you can make money with autographs.