The Ultimate Guide to Buying Football Autographs

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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Football Autographs

Football is the world's most popular sport. Player's names are known in households far and wide, and the World Cup, a football championship that happens once every four years draws enough crowds to rival the Olympic Games. Fans love their favourite teams and adore the best players, both old and new. Getting a signed autograph is just one way for fans to connect with a player, if only for a moment or two. One of the best parts about collecting autographs is that they can be very valuable. Some of the top autographs can sell for thousands of pounds in local collector's shops or online websites like eBay. But these high prices also draw a lot of forgeries into the world of autograph collecting. The best way to approach buying a football autograph is to collect items that appeal to the buyer personally and that come with a certificate that authenticates their origin.

Understanding Different Types of Autographs

Consumers can sometimes get fooled into thinking all autographs are one and the same, especially if this is the first one he or she has purchased. This is untrue, and the type of autograph that appears on the item can deeply affect its value.













Knowing the different types of autographs ahead of time helps buyers stay away from items that make a poor investment choice. This may not be as important for those collectors who are not as concerned about the value of the autograph itself, but more about the personal value it holds.

Original Autograph

Original autographs are highly sought after, and are typically the ones a buyer is seeking. They have been individually signed by the football player, usually at an event or before or after the game. Each one is slightly different, but all of them carry the player's trademark signature. Buyers can tell that these autographs are genuine because the ink is on top of the item's surface. Small defects in the signature such as a double crossed line or scrolling script are other ways to tell that a signature is original.

Pre-Print Autograph

Pre-print autographs are usually found on photos and cards. The original item did use the original autograph but was then copied hundreds of times. The result is an autograph that is merely a copy of the original. The easiest way to tell if an item uses a pre-print autograph is to hold it up under the light. If the ink is on top of the photo gloss, then it is original. If it is underneath the gloss, then it is a pre-print.

Verifying if an autograph is a pre-print can be difficult to do online, which makes it very important for buyers to confirm this information with the seller. It is also worth checking out the seller's return policy in case the autograph that the seller claimed was original turns out to be a pre-print once the buyer examines it.

Autopen Autograph

Autopen signatures are worth less than original autographs, but it is hard to discern between the two. An autopen machine accurately records the original autograph and then writes the script onto different types of merchandise. Since the script is based off of the original signature, and since the machine actually signs the autograph onto objects, it can be difficult to discern the difference between an original and an autopen marking. One of the easiest ways to tell is that autopen signatures are sometimes shaky, so if the script looks a little bit off, it could be due to an autopen. Another sign is that autopen signatures are abrupt with no long scrolling lines. A good idea is to look up any examples of the athlete's signature online. If the online picture does not match up with the signature, then it is likely the buyer has an item signed with an autopen machine.

Football Autograph Merchandise

There are several different types of autograph merchandise that athletes sign, including cards, balls, and boots. Some of these items, jerseys especially, garner higher prices than others. In the end, however, the price comes down to how much a collector wants to spend in order to get a particular item.

Photo cards

Cards are by far the most commonly autographed item. They frequently appear for sale on sites like eBay and the value varies depending on the player. An autograph from a world-famous player usually sells for a lot more than a local favourite, but some football fans who are dedicated to their team would pay top dollar for a signed autograph from their club hero.

The good news about collecting card autographs is that football, unlike American baseball, does not have a card collection. The value of a baseball card, for example, along with the autograph determines the overall price value. Football cards usually contain a picture of the player and therefore have little effect on the overall value of the item.


A dedicated fan is generally eager to seek out a jersey of their favourite football team, and popular player jerseys are always in demand. If a fan gets lucky, he or she can even have the athlete sign the jersey at the game. These items are more expensive than the card autographs simply because of the price of the jersey.

However, true value comes into play when the jersey was actually worn by the player who autographed it. The value is determined by both the autograph and the jersey itself. It is very important that any item being sold as an actual worn jersey comes with the proper documentation. There is little way to prove that the item was truly worn by the player unless there is some proof. Buyers must be careful not to get fooled into buying a common jersey sold on the street under the premise that it was really worn by the player.


Boots also are known to command high prices. Like jerseys, the value of the boots depends on their origins. If they are just a pair of football boots that were not actually worn by the player, then they are sold for more reasonable prices along with an actual autograph. Boots that were actually worn and autographed by a player command higher price points.

Authenticating Autographs

Perhaps the most important aspect of buying autographs is how to determine their authenticity. This can be difficult to do online, so buyers must take several steps to protect themselves. First of all, they must closely examine the item up for auction. If the autograph is not clear, then the buyer should ask the seller for a better picture. A buyer should also research the seller's feedback and history to determine if this particular seller is trustworthy. Sellers who have been doing this a long time usually have a solid feedback page full of praise.


One of the best ways to determine if the autograph is authentic is by obtaining the proper certification. There are several types of certifications. The obtained personally certification means that the seller got the item directly from the athlete, usually while attending a game. The private signing certification says that the seller got the item during a private event, such as a fundraiser. A public signing certification means that the item was obtained during a public signing event.


Football has a very dedicated fan base and autographs from some of its top players can command high resale prices. The value of an autograph is largely determined by the popularity of the player as well as the merchandise that was used. An autograph that was signed onto a worn jersey is worth far more than an autograph written on a common jersey someone bought from the store. Likewise, certain types of autographs are more valuable than others. Original autographs are the ones collectors want, while pre-print and autopen autographs are worth far less in the long run.

Finally, when it comes to buying online through a site like eBay, authenticity is very important. Consumers must always make sure that the item comes with some sort of certification stating its authenticity. As long as a buyer follows these tips, he or she can get the perfect autograph whose value only increases with time.

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