Autograph value/cost forecast - thoughts?
I would like your thoughts and/or opinions on what you think will happen in the next few years with regard to the value/cost of certain autographs I am thinking of buying:
I am wanting a Barack Obama handwritten signed letter/card as President. Right now they bring about $3500-$5000 due to their rarity. Do you predict the prices of these will remain steady, decrease in value as time goes on or increase in value? Why?
I am also still wanting a nicer Ruth Bader Ginsburg autograph, preferably a signed Chambers Card. I know prices have gone down but since this past Spring I have seen very few for sale (other than those with high starting bids of $1000+). Do you think pieces dried up or people are holding and waiting to sell at another time for some reason? How much do you think RBG autographs will go down over time? I know they are probably still higher than where they will ultimately settle. I am curious as to your thoughts when they will level off and what price point you think this will be?
Good and difficult questions. Some random opinions...
For the older ones, I suspect that prices in general won't go lower. The autograph hobby/market seems to have grown in the past couple decades.
For Thurgood Marshall and maybe Rosa Parks, there are probably lots of examples out there so patience might pay off.
Obama signed as president? The supply is fixed. The price will be impacted by popularity level. As time passes he may become less "hot" on the market, or the opposite could happen. Also, as time passes more examples might come to the market as original recipients sell them.
Consider that you could buy an Abraham Lincoln autograph for the kind of money you mentioned. For me, that sort of puts it in perspective. I assume that Obama might come down from that level. The question will be, did you want to wait.
RBG. There are lots out there. Patience might turn up a good deal or a seller who doesn't know the market. I think even $1000 will be very hard to sustain long term.
Years ago a dealer mentioned something I have always remembered. For celebrities, most will see a long term decline in value as people who remember them lose interest or become fewer in number.
A few celebrities will break through the "popular celebrity" status to become "iconic" and they may hold their value or start to increase. It takes some time to see where they will fall in this equation.
Examples of icons who evolved past the limited "popular" category are Elvis Presley, Christa McAuliffe, and Princess Diana.
RBG was/is a pop celebrity in addition to an historical figure. The question is whether or not she will transcend that to become an iconic figure long term.
With auctions ending like that it is probably that your competition is putting in a large snipe, set to go in the last seconds of the auction. If someone wants an item bad enough that is probably going to 200+ they would put in a snipe bid for $225 or so, if you bid 200 the snipe of 225 would win at 202, of if you bid 220 the snipe would win at 222 or what ever the next increment is at that level. You should set a snipe, using a snipe service and then put in your absolute max that you are willing to bid. Quite often you will win at just one increment above the highest bidder and are more likely to win an auction than by chipping away at the high bid.
Very true. Entertainers like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Dudley Moore, George Burns, and many more have really gone down in the past decade and then some.
Thanks for your responses. I agree that patience will pay off. I also think by waiting and looking the right piece will come along. I don’t want to end up with an item that I like “okay.” I will just have to wait until the perfect item comes along and then decide how much or if I should buy it.
I have been definitely doing that with Thurgood Marshall. Some of the items I see would be “acceptable” to me but maybe I would be willing to wait and spend a little more to get something more “perfect” such as a signed Chambers Card (for say $300) rather than just a signed index card (for $200).
That eBay seller (a UACC member and very reputable) had a few Rosa Parks items in the past. Definitely not ideal pieces but the price was right. One was a signed magazine photo with small signature (small 2x3 inch photo) and the other was a clipped photo from some type of program or book with text that made it irregular in shape but came with mailing envelope with handwritten return address — couldn’t be sure if Parks wrote it or a secretary. The magazine photo sold for well over $200 which I bid on but only $150 given the size. The irregular clipped piece sold for more possibly due to envelope. I did not bid on that since I had no idea if envelope was in her handwriting (auction listing didn’t mention it was so I was led to believe it was written by someone else) and the signature didn’t look that great on the oddly clipped piece so I passed on it. I am glad I did not end up with either item because they are less than ideal but I know a nice Rosa Parks signature is like $500 or so.
So hard to know on some of these things.
Regarding the Obama handwritten letter as President, you make a good point that a Lincoln signature can be had for the same price. Hmm…definitely makes me think which I would rather have. So many fake Lincoln autographs though and it being just a signature makes it much harder to authenticate and be sure it’s good. But I will definitely keep looking. I have yet to come across a Lincoln I like and it NOT be overpriced. But time will tell if maybe someday I get lucky and find one at a fair price.
As for RBG, it will be very interesting to see how she goes down in history— be forgotten or remain an icon of sorts.
I have definitely cut down on collecting “celebrities” and only either them ttm or cheap if there is one I really like/admire such as when Tom Hanks released his book and they offered signed copies.
I suspect that RBG is being buoyed by "fans".
I am not demeaning her contributions or impact in any way, but there are justices who wrote opinions in very key cases over the decades who don't sell for anywhere near what she sells for. That's what would scare me.
SD O'C was the first female justice. TM was the first black justice, and they sell for much less than RBG. Same goes for Chief Justice William Rehnquist who had a lot of impact in his era.
Time will tell, I guess.
I still collect celebrities. Many are gold age Hollywood and I have plenty of currents as well.
I don't fuss about value as I enjoy them now. When I am gone, they will be someone else's problem.
Exactly. I will just wait it out and see what happens.
Don’t get me wrong, I still collect them, just not as much as I used to. I don’t focus on them and only collect ones I really like/admire, as opposed to collecting like I did before by trying to get like every actor/actress in a particular movie. Now I only aim to get the major lead stars and/directors of my very favorite movies and don’t go much beyond that.
For people in their twenties entertainers like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Dudley Moore and George Burns mean nothing. Many have probably never heard of them (Unless they viewed "10" to listen to Bolero). Bob Hope and George Burns both lived to be 100 but the prime of their careers had long since passed by the time they died. Even they have become ancient entertainment history.
I have picked up a few Lillian Gish letters for less than $20 each, and a few Olivia de Havilland letters for around $40 give or take a few dollars.
These were enormous stars in their day. They are still appreciated for their achievements, but their fan base is very much diminished.
Olivia de Havilland just died recently at well over 100. Now one of her most famous films, "Gone With The Wind" is under attack from the political correctness crowd. Sad. All glory really is fleeting.
I know, my neighbor has an 18-year-old grandson, and she's 75, I'm 42, and we're talking about old hollywood and he's rolling his eyes and asking her who are they. Real shame. They were much better than what counts as entertainers today.
I've seen many Gish letters hitting the market.
I've gotten a lot of letters from Betty Grable, Carole Landis, Sandra Dee and 2 of Kay Francis.
Lost out on a Mary Pickford but o well.
I’m only 35 and I have heard of all those mentioned above. I am very much into film so that is probably why I am familiar with most old classic movie stars/entertainers. Not only that but in my former collection I owned several of those autographs.
I was watching Jeopardy several months ago and the clue had some text about James Garner and included a photo. No one got the answer.
And another time the clue was so obvious that anyone (so I thought) would immediately know the answer was 1980s super model Kathy Ireland. But no one had any answer.
And speaking of George Burns, one clue made what I thought what was an obvious reference to his "Oh, God" movies, but no one knew the answer.
It's kind of discouraging when you have to explain to people who a person was before you can tell them about an autograph.
Funny, I remember thinking the same thing when watching those episodes of Jeopardy - also a big fan and watch every night.
Questions concerning history are often missed by current game show contestants. It says something about current history course content at both the high school and college level.
Tonight’s episode will be very interesting. Not going to say anything more, wait until you watch it.
How did you know?!
I can't believe it. Tonight was tough competition that drained a lot of the money away from him, and he got no daily doubles. Plus, even I got that Final Jeopardy question that he missed. He was definitely not on top of his game.
I had access to an earlier broadcast of today’s show. I was surprised how that Final Jeopardy went. I thought when he would eventually lose he would had been in second place, not third. Also shocked he missed the question too.
He kind of went out with a thud. He missed a surprising number of questions during the show. The key to the final question was "annexed". Germany never "annexed" Poland. I knew the answer right away and am very surprised he didn't know it.
Agree. "Annexed" stood out. Aside from the Sudetenland (Poland) and Austria, I think everyone else was invaded and occupied by the Germans, not annexed.
I was a little confused as I didn't recall the Soviets having control of part of Austria after the war, but in any case Poland was wrong as that was totally behind the Iron Curtain once the war ended.
The Sudetenland was part of what is now the Czech Republic. The rest of that area became the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Slovakia was given it's independence and, along with Germany, invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.
Thx for the clarification.
That's even worse that he got the question wrong.
I've actually been to most of those places. They don't remind you of the history when you're there, though.
We should probably get this thread back on topic.
Where do you see Star Wars autographs going in the next few years? I noticed their prices have skyrocketed and have been doing that over the last few decades. Think a crash is coming or prices will just settle where they are, or too you think they will continue increasing even more?
SW might have reached icon status. The franchise is closing in on 50 years old and it is still going strong.
I have no idea on pricing so I don't know if it's high now, but I don't expect the movies to get much less popular in the next several years.
Just for example, Harrison Ford’s autograph on a signed 8x10 Star Wars photo as Han Solo (not personalized) brought about $200-$400 when I first started collecting in 2004-2005. It was around $600-$700 when I did my big sell off in 2011. Last year I was shocked when I saw it was around $1000-$1200 which is what it is still at now.
Wow! I guess I'd have to think carefully before spending that kind of money on a living person.
For that of money I'd write to him and see if I could buy one direct. Or maybe buy a plane ticket and fly to his house.
I have tried many times ttm but he sent preprints. He does do a signing for OfficalPix (and at some conventions) but the fee is basically what they now bring. I think the least expensive one you can get is $799 but it’s not a Star Wars photo.
At that price I'd probably pay for the private signing or convention, just to be assured of authenticity.
This time the Thurgood Marshall went for far more than the $200 I was willing to spend so a snipe of $205 didn’t help. Considering shipping costs and now sales tax on eBay I wouldn’t bid more than $205 knowing in the end it would be close to $225 total after shipping and tax. The Thurgood Marshall signed index card ended up going for $270. Too much money for just a signed index card. I would pay more for a better item signed but for just a signature I really don’t want to spend much over $200.
This month’s rrauction regular autograph auction just ended.
This Barack Obama handwritten note sold for $9000 (before the 25% buyer’s premium and shipping are added)! Going by my research President Obama wrote 10 of these each night he was President - so that amounts to 3650 a year, or 29,200 for his eight years as President. If that is true, these are fairly common and people are simply mostly just handing onto them. I should definitely wait until their original owners start letting go of them more frequently.
A RBG signed official Supreme Court photo sold for $1007 (also before 25% premium and shipping costs). Oh, and it had one of those annoying authentication stickers.
Wow!!! That's an amazing price. A great letter, although I'd slightly prefer a date on it for that kind of money.
I had heard (maybe from you) that Obama was given 10 letters a day to read, but are you sure he necessarily replied to them all? (And did that include weekends, holidays, and travel days?).
I might be a little skeptical, since if he wrote all those replies I'd expect there to be more on the market. George HW Bush was known for his letter writing and there are lots of them out there to prove it. Also, I don't think BO is very responsive as ex-president.
Anyway, that is a solid price for the RBG, but that sticker would be a deal-breaker for me.
. > @JBK said:
You make a good point. Maybe Obama did not actually respond to all the letters, just read them and responded to some. And he probably didn’t read ten letters every single day as there were probably days off.
Yes, the sticker on the RBG would DEFINITELY be a deal breaker for me too. I looked at past auctions and saw another unpersonalized one sell for $1700. So the sticker appears to have lessened the value by $700 in this case.
I'm amazed at the price people are willing to pay for autographs such as are shown in this thread. Like so many collectible areas there seems to be "irrational exuberance" at work these days. While I find autographs interesting I would have little or no interest in ever paying for them. The few I own were all signed in person with no signing charge and that is the way I like it.
Yes, there is a lot of wisdom there. Getting an autograph used to be a personal, often in-person experience.
But also consider the parallels to coin collecting. How many coin collectors started out filling albums from pocket change. (Those were the days - a simpler time).
But eventually if they want to collect issues that predate them or are rare or were never in circulation, they need to buy the coins. And sometimes they cost huge money.
Quick question: If I was offered a non-personalized signed photo of RBG (similar to the B&W photos she used to send ttm) what would you say is a good/fair price to offer for it, without being too lowball, but also not overpaying?
You'd probably be the best person to ask.
Keep in mind that if they sell on ebay they will have fees and possibly an IRS 1099K form to deal with.
I think those SC photos were on glossy paper and not real photo paper? I probably would not pay as much as for a nice chambers card.
The one you posted above was $1000, but wouldn't the consigner have to pay fees? If so, I would think several hundred in a direct private sale would be a decent offer. If they would take less then even better.
That’s what I thought. The only thing is they may have no idea what it’s worth so I may be able to get it for like $100 but they may very well do their research and know what they are bringing.
I always think back in that eBay auction when the seller started bidding at $10 and someone sent a message to the seller asking if they would do a Buy It Now for $100 and they obliged so the buyer got quite a deal. That seller didn’t even bother to do some research before agreeing to the $100 BIN price. So you just never know.
I also want to know if I paid, say $700 for it, would it likely retain that value for a while? What is the likely value an RBG autograph on the Supreme Court photo will retain? Maybe that is what I should offer (and explain that is what I think it will be worth in the long run) and if they decline I can be comfortable with that knowing I can wait and get one for a price it will likely keep.
I agree I would rather have a signed Chambers Card. Just none available right now unless I want to pay $1200 plus taxes, fees and shipping.
I do expect the market for RBG to probably soften in the coming years, but I guess that isn't really the seller's problem.
I would not talk down the item, but I'd let them know your offer is based on specific considerations. Also, you could remind them that you would be assuming the risk regarding authenticity, since it is not authenticated. Of course, you can trust yourself to decide if it's real, but you can let them know year to get too dollar they'd need to have it authenticated at a cost.
I didn’t get it anyway. They wanted way too much, as sort of expected. Glad I didn’t lowball and insult them. I definitely will wait for a Chambers Card unless a good deal comes along for a different signed item.
I recently watched the Antquies Roadshow and someone had a note written and signed by Abraham Lincoln. It was valued at $8000-$10,000. I then realized a Martin Luther King Jr. signed typed letter typically brings $10,000. This got me thinking…MLK Jr.’s autograph is on par as far as monetary value is concerned with Abraham Lincoln.
I just did a quick past auctions search for signatures sold of MLK Jr. and Abraham Lincoln and found this:
Sold for just under $7000
Also sold for just under $7000
Both signatures are personalized so I think it’s comparable. Very interesting I thought. Both individuals were assassinated but MLK Jr. was just 39 while Lincoln was 56. Lincoln probably signed more autographs due to him being a President but he died about 100 years before MLK Jr so survival of Lincoln autographs is less given the time.
Routinely you can purchase a large fully signed Lincoln vellum document for about $10,000. MLK Jr. signed books, although usually personalized, actually usually bring a little more than $10,000 but perhaps that is his more common format like Lincoln is with documents. Just found this comparison/connection I made interesting and thought I would share my observations.
Yes, it is very interesting.
In theory, MLK might be experiencing a bit of popularity that might fade over time, or maybe not.
The other thing is that as MLK grows in popularity/price, more will come out of the woodwork and reach the market.
BTW, that's terrible news on Lincoln. I always wanted a Civil War military commission. Those used to be around $5,000 or slightly less.
I guess I'll have to wait until his popularity declines.
I think prices are going up on all autographs except Old Hollywood stars it seems.
This nice un-inscribed Martin Luther King Jr. signature just sold for $9737
This Rosa Parks sold for $722 which is over $100 more than I paid for mine AND I like mine so much better as it’s also signed by Coretta Scott King! However this one DOES come with a second Parks autograph (sort of) by including her handwritten return name and address. Not sure how desirable the handwritten address with her “signature” in it would be worth alone.
That RP is very impressive but I like yours better also for your FDC subject.
That MLK is outrageous! Almost $10,000!! I don't even know what to say. I need to build a time machine and go back to the mid-1960s.
Take a look at this:
This recently sold for $350 on eBay:
This one FAILED to sell for $270 on eBay (RR Auction also has one for $200 that currently has zero bids):
Given that, I looked to see what a Coretta Scott king DID sell for in a different format and it looks like she brings $107 for an index card:
So given that she’s worth about $100, there is about a $250 premium for King Sr. over Coretta.
I paid $595 for this:
And THIS is currently $1331 BEFORE premium WITH about 8 HOURS still to go on RR Auction:
Seeing that, my autograph combo given King Sr. is worth about $250 more than Coretta would bring about $1081 if hypothetically mine were up for auction right now. Now if we include the premium of 25% that makes RR Auction’s example $1664 and mine hypothetically $1414. Also not knowing what the next 8 hours will bring, it will be interesting to see if this gains more bids and if the Coretta Scott King stand alone signed MLK Jr. FDC gets a bid or not.
NOT planning to sell it, but it’s very interesting to see what a great deal I potentially got. VERY lucky I was able to find this thanks to a fellow member noticing it for sale on a dealer’s website. Right after I purchased it from that dealer, he told me another person attempted to buy it the next day, so it was great timing I got it when I did.
Another thing to note is it is very possible the extra words from Rosa Parks definitely adds content that probably adds value to this one. So my hypotheticals of what mine is potentially worth may be off.
There are a lot of variables to consider. Maybe too many to come up with definitive answers.
Some random thoughts....
I know very little about MLK Sr. That is not a criticism of him, and might just be a reflection on me. But, he obviously did not have the longevity of CSK. I do recall her as a civil rights activist.
So, the question is, did Sr. sell for so much because of his association with MLK and perhaps being scarce?
The RP that is over $1000 has a nice full signature and the other text added, but to be honest I'd rather have it by itself. I still think yours is better.
I was thinking it may have had to do with the fact MLK Sr. has been deceased longer and probably scarcer too. Another thought was MAYBE someone bidding was not paying full attention and misread it as being signed by Martin Luther King Jr. but I am thinking if they are bidding on a high end site like RR Auction they probably know what they are doing.
I personally like mine better too. I am glad to hear I am not alone in that. I wasn’t sure if people would generally prefer the extra text written by Parks or not, or if the middle initial adds much value. I still have yet to see another example signed by both Coretta and Parks ANYWHERE. It will be interesting when and if I do what format it is on and how much, if it’s for sale.
The only aggravating factor on yours is that darned fold. Maybe due to a small SASE if collected TTM.
It isn't the end of the world by any means, but it raises an interesting issue.
I sent off a comic book to be signed and slabbed in an upcoming private signing. I added an extra fee for "pressing".
In the world of comic books, pressing is an accepted process that doesn't constitute restoration, so it improves graded condition.
What they than achieve is remarkable:
Maybe this process is already being used in the general autograph field and we don't know it. But if not, i wonder if it will be some day.