Everything I’m going to say you probably know already. It may seem basic. Maybe it’s common sense. But I still find myself failing to adhere to these principles and I bet, from time to time, you do too.
Let’s go back to basics. Your collection will be a little more awesome for it.
Use high-quality items
Garbage in, garbage out. Notice I didn’t say “Use premium items”. Building a high-quality collection doesn’t need to be expensive. Sure, a signed authentic jersey can be impressive but so can a nice 11×14 picture. A majority of my graphs are on photos and I make sure to use a professional developer like Adorama rather than the local pharmacy. And guess what, Adorama is cheaper.
Now let’s talk about your balls.
You can get away with replicas, especially in hoops and football—they’ll look great. Maybe even hockey pucks. But don’t skimp on your baseballs. Don’t let this happen to you. There is no substitute for a Rawlings Official Major League Baseball. None.
Use the right pen
While you need to be prepared with the most appropriate pen for your item, understand that often a celebrity will run with a single pen (i.e., whichever they grab first). The lesson? If you’re trying to get something premium signed, have a backup item ready (you don’t want your basketball signed in blue Sharpie). And, unless you’re attending a sit-down signing, use photos with dark backgrounds at your own risk.
Here are the pens I prefer for various items:
Baseballs – Bic Cristal (blue)
Basketballs – DecoColor (silver, broad)
Footballs – DecoColor (silver, broad)
Hockey pucks – DecoColor (silver, fine)
Photos – Sharpie (blue), or DecoColor (silver on dark backgrounds)
Store your autographs properly
Displaying your collection can cost more than the item itself. Anyone who’s had a picture framed (even after using the ubiquitous 50% off coupon) knows how ridiculous the markup can be. That said, it’s a necessary evil. Look at this Julius Erving/Kareem Abdul Jabbar autographed basketball I obtained as a kid and didn’t store properly. I’m welling up.
Know the basics: acid-free matting for pictures, UV-protected glass and acrylic frames and cases. I splurged on this frame for a signed Durant jersey and I couldn’t be happier.
Always be prepared
In a previous post I showed you the two things you should carry to never miss a graphing opportunity. But preparation goes far beyond ensuring you’re always packing pen and paper—especially if you want an awesome collection. Are you monitoring your on- and offline sources to know who’s in town (and when)? Are you keeping an ongoing event calendar? Do you have the right items “in stock”? Are you equipped to deal with the weather forecast?
I carry a folder of about 20 photos of my home team list with me every day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve graphed someone on something generic like an Autograph Card when I had a much nicer item forgotten at home. Take two minutes every morning to think about whom you could possibly run into that day, however remote (photos don’t weigh much).
What would you add to this list? Do you agree/disagree with any of these tips? Leave a comment and let me know.