Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Autograph Collector (part 2)

While buying autographed photos can make elusive signatures accessible, it is not the most satisfying way of building a collection and the cost is often more than most can afford. It’s not a method I would use again.
Affordability is one of the reasons I have chosen to continue collecting autographs as opposed to collecting other things. It’s a hobby that can be adapted to suit your financial situation.

In my previous blog entry I mentioned some of the ways I’ve used to obtain autographs. They are mainly low-cost. At most it has involved the purchase of a CD or a book at a signing event.

I also request autographs via mail, which is another low-cost method. The only expense being a couple of stamps and envelopes (I always send a self addressed, stamped envelope to be used to return the signed item) and of course, something to be signed.

That brings up the question about what kind of item we can post in the hope of getting it signed. Personally I’ve not been willing to take the risk of sending things of value through the mail. Not only is there the risk of losing the item, but the postage costs also increase.
My preference has been to send blank index cards or if I’m writing to an author I’ll send a book label. The cards are reasonably easy to find in stationery shops but I had a little difficulty obtaining suitable labels.
Most of the more common book labels stocked by book shops are too ornate. It took me quite some time to track down what I wanted and then I had to order them in. I therefore ordered extra to make sure I had enough to last for a few years. (examples can be seen on my previous blog entry).

Both the index cards and book labels are easily enclosed with a letter to the targeted celebrity and neither cost so much that it would be a disaster if the desired reply was not received.

When I send a letter I usually enclose three index cards. Sometimes all are returned signed, sometimes none come back. The occasional non-return of book labels is more disappointing because they were not easy to get and they cost quite a bit more than an index card.

However there are compensations that make up for those disappointments. Occasionally a reply will be received that contains much more than a signed card or label. I have received handwritten letters from several celebrities. Some authors have included promotional postcards associated with their books. Others have returned signed photographs instead of the cards I’d sent to them.

I’ve found it helpful to keep a record of the letters I’ve sent out, including address details and the date of mailing. When a reply is received the date of receipt is also recorded. Some replies come back within a couple of weeks. Others can take months. Some requests remain unanswered.

What do I do with the autographs that come back? The book labels are of course stuck into one of the author’s books. I keep the index cards in albums I’ve created out of loose leaf folders and plastic pockets. I try to mount the autographed card alongside a photo of the celebrity (see the Geena Davis page on the previous blog entry), or if there’s no photo available I’ll try to find something else that’s relevant; for example I have a card signed by Arthur C Clarke mounted with a handbill advertising “2001 A Space Odyssey”.

While I said that affordability is one of the reasons that I collect autographs, sometimes cost should not cause us to hesitate if a signature can be purchased at a reasonable price. There is always the likelihood of missing out on something special if we are too reluctant to spend a little money. Fishermen are renowned for their stories of “the one that got away” and I have a comparable autograph-hunters story.

It was a signed, first edition of Peter Carey’s “True History of the Kelly Gang” that was being sold soon after the books release for around $50.00 (AUD). The book went on to win the Booker Prize in 2001 and now a first edition UNSIGNED copy of the book is selling for $450.00 AUD.


Autographs above are 1) American Country singer Chely Wright 2) Australian Country singer Kasey Chambers and 3) American Country Group SheDaisy.

All signed on the blank index cards I'd provided. SheDaisy also returned a signed black and white photo, personally addressed to my wife "Gloria".

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