You would have loved to get a Michael Jordan signature or let David Beckham autograph your sports trading cards in person. The problem is, these sports superstars are very difficult to approach.
That is why, the next best option is buying sports autographs from sports memorabilia shops, online stores, auction websites, TV shopping networks, among others.
Here are some tips on how to buy sports autographs and other hand signed sports collectibles. These will be helpful so you could get the most of your money’s value and avoid purchasing fake sports autographs which are widespread in the sport collecting market:
1. Buy what you like
You will enjoy it to the fullest, when you are engaged in a hobby that you truly go for. Always start buying sports merchandise that interest you. If you are a supporter of hockey, then focus on buying hockey collectibles and signed hockey memorabilia. If you are a basketball fan and you idolize LeBron James, purchase his autographed jerseys, sports cards, or photos. With this, you will be more motivated to maintain or make your sports autograph collection grow.
2. Go store hopping
Before you do the shopping, do the store hopping first – and that does not primarily refer to online sports shops. As a beginner, it is important that you buy your autographed sports collectibles from sports memorabilia stores: in the neighborhood, inside malls, stalls, and others. It is advised that you see the items in person first and examine them closely. Store hopping will also be an opportunity to meet autograph dealers and sellers whom you can talk to and ask about sports autographs, sports memorabilia authentication, and other necessary information.
When you master the store shopping, then you can start buying athlete autographs online. Forged sports memorabilia may flood in the internet, but with your good dose of knowledge and experience you can avoid being a victim of sports memorabilia fraud in the web.
3. Prepare to spend
It is very important to decide on how much you are willing to spend for signed sporting collectibles. Plan out and buy within your budget. Do not force your self buying an expensive item for sentimental value’s sake. If you consider purchasing a very valuable sports autograph, you have to save for it.
Signed sports cards are probably the most affordable sports memorabilia you could buy, depending on certain factors like rarity, authenticity, popularity, subject, and age. Famous vintage sports memorabilia, on the other hand, could be the highest-priced autographed sports items on the market. The most expensive could cost you more than a million dollars.
Talking about budget, it is a must to update your self with the changes in sports autograph values. Online price guides can help you out. Just like any industry, sports autograph prices may go up and down at no definite time intervals because of economic conditions.
Sport Memorabilia Store: It is best that before actually buying sports autographs, go around the city and visit sports memorabilia shops. Purchasing autographs online is discouraged especially to newbie collectors.
4. Join the sports collectors’ network
Being in a group composed of people with similar interests in sports memorabilia collecting greatly helps for you to know more about your passion. Try being active in a network of sports collectors where you can interact or even trade sports autographs.
Participate in online sports collector forums, go to sports autograph signings, and attend other activities where you can find and make friends with your fellow enthusiasts. You can learn effective buying strategies from the expert sports hobbyists and you can share some sports shopping experience to your fellow novice sports collectors.
5. Be inquisitive like a detective
It may be saddening but it is a known fact – the sports autographs industry is a huge avenue for forgery and many fraudulent practices.
a. Avoid faked sports signatures
A tiny scribbled name of your favorite athlete could add a thousand dollars more to the value of an ordinary sports card or photo. Unfortunately, autograph forgers see that as an opportunity for “business”.
The people behind the biggest forgery scam in American history earned $100 million in their entire operation during the 90s. They sold hundreds of baseballs with phony Joe DiMaggio signatures, fake Mickey Mantle autographs on his pictures, among thousands of other sports memorabilia imitations. Though this scam happened in the late 90s, fake sports memorabilia is not a mere thing of the past. New fakers are active in the market, so beware.
Other forms of fake athlete autographs are: autopen signatures, sports autograph reprints, secretarials, and stamped sport signatures.
b. Get to know your seller
A background check to your sports autograph dealer may take some time and effort but it goes a long way. It is best that you buy only from reputable sellers.
There are many sports merchandise stores which are affiliated or recommended by the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, and other sports leagues and associations. To know them better, visit their websites and read magazines or books about these authorized these sellers.
c. Be skeptical about Autograph Certificates of Authenticity
Certificates of Authenticity (COA) may be important in assuring that a memorabilia is not a fake. However, there are circumstances that a COA is no less than a piece of paper. There are certificates that are only issued by the sellers themselves.
When you buy a sports autograph; look for the certification by a trusted third party authenticator such as Professional Sports Authenticator, Upper Deck, or Global Authentication Incorporated to mention a few.
Trivia: Upper Deck, a leader in sports memorabilia trading and autograph authentication does not only issue a certificate of authenticity. To assure their customers of real sports autograph, Upper Deck has developed the PenCam technology.
The PenCam is a pen that has a small video camera that records the actual signing of the autograph by the athlete on the sports item. The video is automatically saved as a digital file which will be sent to the customer together with the signed sports memorabilia that he bought.
d. Report fraudulent transactions
When you witness or become a victim of a fraudulent transaction, it is encouraged that you report the incident to the right authorities. It will be a major help in putting a stop to sports autograph scams.
6. Act like an expert sports collector
The expert only looks for the best quality and nothing less. In buying sports autographs, always consider the quality and the condition of the items whether they are sports cards, photos, jerseys, and other sporting equipment. Take for example sports cards: the condition of the sports trading card is determined by sports card grading. It will be scaled from 1-10 with 10 as the highest. In recently produced cards, higher grade would generally give higher market value.
So be a perfectionist, just like a pro – buy only the best quality item for your money.
7. Act like a novice sports collector
A newbie collector is most often very eager to learn everything that has something to do with his passion. If you already have acquired much knowledge about buying sports autographs and trading them, do not close your doors in learning more. Be open-minded and keep yourself updated with sports news, sports autograph value fluctuations, new standards in grading, etc.
Read about sports collectables and collecting through books, magazines, and through the internet. This website, for instance, features articles that share information about the hobby of sports collectibles, sports memorabilia authentication, sports autograph values, and other topics that may help you familiarize the sports memorabilia market.