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Autographs passing away?

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Autographs Hot or Not?
by Mike Greene, Jr. AKA indyreds
It seems like there are always trends in the collectible world and I can not help but wonder about autographs in the long term. Will they still hold the same place for sports fans or will they just fade away? We have seen what over production can do to sports cards. Will there continue to be enough demand to keep up with all the supply out there? Why do we find them so desirable in the first place? Will there even be autographs in the future?
I will be the first to say that I do enjoy the fact that there are so many more outlets to get autographs than there was Twenty years ago. It is easy to find cards and memorabilia on trade sites like sportscardforum, sports league sites, individual player sites, auctions and retailers who specialize in autographs. It is common to be able to pull autographed cards out of even the low end card sets. The number of places to obtain autographs seems to point to a strong market now, but the amount of product being signed to keep these places going must effect the long term value. The market is getting so saturated already that I have purchased autograph cards for only a dollar from some card dealers at shows and in their shops. I have seen many autographed cards go unsold for a dollar on the most popular online auction site. I collect most of my autographs via through the mail requests and have found that I can get some players I want cheaper at my local card shop in the bargain bin!
Autographs still do hold a special place for most sports card collectors out there. It is easy to see when you attempt to trade your cards. See how often that you can trade your regular issue rookie cards or even material cards for an autograph someone has put up for trade on one of the trade sites. Some traders will actually be offended with the suggestion of trading a Forty Dollar rookie card for a autograph they listed that books half of that amount. It shows that the demand for autographs are still stronger than the rookie card market that has driven our hobby for years.
I have heard a disturbing new trend in our education system that could change the autograph community forever. Some school systems are now only spending a year teaching cursive writing and do not require students to use it afterwards. It seems that with the widespread use of computers that printing matches up better for students needs. The printed letters correspond better to the real world use of email and word processing skills. Handwritten letters seem to be becoming a thing of the past. Check your mailbox and look at how many items you have that are computer generated now. It is scary to think that in another Twenty years that young players may be printing autographs instead of the cursive signatures we have now. Will the next group of collectors coming up have an interest in autographed items? I hope that they do.
Why do we collect autographs in the first place? Why does a person scribbling something on an item make it worth more? That answer is a varied as the number of us out there who collect autographs in the first place. I think part of it is having an item that was once in the hands of that player. It can be the value for some of us. In person autographs is an memory of the actual meeting with that star. It also can be the thrill of the chase. I love theme autograph collectors. It is great to see an entire autographed card set, a large collection of your team, winners of certain awards or a collection of players who have hit a milestone. I personally have started working on getting a signed card from each member of the 1986 Mets team. Many people would assign no value to a Mookie Wilson autographed card, but it would be key to that collection to me. The reason we collect autographs is that we find enjoyment of some sort out of it.
I started asking basically if autographs will eventually die out as a collectible. I can not say that the value will remain high for any particular player, but the current demand seems to point that autographs are going no where too soon. Honestly many of us would be happy if supply drove down the prices even further as it would allow us to collect more of them for less. The hobby will be around as long as we enjoy collecting them. I just hope that when the time comes that I pass my autographs to my children that they find enjoyment in them as well.


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