Collecting Contemporary Entertainer Autographs


By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Collecting contemporary entertainers is an incredibly popular hobby.  Movie stars, TV personalities, comedians, stage actors and actresses are just some of the categories collectors love.   It is my opinion, based on over forty years of experience as a dealer, collector, and a certified appraiser, that the vast majority of contemporary entertainment autographs in the marketplace are not authentic.  Collectors must understand the volume of requests that overwhelm an entertainers’ mail.  Celebrities combat this onslaught with secretarial signatures, printed signatures, pre-printed postcards, and pre-signed photographic reproductions.


Andrew Jackson's Autograph Turning Point

By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Officially, all land grants were required to be signed by the President of the United States.  All Presidents prior to Jackson signed many thousands of land grants.  Jackson apparently had enough of this procedure, and by the beginning of his second term, (1833), passed the task along to his son.  Other Presidents continued the “tradition” after Jackson left office.  Almost all land grants after that date were signed by secretaries and not by the President.

Autograph Appraisals: What YOU Need To Know


There has been a great deal of 'chatter' lately about unqualified appraisals of autograph material.  Improper and unprofessional appraisals are being provided to many unsuspecting collectors and donors. The potential financial damage to you and your collection can be devastating.  Proper appraisal procedures are not being followed.  Important valuation techniques are being overlooked.   Untrained, incompetent appraisers are ignoring IRS regulations and appraisal standards. 


Robots That Forge Signatures

By: Brian G. Kathenes, ISA CAPP

Terminator III?  No....   R2D2 turned crook? No... Robocop gone bad?   No...   This mechanical forger goes by the name of "Autopen."  It has become a modern technological wonder for busy VIP's, celebrities, and politicians, but has become a headache for autograph collectors.

Knowing that autopens exist is not enough.  An autograph collector must be able to determine which signatures in his or her collection were written by this mechanical forger.  That is not an easy task.

The term "Autopen" has become the standard term for all machine signed signatures, just like "Jello" has become the generic term for gelatin.  The Autopen is a machine designed and manufactured by the International Autopen Company of Arlington.   The machine uses a fabricated matrix to reproduce signatures.

Take Me To Your "Holograph"

If you ask Leon Castner “What's a holograph?” and he’ll say, “It’s all Greek to me.”  He’s right!

Holograph come from the Greek words “graph” (writing) and “holo”  (with the hand).

Ask Daniel Webster, and the old dictionary writer would probably reply, “It’s a document written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears.” Way to go, Dan!  And although you might be tempted to confuse them with holoGRAMS, holoGRAPHS are a very collectible kind of autograph.

While he was in office, President Lyndon Johnson may have signed lots of legislation, but he hardly ever wrote anything entirely by hand. That’s why an LBJ holograph letter may be worth 10 times more than a similar piece of
correspondence produced on a typewriter, but with his signature. (Remember, in Lyndon’s day, they didn’t use computers the same way we do today!)

Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?


We can’t fool you!   You know that the answer to the question “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” It’s Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States. - - But the answer to the question “Who signed Grant’s memoirs?” is a little trickier.

After he left office, Grant fell on hard times and lost his fortune to corrupt politicians and sleazy businessmen.  Faced with cancer and watching his finances dwindle, he decided to write and publish the story of his life and military career so that his family wouldn’t be left completely penniless.