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Chapter II: What and Where to Collect.
The first thing the future autograph collector needs to do is decide how and what you want to collect. What are your interests? There are sports, medicine, inventors, political, aviation, civil war, film, music, art, legal and many more interesting fields to choose. You can obtain autographs in person or through the mail. To obtain autographs of those notables you admire who are deceased you will need to find a professional autograph dealer.

If you live in a major city, chances are so do some celebrities. You may want to go to a bookstore and purchase one of the many books available that list celebrity addresses. You may also want to read your newspaper and see who has just accomplished a major breakthrough or invented a new item that will change the world. Use your imagination when writing a celebrity, just don’t ask for an autograph. Show interest in their work, ask a question about their accomplishment. You may be surprised as to the response you may get. Avoid the games some simpletons in our hobby practice by sending 30 3"x5" cards to a celebrity. They will claim they are enclosing a card for each student in their class. Of course it is a class they don’t have. Celebrities have been wise to this awful trick for some time. Some celebrities have even shared the name of the so-called teacher amongst other celebrities.

Should you live in a town that has a theater, position yourself at the stage door minutes after the play or show. Most celebrities will stop and sign. Many famous persons have written a book and can be found at a book signing in every major city. This is a sure way of meeting the celebrity face to face and getting a genuine signature. Be sure to bring your camera as most celebrities will take a moment for a quick snapshot.

Fans of baseball are usually lucky obtaining autographs at spring training games. Many collectors have luck writing members of sports celebrities via their respective Hall of Fame.

There are collectors shows all over the United States and some major cities around the world. Everyone from movie celebrities to Playboy Playmates and astronauts can appear at these events to sign autographs.

Look in your yellow pages for “Used and Rare Book Stores.” Many of these stores can have letters, documents, signed photographs and signed books available for sale from time to time. Some shops may not even know they have signed books on their shelves.

You may also want to take advantage of attending local stamp, coin and military shows which have always been a good source for an occasional autograph surprise. Many stamp dealers will have First Day Covers signed by sports figures, celebrities and First Flight Covers signed by noted aviators. Don’t forget to look through stampless covers that might contain a very rare free franking signature. A free frank is a signature usually found near the top right hand of the envelope which is in lieu of a stamp. Many coin dealers can have an occasional letter, stock certificate or historical document signed by a notable person. Quite often documents signed by presidents of the United States can be found at a coin dealers booth.

It’s best to focus on a specific subject matter. You may eventually become an expert in your field of collecting. Some of the best collections belong to those collectors who were able to focus early on with their collection.

Chapter III: Choosing a Professional Autograph Dealer (Continued)