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Autograph Signing Changes - Why an Increase in Rookie Card Signatures?

April 23, 2021 4 min read 1 Comment

Autograph Signing Changes - Why an Increase in Rookie Card Signatures?


Tons of new changes in the past year or so to autograph signings.  New rules on product, new limits, and new pricing structures.  Today we are going to talk about rookie card pricing changes, custom/specialty helmet pricing, inscription limits, and why only officially licensed items at some signings.


Rookie Card Pricing:

You may have seen a bunch of recent signings posted with special pricing for athletes to sign a rookie card.  Non rookie cards will fall into the general flat pricing or the cheapest option.  However, rookie cards will often times be the most expensive autograph being offered.  Why is this?  You may be asking what’s the difference if they sign a rookie card or a non rookie card? It is still just a card.  Should be the same pricing.

We all know sports cards really started taking off in 2020.Rookie card pricing of the super star athletes started hitting all time highs.  Athletes took notice of course.  When they see that adding their autograph to their rookie card can sometimes double, triple, or even add more value than that, they want their cut from that transaction.  Just like when an athlete endorses a product or adds their name to something, it adds value and they want to be compensated for that.

Very similar to game used autograph pricing.  You will notice that is always higher because those items once sold with their autograph on it command a higher price.

Not every athlete charges more for a rookie card autograph. Take two Fanatics exclusives, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana who both have signings coming up that you can check on my website.  Montana has a $1200 charge to sign a rookie and Rice has no special pricing to sign a rookie.  All depends on the athlete.  While it does suck they charge more for the rookie card auto, I still think it is worth it for most athletes. Having an autographed rookie card of one of the best players of all time is an item I don’t see going down in demand.

Custom/Specialty Helmet Pricing:

Some dealers will have an upcharge if you want to have an athlete sign a specialty or custom helmet.  For example an eclipse or blaze helmet would fall under the specialty.  Custom would be one of those hydro dipped helmets. Not a huge fan of those, I think they just look funky and like someone ran out of ideas and this is what they came up with.  But your collection you do what you want.

This upcharge will sometimes be anywhere from $50-$100.Why is this happening?  I just see it is as a money grab.  A helmet is a helmet.  Reason those custom and specialty helmets sell for more money than they standard helmets isn’t because the athlete signed it, but the cost of the helmets themselves is significantly higher than the standard ones.  Authentic specialties sometimes sell unsigned for $400 while a standard authentic sells for about $200.Not a big fan of this charge.


Inscription Limits:

You may have seen inscriptions selling out quickly for some signings.  Why are inscriptions gone?

Many signings have limits for dealers on the amounts of inscriptions you can purchase.  For example, some athlete signings have a 10% cap on inscriptions.  Meaning only 10% of your total autographs purchased can have inscriptions.  If 100 autographs are sold, only 10 inscriptions are offered to me.  You can see how they can sell out quickly.

Why do they do this?  Wouldn’t they just want to make all the money they can?

Comes down to logistics.  In most cases, writing an inscription takes longer than an autograph.  They have to look at the instructions on the item, make sure you know exactly what they want, where they want it, then the athlete has to write it out correctly.  Which can be challenging sometimes.  You only have so much time with an athlete, sometimes just an hour or so. If the athlete is writing out inscriptions all day and not signing items, customers items won’t get signed.

If you have 500 pieces sold and guy just won Super Bowl MVP you can’t have every piece get that inscription or not every piece will get signed.  That’s why inscription limits are put in place.


Officially Licensed Items

Fanatics signings require that all items be officially licensed.  That means no unlicensed photos, no custom jerseys or helmets.

Why do they have this in place?  Fanatics runs pretty much every league’s official website. The NFL is also part owner of Fanatics.  They also have licensing to print all league photos and also make their own style of jersey (Fanatics brand).

Why would they allow non licensed items to be signed at their signings and potentially cause a big issue with the biggest key component to their business, relationships with all the likes of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NFL?  Doesn’t make any sense especially when they are the official partners with those leagues.

Other non Fanatics signings still allow you to send in stuff like that.  I personally don’t, simply because I don’t want that stuff in my building and I also believe in providing the highest quality product to my customers.  I believe that can only happen with officially licensed items in most cases.

1 Response


October 26, 2022

So why do signings put things like no inscriptions on rookie cards or no autographs on tickets

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