Is autographed memorabilia worth anything?

Dawsons take a look at what factors can influence the market value


As with any collectable, the value of an autographed item relies upon several different factors. As long as they tick the right boxes, autographed memorabilia can be worth thousands of pounds, and on occasion their worth can be in the millions!

Let’s consider exactly what makes autographed memorabilia valuable.


A cigar half smoked by and letters signed by Sir Winston Churchill

Sold for £2,000

author of the signature

The more widely known or significant the author is, the more value it holds.

In December 2020, leading Hollywood actor Idris Elba approached Dawsons for help selling a guitar that he and legendary musician Paul McCartney had both signed. Needless to say, the guitar generated huge interest across the world, eventually selling for £10,500, and all proceeds were donated by Elba to S.T.O.R.M, a fantastic charity that provides support and shelter for those suffering from domestic abuse.

Generally, memorabilia signed by historical figures tends to be worth more than items signed by celebrities. 


A unique accoustic guitar signed by Paul McCartney & Idris Elba

Sold for £10,500


One of the highest valued pieces of autographed memorabilia to this day is the copy of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, signed by former president, George Washington, that sold in 2012 for $9.8 million. 


The item itself

As well as the signature, the item that has been signed adds to its overall value. The value is increased if the item is of particular significance to the person who signed it, as was the case of George Washington’s copy of the US constitution.

Photo By Christie's (New York)

A copy of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, signed and annotated by 1st President George Washington

Sold for $9.8 million


Autographs written on loose pieces of scrap paper are generally low in value unless the content is noteworthy.

Recently, Dawsons sold a large and comprehensive archive of documents from, and relating to the famous explorer Captain Scott of the Antarctic. Spanning almost a century, the collection also included four handwritten letters from Scott to his parents. The letters were written during some of his most famous expeditions which really brought a different view of the man behind the legendary explorer.


Handwritten letters from Captain Scott of the Antarctic to his parents

Sold for £8,500

overall condition of the item

As is the case with any valuable items sold at auction or elsewhere, autographed memorabilia will diminish in value if there are any signs of damage; this includes any cracks, chips, tears, creases or stains.

Also take into consideration the way in which the item has been signed. Note that an autograph written in ink is usually worth more than that signed in pencil, simply because ink tends to fade less over time.

The positioning of the autograph is also important, with clear and bold signatures being preferable to those that are small and hidden within dark backgrounds.

The Beatles: an early 1960s autograph book

Sold for £3,800

Current Demand

When looking at the current market for autograph memorabilia, it seems that signed sports memorabilia is leading the way in terms of demand. In addition to this, the signatures of actors, music artists, global figures, and astronauts are also popular amongst collectors at the moment.

Be sure to keep up to date with the market so you can be sure you are selling the right things at the right time.


MacCormack, Geoff: David Bowie, 'From Station to Station, Travels with Bowie 1973-1976', signed by David Bowie & Geoff MacCormack

Sold for £1,100

Rarity of the signature

The rarer an item, the more it is worth. This is the general rule of thumb when it comes to placing a value on an item.

Rarity can depend on the item itself, or the signature of the person who has signed it. Particularly in the cases of celebrities who regularly attend conventions and events where they give their autograph, their signature gradually depletes in value over time.

However, if someone is renowned for rarely giving autographs, for example, senior members of the royal family who famously do not give out autographs, then an item with their signature on will most likely be extremely valuable.

The Rolling Stones a signed guitarists red Fender Squier Strat guitar

Sold for £1,000


At Dawsons, we regularly value and sell autographed memorabilia at auction. Some of our highlights have included handwritten letters by Admiral Nelson and Captain Scott of the Antarctic, an early Beatles autograph book, a limited-edition David Bowie book, and numerous items signed by the Rolling Stones.

The expert Valuers at Dawsons carry out all our valuations in accordance with current market activity and always endeavour to provide realistic auction estimates for our clients.


Do you have any signed memorabilia you are looking to sell?

Our expert team of valuers are always happy to help you find out what your items are worth.

We offer a free appraisal and can also provide insurance valuations, where required. 

Please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

0207 431 9445 /