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Tuesday Tips: Paint Pens, Sharpies, Pens and Everything Else You Need to Know for Autographed Sports Memorabilia

Tuesday Tips: Paint Pens, Sharpies, Pens and Everything Else You Need to Know for Autographed Sports Memorabilia

So, you're heading to your first autograph signing and you are beyond excited to meet one of your idols. You can't wait to have them sign your item but... Oh no. You totally bought the wrong marker for your product!

Don't find yourself in this position and take some notes on this week's edition of Tuesday Tips.

We asked around the office to get some feedback from our staff who work with the professional athletes and are the ones handling the merchandise you see on our website.


When having an athlete sign a helmet, fans have a few options available. The most common are sharpies and paint pens, particularly a DecoColor paint pen. While options such as colored paint pens or sharpies leave numerous possibilities for fans, the one that should be avoided at all cost is a black paint pen. The reason for this? The ink almost always gets smeared or smudged, a sight no sports memorabilia collector wants to see.

Verdict: Colored paint pens or sharpies will work fine in most cases, but never use a black paint pen.


Whether it's a licensed or custom jersey, there's usually one option that stands above all when getting a jersey signed. Fans should use a sharpie to have the athlete sign their jersey, inside the number if possible. Some athletes will only sign on the jersey itself, per the rules of the company holding the signing, which means the only way to display the jersey is to buy a large frame. That takes up quite a bit of all space for a sports memorabilia collector so if possible, have the athlete use a sharpie and sign inside the numbers.

Verdict: Use a black sharpie for best results but colored sharpies can also be used. Never use a paint pen.


Autographed Footballs are a perfect item for the serious and beginner sports memorabilia collector. They don't take up a lot of space, can be displayed in just about every room of the house or at the office and tend to be some of the most affordable sports memorabilia items available. When having an athlete sign a football, it all depends if you have a white panel or all-brown football. The white panel footballs have white panels (duh!) with the team logo and the team's accomplishments displayed. Since these have a light background, a black sharpie is the way to go for these. If you have an all-brown panel football (like the Wilson Super Grip), a black sharpie won't show up very well so it's best to use a silver paint pen on these. You can use a silver sharpie if a paint pen isn't available but in most cases, a silver paint pen is ideal for all-brown footballs. What you're looking for is that shine from a paint pen or color from a sharpie to make the signature pop on the dark-colored background.

Verdict: Black sharpies on a white panel ball, silver paint pen or silver sharpie (if paint pen isn't available) on an all-brown panel football.


Autographed baseballs are another favorite for serious and beginner sports memorabilia collectors. They take up even less space than an autographed football, are one of the most common items for autographed baseball memorabilia and allow the signature to really pop due to the light background. When having a player sign your baseball, we recommend using a blue or black pen. We do not recommend using a sharpie as it will be extremely hard to read the autograph and the signature will likely bleed into itself, creating a splat of ink on your baseball.

Verdict: Blue or black pen.

Hockey Puck

Autographed hockey pucks are great compliments to any sports memorabilia collection and can even stand out on their own to be the centerpiece. When having a player autograph your hockey puck, we recommend using a silver paint pen or silver sharpie since pucks have a dark surface. Depending on the team colors and graphics featured on the hockey puck, you may want to use a colored paint pen or sharpie. Just be careful that the colored paint pen won't blend into the team's logo or graphic on the hockey puck.

Verdict: Silver paint pen or sharpie. Can use a colored paint pen/sharpie but recommend sticking with the silver.

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Ed - February 7, 2020

Hi. What pen would be best to sign on screen printed numbers on a jersey? A sports store is having an athlete in-store for a public signing but only on items bought from their store and they only have screen printed jerseys. I’ve heard black Sharpies will turn purplish and fade after awhile on screen printed numbers. Would a paint pen be better? Thanks.

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