Autographs Now a Different Game

From exclusive contracts to authentication, it’s big business for some.

It sounds quaint some 25 years after the practice first began but charging someone for an autograph was once frowned upon by just about everyone inside the sports memorabilia hobby.

It’s now commonplace at shows where stars of even modest magnitude can command $50 per signature–and get it. There are agents hired by players and former players who regulate the flow–and the price–of their autograph. And of course, there are authentication services to offer a paid opinion on whether a signature is genuine.

There’s no doubt we’ve come a long way since the Commerce Comet got five bucks each time he scribbled his name.

Some who dabble in the world of autograph retailing wonder whether the future is being mortgaged by prices they have to charge today.