Following up on my last blog about some collecting pitfalls with autograph cards, comes this post. It's not often that I like to dwell on a single aspect of the hobby, but I've honestly been meaning to do this post for a while now.
Autographed cards are a big hit in the hobby, as they have been for years. But do to the logistics and print schedules, it's becoming more rare for athletes to have on-card signatures. It's something I would try and plan better if I were a manufacturer -- but that's a story for another day.
The majority of autographs found on cards today are sticker autographs. They are shunned by some, but steadily they seem to become accepted more and more. Stickers can have a whole range of problems too, but I'll ignore those for now also.
So that brings us to the topic of embedded autographs. Now I'm not talking cuts, but rather the practice of having an athlete sign some piece of material, be it leather, jersey or manufactured patch and embedding that on a card. One example is the Torrey Smith pictured above.
The first cards I remember like this, but probably not the first to do it, were Upper Deck's Sweet Spot autographs. I had a Piazza Sweet Spot for a while but sold it when I noticed it was beginning to fade. I pointed that out to the buyer, but they didn't seem to mind. But I minded. That Piazza would probably still be part of my collection, if it were still a bold autograph. What's the solution to that? Would I have been better off having it slabbed? It's not like I kept the card in direct sunlight, it was in a box with the rest of my collection.
On some newer embedded cards, I've noticed lots of autographs that are bleeding. Look at the Torrey Smith again, that card is a year old. What will it look like in five years? And if cards like this completely fade, what then?
I've noticed similar bleeding on Panini's manufactured patch autographs lately. My 2010-11 Derek Stepan from Limited looks fine, but my 2011-12 Carl Hagelins are terrible. It looks like the material itself is thinner, too.
As these become more and more prominent in the hobby, I believe that manufacturers will have to do something to ensure the longevity of these cards. Is there some sort of spray that would keep the signatures bold? Should they be slabbed from the start? Are the manufacturers even aware of these issues and have they done anything to try and prevent it?
If you have any cards that are fading or bleeding, I'd love to hear about it; so just leave a comment. I'm going to try and see if we can get a response from any of the manufacturers too.