Autographs: Value Beyond Words - When Faulkner, Hemingway, and other 20th-century novelists signed their own works In the vast field of autograph collecting, the one area thats red hot right now is autographed novels of 20th-century American authors. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


Click Here

Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Books & Manuscripts > Feature: Autographs: Value Beyond Words

Authenticating Autographs

Appraising Signatures

Glossary of terms:
useful for discussing the signature before buying and selling paintings & fine art at auction

The US President's Signatures and Autographs - Chatelaine's Antiques and Appraisals Magazine


 When Faulkner, Hemingway, and other 20th-century novelists signed their own works


 In the vast field of autograph collecting, the one area that's red hot right now is autographed novels of 20th-century American authors.

 After all, just as an artist signs a masterpiece after producing a great work of art, so do some novelists sign their name to a first edition copy as a testament of their labor and fame.

 The market for such autographs has been growing consistently the last few years, and shows no sign of slowing down.

 Among signed novels, the most highly sought-after are what are called "association copies," or books that the author signed along with a personal note to its owner. Examples of association copies include those with notes to close relatives and friends, or people that inspired the characters in a novel "the closer the association, the higher the value," says Richard Austin of Christie's East books and manuscripts department in New York.

 Christie's East holds the current auction record for an association copy of a 20th-century American novelist.

 Included in its May 2000 sale was an assortment of Ayn Rand memorabilia from the collection of her long time lover and colleague, Nathaniel Branden. His copy of Atlas Shrugged signed by Ayn Rand and dedicated to him sold for $70,500, including premium. The content of the note is intensely personal and chronicles the early history of the Rand-Branden relationship.

 By way of comparison, an unsigned first edition of Atlas Shrugged that wasn't part of the Branden collection only brought $705 in the same auction.

 Rand is quoted as having said that Branden was "the kind of genius that I write about."

 More moderate prices are realized on signed first editions that are not association copies.

Depending on the title, a signed Hemingway would bring $3,000 to $5,000 at auction. A signed copy by William Faulkner would bring slightly less, in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. Signed editions by Hemingway and Faulkner are both very rare. The copies that Hemingway did sign were the ones sent to him from the States by his publisher following the commercial success of A Farewell to Arms. As a result, the inscribed early Hemingway novels are exceedingly rare.

 For the novice collector and contemporary fiction reader, attending local author appearances is an inexpensive way to start a collection. A good rule of thumb is if an author that you admire is coming to a bookstore near you, buy his or her book and get it signed.

 But, he says to remember that for a mediocre writer, the signature won't necessarily increase the value. Though, if that same writer suddenly publishes an award-winning novel or has a book turned into a film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, the price may skyrocket for all of his or her titles, even the mediocre ones.

 A $20 signed novel can immediately turn into a $200 or even a $2,000 book. A combination of luck and an appreciation of writing quality can make contemporary book collecting a lucrative hobby.

 First editions in good condition by contemporary authors such as John Irving or Stephen King regularly sell in the few hundred-dollar range.

 King's recent brush with death, however, has lead to a decrease in appearances and book signings, and the market value for his signed novels has increased accordingly.

 The commercial success of The Cider House Rules has certainly increased Irving's popularity and the prices realized for his signed books, as well.

 Experts in this field of autograph collecting believe that prices for 20th-century American novelists will continue to go up, and say that the difficulty is finding good, fresh material. Autographs are considered to be a good investment since there are only a finite number of signed novels that an author can produce during his lifetime.

 Future surprises in the market could include currently unknown contemporary writers who develop a following.

 However, there will always be disappointments in the market for collectors of modern authors who have signed novels that are not yet discovered or have received unfavorable reviews. A word of unsolicited advice to readers of modern fiction: befriend today's struggling writers, become the inspiration for their work, get your hands on an association copy with a highly personalized inscription.

 Then store everything in a trunk for 70 years as a gift to your grandchildren.


Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand

A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway

The Cider House Rules : A Novel by John Irving

The Celebrity Address Directory & Autograph Collector's Guide 2001
by Lee A. Ellis

Sign This
by Tom Bunevich

The Address Directory of Celebrities in Entertainment, Sports, Business & Politics
by David R. Moore

Cosmonaut autographs : identification guide
by Stephen R. Datz

2001 Standard Catalog of Sports Autographs
by Tom Mortenson

The Official Autograph Collector Price Guide
by Kevin Martin

The Sander's Price Guide to Autographs, 5th Ed
by George Sanders

Collector's Guide to Celebrity Autographs, 2nd Ed
by Mark Allen Baker

Free Autographs by Mail : 4,000+ Verified Celebrity Addresses
by Cynthia Mattison

Advanced Autograph Collecting
by Mark Allen Baker

The Autograph Collector Celebrity Autograph Authentication Guide

The Standard Guide to Collecting Autographs:
A Reference & Value Guide

by Mark Allen Baker

Forging History:
The Detection of Fake Letters & Documents

by Kenneth W. Rendell

Great Forgers and Famous Fakes:
The Manuscript Forgers of America and How They Duped the Experts

by Charles Hamilton

Leaders & Personalities of the 3rd Reich: Their Biographies, Portraits, and Autographs, Vol 2
by Charles Hamilton

Leaders & Personalities of the 3rd Reich: Their Biographies, Portraits, and Autographs, Vol 1
by Charles Hamilton

Pen, Ink, & Evidence:
A Study of Writing and Writing Materials for the Penman, Collector, and Document Detective

by Joe Nickell