F1 autographs through the mail

on Wednesday, 15 January 2003. Posted in Through the mail

experience of a F1 autograph collector

F1 AUTOGRAPHS BY MAIL

There is no doubt that getting an autograph in person from a favourite
driver is a thrill. If the driver signs willingly with a smile and a bit of
conversation then the occasion becomes especially memorable (well, for you,
not necessarily the driver!)

However it is rarely possible to have face to face contact, either because the modern Formula 1 driver is closeted away from the public and/or they are
based in counties separated by large land mass or water from your own.
Under such circumstances the only alternatives are to send your favourite
photograph etc. in the hope of a return signature, or to purchase one from a
reputable dealer.
Obviously it must be appreciated that if you don¹t personally see someone
sign there is no absolute proof that the signature is theirs. The plus side
is that a through the mail signature is often a better signature in that it
is written on a desk and not in so much haste. Many in person signatures
tend to be initials or some other abbreviation whereas generally by mail
signatures are the Œfull deal¹. Depending on your preference a further
advantage is that they are personally dedicated ( not so good for Œswaps¹ or
sale admittedly) and/or have a message pertaining to the photograph or say
Œwith best wishes etc. Occasionally you receive a bonus with the inclusion
of one of the drivers own photographs.
Incidentally, with some of the older drivers, I have occasionally been asked
for a copy of the photograph for themselves. It would appear that they
collected few, if any, photographs when they were racing. I find it a
pleasure to fulfil.
Of course the key to a Œby mail¹ autograph is the correct and appropriate
address. (A subject for an other day) However you have the address, a couple
of terrific photographs, a well written and flattering letter, a self
addressed return envelope with the appropriate stamps or International Reply
Coupons, place all this in the post box and then, with great anticipation,
wait by your mail box for the return!
Well, depending on to whom you have written, your wait can be a bit of a
lottery, a wish forfiled or waist of time and money.
Drivers on my ŒA list¹ usually reply within a month. (I am talking about
Australia/Europe/Australia). My record for the longest reply is currently
held by Arturo Merzario with 3 years, 8 months and 6 days. Other drivers
such as Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell would appear to sign upon receipt
and return immediately. Nigel Mansell is great example of a driver that was
very difficult to obtain an autograph whilst at Williams/Ferrari, but now
retired, he appears most willing to oblige.
Other drivers are remarkably inconsistent. Alan Jones is great in person,
but by mail, hopeless. A few years back he had an assistant who organized
the 1980 World Champion to sign by return but over recent years it would
appear that the requests are again filed in a big box to be attended to
Œlatter¹. I have a friend who has written to Jean-Pierre Jabouille a couple
of times with success. For me, never a reply. On the other had I have
received back signed photographs from Carlos Reutemann whereas my friend has
sent photographs many times without success. Since retirement Chris Amon has
led a busy life as a diary farmer in New Zealand and consequently had little
time to oblige. Consequently I suspect he too has boxes full of unanswered
mail. The good news for fans is that he is retiring and says he will attempt
to start replying. 
As a collector the most frustrating are those drivers that just refuse to
sign. They have every right to do so of course but very irritating all the
same. In the modern era Damon Hill is a prime example. He has a policy not
to sign unless for a charity of interest to him. I understand that Carrol
Shelby will only sign if you give a donation to his favourite charity.
Being a Mille Miglia enthusiast I would like to obtain the signature of the
ŒMan in the suit¹, Giannino Marzotto, but for what ever reason he refuses to
sign, even I believe, copies of his own book.
The other risk of sending material through the mail is that of it becoming
lost stolen or thrown in the bin by the receiptant. With Œvaluable¹
photographs (mainly those that have been signed by other drivers) I tend to
write or e-mail before sending in a effort to Œguarantee¹ their return.
Many drivers have expressed concern at the cost of returning mail.
Remembering that many of the older Œamateur¹ drivers did not receive big
money it is only fair, seeing they are doing you a favour by signing, you
should do everything possible to assist. As previously mentioned this
includes an addressed return envelope, stamps or Coupons. If not sure of the
postage, over estimate.
Of course generally it is cheaper to get your own autograph rather than
purchase from a dealer. However, taking into account the cost of the
photograph, postage, risk of not being returned, and this on the assumption
you have a correct address, it is often advisable to purchase from a
reputable dealer like Markus Brandes Autographs Germany 
(http://www.autograph-shop.com) and therefore guarantee that you have 
the driver you want for your collection. 
The pain is over once the payment is sent and it will be invariably be cheaper
today than tomorrow.

(c) Richard Jackson (Australia)

However it is rarely possible to have face to face contact, either because
the modern Formula 1 driver is closeted away from the public and/or they are
based in counties separated by large land mass or water from your own.
Under such circumstances the only alternatives are to send your favourite
photograph etc. in the hope of a return signature, or to purchase one from a
reputable dealer.
Obviously it must be appreciated that if you don¹t personally see someone
sign there is no absolute proof that the signature is theirs. The plus side
is that a through the mail signature is often a better signature in that it
is written on a desk and not in so much haste. Many in person signatures
tend to be initials or some other abbreviation whereas generally by mail
signatures are the Œfull deal¹. Depending on your preference a further
advantage is that they are personally dedicated ( not so good for Œswaps¹ or
sale admittedly) and/or have a message pertaining to the photograph or say
Œwith best wishes etc. Occasionally you receive a bonus with the inclusion
of one of the drivers own photographs.
Incidentally, with some of the older drivers, I have occasionally been asked
for a copy of the photograph for themselves. It would appear that they
collected few, if any, photographs when they were racing. I find it a
pleasure to fulfil.
Of course the key to a Œby mail¹ autograph is the correct and appropriate
address. (A subject for an other day) However you have the address, a couple
of terrific photographs, a well written and flattering letter, a self
addressed return envelope with the appropriate stamps or International Reply
Coupons, place all this in the post box and then, with great anticipation,
wait by your mail box for the return!
Well, depending on to whom you have written, your wait can be a bit of a
lottery, a wish forfiled or waist of time and money.
Drivers on my ŒA list¹ usually reply within a month. (I am talking about
Australia/Europe/Australia). My record for the longest reply is currently
held by Arturo Merzario with 3 years, 8 months and 6 days. Other drivers
such as Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell would appear to sign upon receipt
and return immediately. Nigel Mansell is great example of a driver that was
very difficult to obtain an autograph whilst at Williams/Ferrari, but now
retired, he appears most willing to oblige.
Other drivers are remarkably inconsistent. Alan Jones is great in person,
but by mail, hopeless. A few years back he had an assistant who organized
the 1980 World Champion to sign by return but over recent years it would
appear that the requests are again filed in a big box to be attended to
Œlatter¹. I have a friend who has written to Jean-Pierre Jabouille a couple
of times with success. For me, never a reply. On the other had I have
received back signed photographs from Carlos Reutemann whereas my friend has
sent photographs many times without success. Since retirement Chris Amon has
led a busy life as a diary farmer in New Zealand and consequently had little
time to oblige. Consequently I suspect he too has boxes full of unanswered
mail. The good news for fans is that he is retiring and says he will attempt
to start replying. 
As a collector the most frustrating are those drivers that just refuse to
sign. They have every right to do so of course but very irritating all the
same. In the modern era Damon Hill is a prime example. He has a policy not
to sign unless for a charity of interest to him. I understand that Carrol
Shelby will only sign if you give a donation to his favourite charity.
Being a Mille Miglia enthusiast I would like to obtain the signature of the
ŒMan in the suit¹, Giannino Marzotto, but for what ever reason he refuses to
sign, even I believe, copies of his own book.
The other risk of sending material through the mail is that of it becoming
lost stolen or thrown in the bin by the receiptant. With Œvaluable¹
photographs (mainly those that have been signed by other drivers) I tend to
write or e-mail before sending in a effort to Œguarantee¹ their return.
Many drivers have expressed concern at the cost of returning mail.
Remembering that many of the older Œamateur¹ drivers did not receive big
money it is only fair, seeing they are doing you a favour by signing, you
should do everything possible to assist. As previously mentioned this
includes an addressed return envelope, stamps or Coupons. If not sure of the
postage, over estimate.
Of course generally it is cheaper to get your own autograph rather than
purchase from a dealer. However, taking into account the cost of the
photograph, postage, risk of not being returned, and this on the assumption
you have a correct address, it is often advisable to purchase from a
reputable dealer like Markus Brandes Autographs Germany 
(http://www.autograph-shop.com) and therefore guarantee that you have 
the driver you want for your collection. 
The pain is over once the payment is sent and it will be invariably be cheaper
today than tomorrow.

(c) Richard Jackson (Australia)

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