Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Carlton Fisk 1973 Topps Autograph

 A couple weeks ago I sent a card to Carlton Fisk for a signature.

The card is important to me. You may remember from my TTM tutorial that it is important NOT to send a card you would miss.

However, in the case of Mr. Fisk, he is willing to sign TTM for a specific fee and I decided to take a risk.

I sent a letter of request, a donation to his charity, my 1973 Topps Carlton Fisk (which includes his statistics from the Pittsfield Red Sox who played in my hometown), a Staedtler Lumocolor blue pen, and a SASE. I sent this in a bubble mailer.

In my letter of request, I noted that I included the pen for his convenience and did not need it back. My hope was that he would, in fact, use the pen I included because it is a pen I like for autographs.

Across the board, it was a success. Mr. Fisk signed the card in the Staedtler Lumocolor blue pen I sent him. The approximate time from me sending to me receiving was 2.5 weeks.

I am thrilled with this return, and it was well worth the money.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

2021 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition Two Box Break

After my great four box success, I thought I would try two more.

I wasn't expecting 2 Hall-of-Famers but at least maybe something cool?


Maury Willis, /99... re-popularized the stolen base strategy, 3 rings as a Dodger, 7x ASG. Gold Glove Shortstop. This is on a Topps Collectors' Series 1985 buyback.

And Jim Rice /51 on a gorgeous 1989 Topps Buyback. I loved 1989 for autographs. I have a small PC of Jim Rice cards which this will join. 

More incentive to buy a case of one of these...

Saturday, January 8, 2022

2021 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition 4 Box Break

Headed to my local card shop (Finnigan's in Albany) to buy some cards today. 

I had hoped to find some boxes of Archives retired. There were none out but fortunately there was an unopened case. I grabbed four boxes. This is how I did:

I'd be lying if I said this wasn't the most luck I've ever had in a single day's worth of cards... perhaps the most luck I've had with cards altogether. 3 1/1's, 3 HOF'ers (possibly 4 depending on the election this year).
This might be the first product I buy a case of. 


Through-The-Mail (TTM) Autograph Collecting: Do's and Dont's, and how to succeed

Remember writing fan mail to your favorite celebs as a kid, hoping you might get a response?

Well, in the world of autograph collecting, Through-The-Mail (or TTM) autograph collecting gives you the opportunity to get autographed items for little-to-no cost apart from some small overhead for envelopes, postage and cards.

In this post I am going to give some tips, tell some stories, and hopefully help you decide if you want to try building a TTM collection.  

I have had exactly 152 TTM successes since I started collecting. That means I have received back, signed, 152 signed cards. Of those 152 cards, 18 are signatures of Hall-of-Famers in their respective sports or professions.

Pretty cool, huh?

Do's/Dont's and Setting Expectations

So, as I mentioned, I have had 152 TTM successes. How many TTM failures have I had? Cards returned to sender, cards I never saw again, cards that were returned to sender, cards I never saw again, cards that were returned unsigned? 

Roughly 80% of the cards I send for signatures never make it back signed.

As I will talk about more later, there are resources you can use to determine who "good" signers are so that you can lower that number, but if you want to take a chance on someone (which I will also touch on) you have to be prepared to not get your cards back.  

In addition, the mail is the mail. Cards may not make it to their destination, or they may get wrangled en route. You have very little control over that, and even if you send a card Priority Mail with tracking to a person, there is a chance it won't make the First-Class return trip back.

With that in mind, a few points regarding expectations:

  • DO send a letter of request. Hand written, polite, grateful for the opportunity, and compliment the subject.
  • DO send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return. They aren't going to buy an envelope and postage to get you your card.
  • DO make sure the card will look good with an autograph. Embossed/patterned cards don't work so well.
  • DO be patient. I have had cards gone for 2 weeks and cards gone for 2 years. You never know how often a player gets around to signing.
  • DO NOT send tons of cards to one person! Seriously, I can't emphasize this enough. Personally, I have never sent more than one card. Sending someone 5 cards says "I want to put these on eBay" which brings me to my next point...
  • DO NOT flip your TTM autographs on eBay. TTM is a hobby for your collection, not to make money. You won't like how little you get for them anyway.
  • DO NOT send a card you value. "Junk Wax" from the 80's and 90's are great for TTM autographs. Do not send a card that already has another signature on it in hopes of getting the second person to sign the card. You should go to a card show to get the second signer to sign it.
  • DO NOT expect to get a return.

  • Who Should I Send To?

    So, the folks over at the Sports Card Forum have curated a database of TTM successes, failures, wait times, and addresses. If you see that someone has signed a lot of cards recently, it's a good sign (but not a guarantee) that you may be successful. 

    But maybe your favorite person isn't on the list. Is it worth trying? In baseball, I have had success sending cards to spring training locations in March/April... in fact that's how I ended up with this card:

    I sent this card to Cardinals trading camp.

    Ultimately, if you send to an office, training camp, studio, or other location you think the subject might be, there is always a chance you will succeed. It's the cost of some stamps, envelopes, and your cards. Just be mindful that it is a gamble with your card.

    What does a good TTM request look like?

    It's quite simple. Hand write an envelope to the location you are sending the card (stadium, office, home, etc) and in the envelope place a card, self-addressed stamped envelope, and a letter of request. You should put it in a top loader for safe travels.

    To avoid glossy cards getting smudged after signature you can take some of the shine off before sending by wiping the card down with Gold Bond.

    TTM collecting is about patience. If you are polite, work hard, and are willing to sacrifice a card in the process, It might be a way for you to start your collection. 

    I sent to this to the studio Regis (RIP) had been working out of at the time.

    I'm Back!

    It's been a bit of a wild year.

    Wild decade.

    I lost a large portion of my collection to a flood.

    I decided to restart my blog as I have been collecting again and I can't wait to share it with you!


    Monday, June 22, 2015

    2004 Upper Deck Legends Timeless Teams: Auto Collection

    I ripped a pack from one of my favorite sets, 2004 Upper Deck Legends Timeless Teams over at A Pack To Be Named Later. One of my favorite things about this set is how friendly the design is for autographs.

    Here is my collection of autographs from this set... both pack-pulled certified autos, and autos I have gotten through the mail.

    Sunday, June 21, 2015

    2015 Bowman Baseball

    Today I'm going to do a quick review of 2015 Bowman Baseball. I broke a retail rack pack.

    Bowman's brand lays their claim as "Home of the Rookie Card" although I think "Home of a bunch of guys you will never see in an MLB game" might be more accurate. Famous for the big prospect rushes... Harper, Strasburg, etc. etc.

    Here are the highlights from my pack:

     The "First Bowman Card" is a big part of these sets. Carlos Asuaje is in Portland playing for the Sea Dogs.
     Somehow this is Scott Schebler's first Bowman Card despite being in the Dodgers org. since 2010.
    Jose Valdez makes his first Bowman appearance at age 32 after being in pro baseball since 2000, originally in the Yankees organization.
     Josh Bell is working his way through the Pirates organization.
     This serial numbered parallel of Greg Bird (/250) highlights the #4 Yankee prospect.

     Here are a couple of our base veteran cards.

    Despite being the "Home of the Rookie Card" this was my only Rookie Card in the pack of 22 cards. So far a career .220 big league hitter.