How It Works

How do I buy a historical document?

The first step is to decide which document and historical figure appeals to you and inspires you. These are purchases of passion, acquired by people with a love of history and an admiration for the historical figure. This document will adorn your walls or sit on your shelves, and no one else can or should make that decision for you. You will continue to look at and gain inspiration from your purchase so buy the document that will accomplish that. To browse our collection, visit our Buy page.

How do I pay for my historical document?

We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Check, Wire, PayPal, and some cryptocurrencies.

How and when do you ship my historical document?

We ship to arrive whenever you would like, once your funds have fully cleared. This is very prompt in all cases, except for checks, where we wait one week after the check’s deposit. We generally ship via FedEx, overnight, and fully insured under our insurance policy, so it is covered until you sign for it. An adult signature is required from the recipient so we will coordinate the shipment date with you. You will receive a notice with the tracking number from

What if I want to frame my historical document?

If you choose to frame with us, you will work with our framing advisors, reviewing and approving comps, as well as the budget, before any work begins. This means that you will know the style, color scheme, and materials upfront. The framing process generally takes one month. This is a separate transaction from the purchase of the historical document itself, so all funds must clear before work begins. It is accomplished by a third-party framer with expertise in fine arts framing and historical documents.

Where can I sell my autographed document?

The Raab Collection has handled many of the notable historical documents to reach the market in the past three decades. We are respected for our integrity, fairness, and prompt payment. If you have autographs for sale, whether single items, small groups, full collections or archives, please contact us.

How much is my historical document or autograph worth?

The value of a historical document, letter, or manuscript varies greatly based on its historical significance, document condition, and market demand.

For example, a note from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill concerning a visit would not be worth nearly as much as a letter from him as World War II Prime Minister which thanks the American people for their support. Learn more about how autographs increase in value.

How do I know my autograph is authentic or real?

Authenticating a historical autograph is a learned skill that can be honed with experience. There are common steps that experts can take to authenticate autographs, including:

  • Ascertain provenance.
  • Check for consistency with authentic examples.
  • Make sure the pen, paper, and ink are right.
  • Do a forgery avoidance inspection.

Learn more about the steps that go into determining an autograph’s authenticity and some useful advice for authentication.

What determines the value of historical autographs?

There are many variables that help experts determine the value of a historical autograph. Two of the most important factors are the prominence of the historical figure who signed the document, and the historical significance of the document’s contents.


  • A document signed by President Abraham Lincoln would be valued more highly than a document signed by President James Buchannan, because President Lincoln was historically more influential than President Buchannan.
  • A business receipt from John Hancock would be worth far less than his official appointment of Benedict Arnold as major general.


Where can I store or display my historical documents?

There is no right place to store or display your historical document. It makes sense to keep it or hang it somewhere it can be enjoyed by you and your family and guests. These purchases are meant to be appreciated and seen. You should, however, avoid keeping them in a moist, damp environment or near an area subject to flooding or spilling, such as bathroom or kitchen counters. You should likewise keep them away from direct sunlight, which can fade them over time, and it is necessary that the material they touch is acid-free.  Damage from acidic materials, sun, and water cannot be reversed without drastic intervention that usually negatively impacts the value of the piece. Explore more document care tips.

Can I frame my historical document and hang it safely in a room?

Yes, you can and should frame your autograph to enjoy and see, with some necessary caveats: keep it out of direct or excessive sunlight; use glass that filters out some of the damaging effects of sunlight; use only acid-free materials; keep away from areas that are subject to drastic temperature changes and excess moisture.

If you do not wish to frame and display your historical document, consider our leather and cloth cases.

If a historical document is torn or attached to a board, can it be fixed?

Yes, to a certain extent, these historical documents can be restored and conserved by a qualified professional, usually referred to as a conservator. Most boards can be detached from the historical documents and tears can be repaired in many cases in ways that are not evident to the casual viewer. We maintain relationships with specialist conservators in the paper and photograph areas.

How should I handle historical documents?

Handling your historical document requires care and common sense. Use a gentle touch and never gloves. It is a myth that historical documents should be handled with white gloves. Gloves reduce dexterity and increase the chance you will tear it accidentally. Keep away from food and drinks and wash your hands. Above all, enjoy handling them.


How do I know my autograph is authentic?

The ability to authenticate a historical document is a skill, like many others, acquired over a long period of time and as a result of seeing hundreds or thousands of documents. The tools that true experts use, in the case of documents and letters, include but are not limited to: knowledge of the paper, ink, historical context, published works, experience with the script of the writer, the formation of letters, slant of the lines of writing, and evidence of ink activity on the recto and verso. Usually the final thing, and often the least important, is the signature itself. Here is some advice on determining authenticity.

Should I use a third-party certificate of authenticity to authenticate my historical document?

We do not use or accept such certificates. Sellers of important historical documents should have the ability to authenticate their own material, the experience to prove they have the capacity and a policy to stand by the authenticity of what they sell.

How important is provenance in authenticating certificates of authenticity?

Provenance can be very helpful in authentication but every document should be able to authenticate itself. What does this mean?  It means that an expert must be able to authenticate a document separate from provenance, as relying on provenance can be misleading and provide unhelpful context. This would happen if you acquire a document from a family member and family lore is incorrect, such as the time we acquired a Christmas card signed by John Kennedy from a Kennedy family member.  In this case, the signature was accomplished by a secretary and not JFK himself. Relying on provenance alone would have led one to the wrong conclusion.

What is an autopen signature?

An autopen signature is an autograph accomplished by a machine, using a pre-set pattern based on the autograph of the figure, so it resembles an authentic signature.  Autopens are most commonly seen with 20th century presidents and astronauts.  They can be identified by an inherent shakiness of signature, as well as from published patterns.  In general, collectors do not look to acquire autopen signatures. Thomas Jefferson used an early kind of autopen referred to as a polygraph machine, wherein he could write two versions of the letter at once. His polygraph likewise can be identified by experts.


What is The Raab Collection?

The Raab Collection is a firm specializing in the buying and selling of important historical documents. It was founded in 1989 by attorney and collector Steven Raab as an outlet for his passion for history. Meet our team.

Who buys historical documents from Raab?

The Raab Collection sells to many private clients around the world. But it also counts amongst its clients most of the major American collecting institutions, as well as many around the world. This includes major universities, as well as tourist destinations like Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, private museums, such as the Huntington, and major governmental entities, like the Library of Congress. Learn more about our past sales here.

What types of historical documents does Raab sell?

We look for documents that are more interesting or important. That means our focus is on the history and not just the signature. We focus on the quality and not the quantity of the documents. Learn more about the Raab distinction and read some stories about our acquisitions here.

Where does The Raab Collection find the historical documents it sells?

We often acquire our historical documents from descendants who have inherited them.  This means that perhaps their ancestor was the original recipient of a letter of, for example, Thomas Jefferson, or the named person of a signed appointment of George Washington. It is also common to find historical documents in old collections or from seasoned collectors, meaning that the document has not appeared on the market in decades or more than a century. We can also acquire material from colleagues.

Join Us

Stay informed about new historical documents, historical discoveries, and information for the educated collector.

Collect. Be Inspired.