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Author Topic:   Modern autographs on vintage photos

Posts: 216
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 02-03-2008 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a collector, I'm just wondering how people feel about having astronauts sign red numbered, original NASA news media photos? With as collectible and expensive as the original news media photos have become, is it wise to have modern signatures (which have become expensive as well) put on these? Wouldn't it be wiser to preserve the original photo as is?

Everybody's signature changes over time, including the astronauts, so aren't we mixing vintage with current? At some point if these photos are passed on or sold are they going to be misrepresented, maybe not intentionally, but none the less, as vintage/original when in fact there is a current autograph on a vintage photo?


Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 02-03-2008 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know there are several different viewpoints on the topic. The collectability of the vintage glossies seems to have sharply increased in recent years. However, that also points to some volatility in the market too. Price and demand could just as easily decrease in the future. The question is whether current market prices are being driven by dozens (or even hundreds) of collectors...or are current prices being driven by 3-4 deep pocketed collectors who go after all of the prime photos with great zeal.

Astronaut autographs have always been popular with a lot people. The fact that NASA needed an autopen machine in the 1960s shows that autograph requests were numerous even 40-50 years ago.

When it comes to items like vintage portrait prints, I personally can't imagine the autograph of the astronauts could lessen the value of that portrait.

It's a bit trickier with vintage mission photos of something like the Apollo 8 earthrise, however. A color glossy of this image could fetch $200-400, depending on the buyers bidding on it. If you paid $100 to have Borman sign it, would the same people who are willing to pay $400 for the unsigned image still pay $400 for the signed image? Perhaps not. However, if you could get all three Apollo 8 astronauts to sign it, you'd likely have a piece that could easily fetch $800-1000...well beyond what the unsigned image is "worth."

When it comes to something like lithos, I think the answer is clear. A signed litho (no matter the vintage of signature) will almost always be worth more than an unsigned litho...assuming all other factors are equal (image selection, condition, etc.)

In the end, I think it all comes down to having the astronauts sign whatever media you most prefer to have signed. There are definite advantages with both vintage or modern prints. It just depends on what advantages suit your taste.

spaced out

Posts: 2675
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-04-2008 02:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't disagree with the above. Lithos are definitely worth having signed, as are vintage portrait glossy photos (which are pretty rare).

The best vintage glossies are definitely worth more at present unsigned than signed, so adding a signature to such a photo will lower it's overall value, maybe dramatically. At the same time though the item will be worth more than the same signature on a modern glossy.


Posts: 1729
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 02-04-2008 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As has been suggested many times on the cS boards, it might be best to concentrate on what you like rather than on how much it might be worth one day.

However, it is also important to consider the historical importance of items so they will be preserved for future generations. That concern is probably not applicable (or is it?) to vintage NASA photos, so the signed or unsigned question can simply be personal preference.

I might be wrong on this, but I doubt you will be able to send your kids to college on the money you make selling your signed/unsigned glossy collection.

As Larry McGlynn has so wisely suggested elsewhere on this board, buy gold instead!

John Capobianco
Camden DE


Posts: 73
From: Carlsbad, CA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 12-16-2008 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wmk   Click Here to Email wmk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a few questions about autographs on vintage vs. current day productions.

If I had a pristine vintage photograph I would use that for obtaining an autograph, but I am sometimes torn on what to do when I have a vintage photo that has some slight damage. Is there a significant difference in the value of a current day autograph signed on a vintage photo (assuming the vintage is in really nice condition) vs. a current day autograph signed on non-vintage current day photograph?

Since it is easy to obtain a current day copy of just about any image (in perfect condition) I would tend to use that if a really nice vintage is not available.

Another question I have for current day copies. Glossy or matt finish? What are pros/cons for glossy vs. matt? Do astronauts tend to prefer one over the other for signing? Personally I like glossy.


Editor's note: Threads merged.


Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 12-16-2008 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It depends on the amount of damage. Note that most vintage prints that are 40+ years old have a little bit of wear or light fading to them...and truly mint condition prints are a bit of a rarity. A few light dents or minor creases probably won't detract much, as vintage print collectors are used to them. Photos with more major flaws (that are readily visible to the eye) are perhaps best left unsigned. But it comes down to how badly you want the image signed and how rare the vintage print is too. If you will be happy with it signed...and will enjoy it more than a signed modern print...then go ahead.

Regarding the glossy vs. matte debate for modern prints, it again comes down to personal preference. The astronauts don't seem to mind either way. Personally, I find the high gloss photos are a little too "shiny" for my liking and show fingerprints too easily. A matte or semi-gloss finish tends to hide fingerprints much better and display well without too much glare.

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