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Frequently Asked Questions

Who are we? Where are we based?
 
Owen & Barlow are dealers in autographs, antiquarian books, vintage posters and other documents and ephemera. We began postal trading in antiquarian books in Cambridgeshire, U.K. in 1982 and we are now located in Suffolk.  A selection from our stock of antiquarian books can be viewed on Abe Books and we also have a sister site to this one, Frontrow Posters, selling vintage film posters. We have been collectors of autographs for more than 30 years and have traded in them as part of our book-selling business. However, our stock of autographs is now so large that we have launched Owen & Barlow Autograph Letters and Historical Documents as a separate web-based store.
 
Are our autographs authentic originals?
 
Yes, all our autographs and documents are guaranteed to be genuine and as described.  The majority of the autographs in our inventory are taken from 19th or early 20th century collections of good provenance or from other reputable and reliable sources. Our own knowledge and experience in this field has been built over many years as both collectors and dealers and customers may buy with confidence.
 
What is our returns policy?
 
We strive to give the fullest possible details of each item's description and condition and we are confident that all details given are accurate. However, if an autograph is found not to be as described, we will accept its return within 14 days and will give a full refund (excluding return postage charges). Return carriage is the buyer's responsibility and is at the buyer's risk.
 
Are the illustrations on this site of the actual items for sale?
 
Yes, all illustrations show the same document that is being offered and, in many cases, we include multiple pictures showing both sides of the item and any associated documents or photographs. The Owen & Barlow watermark appears only on the website illustration and not, of course, on the item itself.
 
Do we accept payment in currencies other than British Pounds Sterling?
 
All payments should be made by British Pounds but overseas customers paying online with credit or debit cards via PayPal can do so and will find that the amount paid will be debited to their account according to the prevailing exchange rate between GBP and their own currency.
 
Glossary of terms used on this site.
 
All terms used when describing items for sale are terms with specific meaning, commonly used by autograph collectors and dealers. Most buyers will be familiar with these terms but for those that are not we offer this short and, hopefully useful, glossary:
 
ALS: Autograph Letter Signed. A letter signed and wholly in the hand of the signatory.
 
AL: Autograph Letter. A letter wholly in the hand of a person but not signed by them. Such letters are commonly formal communications written in the 3rd person.
 
LS: Letter Signed. A letter signed by a person but with the text in the hand of another. For example, where the text has been written by or dictated to a secretary or amanuensis.
 
ANS: Autograph Note Signed. A brief communication entirely in the hand of the signatory and signed by them and commonly without the formal structure of a letter.
 
TLS: Typed Letter Signed.
 
PS. Photograph (or Portrait) Signed. A photograph (or sometimes engraving or printed portrait) signed, usually by the person depicted in the portrait.
 
AQS: Autograph Quotation Signed.
 
Ms or MsS: Manuscript (AMs: Autograph Manuscript; MsS: Manuscript Signed).
 
RECTO: The front of a document or letter.
 
VERSO: The back of a document or letter.
 
FO., 4TO, 8VO, 12MO, 16MO: i.e. Folio, Quarto, Octavo, Duodecimo, etc. These are terms relating to the size of the paper on which the letter is written.
 
LETTER COVER: Before the invention of the gummed envelope in or around the 1860s, letters were normally sent by either folding the letter in a particular way and sealing it with sealing wax, or by folding a foolscap sheet around the letter and tucking one folded flap into another before sealing. The address was written on the outside panel of the folded paper.
 
FREE FRONT OR FREE FRANK: Before the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840 it was necessary for the recipient of mail to pay the postal charges. However, parliamentary mail was exempt from this and letters sent by M.P.s and also by some high ranking government employees, bishops and other members of the House of Lords, could be sent post free. These were identified by a rubber stamp or frank. The system was widely abused and it was therefore necessary for each letter sent through the 'free frank' system to be addressed, dated and signed on the outside (or 'front') by the person entitled to its use.  Consequently letter covers or envelopes bearing the free frank (and of course the signature of the person concerned) became very collectable and something of a 19th century obsession.
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