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Questions & Answers Research Center
Autograph Related Questions
 In an effort to help you resolve your Baseball Memorabilia question the most commonly asked questions will be posted. Before searching for your question check to see if your Item in question has already been cataloged in the KeyMan Collectibles database of information by clicking a category on the Left column of this page. 

Below is a list of commonly asked questions. If you cannot find your question listed then click the help Link provided at the bottom of this page. KeyMan will do his best to answer your question as soon as possible. You may also use the Google search box provided at the top of each page to assist you in your query. Green Links open in a new window for a Glossary definition. 


 

How do you find the value of an autographed baseball?

There are many factors to conceder before putting a value on an autographed baseball by simply looking up the value in a price guide. 

Factor one. How was the signture(s) acquired? If you witnessed the signing then you know for sure that it is an authentic hand signed signature. If you found the Item in a box, or at a garage sale for example then there is a chance that it is not authentic, and can also be a facsimile signature

Before you spend money on having the signatures authenticated be sure that they are not facsimile signatures. A lot of people mistaken facsimile signatures as authentic. Facsimile signatures are printed on, as opposed to authentic hand signed signatures. If the signatures are signed with a felt pen for example, the ink will tend to be heavier at points where the pen started, stopped or slowed while signing. Lighter, thinner, or less dense when the pen is quickened or coming off the item. With facsimile signatures the ink will trend to be more uniform, or the same density throughout. 

Factor two. Authenticity. An autographed baseball that is not authenticated by a creditable company could sell at half the price or less than one that is. Two of the top, and most trusted authenticators are PSA/DNA, and James Spence Authentic (JSA). Collectors will pay more for signatures authenticated by either one. It may sound odd but in some cases PSA/DNA, and JSA authenticated signatures may sell higher than a Letter of authenticity from an unknown or less trusted authenticator that witnessed the signing even though PSA/DNA, and JSA did not. It's just a matter of collectors trust, and collectors will pay more for it. 

Factor three Condition. As with all collectibles this could be the most important factor of all providing that the signatures are authentic. The condition of the Item signed, as well as the signatures. The signature should be strong, and bold, as opposed to faded and hard to see. In the case of a baseball Blue ball point pen would be most preferred over sharpie which tends to fade quicker or bleed on a baseball. An educated collector will pay less for a sharpie signed baseball, if at all. Sharpie would be most preferred on a bat, or Photo. 

Factor Four The type of baseball that the signatures are signed on, as well as where the signatures were signed could also determine the price. An official baseball that was used during the players career will sell at a higher price. This can be determined by the stamp of the league president on the baseball. The manager or, and team star would be most desirable on the sweet spot. Collectors will also pay a premium for inscriptions such as "500 Home runs," and pay less for personal inscriptions like "Good Luck Mary" 

Price guides are based on average prices of recently sold, and closed auctions. Prices may vary based on condition, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the baseball. Prices may also vary on team signed baseballs based on the amount of signatures, and key signatures acquired. The more complete the baseball with key signatures the more valuable. 

You may find prices on single signed baseballs, as well as team signed baseballs on the website. The Team Signed Baseball Price Guide includes a list of key players as well as links to full team rosters year by year. Try these helpful Links: Autographs - Autograph Price Guide & Authenticator

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What are the best baseballs for an Autograph?

The most preferred baseball to have a player sign would be an Official Major League baseball from the League the player played in, that was used during the ball players playing days. The older baseballs could be dated by the signature of the League President stamped on the ball. 

For example: Willie Mays played from 1951-1973. If you were planning to acquire a Willie Mays signature you would try to find a 1951-1969 Warren Giles Official national League Baseball. The baseball alone would cost you about $200. but it would also add value to your signature. You can also opt to go with a 1970-1986 Charles Feeny Official National League Baseball which was used at the end of Mays' career. This ball would cost you about $60. Your next choice should be an Official Major League baseball made after his playing days. This would be acceptable as well. 

The same would be for team signed baseballs. A team from the 1980s, a 1980s baseball. (same League) 

You could find these baseballs on eBay. Just make sure that the ball you purchase is clean, and like new. I would not use a plain baseball or team logo baseball. It would be cheaper but then so would the value of your autograph. Try these helpful Links: Official Baseball Dating & price Guide. This will help you identify the baseball you are looking for and estimated value.

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How do I authenticate My Autograph?

 An autograph that is not authenticated by a creditable company could sell at half the price or less than one that is. Two of the top, and most trusted authenticators are PSA/DNA, and James Spence Authentic (JSA). Collectors will pay more for signatures authenticated by either one. It may sound odd but in some cases PSA/DNA, and JSA authenticated signatures may sell higher than a Letter of authenticity from an unknown or less trusted authenticator that witnessed the signing even though PSA/DNA, and JSA did not. It's just a matter of collectors trust, and collectors will pay more for it. Check the respective websites Show Schedule to see if they will be in the area that you live. They also do business through the mail. Before spending money on having the autograph authenticated do your homework. Find signatures on line that have been properly authenticated, and compare them to yours. If you feel comfortable that they are authentic then proceed. Try these helpful Links for comparing signatures: Autographs - Autograph Price Guide & Authenticator

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How do I figure out what Year my team signed baseball is from?

Visit the Team Signed Baseball Price Guide located on this website. The price guide features links to full team rosters to help you figure out what year the baseball is from. Searching for the players that played the least amount of time for the team will help you figure it out quicker. Once you have narrowed it down to one year the price guide also provides a list of key signatures for that year. These signatures are the most important on getting top value.

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I have an autographed baseball that is getting yellowish spots. Do you know how I can safely clean it?  (Tracing faded signatures?)

This is a No No. Do not try to clean this baseball. You will most likely do more harm to it. Restoration to any collectible should be left to the expert that has experience with that type of work, and to this day I have never heard of anyone that restores baseballs or signatures.

Most important never retrace a signature. I have been asked this question many times. A baseball with light or faded signatures will be worth more than one that has been traced. The signatures will be worthless.

Sharpie is not used for signing baseballs because of the porous properties of the baseball will absorb the ink and it will tend to bleed. The same thing will happen if you try to clean it. The stain might lighten, but will spread to a larger area of the ball. What ever you use to remove the stain will have no problem removing the signatures as well. If any liquid comes in contact with the signatures, your baseball will look like a wet piece of mail.

The "globe holder" should have been good enough to keep the ball clean. It is possible that moister found it's way in. You might want to invest in a ball cube or case with at least 50% UV protection. Sun light will do it's damage as well. Even reflected sun light. The seals on the cubes are pretty good but keeping the baseball displayed away from moister is still key.

The Ideal conditions for display would be indirect lighting, at a room temperature of 65 - 70 degrees, and 50% humidity. Always check your signatures periodically for signs of fading or deterioration, and avoid excessive handling.

Chalk it up to experience, and leave the ball as is.

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What is worth more an autograph baseball or autograph photo?

Autograph photos typically sell at about 40-60 percent the price of an Autographed baseball. Part of the value of an autographed item is how well the item displays the signature. Baseballs are a preferred item for display, as is a Bat or a uniform. The value of a photo could be determined by the subject, and composition of the picture. Again the more pleasing or the better the photo displays the signature the more valuable. Size and availability of the photo could also factor in the value.

The lowest priced item would be for a "cut Signature." A cut signature is a signature on a piece of paper, or "cut" from a larger piece. Index cards are the next step up, and both sell at a fraction (10-20%) the cost of Baseballs, Bats, and equipment. Collectors will also pay a premium for inscriptions such as "500 Home runs," and pay less for personal inscriptions like "Good Luck Mary

In general an autograph on a baseball worth $100. the same autograph on a 8x10 photo $50. a cut signature $20. on a bat $150. Price will vary based on the player, and availability. Joe DiMaggio stopped signing baseballs late in his life because of arthritis in his hands. Therefore you could put a premium on a Joe DiMaggio autographed baseball. For more information on autographed items read the KeyMan Collectibles Newsletter: How much is my autographed baseball?

 

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I have a Little Johnny Strikeout double album that was signed by Joe DiMaggio on the cover. what would be the value?

 The "Little Johnny Strikeout" album in excellent-near/mint condition sell between $50.-$125. 

 The album, with the Joe DiMaggio signature now becomes a display for the signature which holds the bulk of the value. The value will be determined by how well the album displays the signature, the condition of the album, the condition of the signature, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the signature.

 Without a letter of authenticity from a reputable company you could land up with half the market value or less. As with all collectibles condition is the most important factor of all in determining the value, providing that the signature is authentic. The condition of the Item signed, as well as the signature. The signature should be strong, and bold, as opposed to faded and hard to see.

 What was used to sign the album, and the place it was signed will also be a factor. For example; If the signature was signed with a blue ball-point pen on the dark green area it might not stand out as much as if it were signed with a silver sharpie. Again, how well the signature is displayed on the album will be a factor in pricing.

 It would be easier to put a price on a standard item like a photo, baseball or a bat. These items are more common, and it's just a matter of finding auctions were these item have sold. I would start with a price of about $450. then go up or down with the information I provided above. It all comes down to how desirable this piece is to collectors.

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Are Baseball Cards more valuable when autographed by a ballplayer?

Collectible items could add value to the price of a signature such as the cover of a magazine or baseball card but not always. As in the case of a baseball card, generally collectors of baseball cards would rather have a baseball card without the signature, and a collector of signatures will not always pay extra for the "collectible" baseball card. This is why it is not a good idea to have an expensive baseball card signed. You could devalue the price of the card, and get less for it. 

A cheap inexpensive baseball card that is worth .50 cent for example will be worth more with a noted players signature on it. The collectible baseball card now becomes an item to display the signature, and the bulk of the value will now rely on the value of the signature.

An expensive baseball card valued at $200. for example will have the opposite effect, in that the collectible baseball card becomes an item to display the signature. The signature now becomes the collectible item. if the signature is only worth $40. it would bring the price down. It would be considered to a baseball card collector to be defaced and not be valued as a the collectible card in "mint condition." The value now relies on value of the signature and how well the card displays the it. 

In the example of the $200. baseball card and the $40. signature the baseball card will bring more value to the signature but less than the value of the card un signed.

Basically a collectible baseball Card, and an Autograph are two different items. Once the Card is signed it is not a collectible baseball Card it is a signed Item. 

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What is the value of a 1954 Rawlings Advertisement signed by Mickey Mantle?

A Mickey Mantle signed 8 x 10 photo sells for about $150.-$300. Price will vary based on condition, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the signature. Photo composition, and appeal will effect the price as well. Part of the value will be determined by how well the photo displays the signature. The type of ink used, and how it stands out in contrast to the photograph will also effect the price. Sharpie would be most preferred for a photo. Larger and more desired pictures could sell for more.

A Rawlings Magazine advertisement will fit into the lower end of the pricing of a photo or less. The ad might be more appealing, more collectible, and even display better than some photos but because of the quality of the paper used the price will be kept down. This paper can rip more easily, and if not properly taken care of will brown. A collector might not spend as much money on a signature that could be easily destroyed. If the item is an advertising cardboard display then I would put the value at the higher end or more. The bulk of the value on both examples will still rely on how well the signature is displayed, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the signature.

Mickey Mantle signed a lot of Autographs. One of the most sought after signatures, there are also a lot of fakes on the market. The numbers are alarming. This is why to get top dollar for an autograph it should be properly authenticated. Signatures that are not properly authenticated could sell at half the market value or less

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What is the value of a Mickey Mantle autographed baseball?

Mickey Mantle Single Signed Baseball

A Mickey Mantle single signed baseball is worth about $500.-$800. Price will vary based on condition, and type of authenticity that accompanies the signature. Rare examples of a pristine signature or inscriptions like "The Mick" "HOF 1974" or 536 HR's" could raise the price to the $1,000. price range. Personal inscription like "Good luck Mike" could sell below $400. A rarely signed full name signature "Mickey Charles Mantle" will break the $2,000 price mark as it did in a May 5th 2007 live eBay auction selling for $2,390.

After condition the type of authenticity that accompanies the signature will dictate the price. Mickey Mantle was under contract with the Upper-Deck company before he passed away. Baseballs that have the Upper deck hologram could sell in the $1,000.-$1,500. price range. signatures that have not been authenticated could sell at half the market value or less.

In a recent auction (Aug 2008) a Mickey mantle single signed baseball sold for $537.75 (May 2008) - $657.25 A Mickey Mantle single signed baseball inscribed "HOF 1974" sold for $1,434.00

For more Prices on single signed baseball for other players click here

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What is the best type of pen to autograph baseballs with?

Blue Ballpoint Pen

Sharpie Should not be used. In the case of a baseball a Blue ballpoint pen would be most preferred, and recomended over a sharpie. Sharpie is not used for signing baseballs because of the porous properties of the baseball will absorb the ink and the signature will tend to bleed into the cover of the ball. Sharpie would be most preferred on a bat or photo for example, where the signature will stand out more.

When having a photo signed in sharpie be sure to allow the ink to fully dry before handling, and placing in a protective plastic. If the ink is not completely dry the ink will smear. If the sharpie signed photograph is kept in a plastic protector, keep in mind that if the conditions are not right the signature could sweet onto the plastic.

The Ideal conditions for display would be indirect lighting, at a room temperature of 65 - 70 degrees, and 50% humidity. Always check your signatures periodically for signs of fading or deterioration, and avoid excessive handling.

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 I recently purchased a single baseball signed by both Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, does this combination have greater value then the value of  two balls signed by them separately

The value of multi signed baseballs cannot be priced by the value of each signature added up. Multi signed baseballs are valued as a group of signatures, and how desired that group is as a whole. This does not necessarily mean that two signatures will sell for less than one, but in most cases it does, or at least not the full value of the two signatures added up.

Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio signed a lot of baseballs together doing shows in Atlantic city in the 1980's/90's. A desired pair of signatures. They were both under contract with Upper Deck, and hologramed baseballs authenticated by UDA sell at a very high price as compared to the market value.

A Mickey Mantle Joe DiMaggio dual signed baseball is worth about $600.-$1,000. If both signatures can be viewed at the same time when the baseball is displayed it could have a higher value. If one or the other signature is on the sweet spot it could also dictate the value. Each signature on two baseballs would be worth about $400. -$800 each in general. Condition of the signatures, and authenticity is important.

Value is based on average prices of recently closed auctions. Prices may vary based on condition, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the signatures. Signatures that have not been properly authenticated could sell at half the market value or less. Add for inscriptions.

In a (May 2008) auction a Mickey Mantle Joe DiMaggio duel signed baseball sold for $1,015.75

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