The Beckett Blog

What you get signed is as important as the autograph itself by Chris Olds

By Chris Olds | Editor

For sports collectors where seemingly everything has been commodified, this is probably an obvious statement — but for the rest of the collecting world (or beginners) it might not be.

What you get autographed is as important as the autograph itself.

In the sports world, the type of item you get signed at a show or an appearance is often tied to the amount of money you’ll pay for the signature. Basically, the more valuable item you get signed the more you’ll typically have to pay. Why? The players, agents and show promoters know the relative value of an item, and, well, they want a relative cut.

Getting a jersey or another piece of equipment will cost you more than, say, a baseball card or a photograph. That’s just how it is with the business side of things. In fact, there are countless examples where players won’t sign certain items,  things showing them with certain teams or even certain brands of cards. (It’s not just a scene in Jerry Maguire.)

But the real value in a unique item is in the interest, the reaction, it should draw from those who see it. Some of my favorite autographed items in my collection — items I got signed in-person — were because they were unique items. They’re not the most expensive piece or the toughest autograph to land. They’re not ultra-rare, either, as a collector could conceivably re-create them with some legwork.

Then again, one of my most unique autographed items isn’t even a sports item at all — and that’s why you see a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie, Death Proof, above where stuntwoman Zoë Bell is in action riding atop the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger as it speeds down a highway with another car in hot pursuit.

Read more … after the jump.

Continue reading

Evolution of autographs: Which ones do you remember? by Chris Olds

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball

Imaging getting paid $20, $50 or $100 for a single swipe of a pen … for your autograph.

Collectors know all about the practice of autograph signings for cash — we see it all the time at shows. However, have you ever put yourself in an athlete’s shoes?

For a multi-millionaire, a private autograph signing might be work — if an athlete even bothers because, after all, time is money. (Meeting and signing for fans? That’s another story. Many athletes have no worries about doing those events — or signing for free if it’s the right place and right time.)

And, when you think about it, signing autographs is work in a different way, too. Can you imaging sitting down and signing your name 500 or 1,000 times with only a break or two?

Many collectors don’t — and that’s why they complain when they get autographs that look like chicken scratch. (To some degree, I understand why they sometimes look the way that they do.)

We all have heard about the “give-up graph” — and we all know about the checkmark autograph of former Houston Texans running back Vernand Morency — but there’s another type of autograph out there that has always interested me.

It’s the “early” autograph — the one where an athlete either hadn’t yet adopted a shorter version of an autograph or a rarer signature where we just don’t commonly see it on items signed in bulk.

Continue reading

Is there a right way to do sticker autographs? by Chris Olds

TRISTAR's new line of autographed Total Nonstop Action wrestling photos appears to use stickers. Does it make sense? Perhaps.

There’s no question that the sticker autograph is a sticking point for many a collector.

They often loathe them because they want something that someone held signed, because they want an autograph that can accentuate the image that it is affixed to, because they want a signature that is not cut off by the edge of a sticker that’s smaller than the item it’s affixed to.

But collectors also don’t want to wait on redemption cards — an inevitable byproduct of on-card signatures. But collectors also don’t want to receive cards with dinged corners, either. (This just in, many athletes don’t treasure corners on their cards as much as you do … ) This, in turn, has spawned the letter patch autographs, the manufactured logo autographs, the Sweet Spot autographs and so on …

There are advantages for companies to get stickers (and non-card items) signed — primarily pertaining to the issues above — but it’s also one of asset management. What does a company do when there are cards left over after redemptions are fulfilled (something that also costs money)? They’ve cost the company something — yet aren’t necessarily usable in a future product.

Stickers or other types of autographs on the other hand can be used later down the line if a lineup changes or a deadline is missed or if redemptions go unfulfilled — something that saves the company money, which is more important than ever as a shrinking industry continues to weather a poor economy in a world where costs for autographs aren’t shrinking. (Even though they probably should be.) Every company uses them — and it’s become en vogue to tout when they aren’t, likely when it’s time to move some products.

So, we have to ask — is there a right way to do sticker autographs?

Read more after the jump.

Continue reading

Upper Deck’s Ultimate Fan Inks New Deal by Tracy Hackler

Last week,  Upper Deck declared Auburn, Ind., resident and avid Colts supporter Matt Ellis the winner of its season-long Ultimate NFL Fan contest.

As the victor, Ellis, who sports 33 tattooed facsimile Colts autographs on his body, won, among other things, 20 tickets to an NFL game, an shopping spree and the right to appear on his very own 2010 Upper Deck trading card.

Perhaps because he was so overcome with emotion, he agreed last week to have UD’s Ultimate NFL Fan logo tattooed on his body, too. True to his word, Ellis completed the feet – er, feat – this week.

Check out the before and after videos for verification.

— Tracy Hackler

Dedicated autograph collector is Upper Deck’s Ultimate NFL Fan by Chris Olds

This guy’s a true collector of ink.

While many a fan has collected an autograph, which will often get tucked away for safe keeping, Matt Ellis of Auburn, Ind., takes his collection with him everywhere he goes.

And that alone — his Indianapolis Colts autograph collection which are now tattoos — made him the winner in Upper Deck‘s Ultimate NFL Fan contest.

“I’ve been a Colts fan since the Jim Harbaugh day,” said Ellis, 38, in a release from the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company. “But it wasn’t until 2007 that I started collecting their signatures on my body.”

His collection includes 31 players and two Colts coaches — the first being former Colts punter Hunter Smith. As part of the contest, Ellis won 20 tickets to an NFL game, a shopping spree and will appear on a 2010 Upper Deck football card.

Continue reading

ESPN’s Body Issue — great for autographs? by Chris Olds


ESPN The Magazine‘s “Body Issue” has been talked about for some time with its not-so-subtle approach to coverage of athletes.

We’ll make you guess what it is based on the cover above.

And now that it’s set to arrive on newsstands everywhere very, very soon (it has an Oct. 19, 2009, cover date), one more thing is apparent — whether it bombs as a concept or is widely praised and becomes an annual staple.

It should be great for autographs. (If they’ll sign them.)

Based on the clean and clear design of the six different covers, which are free of any blurbs and put the focus solely on the cover subjects — tennis star Serena Williams (above), NBA star Dwight Howard, MMA star Gina Carano, NASCAR star Carl Edwards, NFL star Adrian Peterson and triathlete Sarah Reinertsen.

As with all ESPN The Magazine covers, there already are prints available for $24.95 and up ($109.95 for a 30×36 print) on

See all of the covers after the jump.

Continue reading

Box Busters: 2009 Upper Deck Ballpark Collection Baseball by Tracy Hackler


With Beckett Baseball team members Brian Fleischer and Chris Olds out of the office, the impatient threesome of Keith Hower, Tim Trout and Tracy Hackler get a head start on two boxes of 2009 Upper Deck Ballpark Collection.

Don’t tell anyone, just view the video here.

New Images Released: 2009 UD Ballpark Collection by Tracy Hackler


Upper Deck officials on Wednesday unveiled almost 30 new images from the company’s forthcoming 2009 Ballpark Collection product, including some released exclusively to Beckett Media.

For more information on the product, slated to release Aug. 25, click here. To feast your eyes on the images, stay tuned after the jump.

Continue reading

Preview Gallery: 2009 Upper Deck Ballpark Collection Rookie Autographs by Chris Olds


Upper Deck has released several preview images for the Rookie Autographs in its upcoming Ballpark Collection set, which is scheduled to arrive on Aug. 25.

Each four-pack box will contain two autograph cards while there will be three memorabilia cards or one autograph and two memorabilia cards per pack. Each pack will contain one dual memorabilia card and one quad memorabilia card, while there will be cards with as many as eight memorabilia pieces embedded into them.

For more on the set, click here.

Click on the images below for a closer look.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at

Box Busters: 2009 Goudey baseball by Chris Olds


Join Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they open boxes of 2009 Goudey baseball cards from Upper Deck, a set in its third year that emulates the 1933 set of the same name.

What will they find? Watch and see by clicking here.

Collecting Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover models’ autographs not so tough with certified trading cards by Chris Olds


By Chris Olds

If you watched The Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night — or if you’ve been over to Tuesday morning, you know all about the model who appears on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Bar Refaeli.

siprices1While she’ll be busy doing signings and personal appearances to promote the magazine staple that has printed annually since 1964, our crack staff decided rather than examine the value of the issues to examine a different niche — certified autograph cards of the cover models.

(Besides, editor Chris Olds already wrote a column on the collectible aspects of the swimsuit issue way back in 2003. The findings? Most magazine dealers say a few issues sell particularly well, but the demand is nothing like the first appearances of prominent athletes like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods — and we won’t mention that it’s one of SI‘s most overproduced issues of the year. A list of going rates back then appears right here — values likely haven’t changed much.)

For the models, the cover is an iconic achievement that may lead to movie roles and added stardom, but that doesn’t guarantee an appearance on cardboard. In fact, only nine cover models have appeared on trading cards which they then signed for inclusion in packs (certified autographs).

In fact, only two of those nine have cards that weren’t produced for a Sports Illustrated trading card set, meaning they made it enough mainstream to appear in something beyond the four Swimsuit Issue sets made by Stellar Collectibles from 2003 to 2006.

Who are the two?

Continue reading