Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart would turn in his grave if he knew that his signature could fetch anywhere up to 2,500 US dollars these days. Who would have thought the five second act of committing ones signature from pen onto paper or photographs, would turn out to be such a lucrative industry, as it is in the 1990's.The autograph hunters of yesteryear who considered collecting celebrity autograph's an enjoyable pastime, have now been replaced by the entrepreneurial dealer. This has seen the price of autographs skyrocket to unbelievable and unaffordable prices. How would you like it if I told you that there is a way in which you could obtain celebrity autographs for free?

Imagine receiving a signed trading card from Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a personally dedicated photo "To...From John Travolta". Read on my friend, and you will learn the five easy steps for success in obtaining free celebrity autographs.

Step 1: You have to obtain your target celebrity's address. The best way to obtain free celebrity addresses is through the Internet. A good site to start at is Alan's Celebrity Autographs at http://www.geocities.com/Hollwood/Hills/9842.

Step 2: In the envelope that you send off to the celebrity, you must enclose a self-addressed envelope and a couple of International Reply Coupons. These can be bought from your local post office. If the celebrity you are writing to lives in the same country as you, then enclose a stamp-self addressed envelope. As for what size of envelope to use, that all depends on you. A standard envelope will allow for a 4X6 photo to be sent. If an 8 X 10 photo is what you are after, then an A4 sized envelope should be enclosed.

Step 3: You must write a pleasant letter to the celebrity and it should be written on eye catching stationary. Keep it neat, because if your handwriting resembles Aztec glyphs, then a celebrity will not want to waste time trying to decipher them. Keep it brief, because celebrities are flooded with letters and autograph requests each week. A page to a page and a half should be ample. As for what to write, start of by introducing yourself. Write a paragraph telling the celebrity about who you are. They are curious, and like to know who their fans are. As for the remainder of the letter, tell them what it is that you like about them and their work. Don't be gushing or go overboard with your praise.

Step 4: Make your request for an autographed picture. Be courteous and polite, for you must keep in mind that he/she is being so gracious as to grant you your request of an autographed picture.

Step 5: Develop the virtue of patience. Celebrity responses can range from the minimum period of 1 month, to the maximum period of 2 years.

Remember, that no one can guarantee you that a celebrity will reply. However, if you follow these five easy steps, you will be on your way to receiving free celebrity autographs.

Eileen O'Connell is studying for a double degree in Biology and Anthropology at Curtin University. She has had some of her poems published, as well as articles for two Western Australia community newspapers. Eileen is the co-author of a book on Cult Television with a David Rogerson.