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The artist's signature is a perennially pursued artifact. In the case of fine artists, such as Gustav Klimt or Claude Monet, it connotes authenticity. In author inscriptions, such as those by the acclaimed Charles Dickens, the signature suggests a particular connection between writer and reader. As such, artist autographs continually capture the collector's eye because their value, if authentic, will hardly diminish.
Artists have signed their works for centuries, yet it is truly a contemporary trend to see such celebration of the autograph itself. In today's market, an artist's insignia or signature can be used to authenticate, and in some cases date, a work of art. Writers' autographs have a similar authority in that they can guarantee an edition date of a published text or help identify written pieces that had previously been undocumented.
Many artist autographs for sale today are part of larger find, for example, a brilliant oil on canvas composition or a rediscovered hard-bound volume. But even the occasional signature on ephemera incites excitement among art enthusiasts.
The first artist to sign his work was 6th century B.C. Greek vase painter Sophilos. Fragments from a "dinoi," or wine basin, bear the inscription: Sophilos drew me
Salvador Dali complicated the authenticity of his output by sometimes signing paper prior it being painted or printed (sometimes by another artist)
Some artists, including 16th century German master Albrecht Dürer and 19th century French innovator Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, often signed their works not with their full names, but with stylish monograms