Loading Spinner

Historical Autographs

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 past.

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.


Quick Facts

  • By the 1850s, avid autograph collectors were sending away for the signatures of prominent figures including American author Washington Irving
  • 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 $9,800,000

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

bp parity badge
John Gotti ALS to Family Shortly After his Incarceration
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
John Gotti ALS to Family Shortly After his Incarceration
by University Archives
Est: $600- $700
$1,00013 Bids
bp parity badge
Gen. Maxwell Taylor Signed Typescript of German Surrender
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Gen. Maxwell Taylor Signed Typescript of German Surrender
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$32512 Bids
bp parity badge
Walt Whitman ALS Inviting Philadelphia Visitor to Camden--Possibly Artist Thomas Eakins?
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Walt Whitman ALS Inviting Philadelphia Visitor to Camden--Possibly Artist Thomas Eakins?
by University Archives
Est: $3,500- $4,500
$2,6008 Bids
bp parity badge
Haile Selassie LS as Emperor of Ethiopia
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Haile Selassie LS as Emperor of Ethiopia
by University Archives
Est: $800- $900
$5508 Bids
bp parity badge
Winston Churchill TLS Re: Advance from U.S. Publisher
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Winston Churchill TLS Re: Advance from U.S. Publisher
by University Archives
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$1,4007 Bids
bp parity badge
Albert Einstein autographed publication page (PSA "Gem Mint 10").
Dec 12, 11:00 AM EST
Albert Einstein autographed publication page (PSA "Gem Mint 10").
by Hunt Auctions
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,2007 Bids
bp parity badge
J P Morgan Signed 1886 New Jersey Junction RR $1000 100-Year Bond
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
J P Morgan Signed 1886 New Jersey Junction RR $1000 100-Year Bond
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$2406 Bids
bp parity badge
R. Wallenberg Signed Schutz-Pass Doc, With Rare Full Signature
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
R. Wallenberg Signed Schutz-Pass Doc, With Rare Full Signature
by University Archives
Est: $7,000- $8,000
$3,7506 Bids
bp parity badge
Jackie Robinson TLS Re: Civil Rights, “I agree there is much to be done.”
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Jackie Robinson TLS Re: Civil Rights, “I agree there is much to be done.”
by University Archives
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$7006 Bids
bp parity badge
Remarkable Antietam Letter from Union Soldier, Containing Death of Capt. Newton Manross
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Remarkable Antietam Letter from Union Soldier, Containing Death of Capt. Newton Manross
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$2405 Bids
bp parity badge
Winston Churchill Signed War-Time Portrait as Prime Minister
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Winston Churchill Signed War-Time Portrait as Prime Minister
by University Archives
Est: $900- $1,000
$7505 Bids
bp parity badge
Superb Horatio Nelson 1802 ALS
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Superb Horatio Nelson 1802 ALS
by University Archives
Est: $3,500- $4,500
$2,8005 Bids
bp parity badge
Rudyard Kipling ALS on Motherhood, Hired Help, & Publishing
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Rudyard Kipling ALS on Motherhood, Hired Help, & Publishing
by University Archives
Est: $500- $600
$2605 Bids
bp parity badge
Winston Churchill Signed Photo Mat with Image of Him as a Young Man
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Winston Churchill Signed Photo Mat with Image of Him as a Young Man
by University Archives
Est: $900- $1,000
$7505 Bids
bp parity badge
Confederate Oath of Amnesty Texas 1865 Rare
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Confederate Oath of Amnesty Texas 1865 Rare
by University Archives
Est: $600- $700
$4254 Bids
bp parity badge
Iconic Civil Rights Photo Signed by Elizabeth Eckford of the "Little Rock Nine"
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Iconic Civil Rights Photo Signed by Elizabeth Eckford of the "Little Rock Nine"
by University Archives
Est: $600- $700
$5504 Bids
bp parity badge
Army Generals Re: Patton Slapping Incident and More! fantastic Content
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Army Generals Re: Patton Slapping Incident and More! fantastic Content
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$2004 Bids
SIGNED FIRST EDITION 30 SECONDS OVER TOKYO COLE
Dec 07, 9:00 AM EST
SIGNED FIRST EDITION 30 SECONDS OVER TOKYO COLE
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $80- $150
$604 Bids
bp parity badge
V-J Day "The Kiss" Photo Signed by George Mendonsa and Greta Friedman
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
V-J Day "The Kiss" Photo Signed by George Mendonsa and Greta Friedman
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$3254 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Historical Autographs


Chaucer Auctions

Chaucer Auctions

University Archives

University Archives

Aste Bolaffi

Aste Bolaffi

Sotheby's

Sotheby's