Demand for autographs from Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father and first Secretary of the US Treasury, is at an all-time high.
Let’s delve into some of the reasons for the phenomenal growth in value.
We’ll also take a look at what the future may hold.
Is Alexander Hamilton’s autograph rare?
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Like other overachievers of the time, he wrote reams of letters. And there’s no shortage of Revolutionary War orders or Treasury documents.
And yet you’ll find little today for less than $15,000.
Demand has increased dramatically since the early 2000s, when you could own a quality Hamilton signature for less than $2,000.
There are two clear reasons for that.
Alexander Hamilton is a prime example of how media can increase appeal and drive up values.
Prices for Hamilton’s autograph started to take off following the publication of Ron Chernow’s extraordinary biography, Alexander Hamilton (2004).
(Image: Early American History Auctions)
The book provided a rounded portrait of Hamilton the man as well as a revision of his numerus achievements. It became a huge bestseller.
Prior to this, Hamilton had been well-known amongst scholars of the period. But for the casual reader of history, he was far eclipsed by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
Chernow’s book brought Hamilton to life. And public interest grew.
By 2008, the value of Hamilton’s autograph was approaching parity with the most famous Founding Fathers.
Seven years later another cultural happening would turbo-charge values.
Lin Manuel Miranda’s hugely popular musical, Hamilton, has been a sell-out show since it opened on Broadway in 2015.
Millions of people around the world have seen the production.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
And all have walked away with a new-found appreciation of Hamilton.
Sales of autographs have undoubtedly grown following the show.
We’ve seen this effect before. Movies and TV shows have often led to increased visibility for historical figures.
But there’s something different about this. Hamilton is not only better known, he's now newly popular. And with the show appealing across generations, there’s a strong likelihood that values will increase over the next decade and beyond.
In 2017, an archive of letters and manuscripts from the collection of Hamilton’s descendants sold for a record $2.6m.
These are prices we’d expect to see for US presidents.
By way of contrast, the record for a US presidential signature is $9.8m - set in 2012 for George Washington’s own annotated copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
That this growth has been slow and steady, maturing over 15 years, is a strong indication that Hamilton is here to stay.
PS. Do you have an Alexander Hamilton autograph you’re looking to sell? I may be able to help. Get in touch today at email@example.com.