I began collecting autographs at the ripe old age of 6. My father would take me to Wrigley Field – home of the (then) hapless Chicago Cubs. He would settle into his grandstand seat with a hot dog and a beer and I would gallop down the concrete steps to troll for autographs from the likes of Hank Sauer (see post of August 2, 2011). Then things got serious.
After buying and reselling the entire archives of the Chicago Rock Island Railroad (a 10 story building with 100,000 square feet of history) (see June 18, 2017), I began buying and selling autograph material. For nearly 40 years, I published catalogs and listings of manuscript material. And rare books. Back in the day, when auction bids had no minimums, I might bid on a hundred items — and win five or ten. At five to ten bucks each. Then I’d arbitrage them. Quickly. . . .
Personally, I collect original handwritten letters and documents of Justices of the United States Supreme Court. And have one of three collections in private hands.
One of the great resources for collectors of history in its handwritten form is The Manuscript Society — http://www.manuscript.org . I became President in 2002 – in Dublin and Belfast, NI. I was invited to speak at Stormont – the NI Parliament (and sat in Ian Paisley’s seat). The Manuscript Society is definitely worth the price of admission ($85.00 a year). If you have an interest in history, manuscripts, genealogy or antiquarian curiosities, check it out. You will not be disappointed.