I acquired a collection of autographs by mail for no more than postage and the cost of an occasional magazine or other minor item.
At one time, I collected auographs by mail. It was fun and it became something of a game, as well. Using basic knowledge and strategies, I acquired some nice items from celebrities which sold for about $1,000 when I finally turned my attention in other directions.
Although you can purchase autographs, I got my collection with minor expenditures for postage and packaging and books (usually remainders). So, although it wouldn’t be accurate to say I got my collection free, it would be accurate to say that I didn’t spend much for what others ultimately paid me $1,000 cash for.
So, what did I do?
First, I scoured the place for books on the subject of autograph collecting. There weren’t many. George Sullivan had a kid’s book on autograph collecting I got from a discount book dealer and that was my main guide for a long time. I also checked hobby magazines and searched Reader’s Guide to Periodicals for articles on the hobby. These days, of course, there’s tons of material on the internet.
Second, I started acquiring addresses. Some came from Who’s Who, some were the result of using common sense by writing to politicians in care of their office address, and others came along in other ways. Firms that the celebrity endorses are a good place to write for their autograph. My membership in the Universal Autograph Collector’s Club got me more addresses in their monthly magazine. Occasionally, I purchased lists from dealers in celebrity addresses.
Third, I looked for material to be signed. You can get an index card signed, but it’s the least desireable of autographs. Photographs are good, widely available, widely desired. Keep in mind, many celebrities you’ll seek signatures from…writers, war heroes…do not have a budget for photos, but searching should bring up photos in magazines or books that you can clip. You can also acquire books and send them to the author, putting together a nice collection. You can buy some in very nice condition from Amazon and eBay. Just check the description closely. At a dollar store, I got two copies of Ronald Reagan’s memoirs. I sent one to him with return postage and envelope, he signed it, and eventually I sold it for $80. I bought Richard Nixon’s book, “In the Arena” for $1.98 from Hamilton Books, a mailorder dealer in remainders, sent it to Nixon for his signature, and it sold for $120.