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What are the BEST PENS for Autographs? Watch Before You Get Your Next Item Signed

August 17, 2021 7 min read 8 Comments

What are the BEST PENS for Autographs?  Watch Before You Get Your Next Item Signed


What are the best pens and colors for autographs?  Probably one of the most asked questions I get.  Everybody wants to get the perfect autograph.

That all depends on a couple factors.  Item type, color you want, and location of the autograph.  In today’s video I am going to go through each type of item and make a suggestion for the type of pen I would choose.  I realize the “best pen” is completely subjective.  What I like you may not like.  I suggest playing around with a few pens and find the pen that you like the best.

Also, if you are going back and forth in your head on the best color pen for a certain item, one tip to consider is to take the color of each pen you are considering and draw on a penny sleeve with them. Then hold the penny sleeve over the item.  This will help you visualize the colors without having to ruin an item by writing on it.  Works great for cards.

Lastly, just know that sharpies tend to be a very consistent pen that dries fast.  While paint pens can have issues with drying quickly, streaking, and malfunctioning.  Although, some paint pens give outstanding autographs.

Be sure and comment below your favorite pen and the item you use it on.

Without any further wait, let’s get started.


We always use a blue ball point pen.  Never black and never a sharpie.  Blue ball point pen.  This color and pen type will ensure a quality autograph that will limit its fading.  Sharpies look terrible on baseballs and almost always change colors and fade.  They do not last as long as a blue ball point pen.  Bic makes some great pens for baseballs.

Also, always use an official Major League Baseball, not one of the OFFICIAL LEAGUE balls or any ball made in China.   Get the real deal.  Will hold the best autograph long term.


I love broad silver paint pens on them.  Prisma work just fine.  Has to be broad though, fine is a little to thin for me.  Basketballs generally have a huge space to sign in so go with a thicker tip pen like a broad.

Basketballs you can really go either way with silver or black.  Really just comes down to a personal preference. I think both look good, but I do all mine in silver.

White panel mini basketballs you MUST use a black sharpie.  This is due to the material they are made out of.  Paint pens will not dry.  Don’t make this mistake.  Use a black sharpie on a mini white panel basketball. 


For blonde bats I really like blue sharpie.  Blue really pops and sharpies are very consistent on them.  For black bats you have to go with silver most of the time and for those I prefer a Deco fine paint pen.  Sharpie silver to me just doesn’t “pop” as much as a paint pen does on black.  Yes, they do make sharpie paint pens but for me when I go with the silver color I have to go with the best pen and for me that is generally Deco or Prisma.


This is what most people have been getting signed lately I’ve noticed.  Blue sharpie is THE GO-TO for cards.  Safe, dries quickly, and pops on most card designs.  For non-modern cardboard cards, the sharpie is the way to go.  No paint pen, use a sharpie.

If you want a thinner autograph, Staedler pens are a very good choice, especially the blue.

For modern cards because they have that glossy finish, a paint pen works solid for all sorts of colors.  Use a fine Deco one.  However, blue sharpie is just fine also. 


Go with a broad Prisma silver paint pen for the NFL brown footballs.  This is THE pen to use here and it isn’t even close.  USE THIS PEN.

If you have to go with black, really any pen works fine, but would shoot for a paint pen.  Most collectors want silver on their NFL brown footballs.

The white panel footballs you MUST use a black sharpie on them just like the mini white panel basketballs.  Has to be a sharpie because a paint pen will never dry.  Keep in mind, the autographs tend to bleed and change color over time.  I wouldn’t suggest collecting these because of that.  However, they do make great gifts because they are so affordable and pretty cool.

Full-Sized Helmets

Use a broad paint pen if you have the room.  I really like Prisma for helmets.  This goes for football and baseball helmets.  Color just pops more than a Deco for whatever reason, especially silver.  Black sharpie is OK.  Would stay away from blue as that tends to fade more than other colors.

Funko Pops

The consensus among collectors is always use a paint pen on these.  Deco is my go-to.  Any color Deco works great. The clear window on the Funko has a sort of glossy finish to it.  A Deco paint pen will give you the best-looking autograph.


This is where it can get tricky for some because there are so many different types of jerseys out there.  You have Mitchell and Ness, Adidas, Nike, Fanatics brand.  Then you have sewn on or screen-printed numbers.

If you are going with a black color, you really can’t go wrong with any pen.  Sharpie, paint pen, black is a very consistent color on jerseys.

Silver, you have to go with a Deco fine.  That is THE BEST silver color on jerseys and it’s not even close.

For sewn on numbers, going with a paint pen is the way to go.  Will allow for the best signature.

Screen printed numbers you can go with sharpie or a paint pen.  They don’t hold the autograph as good as a sewn-on number, but they are generally cheaper.  A Nike Game jersey is an example of a screen-printed jersey number, while the Nike Limited and Elite have sewn on numbers.

Fanatics makes their own branded jersey too.  I have never had much success getting these signed on the numbers.  Ink just doesn’t hold.  If you buy one of their branded jerseys to get signed, I would suggest getting it signed on the jersey itself.  Remember, if you choose to do that you have to pull the jersey really tight to ensure the signature doesn’t skip and the pen can flow well on the material.

The Team USA screen printed jerseys that Mitchell and Ness makes can be a mess at times.  The smudge really easily and take forever to dry.  A paint pen is best on these, but you HAVE TO LET THEM DRY.  I repeat, you have to let them dry for a long time.  What is a long time?  For as long as you can.  Ideally 10 minutes plus to be safe.


Sports Illustrated magazines always go with a sharpie, blue is the best color if the magazine design allows for it.  SLAM magazines can be tougher.  Most people choose a paint pen on those but I’ve never had success with those on that type of material.  Seems to have a sort of glossy finish to it compared to a Sports Illustrated. 

Mini Helmets

Don’t have much space to sign these.  Go with a sharpie here, black or blue depending on the color of your mini.  If a darker one, a fine Deco silver paint pen works fine.  Paint pen works solid in other colors just know that having a small place to sign the pen can’t have any issues.  Sharpies are very consistent in small spaces.


There are a couple types of photos you can buy; a glossy or matte finish are the two most popular.  I would always go with a matte finish, which is what Fanatics uses and also Photo File for most of their lifetime.  A matte finish allows for the ink to dry really quickly, thus having a better-looking signature.  If you are one of those people that choose to be risky and print your own photos, you will want to print them in matte finish.

Sharpie and paint pens both work fine on photos.  Sharpie tends to dry really fast so it is my go-to pen.  However, a silver or gold paint pen can look stunning on a photo in a dark spot.  But don’t over think it, photos are pretty straight forward and a sharpie is almost never a bad choice.  I would suggest always going with a blue sharpie if the photo allows for it.  Won’t fade as quickly as a black sharpie.


If you are having a hockey puck autographed with an inscription, go with an extra fine paint pen.  This will allow the athlete to write those legibly.  If no inscription, then a fine paint pen works well.  Absolutely no broad.  Too thick for the small surface on a puck.  Not a fan of sharpies on pucks, mainly because silver has to be used in the dark spot and a Deco fine works good in that situation.


These can be tricky because they aren’t flat and can have various types of humps and materials on them.  I personally love sharpies on these.  Stick to the basic colors, black or blue since we know those colors last on a shoe.  Black is preferred if the shoe color allows.  No telling what a red paint pen will look like on a shoe in a few years.


Sharpie is the pen for tickets.  Black or blue only.  If you want to go with a fancy color such as purple or gold, I would suggest a paint pen for those.  Sharpie just hasn’t been able to compete with some other brands in those colors.

Hope this helps you in picking out the right pen and color for your next autograph.  Again, don’t stress it.  If unsure, default to a sharpie.  Remember, always prep and test your pens and change them out often.  Go with the color and pen that you like best, not just because your buddy uses something. Comment below, let me know your favorite pen and color and what item you use it on.

8 Responses

Nina Marcsis
Nina Marcsis

July 23, 2023

What is the best pen/marker for canvases?!?!

Gregory Boucher
Gregory Boucher

July 23, 2023

Thank you for your help. I am going to try the sharpie on the white panel football. Will let you know how they look after I get them. Again thanks

Greg V
Greg V

July 23, 2023

Best pen for Golf Flags? Assume it’s basically same as Jerseys?


July 23, 2023

What about gloves? Baseball gloves?

Brian Watson
Brian Watson

May 02, 2023

I assume a black or silver paint pen would be best for an orange wrestling championship belt.. would you agree? Fine or medium tip?


May 02, 2023

What’s the best pen for a Jack Corbett Hollywood Base? Planning on getting one signed at an upcoming event.

M Krivin
M Krivin

March 30, 2022

Newspapers ??

Ronal Owens
Ronal Owens

February 21, 2022

I want to buy one for my son so he can carry it with him in case when he attends baseball games he can meet a famous baseball player he can easily get autographs from surname. Thank you for writing this~

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