10 Tips to Choose the Right Pen for your Sports Memorabilia Autograph

Autographs by baseball star on black and lights background
When it comes to getting an autograph for one of your memorabilia items, one of the most common questions we get asked is: “What pen should I use on my item?” The question might seem unusual, but it’s a big issue! Items are not all alike, and some pens, on certain things, can fade, change color, or simply won’t show up. Here are 10 of the best tips for finding the best pen and ink solution for your signed memorabilia.
  1. Buy name brand pens. They are name brands for a reason.
  2. On baseballs, ballpoint pens work best. Blue or black ink. Blue, in my opinion, is the very best. It doesn’t tend to fade as much and stands out better than other colors. However, do not get baseballs signed with Sharpie pens. With time, their ink will eventually fade into the ball leaving almost nothing of a signature.
  3. On jerseys, depending on the material, use either blue, black, or silver fine-point, paint pen. Silver or black are best. Sharpie offers blue or black ink, but paint pens tend to be better.
  4. On helmets, use a blue or black Sharpie. Paint pens work too. Deco brand paint pens are good quality and are a brand we often use. Silver paint is best on darker helmets. And black Sharpies tends to last longer, while blue tends to fade more quickly with time.
  5. Use an ultra-fine, silver paint pen on hockey pucks.
  6. For footballs and basketballs, we have found that Prismacolor silver paint pens are best.
  7. If you are getting a card signed, a blue or black Sharpie is probably your best option. Several card companies have started recommending Staedtler pens, but we suggest that no matter which method you use, make sure your pen is brand new. Worn pens only cause problems while getting your card signed.
  8. Photos are best with either a blue or black Sharpies. Blue Sharpies tend to stand out better and won’t fade as quickly as black. For darker photos, I suggest using a silver paint pen.
  9. Bats or hockey sticks usually get signed with blue or black Sharpie pens — sometimes with a silver paint pen, if the wood is dark.
  10. Lastly, no matter what you are getting signed, be sure to test your pen before the athlete or celebrity signs it. Nothing is more awkward or frustrating than finally meeting them face-to-face, only to deal with pen issues.
As a general rule, I recommend staying away from all pen colors except blue, black, or silver. The reason being, most colors will fade over time. And if you decide on using a silver sharpie, realize it can be hit-and-miss. You should also be careful using paint pens. They show up best on most items but have a tendency to smear, run, or just blow up. Paint pens are only good for a few use cases and need time to dry. Make sure that, when your item gets signed with a paint pen, you give it plenty of time to dry, so it does not smear. Of course, this post doesn’t include everything that can be signed, whether books, figurines, seat backs, shoes, etc. But, hopefully, I’ve provided you with a reference point for dealing with other items, as well. There are many trains of thought regarding what works best, but most of what I’ve shared with you is considered standard practice in the autograph world. These guidelines represent what has worked best for myself and my company — I hope it works well for you, as well! Next week’s blog post will cover how to protect your collection. In the meantime, check out gamedayconnexion.com for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings, and all your sports collectible needs.

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