This week I am going to focus on one of my favorite parts of the hobby, Through the Mail (TTM) autograph collecting. It is a fun and inexpensive way (most times) to add autographs of players to your collection. There are a ton of resources available to find addresses and success/failure information. FCB has its own TTM forum.
You may want to do research to decide on whom to send to. As a Reds fan, I tend to send off to current and former Reds players, regardless of signing history. There is always a chance you may get lucky. When it comes to former players, it is best to check to see if that player charges or not. Generally, the ones who do will send your item back, unsigned, with a price sheet for future reference. As for current players, most are free TTM signers; however, the Pirates and Tigers do require donations to their funds. Price lists are available from the teams.
The most important thing that is required is patience. Sometimes you will get lightning fast responses and other times it may take a year or longer. For record keeping, write down or make a spreadsheet to keep track of who you sent to, when, what you sent, when it was returned, and success/failure. This will help you remember who you have sent to as well as be a tool to help share with others.
There are particular sets that I think look better signed and I tend to stick with those. Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginter’s look fantastic when signed. Of course, any card will do the trick. The reason those two sets tend to work better is because they are not glossy. You can still get glossy/chrome cards signed, you just have to do prepwork to make the signature stick and not bubble.
The trick I use on glossy/chrome cards was passed onto me by a fellow board member (predatorkj). I rub the surface of the card with my shirt sleeve for 30 seconds. While doing this, I use a lot of pressure. Not enough to damage the card, but enough to generate heat on the card. Every glossy/chrome card I have sent off using this trick has came back perfect. There are other tricks as well. A lot of people will rub the surface with baby powder and have had success.
TTM is a very fun hobby. Most of the time, you can get autographs of your favorite team/players for fifty cents. An envelope, a letter, a card, a return envelope, and a couple of stamps are all it takes. Again, not every player is guaranteed to sign, but it’s always a nice mailday when they do. We’ll get further into this on another Wednesday Weekly, but if you have any questions, check the TTM forum or contact me.