Glossary of Autograph Abbreviations & Terms

Investing in antique and/or rare documents and manuscripts can be confusing at times given the many abbreviations and terms used by auction houses, appraisers and experts.  The following is a list of the primary terms and abbreviations often used by buyers and sellers of documents and manuscripts.

Collecting Antique Vellum Indentures

"Indentures" are legal contracts, and are entirely written by hand (in English) on large sheepskins, in keeping with legal practice dating back to Medieval times. Today, these ancient British legal manuscripts are prized collector's items, and make impressive decorator accents when matted and framed. The top edge of the document shows the wavy, or "indented" margin that gives these documents their name; as a safeguard against counterfeiting, the copies given to all parties were placed together and cut in this margin in a wavy, irregular pattern, thus uniquely identifying the authenticity of each copy.