US Presidential Autographs!

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US Presidential Autographs!
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Collecting Autographs In General!!!!

Autographs of famous personalities provide a glimpse into history.  The past or history provides a view and understanding of the past and how that reflects the understanding of where we are today.  As people of intense specualtion of "who are(am) we (I)",  autographs, autographed letters, manuscripts, and documents from hisorical individuals offer unique perspectives into that age old question!  Individuals of great principals, of extraordinary and unique leadership, come alive with the autographs and correspondance that they have left behind!!  Reverence of the autographs of great individuals of ancient times was very common.  The people of ancient Greece considered the original manuscripts of the great poets and playwrites to be treasures to be greatly valued.

Autographed items seem to hold and increase value in boom economic times (the rising stock market inflates people's net worth) and tougher economic times as people still spend money but prefer to invest in items which increase in value over time.

The papers of great philosophers, such as Aristotle, were left to respected succesors, such as Theophrastus in Aristotle's case.  One of the Seven Wonders of the ancient World, the Libarary of Alexandria, was a collection of the manuscripts of famous philosphers!  These collected manuscripts of the Libarary of Alexandria  were enhanced by Ptolemy, who begining in 306 B.C. began collecting the original works of the greatest Greek scholars!

Collecting U.S. Presidential Autographs!!!!

The collecting of autographs in general did not begin in the United States until approximately 1815!  Richard Gilmor (Baltimore), William Sprague, and Israel Tefft (Georgia) were the three prominent US collectors of historical autographs!!!!  In the 1830's the ideal of collecting autographs began widely popular encouraged greatly by the Andrew Jackson populist spirit!  Most experts in autograph collecting when asked the question of "which autographs should I collect?"

The answer is the U.S. Presidents!!!!!!

Documents signed by U.S. presidents are hugely popular and great safe bets in autograph collecting!!! Historical documents of the most routine land grants and miltary documents are hard to forge!  The Vellum or old paper, the engraving, the wax seal, and the aging of the vellum and autograph make authentication fairly easy.  Watch for the occasional retracing of light ink autographs!

Key Points to Consider in Collecting U.S. Presidential Autographs that I have discovered!

George Washington

He was a prolific writer having an estimted 20,000 letters written in his lifetime.  Many consider that his autograph is hard to find outside of a musuem, Not True!!!!! These cocuments are readily available!  His autograph on most documents was G. Washington.  His autographs had two forms with as a young surveyor, it took the unusual form with the "W" having three strokes rather than two.  After the French and Indian War, his hand writing assumed a stability that it would retain for the rest of his life!  Cut G. washington autographs are relatively plentiful but demand is extraordinarily high!

As of March 2010, the average auction house price for signatures during Washington presidency approxiamate $6000- $7000!

John Adams 

His autograph value has greatly  increased in recent years as demand has soared primarily after the autographical book and HBO special about his contribution to Americann history!!!!!  A second as a scholar in American history only to Thomas Jefferson with letters replete with history and philosophy!  His early signature as a lawyer and statesman  was distinctive yet modest.  As he became as stateman during the American Revolution his autograph was large and dominating!  As he became older, it reduced in size and impression and in later years infirmnity became quite obvious (Very shakey)!  John Adams often left very controvial letters reflecting his disdain for his low esteem (in his view) by current leaders (including Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson), which seemed to change in his later life!  Died July 4, 1826 the 50 history of the America Revolution!

Average auction house prices as of March 2010 for autographs during his presidency averaged over $3,500!

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson considered himself a Renaissance Man, and his autograph ceratinly reflects that personal view of himself!  Very bold and unique autograph that is easily recognized! Jefferson authored approximately 20,000 letters and his autograph varied very little in his lifetime.  One note in his letters is that he avoided the use of capital letters.  In 1804, he started using the first polograph machine (early AUTOPEN) that copied letters that he wrote but the polygraph machine letters were kept mainly for his own records.  Take care when buying his letters concerning original versus polograph!   Jefferson believed in the ability of people to govern themselves, and opposed to what he viewed as a "Big Government" approach.  Died July 4 , 1836, the 50th anniverasary of the American Revolutionary Indendence!

In March 2010, average auction house signatures for his autograph during his presidency exceeded $4,000!

James Madison

Madison's handwriting varied little over his lifetime and can most easily be found on official US Documents (Land grants, etc.)  Madison was the Father of the U.S.  Constitution and his famous wife, Dolly, wrote many of his post presidential letters although he signed most himself.  It is thought that less than 10,000 letters of Madison exist today. Pre Federal Governmnet letters were usually signed James Madison, Jr.

Average auction house prices as of March 2010 approximated $500! 

James Monroe

Letters of Monroe were full of detail and plain talk.  Monroe wrote most of his letters rather than relying on secretaries.  Monroe's term of was considered "The Era of Good Feeling" as issues were often settled on a "NON Partisan Basis".  Monroe was a natural consensus builder,  Do We Need Him Today?????  James Monroe often signed as Jas Monroe as well as James Monroe. He wrote and established  the Monroe Doctrine!

Average auction house prices as of March 2010 average approximately $500!

John Quincy Adams

The first son of a previous American President!!!!  He was the only President to publish a volume of poetry, often written out and signed by himself. Most of his autographs take the form of J.Q.(2) Adams!  Adams was one of the most advocate leaders against slavery and he served as a Representaive in Congress from the state of Mass.  Beautiful and consistent autograph that varies little over time of his life!

His autograph is often found on US land grants with values approximately $400 or ALS averaging over $550 depending on content!

Andrew Jackson

The orginal self made man that was elected President and the Famous American General from the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812!  Letters are very blunt and honest as he was very much taken with himself!  We have seen a few additional Presidents with this quality in recent U.S. History!!!!!  Jackson founded the Democratic party and as President greatly increasded the powers and scope of the office of President!  Sound familiar??????  In November 1833, Jackson stopped signing U.S Land Grants and U.S. Land Grants after that date by most U.S. Presidents are signed by secretaries.

As of March 2010 average auction house prices for autographs during his presidency averaged approximately $700!

Martin Van Buren

The first Professional politician to become President.  His entire term was consumed by the first major depression to hit the United States!  Hid sutograph is flowing and distinctive although in relatively low demand.   His return to office after his first term was defeated largely due to his opposition to  admision to the state of Texas to the United States. Did he forget the blood of many Americans at the Alamo?

Value of autograph during his presidency as of March 2010 was only about $300.

William Henry Harrison

Letters from William Henry Hharrison are very Rare even before his election as U.S. President!  As a military commander many of his letters were written by aides for his autograph.  He contracted a fatal illness shortly after he took office and he died within one month in the White House and thus presidential letters are extremely rare! 

There are only a few known letters in existance signed by William Harrison during his presidency and i have seen one sold for over $160,000 at auction!  An autograph from his presidantial one month had sold for over $90,000!

John Tyler

Great letters are few and far between.  His son, John often wrote his letters for his signature.  He died within three years of taking office as president and thus autographs as a U.S President are relatively scarce.  At the end of his career he served in the Confererate Congress, the only U.S. President to do so. Signs as J. Tyler or John Tyler.  Tyler was very concerned with personal loyalty and thus many of his letters or documents relates to his firing people percieved as disloyal, getting back at those percieved disloyal, or promoting those people that he perceived as loyalists.

James K. Polk

Very secretive and private President, although in his three years as President, Texas was admitted to the Union and most lands North of the Rio Grande were taken from Mexico (includes California).  Considered by many as devious.  He generally wrote letters himself, but his autograph has relatively low demand.

As of March 2010 his presidential autogrpahs auctioned for about $550!

Zachary Taylor

His cousin was James Monroe, but Zachary did not enjoy writing!  His entire pre-presidental career was spent in the military and thus many of his autographs are from military orders!  Taylor was straight forward but not intelleigently bented!  He was the first President to regularily regulate the writing of letters to secretaries.  He served two years before his death and thus Presidential signed documents are hard to find!  Taylor was against slavery and many still believe that he was assasinated due to this belief!  Most autographs are Z. Taylor, not unusual for such an unusual first name.

Due to his short tenor in office his presidential autograph generally sells for approxiamtely $1000.

Millard Fillmore

Very nice and flowing signature but in very low demand!!!!  His signature can often be found in Free Frank envelopes.   His Whig Party (Original US Party) disappeared largely due to its support of The Compromise of 1850, which attempted to keep slavery with compromises from the South and North!  He ran and lost re-election as the nominee of the new party the NoNothings currently known as?????? (insert Republican or Democrat)!

Presidential autograph approxiamtely $300-$350 as of march 2010.

Franklin Pierce

Very Flowing and pleasing autograph desired for its appearance rather than his historical significance!  Very Bold autograph!!!  Franklin Pierce was known to try to appease southern slaveholders as an attempt to perserve the union.  Many of his opponents argued he was the consument wish-washing (flip flopping)  politician.

March 2010, presidential autograph approximately valued at $550 in good condition.

James Buchanan

Perhaps the most flowing and beautiful of all presidental autographs and easy to find a Free Frank autograph!!!!!  As President, Buchanan was way over his head and wanted to sweep the slavery question under the carpet.  The Kansas compromise was put in place and the Dred Scott decision was raeched in the Supreme Court during his Presidency!!!!

Flowing autograph with an approxiamte value of $400 as of March 2010, at auction!

Abraham Lincoln

The most reognized and respected President along with George Washington. Lincoln signed almost all of his letters A. Lincoln and as president he signed official documents as Abraham Lincoln.  As an attorney before presidency he signed documents under the firm name Lincoln, and ?, as example.  The Lincoln autographs are in Extremely High Demand along with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

His autographs on legal documents generally sell for $3250 to $4,000 depending on era and presdiential autographs genrally sell in excess of $4,000.  A high quality letter recently sold for over $300,000, so check specific items for value with an expert!

Andrew Johnson 

A tailor originally who learned to write as an adult.  Most often signed his name in full as Andrew Johnson.  Of course first President to be impeached and very unpopular due to reconstruction!

Presidential autographs generally sell for about $425 at auction as of March 2010.

Ulyses S. Grant

Per Cival War autographs are very rare.  Almost all of his autographs are signed US Grant.  Letters are almost always short and non reflective!!!!!!

Presidential autographs generally sell for about $650, Cival War autographs sell for approximately the same level at auction!

Rutherford B. Hayes

Last President whose letters are vitually all in his own hand!  Usually signed as R.B. Hayes but also used "Rutherford B. Hayes" and RBH.  Hayes was President in 1879 when the first telephone was installed in the White House!!!!!  The first typewriter arrived in 1880 although Hayes did not have letters  typed until after he left the White House!

RBS presidential autographs gerally sell for about $325 at auction as of march 2010.

James A. Garfield

As a U.S. Rpresentative he usually signed as J.A. Garfield and Free Frank Envelopes are common from his congressional days.  As President he generally signed James A. Garfield and due to his assaination, presidental dated autographes are very valuable!

James A. Garfield as Presidential autographs can fetch over $4,000 at auction as of march 2010!

Chester A. Arthur

Beautiful signature generally signed as Chester A. Arthur!!  Letters are quite uncommon and thus valuable!!!!!!  Very distrusted President when he entered office after the assasination of Garfield but very respected after leaving office!!!!

Autographs generally sell for approximately $3000!

Grover Cleveland

He wrote virtually all of his own letters and he had a beautiful autograph, almost always Grover Cleveland. Some of his letters were typewritten, but many were full ALS. The only President elected to two non-consecutive terms!  Very small script, but many letters are very long.

Presidential autographs are valued at approximately $250 with White House cards selling for approximately $350!

Benjamin Harrison

Very brief letters and his pre-presidential law firm letters were mainly type written.  High quality bank signed checks are very common and command the lowest value (generally $200-$250) for presidential signatures.  the economy was poor during his presidency and thus he lost his re-election bid.  "It's the economy stupid"!!!!!

His autographed checks sell for approximately $200 at auction, occasionally less.

William McKinley

McKinley was the last Cival War veteran to serve as Presdient! The early letters from his law practice are generally signed "William McKinley, Jr.".  He led the country in the Sapnish- American War and his running mate (although he personally disliked) was Theodore Roosevelt.  McKinley was the first President to appoint a Jewish Person to a senior federal post.

Presidential autographs sell for approximately $350 at auction as of March 2010.

Theodore Roosevelt

A President that remade America and the Presidency in his personal image!  "Speak softy and carry a big stick" , he brought the US to world prominance for better or worse!  In the 1880's he handwrote his letters, but he adopted the typewriter in 1890.  Letters are generally signed "Theodore Roosevelt" althogh "T. Roosevelt" are commonplace.  Post presidency, many letters are signed on the "The Outlook" stationary, his magazine.  His letters are blunt, but considered the best in modern history.  Many times Teddy would change a typewritten word in a letter by hand! The Progressive candidiate, although I doubt he would align with todays, "Progressives"!!!

Presidential autographs sell for about $460 at auction as of March 2010.

William H. Taft

The vast majority of his letters are typed!!!!!  Letters as Supreme Court Justioce are often worth more than Presidential autographs.  A very cerebral president much more suited to the Supreme Court!!!!!  He often signed letters "Wm H. Taft."  Taft undid many reforms of his predeccor Theodore Roosevelt.

Presidential autographs sell for approxiamtely $200 at auction, occasionally higher for U.S. Supreme Court autographs!

Woodrow Wilson

The college professor that led America through WWI.  He was a professor at Princeton and many typed letters can be found during this period.  Wlison unquestionably drafted all of his own letters although he typed most of the letters.  He always had a small typewriter at his side!  As a Modern War President many documents signed by Wilson still exist in great condition!

In his college days he signed "Thomas or Tommy" Wilson, but he changed to Woodrow, his middle name before his presidency.  He was viewed as a great president after WWI, but in 1919 he suffered a severe stroke and his hand became very shaky.

Presidential autographs generally sell for about $400 at auction!

Warren G. Harding

Harding was considered a very good post war president.  He was the first President to use a speechwriter.  Harding had a tendancy to write and speak in pladitudes, he was not a Buffoon that he is often pictured to be.  History repeats itself.  Autographs are on lower end on Presidential value!

Calvin Coolidge

Very distnctive signature almost exclusively on documents and typed letters.  He was not known for "Silent Cal" for nothing!

Presidential autographs sell for approximately $200 with White House cards selling for approximately $300 at auction as of march 2010.

Herbert Hoover

Very few ALS's exist and he is one of the least popular and autograph collected Presidents,  Autographed photos are in high supply but low value.   He was only President for seven months when the Great Depression hit, but he did not blame it on Silent Cal.  But his popualarity is an all-time low among all  US PRESIDENTS!!!

Presidential autographs sell for $175 at auction as of March 2010!

Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR was the first US President to serve more than two full terms, he was elected to a FOURTH term but died shortly after reelection. Roosevelt was governor of New York and condidedred very liberal,  Letter can be signed FDR or Franklin D, Roosevelt!

Presidential autographs sell for approximately $350 at auction as of March 2010!

Harry Truman

Became President after Roosevelt's death.   Made the decision to drop the first and second atomic bombs on Japan.  He always avoided having secretaries sign for him which simplfies authentication.  He left office with very low popularity (Korean War) by respect grew in the preceding years!

Presidential autographs sell for about $300 at auction!

Dwight Eisenhower

His correspondence prior to WWII is scarce and thus valuable and his WWWI correspondance is often viewed on par with presidential autographs.  He generally signed typed letters, but occasionaly secrectaries signed for him.

After the War, circa 1947 he took up with the Autopen, so buyer beware!

Presidential autographs sell for about $300 and WWII autographs for approximately $370 at auction as of March 2010!

John F. Kennedy

Once JFK reached Congress he had almost all letters typed.  During the 1960 U.S. Presidenial electionelection he had time to sign virtualy nothing and all of his letters were secretarial signed or signed by Autopen.

On personal correspondance he ofton signed "John" or Jack"

JFK is the most popular of all modern U.S. Presidents!!!  Non autopen autographs often exceed $1300 in value!!

Lyndon Baines Johnson

He presents te biggest challenge to the authentication of any American President!  Almost all letters are typed and secrrateries signed extensively for him and some were quite good! Many of Johnson personally autographed letters include contain a period (.) under the B rather than after it.   He also used the Autopen extensively.  An authenticated letter discussing Cival Rights or the Vietnam War are in high demand.

Presidential autographs sell for approxiamtely $225 at auction as of March 2010.

Rxihard M. Nixon

Common autograph of the only U.S. Presidant to resign.  Almost all of his letters are typed and secretaries signed a large portion of these letters.  After he left office, Nixon took to signing his own letters.

Presidential autographs sell for approximately $225 at auction as of March 2010!

Gerald Ford

Pardoned Richard Nixon from any crimes occured!  He made extensive use of Autopens and his autograph is extremely common!!!

Presidential autographs generally sell for $50-$75 at auction as of March 2010!

Jimmy Carter

Carter extensively used the Autopen.  Autographs can easily be found on his books.  Jimmy Carter reguarily attended Book Shop signings in support of his newest book during the 1990;s and 2000's.  The most common autograph of U.S. Presidents. Jimmy has written over 20 books making finding when of these bookseasy to find.

Easy to find autograph at around $50!

Ronald Reagan

Ronald got help from his Mom in responding to fan mail during his movie year.  He handled almost all of his requests  from the end of his movie career until he became Governor of California.  Inpersonal letters he ofetn signed Ron, Ronnie, or Ron.  The tone of presidential letters were a key sign to determin whether he signed or s secretary signed!

Presidential autographs at auction can sell in excess of $375 at auction!

George H.W. Bush

The second  father to later have a son aspire to the presidenicy of the United Sates!!!  The elder Bush was former CIA Director and VP for 8 Years!  Bush' s autograph has realively constant over the years.  The elder Bush is found of a sports of himself as a Yale baseball player shaking hands with the legend, Babe Ruth,  You can send a photgraph to his presidential library and Most likely get an autographed returned photo.  Please include photo and a self addressed stamp envelope.

Presidential autographs sell for about $100-$125 at auction as of March 2010!

Bill Clinton


George W. Bush

Relatively hard to obtain an autograph on a recently retired individual!   A Few examples exist when he was General Manager of the Texas Rangers baseball team.  Very low keyed President in first year out of office.

His presidential autographs can sell in excess of $200 at auction at March 2010!

Barack Obama

As the early portion of his presidency, the jury is still out.  Very easy authgraph to forge, so beware!  Can sell for over $400 on EBay, but that will decrease over time due to high supply!







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