The opportunity is there. A current or former player or coach is doing a private signing session and the company handling the event has the breakdown on what it’ll cost you to have your item autographed. The price is right and you’re ready to commit to finally snaring that signature you’ve been hoping to get.
Now all you have to do is decide what to send.
If you collect specific items, such as autographed baseballs or jerseys, it’s probably an easy choice. The promoter may even provide the item for you. That’s not always the case, though.
In the third of an ongoing series, we catch up with Matt Powers of Powers Sports Memorabilia for a Q&A focused on items for private autograph sessions: what’s popular, what holds value, signature quirks and more.
SC Daily: What are the most important things collectors should keep in mind when it comes to deciding on the type of item they’re going to have autographed?
Matt: First, collect what you like. If you like mini helmets, then get signed mini helmets. Just because someone else collects a certain type of item doesn’t mean you need to. Second, always collect items within your budget. We would all like to have that game used jersey of our favorite player. If it doesn’t fit in our budget however, probably not the best idea to add it to the collection right now.
What’s the number one item you see submitted for autographs in each sport?
Lately, it has been cards. Collectors are getting them autographed and then having PSA or Beckett slab them. Outside of cards, baseballs are king for baseball, football the full-size helmet, basketball tends to be mainly jerseys.
Let’s hear your picks for the items that hold up the best for future value and resale purposes.
I am a big believer in the specialty full-size football helmets such as the Blaze and Eclipse. Very few of those were made in comparison to the standard helmet.
Outside of that, officially licensed jerseys, limited edition pieces, or any item with multiple inscriptions. If your goal is to buy something with increased future value in mind, you want to be collecting players that don’t sign much or the demand is so high they sell out each time. Players like Michael Jordan, Luka Doncic, Mike Trout, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, etc. Those players will never go down in value.
The cost of a private signing sometimes means different prices for different types of items. What’s typically the best ‘deal’ when it comes to selecting an item to have signed for a certain price?
Signed baseballs. They generally fall under the least expensive category and the cost of the ball can be rather cheap. If you can get your favorite player on a specialty ball, such as when they were World Series MVP, or on a retirement ball, that is where you can find the most bang for your buck.
Does a player’s style of autograph impact the type of item you should opt to get signed?
Depends if you are getting inscriptions. If a player has a huge autograph or their helmet has a huge logo, probably not the best idea to get a mini helmet signed with a bunch of inscriptions simply because everything will be scrunched together. However, I rarely see a collector complain that the athletes’ autograph is too large.
Let’s talk helmets and the ongoing debate between mini helmets and full sized helmets. What’s your advice here?
All comes down to what you like to collect and what you can afford. Mini helmets are awesome because they take up so little space, are easy to display, and are fairly inexpensive.
Full-size helmets are the most popular item for football autographs. The issue you run into is space. It’s why I suggest only putting superstars on the full-size helmet. My general rule of thumb when it comes to getting a replica or authentic helmet is if you are paying more for the autograph than the cost of a replica helmet, go with the authentic. If you are looking for an item to go up in value, the full-sized helmets are the best way to go.
How about game-worn items. What are your thoughts on having game-worn items autographed? Any concerns about that?
I have heard arguments for both sides, similar to getting cards signed. If you do plan on getting the jersey autographed, having the player write “GAME USED” and the date of the game adds tremendous value to it. If possible, I always prefer having the jersey signed and inscribed with that information.
An 18-year industry veteran, Matt Powers is the founder and sole owner of Powers Sports Memorabilia, based in the Kansas City area. You can connect with him through the company’s website and get insights on the hobby through his YouTube channel.