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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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Aaron Burr Legal Document
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Aaron Burr Legal Document
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$45011 Bids
LETTRE SIGNÉE "NP" AU GÉNÉRAL CLARKE, DUC DE FELTRE, RELATIVE À L'ARMEMENT D'ANVERS.
Apr 26, 1:00 PM CEST
LETTRE SIGNÉE "NP" AU GÉNÉRAL CLARKE, DUC DE FELTRE, RELATIVE À L'ARMEMENT D'ANVERS.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €250- €400
€3509 Bids
U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS SURVIVORS
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS SURVIVORS
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $100- $150
$1206 Bids
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Frederick Douglass' "Men of Color to Arms! Now or Never!"
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Frederick Douglass' "Men of Color to Arms! Now or Never!"
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $12,500- $17,500
$5505 Bids
DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $140- $200
$1205 Bids
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Gen. Sherman Inscribed "Grant in Peace"
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Gen. Sherman Inscribed "Grant in Peace"
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $500- $750
$4505 Bids
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Historic Einstein Signed Program from Lincoln University Visit
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Historic Einstein Signed Program from Lincoln University Visit
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $12,500- $17,500
$6505 Bids
LOUIS MOUNTBATTEN
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
LOUIS MOUNTBATTEN
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $140- $200
$2205 Bids
Signed Time Life Cover Print V-J Day Kissing Sailor
Apr 20, 10:00 AM MST
Signed Time Life Cover Print V-J Day Kissing Sailor
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$455 Bids
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Gen. Sherman's West Point Cadet Book
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Gen. Sherman's West Point Cadet Book
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $500- $750
$3505 Bids
EINSTEIN, 1947 SOLICITATION LETTER
Apr 24, 9:00 AM CDT
EINSTEIN, 1947 SOLICITATION LETTER
by Jackson's International
Est: $25- $50
$1604 Bids
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Henry Knox Signed Rev. War Soldier's Service Document
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Henry Knox Signed Rev. War Soldier's Service Document
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $500- $750
$4504 Bids
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John A. Logan Inscribed, Sherman's Copy
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
John A. Logan Inscribed, Sherman's Copy
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$4004 Bids
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Bass Reeves Posse Document
May 15, 9:00 AM EDT
Bass Reeves Posse Document
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$6004 Bids
100TH BOMBER GROUP (16)
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
100TH BOMBER GROUP (16)
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $140- $200
$1604 Bids
DOOLITTLE RAIDERS
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
DOOLITTLE RAIDERS
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $140- $200
$1604 Bids
(2pc) Margaret Mitchell Gone With The Wind
Apr 21, 9:00 AM MST
(2pc) Margaret Mitchell Gone With The Wind
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$404 Bids
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Frederick Douglass Signed 1883 Washington D.C. Deed
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Frederick Douglass Signed 1883 Washington D.C. Deed
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $500- $750
$2503 Bids
Knights Cross Winner Sepp Allerberger Signed Book Sniper
May 04, 10:00 AM EDT
Knights Cross Winner Sepp Allerberger Signed Book Sniper
by The Written Word Autographs
Est: $50- $75
$303 Bids
Charles Darwin Signature with Sentiment.
Apr 21, 10:30 AM PDT
Charles Darwin Signature with Sentiment.
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$1,6003 Bids
HISTORY - MIRABEAU Jean Antoine Riqueti de (1717 - 1794) - Autograph letter signed
Apr 29, 12:00 PM BST
HISTORY - MIRABEAU Jean Antoine Riqueti de (1717 - 1794) - Autograph letter signed
by L'Autographe Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£1503 Bids
SIGNED PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPH OF ION IDRIESS, 1940.
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
SIGNED PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPH OF ION IDRIESS, 1940.
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD50- AUD100
AUD603 Bids
GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.
Apr 25, 10:00 AM EDT
GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$1,0003 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Historical Autographs


L'Autographe Auctions

L'Autographe Auctions

Chaucer Auctions

Chaucer Auctions

The Written Word Autographs

The Written Word Autographs

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC