"B-A-C-H is beginning and end of all music", signed autograph document by Max Reger (dated 7 May 1912)
"B-A-C-H is beginning and end of all music", signed autograph document by Max Reger (dated 7 May 1912)

An autograph is a person's own handwriting or signature. The word autograph comes from Ancient Greek (αὐτός, autós, "self" and γράφω, gráphō, "write"), and can mean more specifically:[1][2]


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What might be considered the oldest "autograph" is a Sumerian clay table from about 3100 BC which includes the name of the scribe Gar.Ama. No ancient written autographs have been found, and the earliest one known for a major historical figure is that of El Cid from 1098.[4]

Autograph manuscript

Main article: Autograph (manuscript)

"Autograph" can refer to a document transcribed entirely in the handwriting of its author, as opposed to a typeset document or one written by an amanuensis or a copyist. This meaning overlaps that of "holograph".[3]

Celebrity's signature

John Hancock's signature on the United States Declaration of Independence

Main article: Autograph collecting

Autograph collecting is the hobby of collecting autographs of famous persons.[1] Some of the most popular categories of autograph subjects are presidents, military soldiers, athletes, movie stars, artists, social and religious leaders, scientists, astronauts, and authors.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Edward Maunde (1911). "Autographs" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 45–47.
  2. ^ a b c Gove, Philip B. (ed.), 1981. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, p. 147. ISBN 0-87779-206-2
  3. ^ a b Tomita, Yo (2016). "Autographs, Copies and Original Manuscripts". In Leaver, Robin A. (ed.). The Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach. Taylor & Francis. pp. 52–54. ISBN 9781315452807.
  4. ^ Fletcher, Richard A. (1 January 1989). The Quest for El Cid. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195069556 – via Google Books.

Further reading