Anyone who is over the age of forty remembers how popular collecting baseball cards was back in the late 1980s through the early 1990s.  For me, it was the 1988 Topps baseball set that piqued my interest in collecting baseball cards again.  Unfortunately, the popularity of collecting baseball cards then was brief.  Many of us spent a lot of our money on worthless rookie cards that ended up on the curb, along with the rest of our cardboard treasures from back then that amounted to nothing.

Baseball card collectors in 1988 learned the fate of a collecting fad the hard way.  Hopefully, the same fate will not visit autograph collectors as well.

My collection of baseball cards from the past continues to rest in my son's closet.  He, however, has moved to sunny California, and is enjoying his adult life without them.  Only my 1988 Topps baseball set has survived my own personal disinterest.  I continue to have the cards autographed to make up for my youthful naivete.

I started collecting autographs when I was very young.  It was then that I asked Phil Esposito for my first in-person autograph.  Years later, I also received autographs from Tom Seaver, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.  It was in 1997 that I began to collect autographs as a hobby, and I have not looked back since.

Authentication stickers began to appear on autographed items in the early 2000s.  Was this the first indication that our hobby would suddenly become popular with the masses?  Would the cost of autographs suddenly double and triple over the years, only to suddenly plummet in value shortly thereafter?  Only if the autographs were purchased by investors, or young naïve collectors, who were hoping to cash in on their potential returns.

Baseball cards were not the only collecting fad that I have witnessed in my lifetime, and it is not the only one that I have participated in.  You can add 1990s comics to the list, as well as the first batch of new Star Wars action figures.  I have also witnessed the demise of Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids and POGS.

By now, it is clear where my thoughts on this subject are.  Will autograph collecting suffer the same fate as the others?  I hope not.  There will always be a market for vintage collectibles.  Vintage baseball cards, comics and Star Wars action figures will always hold their values.  Vintage autographs will undoubtedly retain their value as well.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case for a collection of Game of Thrones autographs in the future.  Then again, only time will tell.  And only time will tell what the next collecting fad will be.

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Comment by Steve Zarelli on January 24, 2020 at 3:46pm

Good read, Mike! 

There is one sure way to avoid fads -- that is, collect what you like and ignore the cattle calls. 

Comment by Mike Shepherd on January 24, 2020 at 3:58pm

Exactly, Steve.  I could not agree more.  I still have my first batch of new Star Wars action figures.  You know why?  Because I enjoy them.  Thanks for the comment.

Comment by Paul on January 24, 2020 at 5:06pm

I agree just collect for the fun of it. 

Every artist these days has their own webstore then other people who graph for a living has ebay or Facebook to sell so there seems to be an abundant to choose from. 

Any collector who has tried to sell a album where there's an abundant of should know how difficult it can be an investor may take a different approach buying vintage.  

Yes I do think autographs can be a bit of a fad.

Maria Carrey Xmas album for example

Comment by Travis Christenberry on January 24, 2020 at 5:34pm

Ha! I love how Paul just keeps trashing the Mariah Carey Christmas album every chance he gets. He'll never let it go, he's a dog and that Mariah album is his bone. 

Comment by Paul on January 24, 2020 at 5:39pm

Thanks Trav! You must have ordered a few then. Sensitive!

Comment by Mike Shepherd on January 24, 2020 at 5:48pm

I am glad that you liked it, Ozne.  Thanks.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on January 24, 2020 at 6:02pm

It is very difficult to find an honest in-person autograph seller on eBay, but once you find one it is certainly worth the wait.  Mariah Carey is precisely an example of what I was referring to.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on January 24, 2020 at 6:22pm

On second thought, Mariah Carey’s autograph may not be such a bad investment these days.  She is approaching a vintage autograph.  Sorry, Travis.  I could not resist.

Comment by Adam Halloran on January 24, 2020 at 8:47pm

I think the Pop figure market is the new fad. I also think the bubble will burst on it. 

Comment by Paul on January 24, 2020 at 9:41pm

A Mariah Carey signed Xmas funk pop?

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