The Great American Blues Players Signature Study: Please Add Your Examples

Hello everyone,

I have been wanting to start a thread on this for a long time, and i figure now is as good of a time as any. I collect primary guitar players, and have been selling alot of them off recently, but one thing i continue to collect are the great old blues guitar players. Their is something about the Delta Blues traveling lifestyle that holds alot of wonder for me. These guys laid the foundation of modern music and they inspired many, if not most, of the musicians working today. Most think of Robert Johnson when they think of the great Blues players, but their are so so many others that deserve mention and tons of respect.

As anyone who has ever studied early blues signatures knows, they are incredibly difficult to authenticate or even find at times. You have guys like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, BB King just to name a few whose signature examples can readily be found. But aside from a few key players, autographs from these guys are very hard to find. And when you find one, often you really have to trust your source or do some serious research. And even then you often cant find examples.

So i thought this would be a good thread that may help future collectors out with examples we think are authentic. Please post examples of blues signatures that you like and want to share. Guys like Buddy Guy and BB King probably dont need to be posted in mass b/c their signatures are so abundant, but dont hesitate if you would like to post some.

I hope this can turn into a good database, and really the only one of its kind on the net. I have many examples from many different sources and if someone doesnt want their picture posted just leave a comment and i will delete it.

I am going to start this off with Albert King. You can find Albert King signatures from time to time, and of the 3 King's, he is the next most available after BB. Alberts signatures are typically sloppy, shaky, and can take on a few forms. Albert often write "Love You" before his signature, and his typical signature takes the form of A. King. I have also seen variations including "A.B. King". King often would not write out King fully and the formation would flow from the K almost into the g. I have seen my fair share of forgeries with Albert, but his signature can be authenticated in most instances in my opinion. Here are some examples with sources:

This is one album i used to own and recently sold on RR Auction. It came from "Mr. Bebop", of Larrys Books and Autographs. He specializes in blues signatures and this was a great example of king.

These next images came from RR Auction

The Ace of Spades album is a nice example, and the rarer A.B. King signature. The middle cut display is more atypical. This one in my eyes can go either way but is probably good. The A looks typical but the King is a little more unusual. But he did do this from time to time in his shorter signature versions. The bottom example is a typical King signature.

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Next i thought we could look at Jon "Johnny" Shines. Shines was another guitar giant and a great southern player. Examples of Johnny's signature are fairly rare. They do come up several times a year typically between ebay UK and USA. They average typically between 100 and 200 dollars. Although i personally would not pay over 100 for it, and am still looking for one between the 50 and 75 dollar range. I may not find it, but his signatures do come up so i will be patient and see what pops up. Shines lived into the nineties so their are more sigs out their floating around than alot of others, but finding comparison examples can be difficult. Here are a few below.

This example and the next came from Mr. Bebop


This one came from ebay UK i believe.

In conclusion Shines is a rare but obtainable autograph and his influences are felt everywhere although many may not recognize his name.

Here's a Johnny Shines autograph cut that sold recently for the princely sum of $25:

Next up is a personal favorite of mine, and a legend to himself, the great Sam John "Lightnin" Hopkins. Hopkins was an amazing guitarist and had a very distinct finger style of playing, and would often slap and tap his guitar to add to the music. That was unusual at the time although now its quite common with classical, fusion, and flamenco guitarists. Kaki King relies on it heavily. He played, just like many other legendary bluesman, with the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Hopkins signatures are rare but can be found with persistence. I see typically around 4 or 5 a year sold online a year. Hopkins lived into the eighties so signature examples are out their, but are very desirable and people dont like to part with them. His signature typically commands from 150 to 400 dollars. I recently got my hands on one and will be posting a scan soon. A typical example will bring in 2 to 300 dollars on ebay with no problem. I would put his signature as far as rarity about the same or a little rarer than Albert King.

Here are some examples:

I believe this one is from ebay

This one is from ebay

This guy came from a private autograph collection site.

I believe this came from an online auction site, and is rare with the "Sam" added.

I believe this is from another online auction and includes the "Sam" as well

I believe this came from either RR or ebay

I believe this came from an online auction database

Here is a really cool example pulled from google images i believe.

All in all Hopkins is a rare signature. Their are more examples out their of him than other legendary blues guys but people are not willing to sell them.

Hi guys,

I promise i finally am going to come back once i get some time, and add much more to this thread. But i finally got around to uploading a scan of my Lightnin Hopkins autograph. Its an autographed LP, that has some wear and tear around the edges, but a great signature, and was very happy to add him to my collection.

Hi guys, here is another example of Hopkins from an RR mega auction, lol. Your probably going to get tired of seeing this picture, but its so important as an example, that it bares repeating

Next up is another great guitarist John Smith Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt. He was a mesmerizing singer and guitar player and lived into the sixties. Hurt signatures are quite rare. They rarely come up on any auction. I typically run into them every few years if i am looking hard. Although i have not had the opportunity to bid on one yet, i hope to get one in the future. They are quite valuable as well. Typically a cut signature will bring in at least 200 dollars. If you happened to have an LP or something else signed, the price cut easily go above 4 or 5 hundred. I dont have many examples but here are a few:

I believe this came from an online auction database

I believe this came from another online database

This one came from an online database

Now this example is different. This came from RR Auction, but in my opinion this is not genuine. I have never seen an example of Hurts signature like this. The J in John is all wrong, as is Hurt. The Mississippi part doesnt look right either, but the John and Hurt are the big problems in my eyes. Maybe this is a style of Hurt i have not seen before since their are few examples out their, but i do not believe this to be authentic.

Hurt is a rare signer and gave a pretty good autograph for his day. He is rare to find, but if you think he is rare, try finding Mississippi Fred McDowell. I have been searching for years for an example of him and have yet to find one. Mr. Bebop may have one, but he is one of the few who might possibly have seen one.

Saved this from the trash at a used book store. Was never able to verify, but looking at this compared to the others, I think it’s legit. Came with this flyer and a glossy photo I framed. 

Attachments: No photo uploads here

Those look to 'clean' - not shaky - I would suspect them as not authentic - but I would still treasure the whole package - what a find. Could be real - maybe it was before a performance or when he was younger. They do seem to conform to the right shapes of the letters.

I had some of the same thoughts. It isn’t anywhere near as shakey, but the J and H look really similar to some of the others. I think the context is important too. With the flyer and everything it seems possible it’s from a show in 1963/64. The guy only played out for around 3 years, so it could be this is from earlier in that stretch, when he was theoretically more rested. It could also be that he just learned to write better in those three years, and it’s from later in his career. Still a bit of a mystery, but that’s how I’d like to think of this treasure. 

Okay, on to one of the big ones, Mr. McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters. One of the greatest guitar players in history, and known as the father of Chicago blues, Muddy was a true legend. Up until his death in the eighties he was one of the last living links to the old world blues. He is a legend today and just about every guitarist who made it big cites him as an influence.

Muddy signatures arent exactly common, but they can readily be purchased if you have the patience and money. Muddy is another signature that people dont want to part with, and they are very desirable and always sell. Muddy gave a very predictable autograph and gave a nice autograph for the day. One unusual trait with Muddy is that he almost always capitalized the inscription of the persons name, when he inscribed. Typically Muddy wrote his full name, "muddy waters", but i have seen legit examples of M. Waters. Muddy seemed to be a good signer and their are numerous examples of his signature.

Here are some examples:

Here is a signed contract from either ebay or an online database i believe.

From an online database i believe

Either from RR, or an online database

Muddy and Otis Spann from RR Auction

I would have loved to have this item but it went for a good bit, but was filled with blues autographs. It came off ebay from a seller in Switzerland. 

I believe this is from RR auction

From RR i believe

I am not sure where this one came from

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

Muddy and James Cotton from an online database i think

From RR i believe

From an online database i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

I believe this came from an online database

This came from ebay and i came very close to buying it. But a member on this site ended up with it at a good price too.

I believe this is from RR

I believe this is from RR too

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

From RR i believe

This is from ebay i believe

I believe this is from RR too

This last one is a really cool item and came from a private collection site. It also has the signatures of Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, and Memphis Slim.

All in all Muddy autographs are out their in the marketplace in fair numbers but they are pricey. I would say they start typically at at least 100 bucks for a cut, and up to 5 or even 600 sometimes for signed albums. People love items from Muddy, their is no doubt about that. Their are many other examples you can find of Muddy out their on the net, but the above images should give a good idea of what his sig looks like, and most were pulled from RR past auctions.

A brilliant study's so far on Blues autographs and examples.

I have a few signed Muddy Waters autographs, hundreds of BB King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, a couple by Broonzy, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, One Albert King, and many others. I will add my images to this thread as I get chance.

Best wishes and thank you for doing this! Richard,

Hi Richard,

Thank you for the encouraging words. It sounds like you have a great collection and look forward to seeing them. Ive wanted to do this for a while b/c these guys are just so hard to find good examples for. It took me many years to put together even a few signature examples in a few instances. So i wanted to share that.

Thanks again




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