Do I feel more like a doctor coming to share a diagnosis with a sick patient? Or am I Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, yelling about not being able to handle the truth?
Either way, this isn't an easy post to write. This is for all the strangers out there who've never read my blog, those surfing the Internet, hoping for a fast, free appraisal. Any blog connected to the words "baseball autographs" gets contacted in their blanket, impersonal mass mailing.
The latest example:
I came across your email on a website while I was researching the worth of my dozen 1972 chicago cubs autographs and wanted to ask if you know anything about them or what they might be worth?
They are just on small pieces of paper but are in good shape and very readable. Tape marks are on the edges but I was hoping they would still be worth something. I have written to a couple of companies but am not getting any response.
Would appreciate any help.
If you know someone like this, and they assume you are a pricing expert, tell them for me:
1. Know the names of each autograph.
2. Know how the autographs were obtained. By mail? In person? In what year?
3. Describe the look and condition. (Ink? Sharpie permanent marker? Pencil? On index cards?) If it's a flat item, try to scan the images. Or, get a photo.
Then, find your favorite search engine for the autographs. Who has died? Who is in the Hall of Fame? Who excelled that year? Did the autograph signer set records or win awards that year?
Dealers will offer anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of retail value for an autograph. As if there's such a thing as absolute value. The best guess I would find might be for "completed items" or "prices realized" on eBay.
Even eBay evidence is iffy. Just because two buyers went wild fighting over an autograph once doesn't mean the deal could be repeated. The fact is, autograph sales are emotional impulse buys. Each signature (if it's authentic) is worth just as much or little as the buyer and seller FEELS.
Want to talk baseball memories? If so, I'm your guy!