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Tuesday Tips: What Causes an Athlete's Signature Cost to Increase or Decrease?

Tuesday Tips: What Causes an Athlete's Signature Cost to Increase or Decrease?

Ever get an autograph from a player for one price, only to see it more the cost more than double a year later? Or worse, snag a piece of autographed memorabilia at a premium and see it depreciate? What causes these peaks and valleys in autograph costs? We'll attempt to provide some clarity in how pricing works for autograph signings.

Let's start with a positive note such as scoring an autograph for a low cost and seeing a player's signature price rise at their next signing event. The most obvious reason for this is a player's success in their respective sport. In most cases, the better the player, the higher cost for their signature. This is partly why you see the value of some athletes skyrocket after they've proven to be among the best at their craft. For example, imagine the difference in cost from scoring a Mike Trout autograph in 2011 compared to now. Or imagine getting something signed by an unknown Michigan Wolverines quarterback named Tom Brady in 2000 compared to what that cost would be in 2019.



As Tom Brady continues to set records and add to a historic NFL legacy, his costs (and value) are only increasing. 

TMZ Sports reported that back in February 2017, Brady's signed photo costs around $850. However, the pricing sheet for the event later this month indicated that fans will have to shell out around $1,049 for an autographed photo (via

Another factor that could alter a player's value is the team they either currently play for or are going to play for. Athletes in large markets tend to run for a higher cost and value due to the demand for their signature. This is why great players who play for small-market teams can sometimes be found at a great value compared to elite athletes playing for more notable teams. As an example, a player for the Kansas City Royals would (in most cases) cost less at a signing event compared to a notable player for the New York Yankees or why a starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn't (in most cases) be the same cost as a starter for the Chicago Bears.

The concept of supply and demand is one of the bases for understanding how business work and that's certainly true for the world of autographed sports memorabilia. While it's not the main determining factor, a player's signature cost might increase if they do not make a lot of autograph signing appearances. Athletes who do not appear as often (rather it be a public or private autograph session) tend to have a higher price and value simply because of the scarcity of autographed memorabilia by the player.

A final factor we'll touch on is accolades earned by a player. Odds are an athlete's signature cost/value will trend upward as they earn more All-Star and Pro Bowl nods. This also includes yearly awards such as MVP, Offensive/Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and others as well as career accolades such as Hall of Fame inductions. Career accolades, such as Drew Brees becoming the NFL's all-time passing yards leader or Tom Brady becoming the only NFL player to win 6 Super Bowls will increase a player's value as well.



Now it's time to talk about the unfortunate part of collecting sports memorabilia, depreciation of an athlete's signature.

Although all autographed sports memorabilia holds some measure of value, there are a number of determining factors as to why a player's value and signature cost might decrease.

The first and often times most important determining factor is a player's success on the field/court. A player who turns out to be a bust or doesn't perform to their expectations will see their signature cost decrease over time. This goes back to the notion of the better a player, the higher their signature cost/value.

Another factor related to on-field performance is injuries. The ability to stay on the field/court and perform is paramount for a player to rack up stats and thus, create a bigger value for their signature. If a player cannot stay healthy, it could cause the value of their autograph decrease due to health concerns.

Heading to a new team is another event that might cause a player's signature cost to fluctuate. While most successful players become synonymous with a single team, their immediate value might decrease if they're sent to a different team mid-season or sign with a new one in free agency. An example of this was when Kristaps Porzingis was traded from the New York Knicks to the Dallas Mavericks this season. While New York Knicks memorabilia autographed by Kristaps Porzingis still holds value, it will almost certainly lose some value as he heads to a new team.



A factor that is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent is a player's off-the-field actions. In the world of social media and 24/7 news coverage, athletes can sometimes find themselves in criminal predicaments that their predecessors didn't. Considering the nature of their crime (even if it's just alleged), some fans will move on from a player even if they're one of the top athletes in their sport.

The world of autographed sports memorabilia is an ever-evolving world with daily changes. While there might be set costs and values associated with an event in January, those could very well change by the end of the Summer that same year. The factors mentioned above are just some of the reasons a player's value might fluctuate.

It's important to stay up to date on trends for particular players when selling your autographed sports memorabilia and Ultimate Autographs always strives to provide fans with a great value for collecting memorabilia from their favorite players.

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