Guide to Collecting Autographed Presidential Memorabilia

Guide to Collecting Autographed Presidential Memorabilia

The popularity of collecting autographed presidential memorabilia dates back decades. This guide provides collectors with a comprehensive overview of this popular niche category. It highlights some of the more commonly found items and has tips for avoiding common pitfalls unique to the category of autographed presidential memorabilia.

Is it Real?

Due to the popularity of presidential memorabilia, numerous commemorative items have been created through the years. Most of these have facsimile autographs. Simply put, a facsimile autograph is nothing more than a photographic reproduction of a President's signature. Items of this nature are numerous and don't normally carry any collectible value as a piece of signed memorabilia.

In addition, due to the numerous items requiring the President's legitimate signature, many items like personal correspondence and invitations are often signed using a mechanical device called an autopen. An autopen uses live ink from an actual pen to replicate the President's signature. It is written by a robotic-like arm. Autopen signatures carry little value. However, their existence often makes it difficult to determine an authentic signature from that signed by an autopen.

To complicate matters even further, many Presidential items are often signed by someone else. These are referred to as secretarial signatures because, often times, the President's secretary, aid or administrative assistant is authorized to sign items on the President's behalf.

So how can you tell if a piece of presidential memorabilia is authentically signed? The answer is that a lot of that is dependent on faith in the autograph authentication process and the credibility of the autograph authenticator.

autopen

obama_signed_letters_110621

If it's too good to be true. it probably isn't (true).

Often times, as collectors or prospective gift buyers, we find an item so unique, so fantastic or at such a great price, that we want the item to be real. This should be your first red flag. When this happens, take a deep breath, exhale, relax and examine the item's facts.

Collecting with your brain versus your heart will save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run.

Questions that need to be asked and answered of any alleged autographed presidential memorabilia item include:

  1. Was the President in question, actually alive when this item was allegedly signed?
  2. Does the signature coincide with the type of pen that would have been used at the time the item was signed?
  3. How many of these alleged items exist on the market?
  4. Has the item been authenticated by a reputable company?
  5. Does the item come with a Certificate of Authenticity or a Letter of Opinion?

As an example, finding a perfect copy of a Franklin D. Roosevelt autograph on an index card (referred to as a cut signature) that has been signed with a Sharpie, is obviously a forgery. Why? Because the company, and its marker-like pens didn't even exist when FDR was alive.

Condition, Condition, Condition

After authenticity, the most important factor that influences a pieces of presidential autographed memorabilia's value is condition.  As with all collectibles, regardless of their age, the condition an item is in is essential to determining its value. The better the condition, the higher the value.

However, while an item's value may decrease significantly as a result of condition issues, it also allows for entry into an otherwise expensive market. Simply because a presidential autograph memorabilia piece is damaged, doesn't eliminate its value entirely. In fact, it can be a very affordable way to acquire pieces for one's collection that would otherwise be out of reach financially.

Top 10 Presidential Autographs

When it comes to autographed presidential memorabilia, whose signature carries the highest value? This can be influenced by several factors including provenance and authenticity, condition, rarity and content of the subject matter. Signed documents related to a significant moment or achievement in a President's tenure, typically carry a premium over more every day items or personal correspondence.

Another, significantly determining factor in the value of presidential signatures is whether or not the item was signed while they were President. Taking these factors into account, here is a look at, what is widely considered to be, the top 10 Most Valuable Presidential Autographs.

  1. William Harrison
  2. George Washington
  3. Abraham Lincoln
  4. Thomas Jefferson
  5. James Madison
  6. James Garfield
  7. John F. Kennedy
  8. Ronald Reagan
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt

In addition to those listed above, arguments can be made that Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe and Zachary Tyler should have a place on the list. Popularity and accessibility also play a part in determining the value of presidential memorabilia. Depending on the individual preference of a presidential collector, items from these aforementioned presidents, often times sell for a higher value than some of those listed.

Modern Presidential Autographed Memorabilia

The most commonly found items that have been authentically signed by a current of former U.S. President are documents. This is not surprising given the amount of material a president is required to sign while in office. The types of memorabilia items are significantly influenced by the term in which the president served. Modern president's all have written memoirs and have appeared for book signing sessions. Many presidents have played golf and as a result, signed golf balls are also a relatively easy commodity to come across.

In recent years, even trading card manufacturers have capitalized on the popularity in the growth of presidential autograph collecting by including trading cards with autographs and cut signatures of former presidents within their products.

Harry Truman Cut Signature Card Beorge Bush and 1st Lady Dual Autograph Card

Top eBay Listings

President Bill Clinton Signed Photo Autograph
$100.00

BILL CLINTON * as PRESIDENT * authentic WHITE HOUSE AUTOGRAPH letter SIGNED
$250.00

President DONALD TRUMP Signed Autographed FRAMED Photo MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
$1,999.99

PSA DNA President DONALD TRUMP Signed Autographed FRAMED Hat AMERICA IS GREAT
$2,999.99

Mitt Romney Turnaround 1st HB Vintage Signed Autographed Book President
$187.49

DONALD TRUMP SIGNED FAMILY PHOTO 2016 PRESIDENT RARE IVANKA MELANIA JSA COA
$2,999.99

BERNIE SANDERS SIGNED 8x10 Photo 2016 PRESIDENT DEMOCRAT Liberal JSA COA
$174.99

Evelyn Lincoln Secretary To President John F. Kennedy Signed White House Letter
$150.00

PRESIDENT GEORGE HW BUSH SIGNED PHOTO 11X14 DUAL BARBARA BUSH #1 PSA DNA K41380
$999.99

PRESIDENT GEORGE HW BUSH SIGNED BASEBALL OML PSA DNA LETTER P04019
$999.99

Ronald Reagan Signed Large Photo Frame Cowboy Inscribed Mat President
$609.72

President George H W Bush Donruss Autograph Relic Material Card Signed 6 25
$459.99

ALGERIA Chadli Bendjedid autograph 3rd President of Algeria 1979-1992, signed
$114.17

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE Paul Doumer autograph, handwritten letter signed
$199.79

Vice President Calvin Coolidge Typed & Signed Letter to Napa State Hospital 1923
$117.50

MARCO RUBIO SIGNED AUTOGRAPHED 8X10 PHOTO 2016 PRESIDENT COA JSA #N25597
$112.50
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Rob Bertrand

E-Mail Author | 
Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

User Comments

  1. Is there any value to Pictures of all the Presidents with their Signatures and Dates in Office starting with
    George Washington 1789-1797 down to Gerald Ford 1974 is where picture with signature and dates end.
    Can you help me?

  2. These are the following Presidents with their signature, name printed under and then the date listed under: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William Mckinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Seal of the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, this is the way the Presidents are listed across on a big sheet and it’s a copywrite 1974 Historical Documents Co.

  3. Linda Looks like a commemorative replica. Probably not worth much http://www.histdocs.com/home/categorypages/Our%2020%20Best%20Sellers.php

  4. What donu think a presidential portrait if the yellow room in the White house, signed by both Bill and Hillary Clinton with seal would be worth?

  5. I have a picture 12 x 20 picture of Regan, Ford, Carter, and Nixon . It has been signed by each of the Presidents. I need to know the value of it.

    thanx
    Scott

  6. I have a letter signed by President JFK and the stamped envelope is posted the date of his asassination. How do i get the signature authenticated.

  7. I have a picture of Ronald Reagan on Inaugural Day looks like his autograph . In Washington DC on Jan. 20th, 1981. Also has a certificate sign by Robert Michel, House of Representatives. And Guy Vander Jagt, Chairmen. Is it worth anything?

    Leave a Comment:

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