The joy of collecting autographs on signed letters, books, memorabilia and good old fashioned autograph books has long been satisfying hobby for the serious and novice alike. In this fast-paced world of electronic communication personal collections of the past offer the unique satisfaction of holding pieces of history, quite literally, in our hands.
Autographs bring moments in time to life, often with incredible power. The window they open onto the past helps us better understand a person or event of importance to us. Autographs let us feel an individual's presence, experience his or her joy or sadness, inspiration or frustration, exultation or despair. In short, at their best, autographs convey the essence of an individual's personality. There are multiple clubs, magazines and blogs devoted to the subject.
For many people, collecting autographs is a stimulating and absorbing pastime. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example, often turned to his autograph collection as a distraction from the pressures of the presidency. Others find autographs a way to learn more about the people and circumstances that especially intrigue them. Some present autographs as memorable gifts, delighting in their recipients' pleasure at owning a memento of an admired individual.
The word autograph comes from Greek meaning to “self write". It is a document transcribed entirely in the handwriting of its author as opposed to a typeset document or one written by a copyist the meaning overlaps with that of the word holograph.
Autograph also refers to a famous person's artistic signature; this term is used in particular for the practice of collecting autographs of celebrities. The hobby of collecting autographs is known as philography. What might be considered the oldest "autograph" is a clay table from about 3100 BC which includes the name of the scribe. No ancient written autographs have been found, and the earliest one known for a major historical figure is that of El Cid from 1098.
If you are the one providing the autograph, do yourself a favor and invest in a nice writing instrument. It doesn’t matter if the ink is blue or black, if the barrels is thick or thin, just choose something that you love and that makes you feel like an author!