Frequently Asked Questions

A favorite pastime of Goethe, Brahms, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, autograph collecting is an international hobby whose roots stretch back to Cicero and ancient Rome. More affordable than fine art, autograph collecting literally puts in your hands letters and documents written by history’s most fascinating personalities. Unlike any other collectible, autographs tell a story that draws you into the past while simultaneously engaging you in a deeper understanding of civilization's events as recorded by the men and women who helped shape them.

Whether you are new to autographs or a seasoned collector, we would be delighted to discuss your interests and act as your “personal curator.”



How can I tell if my autograph is authentic?
How are autographs priced?
Are autographs a good investment?
What should I collect?
What does a first-time buyer need to know?
How do you guarantee authenticity?
How long have you been in business?
Why don't you deal in Nazis, sports or Hollywood autographs?
Are all your autographs on your website?
My search returned no results. What should I do?
How can I be alerted when interesting autographs come your way?
How do I store and display my autographs?

What forms of payment do you accept?
How will my purchase be shipped?
What is your return policy?
What is PADA?
Glossary of autograph terms
How can I contact Lion Heart Autographs?

How can I tell if my autograph is authentic?

A number of issues need to be analyzed to authenticate an autograph: paper, ink, penmanship, a knowledge of secretarial, printed, or forged examples, etc. Unless a collector is knowledgeable in these areas, it can be difficult to be 100% certain if the item under consideration is authentic. Questions of authenticity are best left to experienced experts in the field.


How are autographs priced?

Many factors contribute to an autograph’s value, among them rarity, condition, content, and association. Therefore, it is difficult to make generalizations about the value of letters. The fact that every autograph is unique is what makes autograph collecting so exciting and pricing so challenging.

If you would like to learn more about autograph pricing and investment, please read excerpts from a speech David Lowenherz gave on investing in autographs.


Are autographs a good investment?

The autograph market fluctuates like all other markets and is sensitive to factors including supply, demand, and the general health of the economy. The supply side of the autograph market differs from most other markets because the production of material stops after the death of a personality. As the number of collectors has grown and geographic boundaries have virtually disappeared through the growth of the internet, there has been and will likely continue to be an increase in demand for collectible autographs around the world. Increased demand coupled with a limited supply equals a rise in prices and this is what Lion Heart Autographs has seen in 30+ years in business. It is advisable not to "invest" in autographs for financial reasons (they are not especially "liquid" and do not pay dividends) but for emotional and intellectual satisfaction. However, we believe that autographs are, over time, a stable financial investment that will bring in rewards, but the rate of increase cannot be accurately determined or counted on.

What should I collect?

Your collection of autographs might include the following:

  • Businessmen and Financiers
  • Civil War Generals
  • Composers
  • Explorers
  • Inventors
  • Military Leaders
  • Monarchs and Members of Royalty
  • Musicians
  • Nobel Prize Winners
  • Novelists
  • Opera Singers
  • Painters
  • Playwrights
  • Poets
  • Revolutionary War Heroes
  • Scientists
  • Sculptors
  • Signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • Supreme Court Justices
  • U. S. Presidents
  • World Statesmen

Once you have selected a subject, you can choose among autographed letters, documents, photographs, books, and manuscripts. You may decide to focus on acquiring only holograph (handwritten) letters, manuscripts of significance, or letters with deeply moving, personal content.

Lion Heart Autographs buys and sells material in all of the above categories, and offers a selection of thousands of autographs in every price range. We do not handle sports, Hollywood and modern entertainment, or Nazi autographs.


What does a first-time buyer need to know?

In the world of autographs, knowledge of your area of interest is especially important. Not only will you derive greater pleasure by familiarizing yourself with the personality or era that interests you, you may discover important information contained in a letter that increases its value both intellectually and financially. Many people advise the beginning collector to specialize in one area. We do not share that opinion. A student does not decide his or her college major in 7th grade. Collect what gives you pleasure -- if you are meant to be a specialist, you will discover that soon enough; but if you are not sure yet, don't be lead by the "good investment" pitch or the fad of the moment. A collector should always acquire the best he can afford. Second rate material tends to remain second rate. What would you prefer -- one beautiful home or five shacks? A collector should familiarize him/herself with the market for the material that is of interest, and ask as many questions of the seller as is necessary to feel comfortable. A collector should also try to form some close relationships in the trade. Treat your dealers well, and they will go out of their way to find material to add to your collection and be considerate of any financial constraints.


How do you guarantee authenticity?

We have a large number of reference books, thousands upon thousands of authenticated facsimiles and other source materials to consult in order to insure that everything we sell is authentic. David Lowenherz, owner of Lion Heart Autographs, is knowledgeable about ink, paper styles, and penmanship, and has had, for more than thirty years, a deep familiarity with the history of autograph collecting as a full time dealer in autographs and manuscripts. Lion Heart Autographs unconditionally guarantee authentic every autograph we sell in writing and without time limit to the original purchaser. Additionally, we provide our customers with three more guarantees: our prices are competitive, you will receive prompt and courteous service, and you will be satisfied with your purchase, or your money back!


How long have you been in business?

David H. Lowenherz, owner of Lion Heart Autographs, was first introduced to the world of autograph collecting as a youngster through his father, Max. In 1978, at the age of 27, David opened Lion Heart Autographs.


Why don’t you deal in Nazis, sports or Hollywood autographs?

"Hollywood and sports autographs simply do not interest me. If I handled them, it would only be to make money. I prefer to buy and sell material that resonates with me and reflects my own personality and interests; therefore, I avoid them. As regards the Nazis, my family suffered under their brutality and I feel there is no justification to make a living trading in their letters and documents," David Lowenherz, Owner of Lion Heart Autographs

Are all your autographs on your website?

Although we have hundreds of autographs available on our website, we have many more items that are not yet uploaded. If you don’t see what you are looking for, please contact us and we will be pleased to search our inventory.


My search returned no results. What should I do?

If you are certain you searched a correctly spelled name or subject and don’t see what you are looking for, please contact us and we will search our inventory for autographs that might interest you.


How can I be alerted when interesting autographs come your way?

Join our mailing list to receive monthly emails about our latest acquisitions, upcoming shows and the latest autograph news. We will also occasionally send out special offers. Your information is kept private and never shared with a third party.


How do I store and display my autographs?

Autographs are fragile. Although documents on rag paper or parchment can last hundreds of years, they, along with letters written on less stable material, are sensitive to sunlight, humidity and extreme variations in temperature.

To protect the physical integrity of your autographs, always:

  • Keep them out of direct sunlight
  • Monitor the climate in which they are stored and make sure they are not affected by humidity
  • Store them in archivally appropriate acid free boxes, slipcases, mattes, or sleeves
  • If framed, use UV glass or Plexiglas
  • Consult a professional before attempting to restore anything yourself

Never use adhesive tapes and avoid any form of presentation or preservation that is difficult to undo.

When purchasing a document framed by Lion Heart Autographs, you can be sure that it has been matted and framed with acid-free materials, insuring its longevity, appearance and value.

Displaying your autographs- Personal preference dictates whether autographs are framed and displayed, placed into sleeves in an album, stored in acid free boxes, in a filing cabinet, or housed in custom made cases.

If you are interested in framing, conservation & restoration or custom-made boxes to house your collection, please refer to our list of experienced and trusted professionals and artisans.


What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal and U.S.money orders or official checks drawn on American banks. For your convenience, and to insure a speedy and secure payment, wire transfers can also be arranged.


How will my purchase be shipped?

Unless otherwise indicated, orders from the United States are delivered via Federal Express. Shipping of unframed autographs is free on domestic credit card purchases. Occasionally, there may be an additional charge for insurance or handling. Please note that Federal Express cannot ship to post office boxes.


What is your return policy?

Autographs are sent on 3-day approval and for refund purposes, must be returned in the same condition they were sent.


What is PADA?

PADA, the Professional Autograph Dealers Association, is an international organization of dealers in autographs and manuscripts which promotes the highest standards in this field. With its strong guarantee of authenticity, rigorous code of ethics, and commitment to professional excellence, PADA is the leading source for knowledgeable, experienced and ethical dealers in autographs selling autographs that are unconditionally guaranteed authentic.


Glossary of Autograph Terms

ADS- Autograph Document Signed.  Generally a document of an official or administrative nature entirely written out and signed by the personality.                                                  

AES- Autograph Endorsement Signed. A brief message written and signed by the recipient and generally found on a letter from the sender that acknowledges receipt of the letter or passes instructions on to a third party. Lincoln wrote out thousands of endorsements throughout his presidency.

ALS- Autograph Letter Signed. A letter entirely written and signed by the person responsible. If not signed, it is designated an AL.

AMsS- Autograph Manuscript Signed. A complete or incomplete creative work such as a poem, story, essay, draft, or scientific paper, written out and signed by its creator. If unsigned, it is labeled an AMs.

AMusMsS- Autograph Musical Manuscript Signed. A complete or incomplete musical composition, written out and signed by the composer. If unsigned, it is called an AMusMs.

AMusQS- Autograph Musical Quotation Signed. A selection of one or more measures written out and signed by the composer or musician generally quoting a famous musical passage. These pages are often found in autograph albums or added to signed photographs or sheet music.

ANS- Autograph Note Signed. Similar to an ALS, but with no greeting or salutation. Regardless of its length, if the text does not have a greeting, it is considered an ANS and is valued less than an ALS. 

APCS- Autograph Postcard Signed. A letter or note written and signed on a picture post card or correspondence post card designed to be mailed without an envelope.

AQS- Autograph Quotation Signed. Generally a brief quotation, less than one page in length, written out and signed by the individual, quoting a famous motto, aphorism, or partial text of a non-musical nature. As with AMusQS’s, these items are often found in autograph albums.

Autograph- In the hand of the personality. The term is not restricted to signatures only. An “autograph” collection is not meant to suggest an assemblage of signatures on small slips of paper, but may contain letters, documents, signed photographs, etc.

Cabinet Card - This refers to a mounted photograph, popular in the late 19th and early 20th century that generally measures 4½” by 6½”.

Carte-de-Visite (CDV) - A very popular form of mass produced mounted photographs invented in France and popular in the U.S. from about 1860 to 1880. The standard size is about 2½” by 4½”. In France the term “carte-de-visite”  describes a “visiting card”  and not a photograph.

Conjugate Leaf- The attached third and fourth blank sides of a letter sheet that has been folded in half.

CS- Cut Signature. A signature on a small slip of paper that may or may not have been removed from a letter or document.

Docket- A handwritten notation, sometimes by the recipient, on a letter that notes the identity of the letter-writer, when the letter was received and, possibly, when it was answered.

DS- Document Signed. Generally a printed, or partially printed document of an official or administrative nature (land grant, military appointment, warrant or summons) signed by the individual in charge.

Duodecimo (12mo)- A small sheet, approximately 3” by 4”.

Embossed- A name, address, or decoration that is raised above the paper’s surface. Einstein’s correspondence from his home in Princeton is usually written on “blind (i.e., no color) embossed letterhead.”

Facsimile- A copy of an autograph generally issued in large multiples and manufactured to closely resemble the original. Facsimiles are useful to check authenticity, but sometimes confuse novice collectors or dealers into thinking that they own an original.

Fair Copy- An autograph copy, generally of a manuscript, and often prepared as a gift.

Folio- A large sheet, measuring at least 11” by 14” or more.

Foxing - Mold stains on paper usually caused by exposure to high and long term humidity. It can sometimes be removed by a qualified paper restorer.

Free Frank- The government privilege to mail letters postage free if accompanied by the writer’s signature on the envelope or address leaf. Free Franks of the early presidents and nearly all of the First Ladies are avidly sought after by collectors.

Holograph- Written entirely in the hand of the personality; a synonym of the word “autograph” and not related to a hologram.

Imperial Cabinet Card- A late 19th century to early 20th century mounted photograph, generally 6” by 9” in size.

Imperial Photograph- Similar to the Imperial Cabinet Card, but larger, and measuring approximately 8” by 13”.

Inlaid- The late 19th and early 20th century bookbinder’s custom of attaching the edges of a letter to a larger sheet of sturdy paper with a rectangle cut out to afford viewing both sides of the letter while binding the sheet into a book.

Integral Address Leaf- The fourth side of a folded letter sheet containing the recipient’s address.

Letters Patent- A document issued by a monarch or government that grants a designated person a right or title.

LS- Letter Signed. A letter written out in a secretarial hand, signed by the personality.

Manuscript DS- Manuscript Document Signed. A document generally of an official or administrative nature written out (as opposed to printed) in an unidentified hand and signed by the person in charge.

Matte Burn- The brown inner edge of an acidic matte that has left its darkened outline on the autograph.

Mounted- The procedure of attaching a letter (or photograph) with an adhesive to a larger sheet of paper. In the case of photographs, collectors generally prefer to have the signature on the image rather than on the paper or board on which the photograph has been mounted.

Mourning Stationery- Black-bordered stationery indicating a period of mourning for the passing of a relative.

N.d.- No date. When the date is not written in the hand of the personality, this abbreviation is used. If a date appears in parenthesis it means that there was a different way to ascertain the date (postal cancellation, docket, third party notation, etc.)

N.p. - No place. Similar to the above, but involving the issue of where the autograph was written.

N.y.- No year. Used when the month and day are known, but not the year. If the year can be accurately ascertained, it is placed within parenthesis.

Octavo (8vo)- A sheet generally measuring from 4” by 6” to 5” by 7”.

Paraph- A calligraphic embellishment beneath a signature originally implemented to prevent forgeries.

Partially Printed DS- A printed document of an official or administrative nature that has had its blanks spaces filled in by a secretary. Often used interchangeably with the term DS.

Quarto (4to)- A sheet generally measuring from 6” by 8” to 8½ by 11”.

Recto- The “front” side of a sheet.

Sepia- A rich, chocolate brown color found in most carte-de-visite and cabinet photographs.

Silked- The process by which a letter is carefully sandwiched in between two pieces of very fine silk to protect it from further wear and tear. This process usually decreases the letters value.

Silvering - The oxidation of a photograph’s silver particles, usually at its edges, causing some discoloration that adversely affects the price and appearance of the image.

Skippet- A small round box made of wood or metal to hold the attached wax seal of a document.

SP- Signed photograph. An original photograph signed by the personality. If the signed image is from a magazine or book, it should be referred to as a “signed printed photograph.” When there is an additional message, the piece is referred to as an “Inscribed SP.”

Third Person AL- Third Person Autograph Letter. An autograph letter in which the personality refers to himself in the third person, e.g., “Mr. Dickens presents his compliments to Mr. Cruikshank…”

TLS- A typed letter signed by the writer. Occasionally, it can be determined that the letter was self-typed, like Hemingway, but such information has little impact on the letter’s price.

Trimmed- This term describes a sheet that has been reduced in size by reducing some or all of the letter’s edges, adversely affecting the letter’s price.

Verso- The “back” side of a sheet.


How can I contact Lion Heart Autographs?

Our offices are open by appointment only, from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday

216 East 45th Street, Suite 1100, New York, NY 10017

Phone 646.462.4885
Toll free 888.695.6204
Fax 212.779.7066


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