We've all heard stories about someone who happens to find a letter or an important document hidden behind a picture in a frame or in their attic that was signed by some well know historical figure like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, King George III, or Napoleon Bonaparte.
Such documents have high historical value and autograph collectors will pay dearly for them.
Autographs, like certain antiques, are very collectible because many collectors relish the idea of having a famous person's signature, whether on a document, a book, a photograph, a baseball, a ticket stub, or just on a plain sheet of paper.
Many of us will stand in long lines, sometimes for hours, just to get an author to put his signature on a copy of his latest book or to get a celebrity to sign a copy of his photograph.
Yet, some celebrities don't do autograph signings. This may be by design because they know that the rarer the signature, the more it may be worth in the future.
You can never know for certain whose signature is going to be "the one to have." In any case, most of our signatures are not worth collecting.
But professional autograph collectors have a sense of knowing whose signature is going to have future value and they don't just collect autographs for themselves, they collect them for their children and their grandchildren.
An autograph today may not have any value at all, but one hundred years from now, it may be worth a fortune.
Professional autograph collectors know how to make themselves appear in the presence of the person whose signature they want and they know how to get it.
But in most cases, it comes down to just being in the right place at the right time or having personal or professional contact with the person whose signature may have future value.
Signatures are like any other collectibles. Their value comes from who the signer is or was, what role he played in history, how many of his or her signatures are out there, and who wants it.
Can you imagine having a letter or document signed by Albert Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Benjamin Franklin.
When they were young, no one would have ever guessed that they would become as famous as they are. Just imagine how many letters and documents with their signatures on them were thrown away.
And at this very moment, you may know someone who has political ambitions, someone who writes poetry or likes to paint, someone who is a math nerd in your high school or college, or maybe a friend who has the skills and the desire to play a professional sport.
Their autographs may become "must have" collectibles in the future and their signatures may be worth a lot, historically and monetarily, and you may already have it.
There is a definite market for collectible autographs and signatures but like all other memorabilia, they need to be verifiable.
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