Personalized Autographs: What They Are and Are They Less Valuable? April 14 2023

A personalized autograph is one that includes the name of the recipient (for example “To Ken” or “For Ken”). Sometimes a short salutation or expression of good wishes is added (for example, “with best wishes”). This is what we also call a sentiment.

There has always been a lot of controversy regarding whether or not to ask signers for personalized autographs, and there are no rules; it is more a question of taste and preference.

Giuseppe Verdi XL Signed Photo to Leon Escudier

(CLICKABLE IMAGE) A photograph of the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi inscribed in French to the French journalist Leon Escudier 

Giuseppe Verdi XL Signed Photo to Leon Escudier detail

Detail of the inscription  to Leon Escudier by the star Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi


Personalized autographs are also called inscription autographs or inscribed autographs. They are a way a signer can make the autograph more personal and give a warmer gift to the recipient.

Some signers very rarely sign autographs that are not personalized or inscribed, and this can be used as a guideline to detect fakes. If we know that a certain singer always personalizes his or her autographed photos, when we find a photo that is not inscribed, we need to take an extra look into it since the chances are higher it is a fake.

There are autograph inscriptions on all kinds of material: signed photos, album pages, LP record sleeves and CD insets, books, brochures, and pretty much anything that can carry an autograph.

Mario Sammarco Autograph

(CLICKABLE IMAGE) Photograph of the Italian baritone Mario Sammarco signed and inscribed by him to the Italian conductor Vittorio Gui.

Mario Sammarco Autograph Detail

Detail of the inscription and sentiment written by Mario Sammarco to Vittorio Gui


A very common question is whether inscription autographs are less valuable than the same autograph without any personalization.

The quick answer is that most of the time they are just a bit less valuable. In our experience at Tamino Autographs, a very high percentage of collectors do not care about this issue and buy autographs even if they were personalized; only a small fraction (10 or 15%) avoid them and will only purchase non-inscribed ones.

For this reason, the autograph price is not greatly affected by the personalization.

Ralph Bellamy Signed Photograph

(CLICKABLE IMAGE) A photograph of the American actor Ralph Bellamy signed and inscribed by him.


… if the person it is inscribed or personalized to is someone relevant to the signer or is someone famous by his or her own merit. For example, an autograph of composer Jules Massenet, inscribed to another famous composer such as Giacomo Puccini, would be a case where personalization increases value. 

Sometimes the recipient is not famous but falls into the first category mentioned above, i.e., is or was a lover, close friend, or other important person in the life of the signer. This is another example of personalization increasing the value of an autograph. See, for example, this autograph of actress Sarah Bernhardt, inscribed to her lover.

Sarah Bernhardt large signed photo

(CLICKABLE IMAGE) Sarah Bernhardt and Lou Tellegen in the play "Theodora" - Bernhardt was reported to have had a relationship with Tellegen for 4 years being 37 years her senior.  Bernhardt signed and inscribed this photograph to him.


- Giuseppe Verdi Inscribed Photograph to journalist Leon Escudier

- Mario Sammarco Inscribed Photograph to conductor Vittorio Gui

- Sarah Bernhardt Inscribed Photograph to his lover Lou Tellegen


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