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I have recently expanded my autograph collection to include original comic and sports art.  I created a discussion about it two years ago.  The hobby seems to be growing in popularity.  There is a growing interest in not only commissioning artists to produce original works, but to also have the original works autographed by celebrities and athletes.  I am currently undecided about having original comic and sports art autographed.  I am considering it for a few of my pieces.

Original Comic and Sports Art (Signed and Unsigned)

I am also very curious about whether or not the signature of an artist is considered to be an autograph, or simply an extension of the artwork.  Consider the Batman pencil and ink drawing that I commissioned Neal Adams to draw.  Neal is a comic artist based in Manhattan.  The drawing is 14” x 11”.

My Batman pencil and ink drawing that I commissioned Neal Adams to draw.

A Neal Adams autograph is something that many collectors purchase, particularly if it is on a comic book or print of his work.  Is the signature on original artwork an autograph, or is it simply an extension of the original artwork?  Perhaps the signature is an autograph, and the artwork is an extension of it?

This topic can become very complicated if we also consider how acceptable it is to restore an original painting, but how unacceptable it would be to restore an original autograph.  The Vatican is constantly restoring historic works of art.  When was the last time that a Babe Ruth autographed baseball was restored without controversy?  The difference between autographs and art will forever be determined by collectors, and what we are willing to accept.

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Comment by JK on April 1, 2021 at 1:42am

Artworks (especially oil paintings) often have a "signature" that differs from the artists signature as it might appear on a letter or check. The artwork has a "signature" but not necessarily an autograph.

I don't think that artwork restoration is comparable to altering or "restoring" an autograph. 

As for having original artwork autographed by people other than the artist, that depends. If the artwork is just a vehicle for autographs then fine, but if it exists as art then I am probably against it.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on April 1, 2021 at 2:43am

Thanks for the comment, JK.  You make valid points.

Comment by Joe W. on April 1, 2021 at 5:47am

Autographs and Art are two different mediums. Although autograph collectors will add a signed original drawing to their collection. For instance, a signed Charles Schultz drawing is far more desirable than simply his signature.

Perhaps someone knows this already but would an original signed Al Hirschfeld be worth more or less if the celebrity has also added their signature? Perhaps less to an art collector but more to an autograph collector?

I do believe that, from my understanding, an autographed Mickey Mantle rookie card is worth less than one not signed.   

Comment by Eric Keith Longo on April 1, 2021 at 7:53am

"...I don't think that artwork restoration is comparable to altering or "restoring" an autograph...."

+1 properly restored paintings never are restored to the point that the restoration is not visible.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on April 1, 2021 at 3:39pm

Yes, Joe W.  A signed Charles Schultz drawing would be extremely valuable.  I believe that the same would apply to a signed Al Hirshfeld drawing, although it may be very valuable without his signature as well, depending on the subject of the drawing.  Regarding an autographed Mickey Mantle rookie card, it would depend on the condition of the card.  Thanks for the comment.  Hope all is well.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on April 1, 2021 at 3:41pm

I agree, Eric.  Thanks for the comment.

Comment by BC on April 1, 2021 at 4:47pm

I look at a signature on an art piece as an extension of the piece and a way to authenticate the artwork.

Comment by Paul on April 1, 2021 at 5:33pm

Restoration has to be part of autograph collecting because so many mediums are signed on paper or laminate that is deteriorating, just look at some of The Beatles signed lps that have been signed , the laminate is starting to stretch , the cardboard is full of acid and starts to Pitt, autographs start to fade. How many centuries or decades can signed lps or magazines really last without some can of preservation?

I've changed or added different items to my collection these days because so many o f the graphs are so generic, artist sell them online , pro graphers populate the market with cheap stock. 

Comment by Doug S on April 1, 2021 at 7:22pm

Comment by Doug S on April 1, 2021 at 7:25pm

I used to keep these autographs in a drawer along with the 1947 ephemera.  I had these acrylic frames and put these pieces together with archival products.  I hung them on the wall and now I consider them art.  They are much more fun on the wall. 

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