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Eight Things You Should Know When Collecting Autographs by Mail

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You look out your window and see a glorious sight -- the mail truck! No, I haven't built a new found fondness of bills or junk mail, instead I'm hoping that an 8x10 manila envelope is waiting to be ripped open. I can barely get into the house without breaking the seal to the envelope and open it up to find a personalized autographed photo from Renee Zellweger. Not only did she sign my photograph, but she wrote a letter as well. Needless to say as an autograph collector by mail, I live for these moments.

You might be saying to yourself, now how can I get an autographed photo from my favorite celebrity? Let me give you some suggestions to get you started.

  1. The first step in collecting autographs by mail is finding an address to write to them. Unfortunately, the more popular a celebrity is, the harder it becomes to get an authentic autograph from them. It is still possible to have success with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but you have to constantly stay informed on their signing habits. A great way to have success through the mail is writing to them via venue. If you know where Leonardo DiCaprio will be filming his latest film, try writing a letter to the production office. Of course these are the hardest addresses to find and can take a lot of personal research.

    Some links to get you started:

    • Startiger.com - If you don't mind spending some money this is a great site. I'm not a member any longer, but it was one of the best sources of addresses I've found on the Internet.
    • The A1 Autograph Groupon Yahoo is another great resource that has helped me many times. Like Startiger.com, A1 is successful because of the community of autograph collectors who share information.
    • www.stefansautographs.ch/ - Another one of my favorite by mail autograph sites.
    • IMDB.Com - This is the best source on the Internet for film information, use this site to find out what is filming and where.
  2. You should also catalogue in some fashion, whether on the computer or written in a journal, the requests you have sent out. When hundreds of requests have been sent out, it can be hard to remember which address you previously tried. Plus, you can see how many days it took certain celebrities to respond.
  3. The most tricky part about collecting autographs by mail is writing the letter, because the reality is there is no guaranteed format that will ensure success. As a general rule, you should not make your letter longer than a page and if it is handwritten, make sure it is legible.

    Be polite in your approach when requesting the autograph itself and perhaps express why granting this request would mean the world to you. The content of the letter should focus on why you admire them as an entertainer, this is where creativity could earn you some extra points. Something I wrote to Renee Zellweger inspired her to go the extra mile and write me a note. You just never know how far a little creativity will take you.

  4. Now the hard part is out of the way. If you expect any type of response at all, then you should include with your request a self addressed stamped envelope or in short a SASE. While some celebrities will respond regardless of an SASE, it is out of common courtesy that you send one. Including an SASE will also increase the likelihood of getting a response. Also write "Do Not Bend" on both envelopes to help ensure that the contents aren't damaged during handling.
  5. The next thing that you must consider is including something to get signed whether it is a photograph of them or simply enclosing a double sided blank index card. The majority of celebrities tend to send you their own 8x10 photographs, but some will only sign if you send them something. Be careful what you send because you may never see it again. Sending your rare rookie football card would be an extremely risky move, so please don't send your treasured mementos for autographs.
  6. Make sure your envelope and SASE are stamped and then put it in the mailbox and cross your fingers. Now everything is out of your control and the wait is almost tortuous. Unlike in person collecting, you could wait months to years for a reply from a celebrity. It took me over five years to get a response from Jack Nicholson, but let me tell you it was worth the wait to get my picture back signed. Unfortunately many of the requests you send out will never be seen again.
  7. When and if you get a response from the celebrity it is time to ask one of the biggest questions... is the autograph I just received real? This can be really tricky and shows just why communication is so important in by mail collecting. Finding a good autograph community will help in not only sharing addresses but tips on detecting those tricky fakes. You should become very familiar with the terms autopen, preprint, secretarials, forgeries, and stamped autographs.
  8. So you've done the research and determined that your autograph is legit, now what? You must ensure that your autograph is properly protected and preserved. Whether they are framed or kept in a binder, they should only touch acid-free archival material.

    Go to this site to learn more:

In the end the key to collecting autographs by mail is constantly educating yourself, whether it is learning about fakes or keeping up to date on who is signing through the mail. This hobby takes a lot of patience and there aren't any guarantees, but when you get that first big success through the mail you'll be instantly hooked and will wait patiently for your favorite person to come by everyday... the mailman.

More:
Earl's Tips Collecting Autographs in Person

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