I was wondering when and why we collect autograph’s as I have quite a collection of them myself, I don’t know why really, I guess it’s a lovely memento of when you meet someone of note.. here is what I have discovered:
The earliest autograph we know of dates back to 2600BC and was on a clay tablet in Iraq written by a chap called ‘a-du’ has added ‘dub-sar’ and then the earliest surviving signature on a papyrus is of Amen’aa, which is dated to the Egyptian middle kingdom, which began c. 2130 BC.
After that the next time it really got going was in the 1800’s, When President Andrew Jackson was in power he made ‘famous’ people more approachable thus folks could get autographs.
But why do we like it, well it is inherent in our nature to collect things and that combined with our love of celebrity, which is nothing new, some say we like to get an autograph as proof that we once met that person whom we admire, I know that for me a great example and a favourite autograph is my Pet Sounds poster, which is signed by both Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, to me it is amazing that I have met both the writers of such a wonderful piece of art and to have their autographs makes it even more personal.
Of course these mementoes take on a greater value once the scribe is no longer with us, it is a moment in time captured and never to be re-lived, I have a wonderful signed ‘All Summer Long LP with just one signature missing, Dennis Wilson and alas it will never be added now.
So I hope that helps explain why we love autographs, above are some of my favourites:
Brian Wilson, Dirk Bogarde, a very young me with Dustin Hoffman, Tom Robbins, Armistead Maupin, Sherilyn Fenn to name but a few.
Here is a list of the most expensive autographs taken from Autograph Collecting
1. Many believe the signature of the playwright William Shakespeare is the most expensive autograph in the world. Only six authentic signatures exist and each one would be expected to fetch around £2.5m
2. The highest price ever paid on the open market for a single signed autograph letter was $748,000 in 1991 for a letter written by US President Abraham Lincoln on January 8, 1863, defending the Emancipation Proclamation.
3. Double Fantasy was John Lennon’s last album released during his lifetime and is a collaboration with Yoko Ono. In 2003, the last copy autographed by Lennon before he was killed by Mark Chapman was sold for $525,000, becoming the most valuable record ever.
4. Jimmy Page’s signed guitar is one of the most prized signed possessions on sale at £49,000. The Led Zeppelin star began his career as a studio session guitarist in London and has been inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame twice.
5. A piece of paper signed by Jimmy Hendrix has a starting price of £41,000. The rocker, who died aged 27, is widely considered to be the greatest guitarist in the history of rock music.