In the world of autograph collecting, rare and old signatures are highly sought after. On February 24, Written Word Auctions will be offering plenty falling within these categories, with its 'Hollywood - Stage and Screen' sale featuring an abundance of famous names. The 400 items are quite rightly described by the auctioneer as "all collectible, all affordable".
Foremost in the listing is a unique piece of musical history - sheet music for the Beatles' hit song, 'A Hard Day's Night'. Taken from the album and film of the same name, the song was a number 1 hit for the group in 1964 and represented the beginning of the band's shift towards a more unconventional style of pop music.
The sheet music measures 9 by 11 inches, and has been triple matted with the original album. Most importantly, the framed piece is autographed by John, Paul, George and Ringo, each signing just above their individual picture. This rare item is estimated to realise a splendid $7,500-12,000 - a very reasonable outlay for an investor looking for a slice of the Beatles' memorabilia market.
Another coveted autograph included in the auction is that of the legendary Walt Disney. The American film maker and animator created some of the most memorable and successful cartoon characters of all time, and his studios earned an incredible 48 Academy Awards during his lifetime alone.
The lot for sale is actually a book from Disney's personal library, 'London: Illustrated Guide Books', published in 1937. The title page bears Disney's distinctive and very clear signature. With an estimate of between $2,500-4,000, this could make a memorable investment for an autograph hunter with a fondness for cartoons!
An unusual highlight of the Written Word auction is the signature of American showman and circus founder, PT Barnum. A tireless promoter and hoaxer, Barnum became one of the richest men in America during the 19th Century, in part due to the Barnum and Bailey Circus - which included the famous 6 1/2 ton elephant, Jumbo.
The rare signature, from 1880, finishes a letter written by Barnum describing his admiration for former American President, Abraham Lincoln. This rather quirky lot is expected to sell for anything between $1,800 and $3,500.
Autographs are a great investment, but particular signatures will always be more valuable than others. As we pointed out recently, the Beatles are highly collectible and have been for many years, in part due to the deaths of Lennon and Harrison but also because of their cultural significance. Add to that Ringo Starr's decision to stop signing autographs and you have incredible investment potential.
Similarly, Barnum and Disney are cultural icons. Last February, we reported on a rare Mickey Mouse Christmas card signed by the latter which sold for a cracking $14,000. The very affordable estimates in this auction should act as an encouragement to autograph hunters everywhere that there is money to be made from the written word . . .