Have you got a , sports star, or musician that you love? Then imagine how you would feel to get their autograph. Do you want that feeling? I keep that feeling. After twenty years of collecting autographs of Hollywood and music, you would think that I would be tired of the hobby. Far from it. I continue to get a rush when I open my mailbox and see a large envelope with my name on it that I sent to a star or singer. I get inside the house and open it and then I see whether or not it was a success or a failure.
What do I mean when I say if it was a success or failure? Ah, that is the million dollar question. After I receive the autograph and get over the adrenaline that had set in, I go to work to research whether or not the signature is authentic. See, in the hobby of autograph collecting, there are so many variables that you have to consider. The most obvious is it authentic or secretarial? (where a secretary signs for the celebrity). Is it a facsimile which is a copy of an original signature. Is it autopen? An autopen is a machine that uses a real pen and real ink to draw an exact replica of an autograph. See where I am going with this? If not, keep reading.
What I am trying to convey to you is that the hobby of autograph collecting can be a huge disappointment if you do not take the time to learn about it. You need to know the terms that are used in the hobby. You need to learn what celebrities are willing signers and others hate it. Knowledge is power in this hobby.
The biggest response I get from people is I have a certificate of authenticity so I know it is real! Well, the way I answer that is by simply telling them that anyone can produce a certificate of authenticity. Add some fancy border work and make it sound official. Now I am not saying all companies are like that. For example, PSA does an incredible job to authenticate autographs. They have at their disposal all kinds of tools to magnify an autograph by 100 times. That way they can see if there are overlaps in the signature, any eraser marks and so forth. There are also many reputable autograph companies on the web. I am just wanting people to keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is not.
This topic is probably the most controversial there is. I will not name any online in this piece. All I can say is be careful when looking through autographed items online. There was a study done three years ago on one large selling and auction site. Weeks after the study, it was determined that 80% of the autographs that were listed were not authentic. I have strolled through the site and spotted 25 fakes in just about 2 hours. Remember, a certificate of authenticity is only as good as the paper it is written on. Ask questions from any seller. If they are legitimate, they will have no problem answering your questions.
Another problem with purchasing autographs on auctions sites is the seller may not be trying to deceive anyone. It may just be that they are not familiar with what to look for in a signature to confirm it is authentic. If a seller tries to avoid your questions it is time to move on to another site.
I hope in this short introduction to Autograph Collecting and buying autographs I have given you just a little peek of what this wonderful hobby is all about. Look for my next Hub in which I will discuss more in detail inks, paper, time period, sharpie, and making a profit if you decide to sell your collection. For now, I will close with happy hunting.