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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

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AUTHENTIC ABRAHAM LINCOLN AUTOGRAPH & PHOTOGRAPH
Oct 24, 10:00 AM MST
AUTHENTIC ABRAHAM LINCOLN AUTOGRAPH & PHOTOGRAPH
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$1,51020 Bids
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Puccini on Turandot: “I am working very hard to get Turandot out of my head,” 9 Months Before His Death
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Puccini on Turandot: “I am working very hard to get Turandot out of my head,” 9 Months Before His Death
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $1,200- $1,500
$90011 Bids
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Signature of Amelia Earhart First Woman to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Signature of Amelia Earhart First Woman to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $350- $500
$65011 Bids
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Anti-Semitic Commander of British Forces in Palestine & Trans-Jordan Condemns Menachem Begin
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Anti-Semitic Commander of British Forces in Palestine & Trans-Jordan Condemns Menachem Begin
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $250- $350
$4507 Bids
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Thomas Mann Contract for "Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man"
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Thomas Mann Contract for "Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man"
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $400- $600
$1754 Bids
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“Father of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Col. John Robinson
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
“Father of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Col. John Robinson
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $400- $500
$2503 Bids
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Uncommon Signature of Charles Darwin
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Uncommon Signature of Charles Darwin
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $800- $1,000
$5003 Bids
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Lafayette Praises Captain Who Protected King Louis XVI During the French Revolution
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Lafayette Praises Captain Who Protected King Louis XVI During the French Revolution
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $2,000- $2,500
$6503 Bids
THURGOOD MARSHALL
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
THURGOOD MARSHALL
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $150
$1203 Bids
Black and white Print Signed General Gunther Rall Knights 275 Victories Black and white Print Size
Oct 27, 10:00 AM BST
Black and white Print Signed General Gunther Rall Knights 275 Victories Black and white Print Size
by Chaucer Covers & Auctions
Est: £10- £14
£102 Bids
1st Landing of Jet Aircraft on Aircraft Carrier Signed Eric Brown Test Pilot Landed the Jet aircraft
Oct 27, 10:00 AM BST
1st Landing of Jet Aircraft on Aircraft Carrier Signed Eric Brown Test Pilot Landed the Jet aircraft
by Chaucer Covers & Auctions
Est: £20- £24
£202 Bids
HMS Hood cover signed by Ted Briggs who at the time of signing was the last living survivor of the
Oct 27, 10:00 AM BST
HMS Hood cover signed by Ted Briggs who at the time of signing was the last living survivor of the
by Chaucer Covers & Auctions
Est: £14- £16
£142 Bids
TESLA, NIKOLA. Two Autograph Letters Signed, "N Tesla," to "Dear Johnson," or "Dear Mrs. Johnson."
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
TESLA, NIKOLA. Two Autograph Letters Signed, "N Tesla," to "Dear Johnson," or "Dear Mrs. Johnson."
by Swann Auction Galleries
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$3,2002 Bids
Tippi Hedren signed 10x7 black and white photo American actress, animal rights activist, and
Oct 29, 10:00 AM BST
Tippi Hedren signed 10x7 black and white photo American actress, animal rights activist, and
by Chaucer Covers & Auctions
Est: £10- £14
£122 Bids
TITIAN PEALE
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
TITIAN PEALE
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $80- $100
$602 Bids
DESMOND TUTU
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
DESMOND TUTU
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $80- $100
$502 Bids
ALBION P. HOWE
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
ALBION P. HOWE
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $80- $100
$1002 Bids
THOMAS O. OSBORN
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
THOMAS O. OSBORN
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $60- $80
$802 Bids
THURGOOD MARSHALL
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
THURGOOD MARSHALL
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $150
$1002 Bids
HYMAN G. RICKOVER
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
HYMAN G. RICKOVER
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $160
$802 Bids
PAUL W. TIBBETS
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
PAUL W. TIBBETS
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $150
$802 Bids
HYMAN G. RICKOVER
Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
HYMAN G. RICKOVER
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $160
$802 Bids
Wodehouse Nuggets hardback book with dust cover by Richard Usborne 231 pages signed by author on
Oct 29, 6:00 PM BST
Wodehouse Nuggets hardback book with dust cover by Richard Usborne 231 pages signed by author on
by Chaucer Covers & Auctions
Est: £10- £14
£101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Historical Autographs


Chaucer Covers & Auctions

Chaucer Covers & Auctions

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

University Archives

University Archives

Swann Auction Galleries

Swann Auction Galleries