American Autographs

American Autographs

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American Autographs: Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War Leaders, Presidents. TWO VOLUMES

A collection of more than 2,000 facsimiles of letters, documents and signatures compiled by the noted expert in the field. This standard and essential reference book has become exceedingly scarce.

The ultimate book detailing how to collect autographs of pre-1980 historical American personalities. Do you need over 1,900 facsimiles and 464 pages of famous Americans?--then this book was written for your lust. If you are going to be spending big money on buying documents signed by U.S. presidents, you need this book. The first volume is filled with samples of U.S. Revolutionary War leaders. The second volume depicts the signatures of: U.S. presidents, First Ladies, and their assassins.


[Charles Hamilton, Jr., 1914-1996.]  Scarce first edition, two-volume set of Hamiltonʼs American Autographs.

For years until his death, Charles Hamilton was the nationʼs—indeed, perhaps the world’s—foremost expert on handwriting and historical autographs.  He wrote many books on autographs that form the core of any dealer, auction house, institution, and private collector historical autograph reference library.  Some of his books are collectible in their own right.  Among Hamiltonʼs works areCollecting Autographs and Manuscripts (1961, 1993); The Robot That Helped to Make a President (1965), the essential early work on the signature of John F. Kennedy; Scribblers and Scoundrels(1968); Big Name Hunting (1973); The Book of Autographs (1978); The Signature of America (1979); The Illustrated Letter (1987); Great Forgers and Famous Fakes (1980); and the two-volumeLeaders and Personalities of the Third Reich (1996).

This two-volume set of American Autographs, published in 1983 by the University of Oklahoma Press, is perhaps Hamilton’s seminal contribution to American historical autographs.  It contains 623 pages of black-and-white illustrations of the handwriting and signatures of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War leaders, and Presidents of the United States through Ronald Reagan, the sitting president when the books were published.  Hamilton said in the preface that his purpose was to “help scholars and historians and collectors to uncover fresh and exciting facts about the history of our country.” He explained:

This volume makes full use of my half a century of experience in the manuscript world and, unlike all previous books of facsimile autographs, covers the major figures i great depth, illustrating their variant handwriting at different periods in their careers.  Another innovation is the inclusion of the script of signatures of “wrong” persons—namesakes often confused with the historymakers. 

Further, I have pictured and identified dozens of forgeries that in the past have entrapped historians.  For example, in the presidential section are the fabrications of seven different forgers of Lincoln, together with more than fifty genuine documents which constitute by far the most comprehensive monograph ever done on Lincoln's handwriting.  for the recent presidents I have put together a huge array of authentic, proxy, and machine signatures.


  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 633 pages. 2 Volumes in slipcase.