Collecting VS Investing in Autographs | The TRUTH, Differences and Similarities
July 07, 20218 min read
So many people get into autographs and they want to just collect them. Their favorite player or their favorite team, whatever it is and that's all they do, but then all of a sudden they start to realize that hey some of these autographs are actually worth a decent amount of money. So they want to start investing in autographs in order to make money. Who doesn't want to make money?
So let's talk about first off what is collecting? Collecting is you have some favorite autographs in your collection that no matter what anybody else says, these are your favorites. They could be a bench warmer to a hall of famer, maybe it's a guy that went to your high school or guy went to your college, whatever it is they're your favorite player or team and you get them on any type of item that you want. Funkos, baseballs, jerseys, whatever it is, you don't care what anybody else says. This is your guy, your team, and you really enjoy their stuff. That's what collecting is all about. You buy it because you enjoy it and it makes you happy regardless of what happens to it monetarily. Whether it goes up or down you're not even paying attention to it. You don't even know what it's worth. That's what collecting is. You're picking up stuff that you like. If it goes up in value great but it's not a deal breaker for you.
So let's talk about what investing is. Investing is kind of basically the complete opposite. We're taking all the emotion out of everything and we're buying an autograph strictly for the purpose that it goes up in value. That's all we're looking at to do. I don't care if I'm a Yankee fan and this player is on the Red Sox. Not a big deal, I could care less. I think his autograph's going to go up in value and my main goal is to make money. So how do we combine collecting and investing because a lot of us still want to be collecting. We want to be collecting players that are our favorites, but also ones that are going to be going up in value over time and so these become kind of our investment pieces and we buy these with the intent that they're going to be going up in value, but we also buy them because we like the player.
So there are a certain amount of characteristics that I personally look for when I'm looking to buy an autograph or do an autograph signing with a player. So there are seven things, and if a player can meet all seven of these, man it's a home run. That generally does not happen, so if they can meet a majority of these that would be very cool.
So number one, is the player likeable? The bigger the fan base the bigger the chance that someone's gonna buy this player's autograph. The more likable they are on social media the more they're in the media limelight. If they're on Sports Center, great. The bigger following they have and the more they're in front of people's eyes the better. That means they probably have a bigger, broader base and the potential for more people to be interested in that player's autograph. More interested people means a better chance we have of selling out for a high dollar down the road.
Number two, this is very important but typically often overlooked. Do they play in a good team? Fans for the most part follow a team because they want to see the team win a championship. Think about all those fans that went to all the Chiefs games for 50 years never to see the Chiefs win a championship and then boom, they win a championship. That is what it's all about. That's what makes sports great is that long wait. Think about the Chicago Cubs when they won those are iconic seasons. That will never go away in a fan's mind. It's not a 100% but this is something that is very important to constantly be thinking about is, are they on a good team? Because good teams go into playoffs, and you got to get into the playoffs in order to do what? Win championships. So think about being on a good team.
Number three is do they play on a historic team? Let's take baseball for example. Yankees, Red Sox, and the Cubs. Those are probably the most historical teams that we have. Big broad fan bases but they also have fans that are really interested in their teams and these teams typically go into the playoffs. They typically have bigger budgets so they can throw as much money and resources at going into the playoffs. They're all about winning. Not to say other teams are not but they have more resources to do it. That's their main goal every year is to win the World Series.
Number four, is this player a potential hall of famer? Now we all know when a player gets into the hall of fame their autograph tends to go up in value. So they'll have that hall of fame inscription that they'll always be able to write on there their hall of fame year. Also, does this player have any other notable accomplishments? Rookie of the year for example. Have they won championships? Stuff like that is very important because it provides inscriptions but also it shows that the player is actually doing something on the field. Like they're actually good. So rookie of the year, they won a couple championships, they won a couple MVPs, home run titles, whatever it is, those are very important. Of course hall of fame being arguably the most important one, and obviously if you get in the hall of fame you're probably a pretty good player. So something to keep in mind.
Number five, again this one is a little overlooked, but something to always constantly be thinking about, is how often does this player sign? I prefer the less the player signs the better, because that keeps the supply down a little bit. That keeps the demand high and that keeps the player not only selling quickly but it keeps the player at a fairly high price. So when a player is at a little bit of a higher price it kind of creates this really crazy demand for it. Tom Brady for example. People know that they can't get Tom Brady's autograph every single month. It's not like Joe Montana where he's signing 10 to 12 times a year. Tom Brady does one signing a year, so when that autograph signing comes out, boom! People want it. They know they're going to have to wait another year to get something or if they've got something specific they want to get done they've got to do it now because Tom Brady is not signing anytime soon. So very limited supply. Low supply high demand equals a higher price.
Michael Jordan for another example. Very high in demand, doesn't do autograph signings where you can send stuff in, but his pricing is not going down anywhere. Obviously high demand as well so investing in a guy that signs a lot like a Joe Montana for example, it doesn't make a whole bunch of sense. Unless it's like a game used type piece. So just something to really keep in mind. How often does this player sign? If you're looking to invest and also collecting them at the same time because the less is always better in the long run. You may pay more for it now, but in the long run it's gonna be better because there's gonna be less supply out there. Speaking of pricing.
Number six, how good is the pricing? Obviously we want to buy low and sell high. Buying Tom Brady right now, maybe at a $3,000 helmet, is that gonna go up in value? Potentially. How much? I don't know. You could take a look at guys like Patrick Mahomes. Now his helmets are in the $800 range. Is he comparable to Tom Brady right now? No, but what's something you want to look at is does this player have the potential to win a few more MVPs? A few more championships? That's going to increase their pricing. So we'll look at it right now. Take a guy like Patrick Mahomes. Does he have a chance to win a few more MVPs and a few more championships? Absolutely! So you can look at his pricing compared to Tom Brady and say. “Wow, I think Patrick Mahomes is actually probably pretty affordable right now.”, and I would argue that he is an affordable guy. He just won a championship for the Kansas City Chiefs. In most people's opinion he's arguably the best player in the NFL right now. I think he's way undervalued, so something to keep in mind.
Number seven and this is something that is very rare for everybody to have all these attributes, but number seven can kind of fit in with a bunch of different athletes. Does this player have a memorable moment or a play? This is huge. So if they meet all the other previous criteria like one through six and they've got a memorable play, I mean jeez, like just absolutely. I mean imagine if Patrick Mahomes had a left-handed pass to win the Super Bowl. I mean that particular image would be iconic. Some weird play that he's kind of known for. Take Mario Chalmers for example. Not a very popular athlete, hits the game tying shot in the 2008 national championship to propel the game to overtime where Kansas will defeat Memphis. That play right there is cemented in Kansas basketball championship history forever and ever and ever. Go back through all those other criteria. Does he sign often? Very little. Did he play on a historic team? Absolutely. Was he a hall of famer? No. Is he likable? Sure I guess. Did he play on a good team? Yes. So you can see how this criteria kind of fits in there and then he's got this memorable moment on there and you're like, aha, that all makes sense.
I'm not saying that Mario Chalmers is a great one to invest in. He's kind of missing a lot of pieces because he's not a hall of famer and he doesn't really have any other professional statistics, but you can kind of see where I'm going with that. If they have a memorable play and they're a potential hall of famer and they meet all this other stuff, by all means. That is the piece to go after 100%. Take Willie Mays. “The catch”, for example. Bobby Orr's, “the dive goal”. Stuff like that or very cool pieces, but those guys for example, Bobby Orr signs a lot, so that's maybe not something that you want to be investing in. Collecting, absolutely. Mays “the catch”. I've done a whole video on Willie Mays on the bad holograms and all that kind of stuff so be careful. If you find an authentic Mays “catch” the thing's gonna be worth so much money in the future because it's the play of arguably the greatest baseball player of all time.
So hopefully this kind of helps you guys kind of figure your way out between collecting and investing, but remember when we're investing we want to be buying stuff that obviously we like but potentially that other people are going to like as well. So I would definitely be picking up premium items like jerseys or limited edition pieces of players that you like that fit all this criteria that we talked about today, but remember you got to keep it fun and enjoyable. If you want to collect and invest at the same time don't buy something that is just something for monetary gain. That's completely investing there. If you want to keep it fun and entertaining buy the guys that you like on the teams that you like, but buy again premium pieces.
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