Autograph Signature vs. Autograph Inscription vs. Autograph Sentiment February 10 2023

These three terms are frequently used and often confused in the autograph collecting world, so we thought it would be a good idea to clarify their true meaning.

In the photograph below, we have highlighted what each term means, and we describe them further in the rest of this article. 

Mitropoulos Signed Photograph

 [CLICKABLE IMAGE] Photograph signed and inscribed by the famous conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos with a short sentiment, dated 1951.

Autograph inscription is when the autograph (something written in a person’s own writing) has the name of the recipient—the person the autograph is dedicated to. An example would be “To David.” The signature usually comes below the autograph inscription (although there could be a sentiment in between; see example below).

An inscription makes the autograph more personal, especially as it’s not found in all autographs. Some collectors prefer not to purchase photos with an inscription to someone at the top, so these autographs could have slightly lower market value. However, this difference is usually small.

On the other hand, if the recipient is another celebrity or someone relevant to the signer, an inscription can significantly increase the value of the autograph. For example, a photo of composer Giacomo Puccini inscribed to another big composer and signed is worth more than the very same photograph, simply signed by Puccini but with no inscription.

One final note on inscriptions: Some celebrities never simply sign a photo without inscribing it to the recipient. Knowing this can help identify fake autographs of that person.

Autograph sentiment is text, usually handwritten and just below the inscription, in which the signer adds good wishes, thoughts, or other remarks.

Depending on what it is, sentiment can add some value to the autograph—especially if it provides interesting information on the occasion on which the autograph was signed. This can tell a story, something that “with best wishes” just doesn't do.

Not all autographs have an autograph sentiment, but a few have quite long ones. The more text there is, the easier it makes it to authenticate the autograph as it provides more characters to compare to known handwriting samples.

Autograph signature is the name of the signer, written in a certain style that gives it a unique, personal character and legal value. This is the one element that should be present in every autographed item, from photographs and records to album pages and objects. Oftentimes it's the only autograph element on the item.

Signatures vary widely, from clearly legible to hardly or completely illegible, and they are of course not the same as simply writing one's name.

In this article we've briefly clarified the meaning of the three terms in the title, and these are the definitions we use on our site,

It's important to note that some other dealers may employ other terms to refer to the same elements, and in a few cases, they may use them interchangeably or with different meanings altogether. If you have doubts or see conflicting information, we recommend reaching out to the site's owner.



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