≡ Menu

2013-autograph-university-year-in-review-600x450I encourage you to check out John Stillman’s fantastic essay on graphing for Vice Sports, “Inside the Weird, Noble World of Autograph Collectors“. It was a pleasure to speak to John for the article which also features Brian Flam, co-founder of The Autograph Card and friend of Autograph University (check out the episode of the Autograph University Master Class featuring Brian here).

Read my 10 Rules of Autograph Etiquette mentioned in the article

It’s refreshing to read an article that gives readers a perspective on pure collecting when so much media coverage is focused on the hobby’s commercialization and its negative symptoms (e.g., college players accepting money for signing memorabilia). And I even learned something—who knew Cicero was a collector?!

What did you think of the article? Leave a comment and let me know.

1 comment

My 11-second interview with Julian Edelman

Matt Raymond interviews Julian EdelmanAs part of a Dunkin Donuts promotion with Julian Edelman I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the New England Patriots wide receiver and ask him anything.

The catch? I had only 11 seconds.

Naturally, I wanted to talk autographs. In this case, I asked him to tell me about the first time someone asked for his autograph and how it made him feel.

Watch the video below to see his response (and don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance in our giveaway).

Win this Julian Edelman autographed mini helmet

Julian Edelman autographed mini helmet
UPDATE: The winner has been contacted. Thanks to everyone who left a comment – awesome questions. Now let’s try to get a real Autograph U interview with Edelman so he can answer them!

What question would you have asked Edelman? Leave a comment with your answer for a chance to win this mini helmet Julian signed for me as he was leaving the set of the video shoot! I will randomly choose a winner on Wednesday, October 1 at 10 p.m. ET. One comment per person and please use a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.

Thanks for participating and good luck!


Autograph Adventures – Tom Hanks

The following tale appears in the 2014 Autograph University Yearbook – a collection of stories written by the autograph community. Get your free copy of the Yearbook.

March 7, 2008
Boston, Massachusetts

I’ve never been so disappointed to see an NBA team outside a hotel.

Chicago Bulls players were streaming out of the Four Seasons and across its horseshoe driveway toward the game time buses. Over a dozen collectors and I shuffled back and forth between them, ready with Sharpies and photos in our hands. But these towering athletes weren’t our targets—they were in the way.

Our eyes were trained on the revolving door at the hotel entrance, waiting to catch a glimpse of a man with more star power than the entire NBA team combined. He wouldn’t stand out like the basketball players—he had no superhuman physique to give him away. White male, average height, dark suit. There are a heck of a lot of those walking out of the Four Seasons.

The black SUV pulled up around 6 p.m., obscuring the doorway. We scrambled for a better view but we all knew it would be only moments until we saw him. Odds were good we weren’t even going to get close but he had a reputation of being a friendly guy. Maybe we’d get lucky.

The door spun and Tom Hanks walked out into a cacophony of shouting collectors who surged toward him.

“Sorry guys, I’m late,” he said with a wave and stepped into the backseat of the SUV behind the driver. The door slammed shut.

We saw him for five seconds.

Hanks was in town for a screening of the John Adams HBO mini-series he co-executive produced. The event was being hosted at the Boston Public Library four blocks away in Copley Square. It was a straight shot down Boylston Street from the hotel…on foot. Due to a number of one-way streets I knew Hanks’ car would have to zigzag its way back through a number of side streets and traffic lights. I just might make it in time if I hurried. I watched as the vehicle rumbled out of the driveway and sped past the hotel. I had no time to calculate. I ran.

Coming straight from work I wasn’t well-dressed for a half-mile sprint. It wasn’t the leather-soled shoes clacking sharply on the sidewalk that caused me problems, it was the heavy corporate-issue laptop clanging violently off my hip bone. I wasn’t the only one who was stressed by the situation. I projected my anxiety onto every pedestrian I passed/weaved through/cut off. It’s always a bit unsettling to see someone running full bore at you, particularly when they are not wearing exercise clothes. In those moments of madness there is one thing abundantly clear. Something is wrong.

Down the sidewalk I chased a car I couldn’t see, praying Hanks and Co. were held up at red lights and traffic on the adjacent side streets. I sped by the Arlington T stop then passed Berkley and Clarendon. Copley Square came into view, the library’s façade and its rows of arcaded windows in the distance. Hundreds of people were already lined up along a red carpet. Even if I beat the livery vehicle it would still be a challenge to get a favorable spot. My chest was heaving and my forehead and armpits were dripping sweat as I made a quick turn past Trinity Church and the skateboarders practicing kick-flips by the fountain. So close.
[click to continue…]


I am pleased to present the third annual edition of the Autograph University Yearbook, a collection of stories penned by members of the autograph community. This year’s issue includes 12 new tales (including one never before published from me). You’ll read about attempts to graph icons like Bob Dylan, Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks; parents and their children sharing unforgettable moments; mistaken identities and chance encounters. It was months in the making and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve done. It’s one example of what we can do when we come together as a community.2014 Autograph University Yearbook

The Yearbook is the most meaningful project we do each year at Autograph University, and I encourage you to share it with your fellow graphers and help us spread the word.

Click here to download your FREE copy of the 2014 Autograph University Yearbook (PDF eBook).


To help his son track TTM and IP successes, computer programmer Eric Jacobowitz created Catalog It – a software program designed to help collectors manage their autograph inventory. In this episode of the Master Class we discuss the story behind creating the software and how his son helped rekindle his interest in collecting.

Interested in a free trial of Catalog It? Download it here. If you want to get the full version, use coupon code autographu for $5 off. (Disclosure: I received an evaluation copy of Catalog It – and dig it.)

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave a comment below.

Cool stuff to check out


Over 90% of the autographed items in my collection are photos. They’re inexpensive to print, lightweight to carry (or ship, for you TTM collectors) and display well. And if you find yourself needing an item in a hurry, you can send a file down to the local photo shop for pickup in an hour. Easy, right? So how do I explain all the blurry photos, weird print sizes and illegible signatures that plagued my early collecting years? I’ll do my best so you don’t make the same mistakes—because sometimes you only get one shot.


David Ortiz autographed photo

This photo shows terrible pixelation because the resolution was too low for a print this size – and it was only a 5×7! (Click to enlarge.)

The number one error I made when printing photos was choosing images with a resolution too low for the desired print size (I typically print 8×10). I’m not going to spend a lot of time breaking resolution down technically (you can check out Wikipedia for that) but it’s basically how much information and detail is contained in your image. A low-res image may look ok as a 4×6 print but blow it up to 8×10 or 11×14 and you’re going to see jagged lines and blur as all those tiny pixels are being magnified. You don’t want your image to look like a screenshot from an old Nintendo game (or Minecraft for you younger collectors). As a rule of thumb, you want to use the highest resolution image you can find.

You’ll see resolution displayed in a width x height format (e.g., 2400×1600), meaning the image contains 2,400 pixels across and 1,600 pixels in height. So we know bigger is better, but usually I’m challenged with an image that falls in a middle range of resolution. Is 800×600 enough for a high-quality 8×10? Is 1200×800 enough for an 11×14? In almost all cases, I don’t have time to wait for the print to come back and make adjustments (and trial and error is costly).

The folks at Adorama (home to Adoramapix.com, my favorite online printer) wrote a post on Pixels and Printing and I pulled out their size guide which I think is a great reference point (I added the 16×20 specs).

Size (“)
File size required for Print (MP = megapixels)
180ppi (good) 240ppi (better) 300ppi (best)
4×6 720×1080 – 0.75MP 960×1440 – 1.4MP 1200×1800 – 2.2MP
5×7 900×1260 – 1.2MP 1200×1680 – 2MP 1500×2100 – 3.15MP
8×10 1440×1800 – 2.6MP 1920×2400 – 4.6MP 2400×3000 – 7.2MP
11×14 1980×2520 – 5MP 2640×3360 – 8.9MP 3300×4200 – 13.8MP
16×20 2880×3600 – 10.4 MP 3840×4800 – 18.4MP 4800×6000 – 28.8 MP

Do the specs in the first column mean you won’t see any pixelation in an 8×10 print using 1440×1800? No, but it will probably look pretty good. If you’re going after a coveted signer and/or paying for a signature, using the best resolution will ensure you won’t have any regrets.

Ok, so now you’ve got a better understanding of what size images you need. How do you find them?


There are a number of online resources for locating that perfect image. Let’s start with the legal ones.
[click to continue…]


Last week I joined Rob Bertrand and David Wright over on Cardboard Connection Radio to discuss the 2014 Autograph University Yearbook and how easy it is to get involved. This was my second appearance on the show and I had a blast. If you’re a card collector (or even if you’re like me and just curious to check in on what’s going on in the hobby) I encourage you to check out all the great content over at Cardboard Connection.

If you missed my interview, check out the clip below and SEND ME YOUR STORY BY MAY 31!


If you’ve been hanging around Autograph University you know our annual yearbook is the project nearest to my heart. It’s a collection of stories from collectors just like you (and I hope this year we can include one from YOU). The past two issues have featured works that touch on every emotion, from suspenseful pieces to ones that have you reaching for Kleenex.

I Want Your Story for the Autograph University YearbookI need your help to make the 2014 Yearbook the best and biggest yet. Can we best last year’s 15 submissions? I know we can. (If you haven’t already, check out our fantastic 2013 edition.)

We all have a favorite autograph story, whether it’s a memorable celebrity encounter or a multi-signed piece you spent years finishing. To be a part of our Yearbook all you have to do is email me your story. That’s it—you’re published!

The 2014 Yearbook will be distributed in June as an eBook and will be free to download.


  • Stories will be accepted until May 31. Email your submission to matt@autographu.com.
  • Your story should be as long as it needs to be (although 200 – 500 words is recommended).
  • Have a picture? Send it along and I’ll include it.
  • Include your Name and the Contact Information you’d like to appear with your entry (e.g., email, Twitter handle, website URL).

For 15 years Tim Henderson graphed athletes and celebrities in Atlanta, but when his daughter was born he needed to modify his collecting habits. In this episode of the Master Class, we discuss his transition from in person collecting to TTM, his proven tips on filling your mailbox with returns, and how he got Sir Paul McCartney IP and through the mail.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave a comment below.

Cool stuff to check out


The Best Time to Get MLB Autographs on Game Day

As a New Englander, the first sign that winter’s death grip is loosening comes from a ballpark over 1,000 miles away in Florida. Spring training is underway and while the snow in my backyard may persist past Opening Day, a new season is nearly upon us. A new graphing season that is. And as baseball teams figure out how to improve on the previous year’s performance, you too should think about your autograph game plan for 2014. I put together the following guide to help ensure you get more hits than strikeouts (or at least an All-Star-caliber batting average).
Matt Raymond and Josh Beckett
This guide isn’t a straightforward as the NBA playbook from a year ago—major league baseball teams simply operate on a schedule with a lot more variability. The result? Your time commitment is probably going to be more significant and you are constantly taking risks based on incomplete information and… well, your gut. But let’s focus on the positive—baseball offers many more chances during the season (heck, the series) to get that coveted player’s autograph. Here is a rundown of those opportunities.

Arrival (Evening Before the Game)
If the visiting team has an off-day before the start of the series expect them to arrive to the hotel early evening—around 5 p.m.—giving players time to have dinner, relax and get a good night’s rest. You’re faced with a number of challenges in this first graphing opportunity. First, the team comes off the bus all at once and the number of collectors is usually low. Less competition sounds like a good thing but it actually makes graphing multiple players difficult. Players often stop and pick up their bags—it slows them down but also gives them a convenient excuse not to sign (i.e., full hands). Your best bet is to stick around and wait for players to head out for dinner and hope they’re in an accommodating mood. Odds are you’re in for a late night.

In the event of a back-to-back game, you can estimate arrival time with the following equation:

Time game ends + 1.5 hours (postgame interviews/travel to airport) + duration of flight + travel time to hotel = Arrival time

Before the Game (Hotel)
Unlike NBA teams who take two scheduled buses, many major league players take taxis to the ballpark before the charters arrive. To further complicate matters, the range of times during which they leave can be extremely wide. You may see a player head to lunch around noon and then take a taxi from the eatery directly to the park. Others—particularly starting pitchers who won’t play that night—may not head out until after 3 p.m. As a general rule you’ll see members of the coaching staff beginning around 12 p.m. and a bulk of the roster between one and three o’clock. If you’re willing to put the time in you have an excellent shot at the entire team as they depart individually or in small groups.

Before the Game (Ballpark)
Huge group of graphers at the team hotel? You may decide to take your chances at the ballpark on the receiving end of those taxis (and buses). Unless you have a comrade at the hotel who can tip you off when a players leaves—and in what type of vehicle—you’re going to be testing your reaction time to see how quickly you can pull an item out when a target steps out of a taxi. I suggest you do a dry run to get the lay of the land at your local ballpark. At Fenway there are at least three possible entrances a player could use, adding to the complexity of pregame graphing at the ballpark.
[click to continue…]