Different Types Of Autographed Sports Cards

Another confusing topic when getting into or getting back into sports cards is autographs. From the outside autographs may seem like the most straight forward type of trading card on the market. However, there are many nuances that you should consider before jumping into purchasing autograph (auto) cards on eBay, instagram or from your LCS. The main types of auto cards are “sticker autos”, “on-card autos”, and “aftermarket autos”.

What The Heck Is A Sticker Auto?

Example of a Sticker Auto Card

A sticker autograph card is a card that is autographed but the autograph itself is not actually on the card. During the time of signing, the athlete signs a book full of stickers. These stickers are later placed on cards to make the cards considered auto cards.

These types of autograph cards are still somewhat desirable for most collectors but a huge turn off for some. Personally I don’t put a ton of value into sticker autos and would opt to pay a little more for an on-card auto if possible. To me, sticker autos feel so much less authentic since the card was never actually handled by the athlete. At the time of signing, the athlete has no idea where his autographed stickers are going to end up.

On Card Autographs

Dan Marino On-Card Autograph Card

On-card autos are exactly what they sound like. The autograph was signed directly on to the card. For myself, and many others, these cards are way more appealing due to the fact that we know the athlete actually handled the card itself. These can also be more appealing because the athlete is not limited in how big their signature can be.

When an athlete signs a sticker book they have to make sure that their autograph fits on each little sticker. Sticker autos often end up being shortened versions of signatures just to fit. Whereas when they sign a card itself, they have more freedom to make a bigger and often more legible signature on the card.

Aftermarket Autograph Cards

Aftermarket autograph cards are sports cards that were not originally autographed. A card owner meets the player at a signing event or somewhere else and gets the player to sign it. These cards are awesome for the person who originally owned the card. Getting to meet the player and witness them handle and sign your card is a unique experience.

However, when it comes time to sell the card it presents a challenge. Aftermarket autographs need to be verified authentic. Cards that were autographed for packs are verified authentic by the card company. As a buyer, you don’t want to go on eBay or other memorabilia purchasing platforms and just trust that aftermarket autographs are real. Unfortunately, scammers are everywhere in the hobby and people will do anything to make a quick buck. Always make sure to do your due diligence when buying an aftermarket rookie card and ensure it has verified authenticity.

Do you have a preference when buying autograph cards? What’s the best auto card you’ve acquired? Leave a comment!

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