Autograph collecting: A little history with opinions

Nobody really knows exactly when people started collecting autographs, but one thing’s for sure – autograph collectors have been around a lot longer than sports card collectors. The origin of obtaining signatures dates way before the first baseball game was ever played.

People who collected autographs back in the day either did it for historical significance or to show off their social status. If you think about it, that isn’t much different for most collectors today. Read More

Restoration expert claims process is undetectable

The SCD crew couldn’t detect his procedures on cards they sent him. He claims the grading companies can’t detect the procedures, either.

Yet Gone With the Stain owner Dick Towle still catches flack from collectors. Whether he’s taking off an ugly water stain, fountain pen ink or glue residue from a card, there are people out there who don’t believe his stain removal process is ethical. Some think it’s good for the hobby, while others consider it borderline taboo.

I recently did an interview with Towle about his controversial procedure for my Gavel Chat blog (, and thought readers of the publication would be as intrigued with this topic as our online readers were. Read More

Insuring sports memorabilia can be confusing

Your Sandy Koufax 1955 Topps rookie card going up in flames, a vintage game-used bat getting burglarized from your home or a package of vintage nodders getting cracked up in the mail – these are all nightmares that hobbyists hope to never have to experience.

Problem is, at some point in time, you might be faced with one of these calamities that no collector likes to even think about, let alone experience. Read More

Did ESPN misquote Wagner card paper expert?

For those of you who still haven’t seen either the HBO “Real Sports” or ESPN “Outside the Lines” episodes that each featured a story about the same Honus Wagner T206 card owned by trucker and former R&B keyboardist John Cobb, you either live under a rock or are able to avoid this type of absurd sensationalistic journalism, which is almost equally as silly as reality television or “Deal or No Deal.”

In short, Cobb purchased the card from an estate sale in 1984, and despite the majority of hobby experts he’s turned to for help who have advised him that his card is fake, Cobb still insists in trying to prove that it’s real, and during his research, he has brought along HBO and ESPN for the fantasy ride. Read More

Murderabilia and tragic trinkets ruffle feathers

At first glance, this artwork looks like your typical piece of baseball memorabilia, signed by more than 40 celebrities, including Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays and even president Richard Nixon. But this is no ordinary showpiece. It’s not LeRoy Neiman artwork or a piece created by famed sports artist Ron Lewis. No, the man who took credit for creating this rendering also took credit for raping and murdering 33 young men and boys: John Wayne Gacy. Read More

FBI’s latest fraud investigation ‘Much bigger than Operation Bullpen’

Just a couple days after the New York Daily News broke the story about FBI investigators issuing multiple subpoenas to appear before a grand jury investigating fraud in the memorabilia business, a source close to the topic shed a little more light on the significance of this fast-moving industry story.

"It will be much bigger than Operation Bullpen," said an anonymous source. "This one’s going to affect established hobby leaders and organizations. I think good always comes out of shake ups. I think it’s going to put the hobby on a good long-term course and I think it will probably start creating the need for some true regulation. Read More

Breaking News – Hunt FanFest Auction Day 1 in the Books

The first day of Hunt Auctions’ FanFest sale is in the books and it held as much action as the Home Run Derby.

Lot 80, the Babe Ruth game-worn cap stole the show during the first installment of the sale selling at $327,750, but it was a 1978 Thurman Munson All-Star game ring that was the biggest surprise, tallying nine times the high estimate ($36,800).

"The most surprising items in the auction have been the Thurman Munson rings," said Dan Schmidt, Hunt’s auction manager. "You know how it is in auctions when you have the back and the forth. That one crept up from below $10,000 and just kept going back and forth and back and forth. And that really riles up the crowd. And that was perfect because it led into the MVP trophy and the World Series ring." Read More

Beckett Grading makes major announcement

Just how many autographed 8-by-10s, magazines and programs hold a special place in memorabilia collectors’ hearts? The answer to that question is obvious – a lot. Finally, there is a grading company that’s responded to the overwhelming demand to produce a plastic slab that can hold all these pieces, and more, with its latest innovation.

“We are rolling out a new large-format holder,” said Beckett grading director Mark Anderson. “This is a 9-by-111/2-inch holder. We’ll start by offering this new holder for cards, but it leaves infinite possibilities for other larger-scale items in the hobby that could never be slabbed before. Read More

A world that took me by surprise: card grading

Shortly after graduating college with a journalism degree, I was hired for my first job – but not as a writer. I have always been aware of Sports Collectors Digest in the little city of Iola, Wis., and after I found out that the publishing company Krause Publications was starting a card grading division, it was a no-brainer that I should give it a whirl. In the summer of 2001, I became the company’s first hire as a card grader for SCD Authentic. Read More