From the moment that the sharpie pen writes it’s first stroke on the page, shirt or body part something inside us changes. We instantly feel giddy, like we’ve won the celebrity lottery and that having had the famous person touch the sharpie that touched the page, shirt or body part means we’ve achieved some un-reachable prize that no mere mortal can possibly reach.
Autographs are a CRAZE that has literally stood the test of time. The oldest autograph is said to be on a Sumerian Clay Table at around 3100 BC.. yes, B-C! From there, the importance of an autograph didn’t quite reach it’s lift-off until 1815 when a man named William B. Sprague from the United States was said to be the first major autograph collector. William called his collecting a ‘Mania’ and his ‘Passion’.. and his collection of autographs, manuscripts, pamphlets grew to over tens of thousands of pieces after his death.
From the 1830-1850’s autographs began to increase in value. Collectors in the United States began preserving signatures from notable authors who had passed away, even politicians were the being asked for their autograph from people in the community making them almost like the Backstreet Boys or Justin Bieber from way-back-when.
When the quill and parchment, became markers and blank paper the CRAZE to collect and sell autographs from famous people never lost it’s sense of purpose amongst fans. It was like a memento that they could treasure from their favourite celebrity, a way to connect with a person who inspired them in some way.
The modern day photograph is basically a ‘selfie’ with a celebrity, if you can get one of those, it’s a way to prove that you met them. However, over time there was an emergence of people replicating the signatures to make a quick buck, although this did not slow the value of notable autographs. In fact, it created a whole new work force to protect the collectors craze of autographs being authenticated by autograph certification experts, that specialise in sporting star signatures and celebrity signings.
As of 2022, the most expensive autograph in history is still George Washington’s Acts of Congress which is valued at $9.8 million dollars. Late Baseball star, Babe Ruth’s signed Baseball is valued at $388,375 and the late great Jimi Hendrix’ contract is valued at $200,000.