Why Fan Mail and TTM Autograph Collecting is Worth it in 2021

Fan Mail and Through The Mail Autograph Collecting in 2021

Writing fan mail and collecting autographs through the mail (TTM) is increasingly becoming a popular hobby. It offers a unique opportunity to get in direct contact with those that we admire most. The kinds of people that respond to fan mail are as diverse as the fans who make up the hobby’s enthusiastic base. Everyone from influencers to celebrities can be reached by fan mail and if you follow these best practices there’s no reason that you can’t have a chance to get the response that you were hoping for. TTM collecting has a very low bar to entry. The hobby is supported by a growing community. Above all else, successes are common and to be expected. There is still an ever growing number of people who are happy to receive and respond to fan mail.  

Songwriter Rachael Nemiroff shares her PO Box for her fans to send in mail.

Fan Mail and TTM Autograph Collecting: Easy to Start, Hard to Stop

TTM collecting still benefits from a very low bar to entry. As far as financial impact goes, writing fan mail is very cost effective. Material for single request can be as low as about $1.30 each. That includes all the essential supplies: a no. 10 envelope for the request, a no. 9 envelope for the self addressed stamped return envelope (SASE), two stamps, and an index card to be signed and returned. Free address databases like fanmail.biz also help to ensure that there are no additional costs beyond the essential supplies. To help get you started, check out my recommended supplies below as well as my guide on the best places to get addresses.

Continue reading “Why Fan Mail and TTM Autograph Collecting is Worth it in 2021”

Automate Your Autographs!

Cross-Reference Con Attendees With a Movie’s Credits

Multi-signed cast pieces just got a lot easier thanks to the power of programming! This executable program built with Python works for any movie and any comic convention guest page. But, let’s say that you’re working on a cast piece for Star Wars. If you see Mark Hamill at a comic convention, you know he needs to go on there. But, what if you’ve got a big poster and want anyone and everyone who worked on the film to sign it? You may not recognize the person by name who played the third stormtrooper to the right or every random Ewok from Endor. For movies with a big cast and conventions with a long guest list, this program really shines! It makes comparing all the names from long credits and long lists of guest quick and easy.

Star Wars Poster signed by multiple cast members. Autographs from Mark Hamill and more.
From the collection of Kevin Espinoza

Check out my simple walkthrough video that shows you how to run the program with no coding knowledge required. I already bundled it into an executable program for Windows users and provided the source code below as well.

Easy Step-By-Step Usage Video:

You can also find it on GitHub here.

Executable File for Windows Users:

Star Wars TTM Autographs • A Retrospective (1979-Present)

Through the mail (TTM) autograph collecting has not always experienced the popularity that it does today, but it has been around for a long time. While Star Wars TTM collecting probably got its start right at the release of the original film in 1977, the hobby was unobtainable for most prior to the launch of the Official Star Wars Fan Club, which began around 1979 thanks to the efforts of Craig Miller.

Continue reading “Star Wars TTM Autographs • A Retrospective (1979-Present)”

Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Patrick Stewart: Autographs/Fan Mail

I received an authentic autographs from Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart through the mail (TTM)! I sent them both two index cards. For Ian Mckellen, I was given this 4×6 photo of Gandalf, which he graciously provided himself. The inscription reads: “To Tim, Ian McKellen 2021.” I love X-Men, but I am very happy that he provided a picture of Gandalf as Lord of the Rings is my favorite work of his. There is no cooler wizard than Gandalf or better fantasy franchise than Lord of The Rings.

Next, Sir Stewart, he sent both of my index cards back signed. Read my detailed guide here on how to start your journey in TTM autograph collecting and write your own fan letter to any celebrity.

Sir Ian Murray McKellen CH CBE (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor whose career spans six decades. He has performed in genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. Over his career he has received numerous awards including seven Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Furthermore, he received nominations for two Academy Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and four BAFTAs. He achieved worldwide fame for his film roles, including the titular King in Richard III (1995), James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998), Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. (Wikipedia contributors, 2021)

Date Sent10 Jan 2021
Date Received21 May 2021
Turn Around Time131 days (US -> UK -> US)
Items SentTwo index cards
Items Recieved4 x 6 photo of Gandalf

Ian McKellen Fan Mail Address

Sir Ian McKellen
Independent Talent Group Ltd
40 Whitfield Street
London W1T 2RH
United Kingdom

Ian McKellen Responds to Fans Defrauded by Fake Autograph Signing Scam

Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Stewart OBE (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor who is best known for his work in various stage, television, film and video games in a career spanning six decades. He has been nominated for Olivier, Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Saturn Awards.

Sent10 January 2021
Received23 July 2021
Days193
Picard films through January 2022

Patrick Stewart Fan Mail Address

“Star Trek: Picard”
CBS Stidops Inc.
25135 Anza Drive, Unit A
Valencia, CA 91355

My Experience Meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger (2018)

Arnold’s First-Ever Con

On 27 October 2018, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first ever comic convention appearance at Alamo City Comic Con (ACCC) in San Antonio, TX. I was lucky enough to be able to afford the opportunity to buy the “Judgement Day” VIP package which came in at a staggering $1,250. Initially though, this was the only option available to be able to meet Governor Schwarzenegger, and I couldn’t pass it up. The package initially included one photo op (for up to two people) and one autograph.

Arnold Schwarzenegger at his first ever comic con in San Antonio
Arnold Schwarzenegger at Alamo City Comic Con


Eventually, 500 additional photo ops were made available for individual sale by ACCC. This was great for fans, but it came to the chagrin of those who had dropped the $1,250 and were told that it was the only way you’d be able to meet Arnold. As a way to appease the fans, days before the con, Arnold agreed to sign two items per VIP pass instead of the single item that was initially promised. While this was fantastic news, it left me with little to no time to find a second high quality item to get signed like I did when I purchased the T2 one sheet poster.

Terminator 2 Judgment day one sheet poster signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now having to find a second item left me scrambling for something good. Since Sandahl who played “Valeria” in Conan the Barbarian was also in attendance at ACCC, I went for one of her table photos. Unfortunately, her pen smeared a bit but I didn’t have time to source another item, so I was just stuck with it. I still think it turned out good, though.

Sandahl Bergman as "Valeria" and Arnold Schwarzenegger as "Conan The Barbarian"
Sandahl Bergman as “Valeria” and Arnold Schwarzenegger as “Conan The Barbarian”

Schwarzenegger at the Convention

On the day of ACCC, Arnold’s schedule looked like this:

VIP Photo-Ops: 3:00pm – 3:45pm
Signing: 3:50pm – 4:50pm
Q&A: 5:00pm – 5:30pm
Photo-Ops: 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Arnold Schwarzenegger & Taylor Swift Are Pioneering Digital Signatures; Who’s Doing it Right, Who’s Doing it Wrong?

Schwarzenegger Photo Op

As I had the VIP package, I was part of the first group to get my photo-op done. I cannot express how quick my interaction was with Arnold. Saying that it was 15 seconds is probably being generous. I barely had enough time to say hello to him, and my wife almost didn’t even get in the picture because we were ushered in and out so quickly. It made me very glad to have gotten the VIP package because the15 seconds we had was a blur, and if that was it, I would have been really bummed.

Photo op with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Getting to the Autograph Signing

After the photo op, there was a bit of confusion on exactly where to go as even the volunteers didn’t seem to know. The fact that the photo-op and the signing were scheduled so close together didn’t help matters, so it was a mad rush to try and get to the right place.

Once we found where the signing was to occur, which was on the opposite side of the venue, we waited in line until we saw Arnold pull up on a golf cart.

Arnold Schwarzenegger arriving to the autograph signing

Signing began shortly thereafter with a line winding down a corridor before people were let into a snaking line that led to his table.

We only had one VIP ticket, which allowed for both of us to be in a photo. However, it didn’t necessarily allow for both of us to see him for the signing portion. My wife Sheridan was pregnant at the time with our daughter, Emma, and I didn’t want to leave her standing around by herself, so I was intent on getting her in with me. But, before we entered the signing room, one of the volunteers stopped us telling us that only one person could enter. I pointed out the uncomfortable state that Sheridan was in and appealed to her better nature and asked that she let us both in. Eventually she yielded and allowed up both to go into the signing room.

My Interaction With Arnold Schwarzenegger

No cameras were allowed but I had to somehow record the moment I met one of my heroes for posterity. I started an audio recording on my phone, stuck it in my pocket, and let the tape roll. The quality isn’t great, but here is how the less than a minute conversation I had with him went. I knew I only had a few seconds in front of him, so I spit everything out in rapid succession.

There was a lot to say, but I mentioned that I worked at the California EPA when he was Governor. Back then I would run legislation down to his office from time to time. I also presented him with a challenge coin from my command’s First Class Petty Officer’s association. He seemed appreciative and kind of chided his handlers for not paying attention to what I was giving him. He signed my items and just like that, it was over.

Afterthoughts

To this day, I wonder if he wound up keeping the coin or if it went right in the trash. Ultimately, it was an incredible experience and one that I will always remember.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.
Facebook

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger began lifting weights at the age of 15 and went on to win the Mr. Universe title at age 20, subsequently winning the Mr. Olympia contest seven times; he remains a prominent figure in bodybuilding, and has written many books and articles on it. The Arnold Sports Festival, considered the second-most important bodybuilding event after Mr. Olympia, is named after him. (Wikipedia Contributors, 2021)

Fake Autographs, How to Tell if a Signature is Real

The primary concern for any autograph collector is authenticity. Nothing else even comes close. Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that autographs can be faked that go beyond simple forgeries. Besides deliberate forgeries done to deceive consumers, there are a number of ways to reproduce autographs that collectors need to be well aware of. They can look quite convincing, so it is important to be able to tell forged signatures from authentic autographs.

Pre-printed Autographs

Side-by-side comparison makes these two different photos easy to identify as pre-print signatures.
Side-by-side comparison makes these two different photos easy to identify as pre-prints.

Pre-prints are a type of facsimile autograph that is printed simultaneously with the photo. Agencies will often send these when the signer is not available or chooses not to sign. Although the above photos of Harrison Ford appear identical, they are actually two separate photos. Because they are printed from a file with a digital signature already on the photo, they will look identical every time.

So, what if you don’t have two preprints to compare to each other? You can tell that an autograph is printed by holding it under the light at an angle. It should look flat, where as live ink will be lifted. This way you should be able to tell that the signature is a part of the printed photo rather than ink that has been laid on top of it. Additionally, the ink used to print the photo and the pen ink should look distinctive when held under the light and closely examined.

While getting a preprint will come as a disappointment to most collectors, some will be delighted. Simply getting anything back from one’s favorite celebrity can be a fun experience. Especially when it comes to kids. At the very least, it’s a kind gesture to fans, but if you ask me, any response at all beats a return to sender in my book.

Secretarial Signatures

A secretarial signature on an 8x10 photo signed as "Clint Eastwood".
A photo signed by a secretary as “Clint Eastwood”.

Some agencies will have secretaries sign for the celebrity. To be clear, this is essentially and authorized forgery. Sometimes, secretaries will sign photos provided by the agency or the photo that collectors send in. Secretarial signatures are not a well liked in the autograph collecting community. As it is not an authentic signature, it ruins whatever item that has the forgery placed on it. It can also feel disingenuous for the collector.

This kind of signature is done with live-ink by a human hand. It’s therefore hard to tell that its fake unless you know what you’re looking for. The only way to tell that it is fake is to compare it to known authentic examples. This can be tricky if you don’t have any to reference, or you are not familiar with the signer’s signature. The best advice in this case is to find a source you trust to help make your comparison. You can also pay an authentication to do the analysis for you for a small fee.

Stamped Signatures

Mark Hamill's stamped signature.
Mark Hamill’s stamped signature.

Stamped signatures are similar to a secretarial signature in that they are done by a third party. However, instead of being done by the hand of a secretary with live-ink, they simply use a rubber stamp. The stamp reproduce the signer’s signature on the photo which looks good at first glance but there are giveaways.

The telltale sign of a stamped signature is the uneven application of ink. Sometimes the ink appears spotty or ghosting will occur around the signature. This happens when unintended parts of the stamp make contact with the photo. Also, like pre-prints, these should match other examples that were imprinted with the same stamp.

What is an Autopen Signature?

Unlike an autograph done by a human hand, an autopen signature is produced by a machine called an autopen. Autopen machines have been around for a long time which means they’ve become very good at mimicking a signature. These machines use real pens guided by programing or a template that reproducers pen strokes using motions preset motions.

The signatures can look authentic and have deceived even experienced collectors at times. The only tells they have are spots at the beginning and end of letters. These occur when the machine pauses and ink is allowed to slightly pool. The best way to determine if a signature is done by an autopen, though, is again to compare examples. Signers will usually have multiple templates that vary the look of their autopen signatures. However, if you can find two identical signatures done with live ink, then you can bet that you’re looking at an autopen.

Autograph Authentication

Autograph authentication

At this point, you are likely questioning the authenticity of the autographs in your collection—as you should be. Before you make any autograph purchase, your first consideration should always be authenticity. At a minimum, you should seek out known examples of real autographs to compare the one you’re trying to authenticate to. You can find those by asking collectors on the Tales From The Collection Facebook group or by going to one of the many online forums dedicated to autograph collecting.

If you don’t feel confident enough to assess the authenticity of an autograph yourself, you can always turn to the experts. Third party autograph authentication services not only allow you to send your items in for authentication, but also offer opinions on authenticity online. For an affordable price, Beckett’s Signature Review or PSA’s Quick Opinion allows collectors to send in pictures of their autograph for these third party authenticators to render an opinion about weather the autograph is likely to pass a full authentication or not. This should give you some piece of mind before buying or when considering the authenticity of an autograph that you already own.

Start Collecting Autographs Through the Mail

If you’re interested in starting out in the hobby of through the mail (TTM) autograph collecting, check out the complete guide here. Learn how to write your fan letter, gather your materials, find addresses and more!

What is a facsimile autograph?

A facsimile autograph is not a real autograph. Rather, it is a reproduction, similar to a photocopy. Facsimile autographs are also known as pre-prints and are printed photos with a reproduction autograph already on them.

Fan Mail and TTM Autograph Addresses

If you are planning on writing fan mail to your favorite celebrity, athlete, or public figure, you are going to need their address. Finding an address to write to can sometimes be done in seconds, or it might take hours of in depth research depending on what tools you use and who you are trying to write to. This post will break down the best ways to go about it with options for those who want an easy button and those who aren’t afraid to do some digging to find little known addresses.

The main types of addresses for fan mail are the physical ones: agency, via venue, business, and residential. Of course, email is increasingly becoming a popular and effective tool for sending fan mail and through the mail (TTM) autograph requests.

Types of Addresses

Agency Addresses

In general, celebrities all have agents who are employed at a PR firm or talent agency. If you know what agency represents the celebrity that you are writing to, then you can address your fan mail to that agency. Hopefully, their agent will then pass it on to the intended recipient. In many cases, this works well. Sometimes fan mail is simply not passed on though due to celebrities not wanting to or being able to handle the volume that they receive. Some agencies, like Spanky Taylor, have a standing policy of not passing on mail to their clients and always respond with an auto pen (machine signed) signature or other types of facsimiles.

Check The Agency’s Website

Each agency will likely have their own policies surrounding fan mail. Until you know how each agency will respond, it’s a good idea to check their sites for how they handle fan mail. The Hamilton Hodell talent agency asks fans to follow these guidelines:

Agencies known NOT to Pass on Fan Mail:

APA
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
Gersh Agency
ID PR
Innovative Artists Agency
Paradigm Talent Agency
PMK BNC
Spanky Taylor
United Talent Agency
Untitled Entertainment
William Morris Endeavors (WME)

Via Venue Addresses

Broadway
Playbills signed by Daniel Radcliffe and Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman, Daniel Radcliffe, and various supporting cast members signed via Broadway

Writing to the venue that someone will be appearing at (i.e. a concert hall, Broadway theater, sports stadium, or other temporary location) can be a great way to contact some of the hardest to reach celebrities. If you have not had luck sending to an agency because they don’t forward mail, perhaps a venue will. The best venues are those like Broadway where the person will be there for a longer time than just a one night concert. That helps to maximize your chances of your letter reaching the celebrity. Check out the kinds of results I got when I wrote 100 celebrities via venue.

Make sure to check Playbill’s website regularly for updates on plays. Find out which theater the play will be at and send your fan letter to the one of the starts or the stage manager if you are trying to get multiple cast members from the same play.

Production Offices (Film/TV)

Whenever a film of TV series is made, there is an office associated with the production. This is usually at the address of the studio where the production is being filmed. It’s important to time your letter so that it arrives when filming is under way. If you send too soon or too late, you are more likely to have your letter rejected.

Sports Stadiums

For sports fans, directing your fan mail to stadiums is the best way to get your favorite athletes’ signature. For the best success rate, it’s advisable to send a fan letter to each individual player on a team, even if that means that you have to send multiple requests to the same address. Try sending your request when you know the players will be there like during spring training.

Concert Venues

If it’s musicians that you’re after, it might be best to wait until they are on tour. Check out the stops that they will be making and look up the address of the arena or concert hall that they will be performing at. Try and time sending your letter so that it arrive a day or two before the concert. You don’t want it arriving after the artist has performed but you also don’t want to send it so early that it is forgotten about.

Business Addresses

If the individual you’re writing to owns a business, you can try writing to the business address. It’s surprising how many celebrities own businesses, actually. For example, Jessica Alba is the founder of The Honest Company.

Residential Addresses / PO Boxes

PO Boxes

Not everyone has an agent or business, and they may not make appearances. It may be the case that the only place they are able to receive mail is via their residence or a PO box. Whether it’s acceptable or not to use these addresses is entirely an individual question. Some celebrities may prefer it while others my not appreciate it at all. If there’s any doubt if it’s acceptable to send to an individual’s residential address, there’s no reason that you can’t reach out to get pre-approval. Try contacting them on social media or via email first to get the go ahead.

Where to find addresses

Where to find addresses for sending fan mail and requesting autographs through the mail, is one of the most common questions in the hobby. There are a number of free and paid resources available to those who know where to look. The leading databases and resources are listed below.

Servicesfanmail.bizStarTigerContact Any CelebrityIMDb ProWhite PagesTruth Finder
Agency AddressYESYESYESYESYES*YES*
Agency EmailYESYESYESYESNONO
Agency Phone NumberYESYESYESYESNONO
Private AddressYESYESYESNOYESYES
Private EmailNONONONONOYES
Private Phone NumberNONONONOYESYES
Database ComprehensivenessGoodVery GoodGoodVery GoodGoodVery Good
Subscription FeeNOYESYESYESYESYES
* Some agency addresses are often provided but are not specifically identified as such and appear with residential addresses.

Tales From The Collection

If you’re reading this article then you already know about Tales From The Collection. In addition to news related to celebrities and fans you can also find a number of curated addresses databases with contact information for celebrities from some of the biggest franchises in film. If you need help finding a specific address, you can also use the fan mail forum.

Star Wars Fan Mail Addresses

How to Send Fan Mail to The Star Wars Cast Members & Request Their Autograph

Harry Potter Fan Mail Addresses

Harry Potter Cast

Marvel Cinematic Universe Fan Mail Addresses

Marvel Fan Mail and Autographs

Magic the Gathering Fan Mail Addresses

MTG Artist Autograph Cover Photo

DC Extended Universe

How to Send Fan Mail to The DCEU Cast & Request Autographs From DC Actors

Star Tiger

Star Tiger Home Page

The simplest and best resource for finding addresses is startiger.com. It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your celebrity address needs. It has an extensive listing of personalities ranging from scientists to actors. If someone is not listed, you can put in a request for their address and the site’s admins and the Star Tiger community will often do the research for you. They will often jump in to answer your questions in 24 hours and provide contact information.

Addresses also are accompanied by feedback (weather or not someone got a reply), which helps to save you time and money on stamps that you don’t have to waste. The only catch to Star Tiger is that it is a paid service. However, by paying for this one service that allows you to request addresses, you are leveraging a lot of resources with only one membership. If you were to get the benefits of form other services, it would cost many times more.

Sports Card Forum

Sports Card Forum Logo

Sports Card Forum focuses on, you guessed it, sports. It does have a non-sports section but this forum is the go-to destination for many sports collectors when they want a free source for sports-related addresses. The site does offer more than just a forum though.

They also offer a few helpful tools for collectors. First is the Trade Manager which lets you swap cards with other collectors. This can be useful for those who are trying to complete a whole set. The second important feature to know is the TTM manager which like Star Tiger, lets you track your collection.

Google searches

Google home page

Saying “Google it” almost sounds like a non-answer, but it is very reliable for turning up great addresses to write to. You also can’t beat the price. Google is a great place to help you figure out what kinds of addresses are out there. You can see which kinds of addresses a celebrity is likely to have by reading their Wikipedia page, interviews, etc.

If, for example, they mention they own a business, run a charity, or are represented by a specific agency, you now have a lead to follow up on. Personal websites are often very helpful as they usually have some kind of contact option. The contact page may expressly list the person’s address or it may only provide an email address. In that case, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out via email to get permission to send something to be signed. 

Fanmail.biz

fanmail.biz homepage
fanmail.biz Main Page

A decade ago, this was the go to source for addresses as it’s free, and it was fairly comprehensive with a very active forum. It seems to now be a shadow of its former self with outdated information and a far less active and helpful forum. As it is a free resource, it doesn’t hurt to check here still but I would view it as only a supplement to your research.

Social media posts

If you are looking to write some fan mail, it is not unheard of that celebrities will post on their social media accounts about fan mail and how to get in touch with them. They will sometimes share an address or PO Box that their fans can send fan mail to, or will otherwise show off the mail they receive. If you’re lucky, they may feature a piece of your mail! If you were hoping to contact a celebrity through social media, you may also be in luck, but your best bet is to write stars through the mail.

Production Alerts

Production List

Productionlist.com is a service that offers production alerts that are affordable and comprehensive. It tracks film and tv productions and is made by the Film & Television Industry Alliance. It’s an industry publication targeted toward jobseekers. However, the same features that help an aspiring actor find work in film and television can easily help an autograph collector find addresses to write fan mail to. It offers a comprehensive listing of productions and includes valuable information like the production companies working on TV shows and movies as well as their physical addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. It lists out key individuals working on the production to include writers, producers, directors, and cast, among others.

Pricing

The down side to using Production List is the barrier to entry—price. While it is by no means cheap, it is by far more affordable than its competitors. At time of writing, pricing is as low as $28.95 per month for this service.

Benefits

Using Production List to find addresses will ensure you are among the first to know when a new production is announced. The site publishes roughly 20 to 40 new projects per week. This will give you an edge over other collectors because you’ll know when and where the personalities that you care about most will be and it provides many great ways to make contact.

Content
Production List website
Production List’s listing for Mandalorian Season 3

The above screenshot shows what a typical listing looks like. The site is behind a paywall so the important information is redacted until you sign in. However you get a pretty good idea about what the site offers. It lists crew members like John Favreau with email addresses, the production company and its contact info. Important information like like the shoot date and location are also included. These are all very valuable leads when seeking to obtain an autograph TTM.

Production Weekly

Production Weekly is an alternative to Production List, but it a cheaper one. The weekly publication starts at $75.00 per month and provides a ton of valuable information. To make the service more affordable, many people split the cost of the service between a group of friends.

Sample Production Weekly Issue

State/City Listings of Current Productions

Filming occurs all over the world but there are a few main hubs where the majority of it occurs. In the US a lot of filming is done in Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA, or Chicago, IL for example. Cities and states usually have dedicated websites to ongoing productions. Some sites have more information than others but at a minimum you should be able to find what is being filmed in a particular state or city. At best, it will also include addresses for the production office. Some good examples are: Toronto, Georgia, NYC, and North Carolina.

Public Records

There are many searches that facilitate searching through public records. Information like property records, pilot’s licenses, business registrations, and more are available for the public to view. To find them though, you need to go to the government office responsible for the document. Services like anywho.com, truthfinder.com, or the whitepages.com make the process simple. You will need a full name at least but knowing age and the state or city the person resides in will help narrow down your search a lot.

Anywho

Anywho.com screenshot

Any Who is my favorite free service for searching through public records. The results can be somewhat limited though and for anything more than basic information and addresses, they will redirect you to paid services.

Whitepages

When it comes to affordable and high quality people searches, whitepages.com is the place to go. They have very good results with amplifying information like phone numbers and information on relatives which helps you make sure that you have the person that you are looking for.

Truthfinder

Truthfinder is the best tool for searching public records to find people. However, it is also the most expensive, but you may find the detailed results to be worth the price. The webservice provides users with a very comprehensive list of contact information to include: email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and more. I recommend trying it for a month and using it to conduct as much research as you can at one time.

Email

Snov.io

Snovio is the best tool for find email addresses

Sending fan mail through email is increasingly becoming the best way to practice the hobby. However, finding valid email addresses is often more difficult than finding physical addresses to send letters to. Snovio is a webservice that seeks to alleviated that problem. It has a powerful suite of tools that can help you find email addresses associated with talent agencies, production companies, and businesses in the film industry.

Fan Mail Gone Too Far; Five Stories of Abused Generosity

There are many celebrities that honor their fans’ requests for autographs. But sometimes their generosity can be abused, and fans can cross a line. Those of us in the fan mail and through the mail (TTM) autograph collecting hobby often are myopic. At times, we have an insular view when sending an autograph request only seeing it from our perspective. An individual request can seem somewhat trivial to the signers’ time. However, that’s because we don’t often get to see what it’s like from their perspective—except of course, when we do. I have complied a few examples of when the public got a rare glimpse into the hobby from the signer’s point of view.

1. Alex Trebek

Photo credit: jeopardy.com

Perhaps the most notable example is Alex Trebek. In August 2020 (only three months before he lost his battle with cancer) he shared a shocking post. He revealed the enormous volume of fan mail that he would receive regularly. Alex loved his fans and signed right until the end with some fans even receiving their items back after his passing.

According to Jeopardy’s website, Alex addressed his fans in the following way: “As you can see, the volume of mail I’m receiving is getting out of hand. The thoughts conveyed show so much support, and I appreciate that. However, it has now reached the point that I am overwhelmed and will no longer be able to respond to every request, and none that are sent to my home. Please know that your good wishes are welcome, and I appreciate them all.

2. Steve Blum

Voice actor Steve Blum, who clearly wants to sign for fans, laments the lack of care they take with their requests. This is a good reminder that when there’s a pile of fan mail to respond to, sometimes it’s only the letters with a SASE and something to sign that get a response.

3. Mary Costa

Courtesy of Mary Costa/MICECHAT

Sometimes, as was the case with Mary Costa who voiced Princess Aurora, the volume of fan mail and autograph requests becomes so overwhelming that a signer is no longer able to sign. For many, it can be a truly time consuming endeavor as these individuals can quickly become victims of their own success.

4. Lacey Evans

WWE wrestler Lacey Evans ripped into what was probably a well assuming fan for sending fan mail to her home address. You never know where a signer’s personal boundaries are so it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Try contacting a celebrity’s agency or a venue first, in the case the WWE Performance Center, to do your best to respect their space when requesting autographs.

5. Natalie Portman

There is a dark side to fame. People can be cruel and those in the public eye often experience horrible things said to them by “fans”. Child stars are especially vulnerable to this. Natalie Portman found this out at the young age of 13. She spoke about how she experienced “sexual terrorism” at that tender age.

I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me.

– Natalie Portman

6. Anonymous Disney Animator

This American animator, screenwriter, producer and director, best known for his work for The Walt Disney Company, wrote back to a fan, but requested a bit of privacy. The animator asked that the fan, Ryan, not share the fact that the animator was signing via his home address on social media. Surely, he didn’t want to be inundated with fan mail at his residence. However, the fact that you are seeing this now, means that Ryan went against the animator’s wishes and did the exact opposite of what was requested of him.

7. Italia Ricci

Italia Ricci has had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of at least two separate fan mail faux pas. The first it seems she at had a good laugh at. One unidentified fan mistakenly sent Italia a photo of Lizzie Borden Took an Ax actress Christina Ricci after apparently confusing the two due to their shared last name. Italia posted about the incident on her Instagram account stating “One of these is not like the other.. Ricci 😂”.

The second fan mail blunder comes from a fan named Randy. He apparently forgot who he had requested an autograph from and sought help in identifying the actress from other collectors on Facebook. He said that “By chance does anyone know who this is? I sent it out and can’t recall.” Undoubtably Randy told Italia that he was a huge fan, but failed to even recognize her in the very photo that he sent.

8. John Rosengrant

John Rosengrant is a puppeteer, actor, and the co-owner of Legacy Effects. Recently, his company created Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda, for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Rosengrant and the rest of the Legacy effects team have been incredible at responding to fan mail in the wake of the show’s success. However, Rosengrant in particular responded to a large amount. At the time of writing, there were over 500 active listings for items signed by the puppeteer with close to 100 more that had been recently sold. On average, many went for under $20.

Despite the lack of resale value, Rosengrant’s generosity was exploited, ultimately leading him to stop signing through the mail all together.

Have Stories to Share?

If you know of more people sharing their experiences with fan mail and autograph requests (good or bad) please post them in the comments below! If you would like to avoid some of the bad etiquette that leads to burn-out check out my how-to post here.

Get Celebrity Autographs Through the Mail in 6 Easy Steps

Through The Mail (TTM) autograph collecting is the process of requesting an autograph from someone through the mail. You can think of it essentially as fan mail, except that in addition to expressing one’s appreciation for another’s work, it has the express goal of seeking an autograph and therefore is slightly more involved than sending a simple piece of fan mail.

Even today, you can still expect to get some great replies from truly incredible talent. There are many artists, writer, politicians, influencers, and even celebrities who still take their time to sign for fans and respond to fan mail. Even athletes write back to their fans. However, while one must temper their expectations given the volume of mail that some individuals receive, there is no reason that TTM collecting can’t be a productive hobby for you if you follow these basic steps.

  1. Determine who you are writing to.
  2. Find a good address.
  3. Write your letter to request an autograph.
  4. Gather your supplies.
  5. Include something to be signed.
  6. Prepare a return envelope.
  7. Send and wait!
  8. Companion Video Guide to TTM Autograph Collecting

1. Who are you writing to?

First you must determine who you would like to request an autograph from. Many collectors have a specific focus while others can be more eclectic in their pursuits. Still, the primary focus of the hobby is generally on sports and entertainment (TV, movies, and music) personalities. Perhaps you have a favorite movie and would love to reach out to the star. Maybe it’s the star player of your favorite sports team that you would like to get something signed by. Whoever you decide on, it should be someone whose work has had a genuine impact on you. Being a “real fan” will help you to create a genuine Letter of Request (LOR).

Use this editable fan letter template to get you started. If you need more ideas or want to check out who is currently signing, you can look at the successes page or see what’s new on the Tales From The Collection YouTube or TikTok accounts.

2. Find a Good Address

Perhaps the most important step to getting a reply for your favorite celebrity is finding an address that works. To that end, I curate free address databases for some of the most popular franchises: Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter / The Wizarding World, and even Magic the Gathering artists.

If you’re willing to pay a small subscription fee, the best single source for fan mail addresses is startiger.com. It is constantly updated by an active community of collectors and site administrators. If they don’t have the fan mail address that you’re looking for, you can request one and you can all but guarantee that they will update their site quickly to meet your needs.

For more ways to find physical addresses check out my dedicated post here. Make sure not to forget email addresses as well though. This can be the best way to contact agents and other signers. One of the most effective tools for finding email addresses is Snovio. For a walkthrough on how to use it for fan mail check out this post.

Where to Find Addresses (Fan Mail & TTM Autographs)

Free Celebrity Autographs by Email [Tools, Resources, & Addresses]

3. Writing your Letter of Request (LOR)

The letter of request (LOR) is essentially a fan letter that also contains a request for an autograph. I find that it is generally good to start with an brief introduction and an explanation of why you admire or appreciate the person that you are writing to. This should be highly individualized, as generic wording will give the appearance that you are using a form letter and being insincere. You may still get the desired result with a form letter, but it always pays to be genuine—especially when you are hoping that your letter gets pulled from a stack of countless others to be responded to. If your letter is vague and unspecific, it’s very easy to see through that.

It’s also important to remember that you are asking a complete stranger to do you the favor of taking the time out of their day to sign something for you. Be kind and be gracious in your request.

4. Gather Your Supplies

Essential Supplies

Once you’ve written your letter, you’ll need some basic supplies to get you going. What supplies you need essentially comes down to the size of the item that you are sending to get signed. First, let’s start with the essentials though. For starters, all you need to get going in the hobby are a number 9 and 10 envelope, your LOR, two first class stamps, and an index card to get signed. That’s it.

If you’re looking to move beyond the basics by sending items larger than an index card to be signed, you’ll need additional supplies. Whatever size envelope you send your request in, you will need a smaller one to fit inside of it. For example, if you are sending an 8″ x 10″ photo, you’ll need a 9.5″ x 12.5″ envelope and a 9″ x 12″ envelope for the SASE.

Envelopes

Stamps

Forever stamps are good for an envelope up to one ounce anywhere within the united states. The same goes for global forever stamps, but those are for a one ounce envelope going outside the U.S.

Autograph Storage

Once you start getting autographs back in the mail, you’ll quickly need to consider storage. When it comes to preserving your collection, what you are looking for is something that is archival quality. It must be acid free to provide life-long protection for you valuable autographs. For this reason I only use Itoya portfolios and Ultra Pro binder pages. They keep autographs from getting discolored and ensure that ink (from the photo and autograph) will not stick to the storage medium.

Itoya and Baroque Portfolios

Baroque Portfolio Review

Ultra Pro Binder Pages

5. Sending something to be singed

gillian-anderson autograph

It is common courtesy and best practice to send something to be autographed. Signers don’t always have photos on hand, so if you don’t send anything you may miss out. You are also putting the financial burden on the signer if you don’t supply your item. Anything that you can do to make answering your mail easier for the signer the better your odds of a response are.

What to Get Signed

The cheapest most basic item that one can send is a blank index card. I use these acid free archival quality index cards because they won’t degrade over time and will hold up very well because they are extra thick. Index cards are very versatile as they can be sent to anyone and look great when framed with a photo. Trading cards are a close second in terms of cost effectiveness and have the benefit of already being desirable. They also have been produced for many different sports and entertainment franchise so they are versatile.

Premium Options

Perhaps the the most desirable item to send is the standard 8″ x 10″ photo. A high quality 8″ x 10″ luster print can be ordered from Amazon Photos for $2.99 each, the costs here can add up quick so it’s tempting to go for smaller formats. Let me advise you now that this is not the way to go. 5″ x 7″ or smaller photos are too small to look good framed and generally do not make for attractive pieces. It is therefore my practice to only send index cards, trading cards, or 8″ x 10″ photos with the exception of the occasional odd item like a video game instruction manual.

6. Include a Return Envelope

Example envelopes of how to send a TTM  autograph request.
Sample envelope and SASE (minus the stamps)

It is very important to include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for your items to be returned. This way, when the signer is done signing your items, they can simply pop it back into the provided envelope and stick it in the mail without having to write out your address or provide their own stamps and envelope. This is a common courtesy which also increases your chances of a successful return.

Because you are putting one envelope inside another, it is important that you use two different sized envelopes. I use a #10 envelope to send my request and a #9 envelope for the SASE when sending cards and 9.5″x12.5″ and 9″x12″ when sending 8×10 photos . I should also note that if you are sending a request outside of your home country your SASE must include postage from the destination country as every country uses its own stamps.

7. Send and Wait For an Autograph!

Letters with autograph requests waiting to be sent.

Now that you have your letter written, your item to get signed, and your envelopes stamped and addressed, all you have to do is send them and (the hardest part) wait for a response. Keep in mind that turnaround can sometimes be as short as a week or two while sometimes there is years of waiting, so patience is a virtue in this hobby. To understand the volume of requests and fan mail that some people deal with please see the post I made about it here and check back often for new content.

Companion Video Guide to TTM Autograph Collecting

Which Celebrities respond to fan mail?

There are a lot of celebrities who respond to fan mail, including big names like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Uma Thurman, and many more. Some celebrities are more likely to respond than others due to many factors but generally, the more fame a celebrity achieves, the more fan mail they receive. That makes it impossible for them to respond to every letter. However, if you are persistent and do your research there a chance that any celerity might respond.

How These Celebrities Told Their Fans to Stop Sending Them Fan Mail