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    Autographs and Signatures

    When did autographed items, memorabilia, record covers, books become a thing? Why are they valued? What is their intrinsic value, if any? What do they signify, if anything? Why is the collecting of a signature of someone you might admire for their creative endeavour, or their achievements, regarded as something to be pursued and valued? I ask as someone who has done this, and I'm taking steps back from it and pondering: why?

    The occasions now on which I'm required to sign my name to something, a document of some kind, a cheque, a contract, receiving a delivery, are vanishingly rare, so their significance for 'ordinary' folks in our day to day life has reduced greatly in recent times.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
    Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

    #2
    To me they only have value if it’s something I have had personally signed to me. For instance, I have things that Adrian Belew and Chris Squire have signed personally to me. Those signatures tie in with memories. Otherwise, I don’t collect signed stuff, and I assume 90% of the stuff you see being sold is fake anyway. More of it is fake than real at any rate.

    Comment


      #3
      Not a stage-door Johnny. Never have been. Could have met all the classic 5 back in 03 but what would the small talk be like? Sydney weather and the cricket?

      Nor autograph collector. Have met a couple of very famous people. Just randomly. Humans up close, are surprisingly disappointin'.

      Sign my name so rarely I take a second to remember the flourish. As for usin' cash. So rarely go to a cash machine. Again I take a second to remember my password.

      9012.

      Ooo. I've said too much 😉

      Comment


        #4
        Never been interested in autographs or signatures or meet-and-greet type stuff, really. For me, the music is enough. I'd rather not meet my music heroes. I can understand some may cherish the memory of a show with some sort of memorabilia I suppose. I mean, it's cool enough sometimes if its a random thing. I got a picture with me and Chris, I've met Tony Levin, normal enough guys, but I don't seek out that sort of thing. The music itself is enough for me.

        Also signatures on a cd booklet obscure the artwork, like my copy of Jon Anderson's Survival And Other Stories. I mean, how dare he 🙂

        Comment


          #5
          Last time we saw Billy Strings he told a story about being in the airport heading to his next show when some folks asked him to sign a bunch of stuff, and at that point he realized that they weren't fans they were just getting things signed to make some money and they knew specifically where Billy would be at that time, so he quit signing stuff like that cold turkey. I have several things that are autographed by various folks usually because they came through some sort of VIP deal or I bought something directly from the band or musician that happened to be signed, but it's definitely not something that I'm focused on or looking for. The only autograph I had that I really wish I still had was Neil Armstrong but sadly it has been lost for many years.

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            #6
            I've never collected autographs. I don't collect stuff at all, really. I'd like to accidentally meet someone somewhere (e.g. a former or current Yes person), and have a natural conversation, but they most likely wouldn't find it particularly interesting to chat to me! (Just as well we're unlikely to be in the same places, I suppose.)

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              #7
              The one I have that was particular meaning for me is Leonard Bernstein. After seeing him conduct his Candide at the Barbican in December 1989, I was informed by a flyer inside the programme he was going to be signing at Tower Records on Piccadilly Circus the next day, so I threw a sickie at work and travelled down by train again. Got my copy of West Side Story and a couple of Mahler symphonies signed. Ten months later he was dead.
              Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
              Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

              Comment


                #8
                I will preface this by saying that as a collector I did treasure particular signed items but now that I've lost the bulk of my collected things in a housefire, well, it hurts but at the same time it's kind of hard to define the joy of collecting for its' own sake when it can be so easily lost. I look at other people's collections now and think - take care!

                (I'm just relating this for context, not sympathy. But empathy is appreciated, certainly.)

                I can appreciate signed items from both a personal and historical context - something rare, something treasured, something with a personal dimension. But I've never been one to desire multiple signed items, really, although I did have a few. Even though henceforth I will likely have none (other than those items which were not lost), I can still understand why people desire them. There's a particular tangibility to a signature, it invites speculation and feels like a brush with the ineffable.
                Rabin-esque
                my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                rabinesque.blogspot.com

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Ash Armstrong View Post
                  When did autographed items, memorabilia, record covers, books become a thing? Why are they valued? What is their intrinsic value, if any? What do they signify, if anything? Why is the collecting of a signature of someone you might admire for their creative endeavour, or their achievements, regarded as something to be pursued and valued? I ask as someone who has done this, and I'm taking steps back from it and pondering….
                  When? In history, autograph referred to a manuscript in the author’s handwriting. As for what we call autographs, the clearest write up I found in a 10 minute DuckDuckGo search is
                  The desire to collect written works and signatures of people has been around since ancient Roman times. Many people went to great lengths to preserve the manuscripts of Aristotle and thank goodness they did! Because of the value they placed on the written word we’re able to study Aristotle’s teachings today. The first autograph book – or “book of friends” – was compiled in 1466. Autographs of friends and people a person knew would be obtained to show others who you knew. Some inscribers also made small sketches next to their signature. These were valuable books of communication and could prove that you knew someone, if necessary. The signatures assisted in opening doors and making introductions. During the 1700s, the act of collecting signatures for interest and historical significance became popular. In 1789, there was enough interest in collecting that the first book offering autograph facsimiles was printed, entitled British Autograph. A public market for autographs had been established by the early 1830s. Auctions began to be held. Autograph collecting in American took a little longer to catch on. By the 1850s, autograph hunting of living persons was on the rise both in Europe and the U.S. Political and literary figures were sought after targets of autograph hunters. In the Victorian age, no popular public person could avoid demands for autographs. A retail shop in New York was opened in 1887 by Walter R. Benjamin that sold manuscripts and autographs. It is believed to be the first such shop in the U.S. He advertised to just come to them instead of hounding someone for the autograph request that very well may not be granted. Fast forward to today when people avidly collect autographs from movie, television, sports, political and, yes, music figures. Across the world there are clubs and websites devoted to the art of autograph collecting. Autograph sessions are set up for fans and famous musicians are almost always asked for autographs from fans after their shows. Autograph collecting has not changed much since Roman times. It is a way to be connected to history and to those you admire. When you get that coveted autograph hopefully you will take as much care as Aristotle’s friends did with his works and preserve it for others down the road! For our current selection of authenticated autographed (music!) items, go here. For more content like this, updates on our latest arrivals plus a discount code, subscribe to our MusicGoldmine bi-weekly newsletter here.

                  “The first autograph book – or “book of friends” – was compiled in 1466. Autographs of friends and people a person knew would be obtained to show others who you knew…During the 1700s, the act of collecting signatures for interest and historical significance became popular...In the Victorian age, no popular public person could avoid demands for autographs.”

                  And I find it quite amusing that members of this group of ‘fans’ claim not to care about getting autographs from the objects of their fandom.

                  I would never pay $ for a Meet & Greet, I think such things are ridiculous, but I used to spend time with other fans hanging around the ’stage door’ after shows just to get a glimpse of the guys. I met and got autographs on a few items in my Yes collection from the band in a 2004 record store event in Toronto. They signed my original UK pressing of Tales, a JP mini CD of Yessongs (Chris said he didn’t know they existed), and Steve signed a limited numbered edition CD of Masterpiece Guitars (done with Martin Taylor), an obscure solo release I got mail order from a magazine.
                  So my answer to “Why?” is, so I could talk about it with other fans.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Khatrooper View Post
                    And I find it quite amusing that members of this group of ‘fans’ claim not to care about getting autographs from the objects of their fandom.
                    . . .
                    So my answer to “Why?” is, so I could talk about it with other fans.
                    Well, I can only speak for myself, of course.
                    Trying to address it from your perspective - apart from the person who introduced me to Yes, who I only knew for a few months, I have never had any friends who liked Yes or, for the most part, other bands that I like(d). So there was never anyone who would have been particularly interested in talking about any autographs I may have got. In addition, I didn't grow up in a city, and I went to university somewhere that bands didn't visit. So I never used to go to concerts. At that age, it would have been impossible to afford the costs of travel and overnight stays. A habit of autograph-collecting never developed. Now, it doesn't seem particularly important. I wouldn't specifically avoid it, if someone was signing stuff. I would quite possibly think it would be nice to have. But it wouldn't be a big thing. The intense enjoyment I get from some music is itself the big thing for me. (Maybe, if there was a group of people I went to concerts with, I would see it a bit differently?)​

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                      #11
                      As a historic side note to signatures. Shakespeare signed his name 5 or 6 times. Spellin' his surname differently each time.


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                      Each signature is conservatively worth £5 million pounds each. Hooly blinkin' Dooley!!! 😮
                      Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 01-05-2023, 11:19 AM.

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                        #12
                        I have a Steve Howe guitar pick that I use to play my Gibson ES-175D. Steve gave it to my son who gave it to me. It has value to me. I also have a Steve Howe Homebrew shirt that Steve graciously autographed. I wore it once at a show and Steve smiled and waived at me from the stage in the middle of a song. That had value to me. The two tie dye shirts I have that Chris, Jon, Steve and Alan autographed always get a positive reaction when I wear them at shows and that has value to me as well. It never occurred to me what value these items might have to somebody else.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Khatrooper View Post
                          And I find it quite amusing that members of this group of ‘fans’ claim not to care about getting autographs from the objects of their fandom.
                          Fandom is a spectrum, so it's entirely reasonable that there are devoted fans who, in fact, don't care about autographs. They might be passionate about other kinds of collectibles, for example.

                          Rabin-esque
                          my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                          rabinesque.blogspot.com

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I did once hover with a group outside the London Palladium side door - we could hear the sound check. But I very quickly realized most of the guys there were record dealers trying to get things signed, so i retired gracefully to the Brewdog bar nearby to wait for the evening show... which was ace.

                            I did have a chat with Rick at Heathrow a few years back. He was coming out of the toilet as I went in. we did that sidestep dance one does to avoid each other and then i asked if he was who i thought he was and chatted about Yes. He was very friendly, but i wasnt interested in an autograph.

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                              #15
                              I bought a couple of things from Michael Palin's online shop a couple of years ago, a copy of his book Erebus, and a DVD of his film American Friends. I hadn't optioned for signed copies when I bought them, but he signed them anyway. I think one of his son's runs the website and online shop. I could go and see Michael when I'm next in London as I know his address...
                              Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
                              Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

                              Comment

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