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How To Buy Sports Autographs


For sport lovers, there are nowadays various ways to connect to their heroes, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but one method has remained popular throughout the years: collecting signatures of athletes.

These athlete signatures can be found across a wide range of objects, from a piece of paper up to shirts and from photos to sports equipment. Both online and offline there are many sports autographs for sale and while there are many reliable sellers, you, of course,  also have to look out for fakes.

But how do you avoid fraud, scams and forgeries when buying a sports autograph? This article will give you tips on How To Buy a Sports Autograph.

Check for rubbers stamps, Autopen or Copies

If you find an athlete’s signature at a flea market or another offline event, then you should be able to verify the authenticity by checking the signature closely.

Nowadays, the rubber stamp is not really used anymore, but in the Seventies, it was a popular way of putting autographs on items. Does the sports autograph look clotted? Also check for smudging and if these questions are answered with ‘yes’ then you are quite likely looking at a stamped signature and not an autograph of an athlete.

The Autopen is a machine with a mechanical arm that is able to sign hundreds of items. The signature looks a bit wobbly and it also looks like it was stopped abruptly.

Preprints are color copies or color prints of the athlete’s autograph. It looks like the signature is part of the picture, which means that it was printed on the paper. If it is glossy paper, then the signature will be under the gloss.

Certificate Of Authenticity (COA)

A certificate of authenticity is a sticker or label on memorabilia to demonstrate the item is authentic. There are various recognized sports memorabilia authenticators, where experts will check sports autographs and declare whether the signature is genuine or not. Some well-known authenticators are Steiner Sports, PSA/DNA Authentication Services, Upper Deck Authenticated and Mounted Memories.

If the athlete’s autograph has a COA of a respected authenticator, then you can purchase the autograph with more confidence.

Sometimes, sellers can back up their certificate of authenticity with a photo of the athlete signing the item.

Some athletes also sign exclusive contracts with companies and they will only sign for that specific company. Knowing if your athlete signed such an exclusive contract, will help you buying a genuine autograph.


Before you purchase a sports autograph, you should do some (online) research. Can you find the autograph of your favorite athlete online and does his signature look like the one you want to purchase?

Is the signature historically correct? Keep in mind that permanent markers were not used before 1964 and ballpoint pens not before 1945.

Furthermore, research the date, name, and brands and so on of the item, so you can make a better informed purchase.

(Sources: Wiki, Ebay, SportsMemorabilia, Dick’s Sportin Goods)

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