Autographs- why?

I understand that it’s fun for kids. But why would an adult ask another adult who they’ve never met for their signature? Is it a thrill to mildly inconvenience someone famous? Is it a belief that everything they’ve ever touched will be worth something someday?

For me, and the few autographs I have collected, it is proof, that for a few seconds, I was in the presence of KNOWN CELEBRITY. I know you can buy and trade them, but for me the story of when I where I got it is more important.

SSG Schwartz

Wouldn’t a quick photo serve the same purpose?

I prefer lifting their wallet and absconding with their driver’s license (or in the case of Lindsay Lohan, her SAG card) but to each their own.

Seriously, I’ve been in the presence of a few celebrities (totally incidentially) and the behavior of all of them was such that I wouldn’t ask them for an autograph; either they were acting like a total ass in public, or they were engaging in some mundane ritual like buying groceriesw in which I’d not want to be interrupted in their place. I guess there’s an appropriate place for this sort of thing and it’s a price that goes along with being a celebrity, but I personally don’t care to participate in the entire process. My greatest celebrity story (aside from watching Val Kilmer verbally evicerate a young production assistant for no good reason whatsoever) was semi-anonymously buying a drink for a favorite musician when she did a gig at a local club.


When a book of mine came out in '03 (a local history, nothing spectacular), I recall folk were queuing up in the library to get my signature on the books. Even now, with the more lower-key publication of another of my books last month, I’ve already had a couple of folk insist that I sign their copy.

Can’t explain the autograph-collecting thing where it’s simply a signature on a blank piece of paper (other than it’s another collecting thing, like stamps or trading cards) but as far as books are concerned, it seems to add a personal connection. Dunno 'bout the value, though.

I’ve had a few records autographed by the artists, and they were very nice people. As was mentioned, it proves that I was in their presence, and they did this favor for me. I’m pretty sure that the records will be worth a bit more than one without the autograph, by the time my wife has to decide what to do with my record collection. So she will benefit from that.

We have a few autographed pictures, but they are all personalized ( see SSG Schwartz’s reason). Mostly I collect autographed, personalized First Editions of my favorite authors. Just a random auto on a piece of paper doesn’t interest me at all.

I generally forget to bring my camera. I don’t know what that is, but whenever I get somewhere I would be likely to take pictures, I always say something to the effect of, “Damn, I wish I brought my camera.”

Also, having someone pose with my and having my picture taken with the person seems like on helluva inconvenience.

SSG Schwartz

Regarding having your photo taken with a celebrity, I have a bit of a story. Musical comedian Victor Borge was coming to play the city where I lived in Canada. I was going to take my mom. We always had Borge’s albums from the time I was a toddler. I also have a 78 RPM multi-disc album of his first recordings for Columbia in 1943. They have never been reissued in another format. So I called the theater management to ask if I could get this record set autographed. They said they’d get back to me.

Awhile later, I got a call from Mr. Borge’s manager, who not only said he would autograph them, he gave us great complimentary seats. After the show, my mom and I were invited backstage for a meet-and-greet. He chatted with us for a minute or two, and his assistant took his picture on our camera, signing the inside cover, and another of Mr. Borge, my mom and me.

That’s something I treasure, because I’m the only person in the picture still living.

Every hockey season I get a t-shirt autographed by the Columbus Cottonmouths - the entire team. The Booster Club sponsors a blood drive and everyone who donates gets an autographed shirt. I now have (I think) 11 or 12 of them. It’s a connection to each year’s team.

I have a small collection of autographed hockey sticks. One is signed by the entire 2006 Stanley Cup winning team, another by the team that made to the finals in 2002. The rest are single player game used sticks. I would never want a celeb to autograph a blank piece of paper because it seems so impersonal. My most prized item of all is my hockey monkey…a monkey I made a Build-A-Bear with a Carolina Hurricanes uniform. I got him a goalie mask and made some pads and a blocker for him. He even has skates and a stick. I took him to a Canes practice and both Cam Ward and John Grahame signed one of the pads. They thought he was adorable.


We are baseball fans, so we have some balls and bats with signatures. Some are mundane, a couple are quite rare, and one is spectacular- a bat signed by about 25 Hall of Famers. But they are just for us, rarely displayed and never a thought to selling them.

It’s a connection to the game, I guess. I haven’t thought that much about it.

I used to collect 'em when I was younger so that I could show them off to my friends. Now, I really don’t see any thrill in it.

A friend of mine still collects them to some degree. We were at a show, and she had all of Lacuna Coil’s autographs except for the singer’s. I went back to where the buses were to try to get the last one for her. I had a pen and the paper in hand, and snuck my way towards the back door of the club. I was about ten feet from the exit when Scott Ian the guitarist for Anthrax came out. He saw the paper and pen, grabbed 'em and signed the blank side. He said nothing and I thanked him. He must have thought the puzzled look on my face was me being starstruck.

I ended up finding the bands tour bus, and managed to get their attention my bouncing up and down in front of the windshield like a crazy person. A guy opened the door, I asked for the singers autograph, and he returned with it. So, I go to give the paper to my friend, and showed her that I had gotten the last one. “Plus, I accidentally got Scott Ian’s autograph on the back, so you’ve got that going for you too” Good times.

The best answer I could give is “it reminds me of good times”. The autographs I’ve gotten are all from indie rock musicians who will never be famous. However, they’re all people who have given me great amounts of happiness, and I had them autograph the records that did that. It’s like seeing a picture of an old friend–it gives you stronger memories of good times than you could get strictly from memory. Why not a photo? A lot of them won’t let you take a photo.

Geez - talk about going out of your way to concoct the most negative spin possible on something. Maybe these would be your motives, but this isn’t how the great majority of autograph seekers think.

An autograph is a memento. People like mementos of famous personalities, be they sports jerseys, game equipment, photographs, locks of hair, whatever. A personally collected autograph is a personal memento that was specifically created for the recipient, and thus has more meaning than something that anyone and everyone can buy at a store or have mailed to them.

I only ask for autographs if I’m a crew member, and have therefore contributed something (however small) to the performer’s livelihood. And I go to signings and cons. I would not ask for an autograph apropos of nothing, except, if I ever encountered Lindsay Lohan, or anyone who’s known for acting entitled, I would ask for an autograph just to watch their head explode.

I inherited an autograph book from my grandmother (or rather, saved it from house clearance…) and it has George Bernard Shaw’s autograph in it, though sadly not with a great witticism. Maybe he was in a grumpy mood. Having googled a few of the more legible names it is an interesting record of early twentieth century music hall performers and the like. But annoyingly, about half of the names are indecipherable, so I may never know who my grandma met, back in the day.

If you’re really good with Photoshop then a photo isn’t necessarily definitive and indisputable proof of having been in the presence of a celebrity.