3 Types of Autograph Inscriptions (and the value they add)

sports autograph inscription

nolan ryan autograph inscriptionAn inscription is anything an athlete or celebrity adds to an item other than their signature. For example, “Happy Birthday to John,” “HOF 07,” “3000 hits,” etc.

Over the last several years, inscriptions have become very popular in the autograph world. An inscription typically adds value to a piece and, in almost any circumstance, the more the athlete or celebrity writes something in addition to their name the more valuable it is. An item with a distinct inscription is rarer than those without and also looks good!

Typically, when you attend an autograph show, you will see that most of the athletes or celebrities offer both, an autograph fee, as well as a fee for the inscription. Each celebrity has a different fee, usually based on how many characters or words are needing inscribing. They usually range anywhere from $10 to $300 (and up), depending on what you want them to write. Some individuals only add specific kinds of things, like “HOF” (Hall of Fame year). Some limit the number of inscriptions they will put on an item. Most abbreviate when they can — for example, “HOF” (Hall Of Fame) and “SB 27 MVP” (Super Bowl XXVII MVP) are two examples.

dwight clark inscriptionToday we will look at three popular types of inscriptions.

The first is personalization. It’s anything that’s made out to you or someone else. For example, I have a personalized autograph football from Roger Staubach. It reads, “To Caleb, Best Wishes and Thanks, Roger Staubach.” Anyone would love their favorite athlete to sign something they can display in an office or home. It’s not only meaningful for you but also serves as a great conversation piece.

On a side note, when an item is personalized it usually doesn’t add to the item’s value. My Roger Staubach football is worth something to me, of course, but if I ever wanted to sell it (which I never would) there isn’t a market for autographs signed to “Caleb.”

Pete Rose InscriptionThe second kind of inscription, and most popular, mentions particular achievements. These add value to the item. Here are some achievements you might ask an athlete to add:

  • Hall of Fame, as well as the year they got inducted (such as, “HOF 07”).
  • Any awards, like “Super Bowl MVP,”Bowl game MVP,” “NL” or “AL MVP,” “Cy Young Award,” a “scoring title,” etc.
  • Prominent stats and achievements. “3000 hit club,” “300 Wins,” “TD passes,” “YDS thrown,” “Rushing Stats,” “Points Scored,” “Home Runs,” “Wins,” etc.

The last type — and this adds value too — is a phrase the player is known for, a motto, or a nickname. Here are two examples:

  • For Mike Tyson, “Baddest Man on the Planet.”
  • Pete Rose, “I am Sorry I bet on baseball,” or “Hit King.”

Inscriptions make items unique, rare, (usually) more valuable, and are always fun!

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