As a kid, I collected just about everything, including coins, stamps, comic books and sports cards. When I went to college, I left all of these hobbies behind, except I rediscovered sports cards and that eventually sent me on my career path. When I discovered autograph collecting, at first it meshed well with sports cards. I'd show up at NFL hotels with a few nine-pocket sheets of football cards to get signed, or go to MLB games with a small stack of baseball cards to get signed.
But eventually the autographs themselves became more interesting to me than the cards, so I expanded my autograph collection to magazines, mini helmets, baseballs, etc. I also expanded my interest beyond the four major team sports into golf, Olympics, soccer, tennis and more. Pretty soon I was into celebrity autographs as well, attending book signings and getting musicians after concerts and politicians after campaign speeches.
I was hooked. Unlike coins, stamps, comics or cards, autograph collecting had the nice side benefit of meeting famous people. Not to mention that no one hands out valuable coins, stamps, comics or cards for free, but famous people sometimes give their autographs for free. These are just two reasons why autograph collecting is a fantastic hobby, and why it's so surprising that it gets very little respect.
What do I mean? Well, the respected About.com website, run by the New York Times, has several dozen topics, some of which are hobbies including Action Figures, Beadwork, Candles and Soap Making, Coins, Comic Books, Dolls, Needlepoint, Stamps and many more. No autographs. What's especially glaring about this omission is that unlike most collectibles, autographs are commonly given as gifts to people who are not collectors, and people who are not collectors commonly obtain autographs. At your average celebrity book signing, the number of autograph collectors (or dealers for that matter) are significantly outnumbered by ordinary people who are fans of the author.
Which means that you don't have to be an autograph collector to be interested in autographs! Not only that, fake autographs are commonly bought and sold, meaning that the average person could use more information about autographs, from where and how to get them, how to avoid fakes, opportunities to get autographs from specific celebrities in person, etc. Yet About.com would rather devote an entire topic to . . . Candles and Soap Making
More evidence of disrespect for autograph collecting: eBay categories. eBay has top level categories for Coins & Paper Money, and Stamps. Fine, I'm OK with that. But Autographs are found under not one, not two, but three different top level categories
: Entertainment Memorabilia, Collectibles and Sports Memorabilia. This is confusing to the buyer and seller. Autographs should either have its own top level category with subcategories for genres, or at least be confined to being a subcategory under only two top level categories. There certainly should not be Collectibles/Autographs/Movies
and Entertainment Memorabila/Autographs-Original/Movies
. What's the difference?
I'll get off my soapbox now.