Autographed sports collectables can include virtually any piece of sports memorabilia. If you can write your name on it, fans and collectors will get it signed. However, maybe the most traditional and easiest to collect are 8×10 autographs.
Signed photographs became widely popular in the first part of the 20th century. Once sports figures became national icons, fans looked for something that would connect them to their favorite players and teams. Players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig signed hundreds of photos. They weren’t really mass marketed, however. It was much easier to buy a baseball and have it signed than to find someone selling 8×10 photographs.
Today, an 8×10 color photo is among the easiest items to obtain with the purpose of having it signed. They’re inexpensive, perfect for the popular Sharpie signature and easy to store and display.
8×10 autographs can be stored in the one-pocket plastic sheets or hard plastic sleeves you can find online or at sports card shows or shops. The sheets run about 20 cents each and are even cheaper in quantity. The hard plastic sheets for signed 8×10 photos are a little more, but offer a bit more protection. Of course, you can also have the photographs framed and matted. Their size is relatively small compared to other autographed items so even this route is much more affordable.
Veteran collectors don’t need to be told that a Sharpie is the best way to have your photos signed. You can buy them in a number of different colors including silver and gold, which look great on a darker colored photo. You can match your ink color to the player’s uniform or other colors in the photograph.
When you look to buy 8×10 autographs on eBay, it’s best to gravitate toward those photos that have already been professionally authenticated. PSA/DNA, James Spence, Steiner Sports and Mounted Memories are four of the most popular companies that supply authentication stickers or letters. Even with the authentication, 8x10s are among the most affordable ways to collect signed items.
Through careful shopping on eBay, one can easily purchase modern era Hall of Famer autographs on 8×10 photos for under $25 each—sometimes less than $15. You can literally build a significant superstar collection for under $250. It’s likely that will whet your appetite for autographs of players that are a little harder to find. Deceased stars, of course, will cost more money for the simple fact that there is now a finite supply of their autographs. Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams signed thousands of autographs on the card show circuit in the 1980s and 90s, but they are so popular with fans and collectors that the prices for their signatures remain strong—typically $250-400 each.
Promoters will have players sign dozens of 8×10 autographs at a signing session because it’s the easiest item to sign and they can be quickly sold. If the dealer overestimates demand, the signed photos often wind up on eBay, fully authenticated and ready for purchase. Their loss is your gain.