Do Autographs Help or Hurt The Hobby?

Mike

TP9 | VC15
Staff Member
Rating: 78 (100%)
#1
I had an interesting thought today concerning autographs, or at least the number of autographs we see these days, and how they may help or hurt the hobby.

On one hand, if it weren't for the autographs there might not be as many people in the hobby. Look at how many people in this hobby ONLY "collect" autographed cards. I think a lot of people, even those who aren't avid card collectors, can appreciate how cool it is to have an autographed card of your favorite player(s).

On the other hand, and where I really did a lot of pondering, is how does the number of autographs we see today hurt the hobby? I think this mass number of autographs is really what drives this wall street mentality among collectors that we see more and more all the time. Is it possible that autographs, while highly sought after by collectors, have actually added to the shortage of actual collectors?

I believe I may even fall into this category as a perfect example of what I'm talking about. While I do have specific criteria for things that I collect, I'm not the same kind of collector I was when I was younger. When I was younger I opened packs of cards because I wanted to get all of the cards in specific sets. Why? Because that's what everyone was doing. It was very important back then to get all the cards in a set, and we had fun chasing those cards that we didn't already have. With the introduction of autographs, a lot of people (myself included) store all of their base cards in boxes likely to never be seen again.

Don't get me wrong, there are still a lot of set collectors, but the fact that we actually call them "set collectors" rather than just "collectors" just proves my point even more.

It's not something that will change now, but what do you think would become of the hobby if manufacturers completely did away with autographed cards?
 

franklinguy52

Mr. Baseball
Staff Member
Rating: 71 (100%)
#2
I think that the hobby has definitely been changed, but I think it is not just the autos, but the sheer number of inserts and variations that are involved. I think if it were not for this I would still try to collect full sets, and I do still put together a Topps baseball base set together every year because it reminds me of how a collected as a kid. I know that there are some people that go for "master sets" but that then comes to question exactly what is a master set? With all of the one-of-ones and super short printed cards the hobby is very confusing these days.

I guess that I am still a little old school because I still get excited when I pull base cards of my favorite players and keep them in binders. But, I do not think that the autos have hurt the hobby but they have definitely changed it.
 

captkirk42

Old School Vintage
Staff Member
Rating: 25 (100%)
#3
I don't think it has hurt the hobby. I do agree it has changed it. I think if it has hurt anything it is that for those who do the Through The Mail or In Person Autographs it makes it almost impossible for them to sell their "old-school" auto cards, but that is mostly because of the evils of Ebay that made certificates of authentication for autographs almost mandatory for almost any autograph on anything. It used to be if you saw a players autograph on a regular issued card it was amazing and there was usually some story along with it, now days those plan regular issued cards with an autograph on it get their authenticity questioned at every turn.
 

lisu

Prospect
Rating: 0
#4
I love autograph cards, and I think that's the only reason why I'm so into cards still. My 2 favorite sets are Contenders football and Bowman Chrome autograph cards every year. If there were not autograph cards that were certified - I wouldn't still be in the hobby.
 

captkirk42

Old School Vintage
Staff Member
Rating: 25 (100%)
#5
I love autograph cards, and I think that's the only reason why I'm so into cards still. My 2 favorite sets are Contenders football and Bowman Chrome autograph cards every year. If there were not autograph cards that were certified - I wouldn't still be in the hobby.
I'd still be in the hobby even without them, but I LOVE Auto cards.
 

Indiana Jones

Moderator Punching Bag
Rating: 2 (100%)
#6
Autographs (hard-signed) enhance the hobby experience. But I think sticker autographs should be avoided, IMHO.
 

andy

Collector Planet Original
Rating: 2 (100%)
#7
I think you are reaching the wrong conclusion. The existence of pack issued autographs in no way hurts the hobby. What hurts is the fact that there are so many. And don't get me started on game used cards....let alone event used, and manufactured jersey cards.

The bottom line is that the sports leagues and the players don't hold the card companies in check much, and the card companies do what is best for their bottom line, which is produce nearly limitless quantity of autograph and jersey cards.

As far as TTM and IP autographs, complaining that COAs are mandatory seems akin to complaining that our meat is inspected. If that did not happen, people would take advantage (even more than they do now!). Do some honest people get hurt? Sure. But overall, a much better product now exists. To me, TTM and IP autographs are more about the experience of meeting the player, or the payoff of sending the card through the mail and getting something back. People profiting from those exchanges is what makes players more hesitant to participate in them much more than pack issued autographs.
 

Mike

TP9 | VC15
Staff Member
Rating: 78 (100%)
#8
Yeah, I wasn't talking about autos in general. I was talking about how the number of autos there are could take away from their pizzaz.
 

GiantFan

Rookie
Rating: 0
#9
I think the number of autographs has definitely hurt the hobby. I remember opening a few boxes of 1997 Topps. They had vintage reprints and very few of them were autographed. Pulling an autograph was nearly impossible. Well, I opened a pack and there was a Willie Mays reprint autograph in there. I swear I almost fainted. It was AWESOME! Now, every box has multiple autos. So, I think the large number of autos has hurt the hobby but in autos in boxes is probably what is keeping the hobby going. I love opening boxes, hitting big autos and deciding whether to sell or not but it's still a total crap-shoot.

The things that bother me the most are the parallels. They are the SAME card with a different color. Same picture, same auto on a sticker but green instead of red with a lower number. when opening boxes I want the lowest serial numbered version but for collecting purposes I will gladly take the regular high numbered version of an autograph card I want and spend a lot less and have basically the same card.
 

captkirk42

Old School Vintage
Staff Member
Rating: 25 (100%)
#10
They are back to overdoing EVERYTHING. The only difference between now and the Junk Years is the production numbers. They are focusing on short prints and super short prints and those very limited super short prints (2012 Topps Archives Bryce Harper. A huge white whale of mine if I can get it at a decent price meaning not $100+ but something like less than $50) instead of making 100s of thousands of 100s of thousands.
 

Breaker4310

All-Star
Rating: 12 (100%)
#11
What kills me is they change a color on the same card and call it sp or ssp weather it be an auto or card color change it up completely or your one of one is just another base auto sorry @GiantFan I just happen to have the same idea at the time and didn't read your post
 

GiantFan

Rookie
Rating: 0
#12
What kills me is they change a color on the same card and call it sp or ssp weather it be an auto or card color change it up completely or your one of one is just another base auto sorry @GiantFan I just happen to have the same idea at the time and didn't read your post
haha! I'm glad someone else shares my thoughts on that.
 

MWS

I like Cards...
Rating: 2 (100%)
#13
This conversation could go on forever. Just like you @Mike When I was a kid it was all about the set. Now its all about the hit. I was out of the hobby for many years, and one day I just said to myself... I used to love to open packs, so I did. I opened a pack of cards one month in 2002, after possibly going without for the whole 90s decade, but there it was out of the first pack I opened from Target, no less. A Walt Frasher Auto out of Century Legends BK. I had to read the back of the card 3 times before I understood what just happened. With that one pack, I was hooked again. As I get older, I see the market is way over saturated with Autos and "Hits". The hobby is, indeed helped by the ability to receive a Autograph or Memorabilia cards, but is just to many of them in my opinion.
 
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