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KeyMan Collectibles Newsletter

How Much Is my Autographed Baseball?

Steven KeyMan Collectibles

 The most common question ask by people searching for information on baseball memorabilia. "How much is my autographed baseball?" Along with other signed items there are too many factors involved to simply answer this question with a price. 

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. Signatures that have been properly authenticated will sell at a higher price than not. 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.

Do your homework. If you know for sure that the signatures are authentic then it might pay to have them professionally authenticated. If not find signatures on-line that have been authenticated, and compare them. If they are at least close then proceed. You don't want to spend money on authenticating a signature that was placed there by some kid fantasizing, and signing his favorite ballplayers name on his baseball that was found in some garage. It happens.

Also take note of what writing tool was used to sign the autograph. Was the player alive when the ink, such as a felt tip pen, or ball point pen, was available? Ball point pens became prominent in the 1940s, felt tips in the 1960s, and sharpies in the 1970s. Fountain pens were most common in earlier signatures.

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 ballpoint pen would be most preferred over sharpie which tends to "bleed" on a baseball. Sharpie would be most preferred on a bat, or Photo.

Factor Four The item that the signatures are signed on will also determine the price. It could also aid in determining if the signature is authentic. Was the item signed produced during the players life time? In the example of a signed baseball. Take note ofOfficial American League Gene Budig baseball the league president on the ball. Mickey Mantle signed very few Gene Budig baseballs which came into use in 1995, the year Mantle died. He was also very ill that year and didn't sign often. Although it is possible to have one it is unlikely, and should at least send up a red flag.

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 of the higher priced Photos, 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" 

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. 

The type of baseball that the signature is signed on will also effect the price. An official baseball from the league the player played in during his playing days will bring a higher price. It could also help you determine if the signatures are hand signed or facsimile signatures. Chances are that if it is an official baseball the signatures are hand signed as opposed to a plan ball. Team logo baseballs, or simple baseballs with just the manufacturer markings could be a sign of facsimile signatures. These type of baseballs are commonly found at Stadium souvenir shops.

"How Much is my autographed baseball?" You thought there was a simple answer. Along with all that was covered above it all comes down to collectors preference, and how much a collector is willing to pay for the item you have. The more displayable the item the more it will be desired, and this will add value. 



KeyManCollectibles Newsletter #1 What It Worth?
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