Home > Early Memorabilia > Autographs

Autographs

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 

Autographs are some of the easiest things to collect; going back a few decades many boys had an autograph book which they used to collect signatures of the famous and not so famous. Autographs are light, portable, and many are quite readily affordable.

Of course, with autographs, especially older ones, there’s always the question of authenticity. How can you know that Richie Valens autograph is real, or that Cliff Richard really did sign that piece of paper in 1958? The simple answer is that, in most cases, you can’t know. There are ways to try and have them authenticated, but that can cost more than the autograph itself, and it’s an inexact science; all too often you won’t get a definitive answer.

Who To Collect

You can collect autographs of all the early rockers – in fact, since they comprised a relatively small group, you’d almost need to (a question to ask yourself, for instance, is do you really need 10 different Elvis autographs?). Indeed, assembling a collection of many of the 50s rockers – whether American or British – could be a very interesting task.

Alternatively, you could assemble the autographs of a singer and all the members of his backing group – which might prove more challenging, as tracking down the signatures of the lesser-known can take quite a while.

Some people go for specific types of autographs, such as signed photographs or signed LPs, which makes for an interesting subdivision of autographs in general.

How To Collect

With a few exceptions, auction houses aren’t the best place to buy 1950s autographs – they’re simply too common to warrant the attention of the places (you might find the occasional Elvis or Johnny Cash item that’s the exception to the rule, which is reflected in the price).

Instead, it’s better to look at the offerings of dealers, or even check on eBay or one of the other Internet auction sites. Ideally, look at dealers who are part of the UACC, because their autographs will almost certainly be legitimate, from trusted sources. With eBay you need to be very careful. It’s all too easy to forge signatures, and eBay is a very anonymous forum for sales. Check the seller’s feedback carefully before bidding and buying.

What Should You Pay?

There are so many variables in price with autographs. Rarity is a huge factor, of course, along with presentation (an autographed LP will bring more than a signature on a scrap of paper, for example) and legibility (many autographs, written to waiting fans after concerts, were little more than fast scrawls).

At the high end, you can pay up to around £500 for a good, authenticated Elvis autograph, although you can find them at lower prices. However, authenticity is a big factor – where there’s demand, there’s forgery. Some of it was unintentional – the demand was so high that often Elvis’ friends would sign his name on pictures to send out – but others are deliberate.

Most other rockers can’t command prices in the same league. The only exception is Buddy Holly, which is based on rarity. For most rockers, a high end price of £50 is what you should expect to pay, and most will cost much less.

Re-Selling

You’re unlikely to make a big profit on autographs. The main reason to acquire them is to assemble a collection – at which point, if you sell them together, you might see some return on your money. However, as investments, you’d be much better advised to look at other areas of rock memorabilia.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Emzelbrace
    Re: Take That Memorabilia
    I have a box of Take That memoribilia from the 1990s. 12 inch and 7 inch records, cassettes, posters, items from the fan club and a host of…
    13 October 2020
  • Steven C Rosen
    Re: 1980s Tickets and Passes
    Hi: I am a pro rock journalist with a huge collection of backstage passes from the '80s and '90s for sale. The collection includes…
    4 August 2020
  • Robbyn
    Re: Take That Memorabilia
    Hi there! I have a 1992 Cassette of ‘Once You’ve Tasted Love’ (b: ‘Guess Who Tasted Love’) with the original bonus TT stencil. Would that…
    6 July 2020
  • TazzaB
    Re: Heavy Metal Memorabilia
    I have a 'Six of the Best' programme of the Genesis concert (last time Peter Gabriel played with them) at the Milton Keynes Concert Bowl.…
    14 May 2020
  • mcan15
    Re: Take That Memorabilia
    Before I throw them away, Is a 1995 & 1996 calendar of any interest plus a large badge from same time?
    5 September 2019
  • UncleBobL
    Re: Take That Memorabilia
    I have a arge collection of Take That Fan mags that my daughter left behind when she moved out 25 years ago. Currently downsizing is there…
    19 July 2019
  • Jo-Jo
    Re: Take That Memorabilia
    I have a signed tshirt, all 5 members from the 1992 tour at Bradford St George's hall. The shirts were signed & thrown off stage, also…
    15 April 2019