Autographs: why the signature of a famous person is an advantageous investment
Owning a manuscript of a famous person today means to hold a treasure in our hands, an actual moneybox that produces money without the slightest effort. The autograph is not only a beautiful, precious, and unique object to be collected for one’s own delight, but it could also be an excellent opportunity of investment. It is common knowledge by now that the prices of autographs are reassessed annually, often guaranteeing a profit whose percentages could hardly be obtained from any other form of savings. Pre-eminently based in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the market of autographs is drawing the attention of emerging countries as well. “With the growth of available income, the desire for superfluity and rarity has increased. The pursuit of trophies and of exclusiveness has only just begun” tells us one of the most important experts in this field, Paul Fraser.
Why it is an excellent investment
The signatures of important persons in music, history, politics or literature are often linked to handwritten texts that present an historical, artistic, or cultural relevance, and that usually increase their prices. The collecting market of autographs is unaware of crises and, given that the public is willing to spend in order to win the objects of its desires, it not only stays firm but is also in constant growth. Owning a rare and very limitedly available autograph permits to assess the price in a rising market following the pure law of question and offer.
How to choose autographs
Not all the objects connected to famous persons have or will increase their value over time. The question to ask yourself, according to Paul Fraser, is: “ask yourself whether or not this person will still be remembered in 50 years. If the answer is yes, you can proceed.”
According to the Autograph Index, a signed photograph of the English writer of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, is one of the most sought-after autographs in the world, and it could be worth up to £1,250. The chair on which the writer sat to write her first book, which is worth £10, was bought for £20,000. The English Society specialised in the assessment of memorabilia (from autographs to locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair), the Paul Fraser Collectibles, alleged that the phenomenon of collecting autographs of celebrities is growing to the extent that the question is much higher than the offer.
The ten rarest autographs in the world
1. In the first place, the autograph of William Shakespeare, a true collecting chimera, worth $465 million.
2. In the second place, a musical slip of paper of Ludwig van Beethoven, won at Christie’s for $383,346.
3. In the third place, another musician: John Lennon, one of his signatures is worth £5,000, while the album of his murderer Mark Chapman signed by the ex-Beatles a few instants before being killed reached $793,000.
4. Ernest Hemingway’s autographs are very rare, his “The short happy life of Francis Macomber” was purchased for $248,000.
5. The baseball ball signed by the celebrated couple Joe di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe reached $191,200.
6. The extremely rare autographs of Henry VIII, many of them preserved at the British Library, are worth $92,000.
7. A letter signed by Martin Lutero is worth €93,750.
8. A letter written by Michelangelo was sold at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $300,000.
In the ninth and tenth places, the rare signature of Cristoforo Colombo (jealously preserved in museums and libraries) and the priceless signature of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. Discovered a few months ago in the lower jaw of the archangel, protagonist of his first drawing, it presents the date 1471 and has inebriated the market.
Excellent investments could also be purchasing a photograph of the newly-married prince Henry and of the newly-father William of the Royal Household that in just one year have had a rise of the 33%; a signature of the queen Elisabeth that will definitely increase in its value after her death going well beyond the $2,000; an autograph of Fidel Castro that from Communist elder becomes symbol of Capitalism going beyond $5,000; an autograph of Elvis Presley worth around $25,000.
An incredible collection of autographs of famous persons within almost everyone’s reach is a significant part of the Wallector collection, that can vaunt autographs of Umberto Eco; intimate postcards of Salvador Dalí and Gala to the Countess Anna Laetitia Pecci-Blunt before the striking success in America; decorated and coloured letters with graphic games of Marcoussis; proofs of signatures of Piero Dorazio and Henry Moore; a long series of manuscripts and autographs of Jean Cocteau, André Masson, and confidential letters of Max Jacob; a beautiful manuscript of Elio Vittorini on “Lezione della Ronda”; nostalgic postcards of Aldo Palazzeschi; postcards of great composers such as Nino Rota, Carlo Orff, after the success of the “Carmina Burana”, and of great musicians such as the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska; film directors like Jean Renoir, autograph manuscripts in which intimate confessions and details of their private lives or hidden desires are added to their precious signatures, and much more.