Por que os documentos autógrafos são procurados há milhares de anos ?

Why have autograph documents been sought after for thousands of years?

Autograph: Does that word make you think of teenagers waiting for a rock singer after a concert or a jock after a game? Does the word "manuscript" have a purely literary connotation for you? In fact, the autograph document is, in a broad sense, everything that is handwritten (dedication, letter, drawing, signature, etc.), and collecting these rarities is a varied and serious pursuit.

Small and large collectors of rare documents

Unlike the vast majority of other collectibles, autograph documents are of interest to both private collectors and large institutions such as museums and libraries around the world. For example, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris or the Morgan Library in New York frequently acquire prestigious autograph documents that can interest the public during an exhibition, or help researchers better understand a particular subject.

However, quality autograph documents are not inaccessible to private collectors with less resources: there are thousands of people, mainly in Europe and the United States, who acquire just one piece or form small interesting collections for prices below R$ 500.

Keeping autograph documents, a very old and useful practice

Although autographs did not begin to be valued until the early 19th century, the desire to preserve the written memory of one's ancestors or friends dates back to early times. Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Latins, copied their myths, essays, works and laws to preserve their culture. Thus, many Egyptian papyri enriched European museums: would these riches have reached us if there had not been among the Egyptians some collector buried, according to national custom, with their treasures?

In the middle of the 15th century, the use of paper allowed for the expansion of correspondence and, gradually, we keep the letters exchanged in the family archives. But it would be necessary to wait until the beginning of the 19th century to find the first collector. In 1822, in France, the first sale of autographs took place, 550 pieces collected by the collector Villenave (1762 - 1846). Other famous collectors such as Alexandre Dumas or the Bonaparte family began to form expressive collections.

The pleasure of touching and preserving history

Writing has been very important to our history and remains important today, even though more sophisticated methods (emails, social media, etc) are being used to record much of our activities and convey many of our messages. Collecting autograph documents, therefore, is collecting and preserving history, not just political history, but the history of art, science, music, literature, etc. And there is considerable pleasure and fascination attached to owning an actual part of this history.

This article is offered by the Glórias collection, specialist in rare autograph documents . We evaluate, buy and sell letters, manuscripts, books with dedications or drawings of great historical personalities. Click here to learn more 

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