Autograph hobby timeline

Partial list of events that have affected autograph collecting

  • 1800s:
  • Early in the 20th Century: The Autopen, a fake autograph producing machine, is invented.
  • 1920s: The Big Five of sports, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth emerge. Dempsey and Ruth in particular are considered by autograph experts to have been great signers and to have helped popularize getting autographs at baseball parks and boxing gyms.
  • 1940s: United States President Harry Truman allegedly becomes the first President to use the Autopen machine to answer mail autograph requests.
  • 1950s: A young Cassius Clay is allegedly denied an autograph by Sugar Ray Robinson and swears never to deny anyone an autograph if he ever becomes famous.
  • 1963: President John F. Kennedy murdered in Dallas. As a consequence, Presidential visits are much more closely followed by police and secret service men since.
  • 1980s: The killing of John Lennon as well as attacks against Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II affect the hobby: entertainers and political figures rebuff their security detail after these incidents. The autograph collecting boom era begins.
  • 1993: Monica Seles is stabbed in Germany, raising security levels at worldwide sports events.
  • 1997: Publication of Autograph Collector Magazine begins.
  • Late 1990s: The FBI announces the arrest of different members of a fake autograph dealer ring that was based in California and had operations in many other states.
  • 2000s: It becomes of public knowledge that such stars as Michael Jackson and Eminem use decoys when in public, to avoid having the public come up to them for autographs and photos.
  • 2001: The September 11 terrorist attacks make airport security levels raise, making it difficult for general public to ask stars for autographs at airports.
  • 2003: Television show Celebrities Uncensored debuts, showing entertainers as they act in public unaware that they are being filmed, and giving autograph collectors an insight of who likes to sign autographs in person and who doesn't. An internet website announces it is selling the copy of the Double Fantasy album that John Lennon autographed for his killer, Mark David Chapman, for $530,000 dollars. The former Miss Venezuela, Verushka Ramirez, is kidnapped and released only after autographing 15 calendars for her captors.

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