It's a rare occurrence when I post something that may actually be of substance, and this just may be one such occurrence. Lately, I have been thinking about the perceived value of autographs and how that relates to their overpopulation when it comes to the secondary market. What got me to thinking about this was pondering whether or not to trade away a Pablo Sandoval autograph. The person I am trading with was offered a Red Schoendienst autograph instead, but opted for Kung-Fu Panda over a Hall of Famer.
What does this say about the value of living Hall of Famer autograph cards produced in the last 10 years? According to Beckett.com, there are 200 autographed cards bearing Schoendienst's signature, versus only 16 for Sandoval. Right now, there's a viable argument that the Sandoval is worth more than the Schoendienst, just based on it's scarcity. This was only Sandoval's second season, and the way things hae been going, I'm sure he'll have more than 100 autographed cards by the end of next year. This will obviously affect the value of his autographed cards, and probably average things out between him, and Hallof Famer Red Schoendienst.
My point is this: Are autographed cards of anyone going to be worth anything in the future? Seems like damn near everyone has an autographed card in every damned set out there. Nick Markakis already has 305 autographed cards, and has only played 4 full seasons of baseball. That's an average of 76 cards per season! Autographs are no longer a rarity, and that's a real shame. We're not just talking about living players either. I can't state this for a fact, but the market for deceased Hall of Fame autographs has to have suffered over the course of the last decade. How many Mickey Mantle autographs are there on eBay right now? DiMaggio? Even Babe Ruth has 124 certified autographs, according to Beckett.com.
If autographs will soon be worthless, if they aren't already, then what is the next big thing that will take the industry by storm? It's already been established that relic cards are old news, and with products like Topps Unique out there, it won't be long before we collectively yawn at patch cards either.
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