Autograph collecting can be a fun and fulfilling experience. It is one of the simplest aspects of collecting to introduce someone to or get back in after years absent.
But with so many avenues and options, it can be difficult to know where to start. Consult this guide to for some helpful pointers when collecting autographs.
Beckett Authentication Services is led by Steve Grad, who is also the lead authenticator of “Pawn Stars” on History. He brings a lifetime of knowledge and experience to the BAS team.
“The most important thing is to educate collectors and potential new collectors about the pitfalls, hazards and also the fun of collecting autographs,” Grad said. “I’ve been involved in collecting my entire life, I always have some good tips and advice to share with people. I think as collectors and like-minded people, it’s good to keep an open mind about collecting. You can learn something new every day.”
Most popular items to get signed
Pictures – 8x10 is the most popular and practical size
Cards – adds value to any trading card. Make sure to choose one in good condition.
Memorabilia – programs, tickets, etc are easily accessible and easy to keep track of.
Equipment – helmets and balls are the most popular and practical.
Magazines and books – Simple and cheap to acquire. Not as easy to store. Just like cards, choose an item in good condition.
Places to acquire autographs
Events -- It’s always more convenient for all involved to acquire autographs at memorabilia shows. You might be surprised at how many shows with top-notch guests there are across the country. Almost every weekend there is a comic con-type event or sports memorabilia show. Most of these require tickets to get in and tickets to acquire autographs. But it the most-sure way for a pleasant experience for all involved. The celebrities are paid to be there, and you don’t have to worry about approaching or interrupting their day.
Games or practices – MLB Spring Training is by nature a personal experience. Players are in a good mood and the pressure of a season has not kicked in yet. NFL Training Camps are similar. Most teams have some open practices and allow time for autographs afterward. Sometimes getting to games early enough while the players are still warming up works, too. Many have found success hanging out in the lobby of the team hotel during the season. Which leads to the next one.
In public – This is tricky. Most celebrities are used to being mobbed when seen in public. It’s on you to make sure you aren’t bothered him/her or making a situation uncomfortable. If they look busy or are with family, maybe leave them be. If you do approach, be respectful and appreciative. Maybe offer to make a donation to their charity as a way to sweeten the situation.
A certificate of authenticity validates any autograph in your collection. There is a lot of fraud in the industry.
Authentication by a reputable company adds value and security to a collection.
“Unfortunately, (fake autographs) dominate the industry and collecting,” Grad said. “They are just about everywhere too. From online auctions to smaller estate sales, to your local card store. As long as people collect things, there will be people that are forging things. I’ve not seen the flow stop over the years just get more sophisticated.”
BAS offers a variety of services for authentication. They can be found here (insert link).
The work is not done once you acquire the autograph. Proper storage is very important. Do yourself a favor and research ahead to make things easier once you have the piece.
Storage varies based on size of the collection and space available. The general principle to follow is protection. You want to protect your item from anything that could affect its condition. That means casing and storing away from direct light and sunlight as well as dust, for the signature will fade. There are plenty of casing options. Look to how your local shop stores items and ask for advice there. Most of them will have products available.