How to invest in autographs
Judging by the number of investment enquiries we receive obviously many people think it is a great idea but how can you ensure that this strategy will result in bringing you profit? Here are a few tips:
1. Choose and know your market
The world of manuscripts and autographs is not an easy one to navigate but like with any other investments the more you know about it the better the likely return. Browse catalogues, keep an eye on auction results, and speak to dealers who can be a mine of knowledge. In fact, make friends with dealers and if you choose them well they will reward you with first refusals and good prices.
2. Focus on what you like
The best strategy is to concentrate on specific areas and buy what genuinely interests you. Collecting autographs has always been a good investment for those who collected not purely for financial gain but with a bit of emotion. By doing that you are more likely to put an effort needed to fully understand the market and with that knowledge you will be ahead of the game when it comes to re-selling your collection. Read as much as you can, and after a while you will have confidence in your own judgment. You may spot a letter with important content which will increase the value both intellectually and financially.
3. Know the factors which drive the values
Establishing the value and potential value of manuscripts can be very difficult. They are dependant on the content of the manuscript, condition, association to the body of work of the signer, and – most importantly – supply and demand. The supply and demand side of autograph market is similar to other collectibles markets: leading collectors continue to fight over the best pieces, museums and institutions are active in acquiring new pieces for their collections, and finally - there is a finite supply of material to satisfy growing demand of increasing numbers of collectors. Geographical boundaries have nearly disappeared with the development of the Internet, new economies are growing and the access to manuscripts is open to new collectors regardless of their location. This means that the liquidity potential of the material also growing.
4. Buy quality
You may come across an occasional good price deal but make sure you buy the best you can afford. Content and condition – not to mention the authenticity of the item - are extremely important and will affect the value when it comes to re-selling the piece. Keep the paperwork as it may be key when you sell the item on. Manuscripts are often referenced by previous sales or ownership and such provenance will help you sell the piece.
5. Time your buying and selling
The autographs market is like any other market – there are highs and lows and there are fashions. It pays to be cautious. If a name dominates the news headlines and you own a relevant manuscript it may be time to think about selling it.
We generally recommend manuscripts as a mid to long time investment and we suggest that you carefully choose the time of selling your items on.
6. Look after your investment
Attrition is one of the reasons why autographs and manuscripts increase in value. Eventually fewer items survive and those which survived sometimes deteriorate making the supply of quality items scarcer. Ensure suitable storage conditions for your items.