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Many of history's greatest moments have been commemorated with an
autograph. From the earliest artist signatures of ancient Greece to the signors
of the Declaration of the Independence, historical autographs add an air of
authenticity to documents and create a tangible connection to our shared
Though the practice of making one's mark on official documents dates
back generations, the collecting of signatures is a more recent phenomenon.
Enthusiasm for autographs swelled over the course of the 19th century as
collectors realized just how significant signatures can be.
While some autograph collectors directly solicit signatures from their
favorite figures, others turn to the retail market, seeking out autograph
dealers who can provide authenticated signatures. The tradition of the
signature trade continues to be vigorous today, with important historical
autographs gaining significance as time goes on.
By the 1850s, avid autograph collectors were sending away for
the signatures of prominent figures including American author Washington
The oldest documented signature appears on a relief-carved tablet from
ancient Sumer. Listing the titles of the civilization's central figures, the tablet
is etched on the reverse with the name of the scribe, Gar.Ama
An Acts of Congress signed by United States President George
Washington sold at a Sotheby's auction in 2012 for
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