Collecting Manuscripts: A Conversation with Barton Smith

What’s the difference between an autograph and a signature? How can you avoid being cheated on Ebay when purchasing an item hand-written or signed by your favorite author, artist, scientist, or statesman? And once you have that coveted manuscript material, how should you display and store it? These are some of the topics I discussed in a wide-ranging interview with Barton Smith, Past President of The Manuscript Society. Barton’s own collection is eclectic and has grown by association: his initial interest in Charles Darwin expanded to include many Victorian authors, as well as modern artists, scientists and sports figures.

Autograph letter signed (ALS) by Charles Darwin. Photo courtesy of Barton Smith.

For more information about The Manuscript Society and how to join, as well as many useful resources for all areas of manuscript collecting, please visit their website: The Manuscript Society offers free virtual events open to all. See their link to Manuscript Mondays or check the FABS Event Calendar.

Manuscript, Autograph and Signature: Some Definitions

Collecting the Life and Times of Charles Darwin

“Honest Abe”; Famous vs. Ordinary People

Building a Collection of Contemporary Autographs (With Little Money). Also: Beware of the Autopen!

The Declaration of Independence…In London

Authenticity and Forgery

A Miniature Book by Lewis Carroll, Inscribed By the Author

Miniature book authored by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. Photo courtesy of Barton Smith.
Inscription in Victoria: The Good Queen and Empress by Charles Dodgson, 1897. Photo courtesy of Barton Smith.

Storing and Preserving Manuscript Materials

Thanks to Barton Smith and to Shirley Sands, Executive Director of The Manuscript Society. This interview copyright 2022 by The Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies.

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