Determining the value of an autograph is in many ways the same as deciding what constitutes as good art. Subjective in some ways, there are actually several factors that help to determine the value of any autograph.
Quality of the Signature
A high-quality signature that is clear and clean-looking will be valued much higher than a signature with smudges inked in a rush. Of course, some people’s signatures are brief and even at their best look like two squiggly lines. For signers like this you have to hope for the best signature you can get from them even if it looks like a mistake.
Quality of the Signer
Whatever industry the signer works in, the better they are the more value the autograph will have. A Joe Montana autograph will always have more value than your uncle who played three games on the bench for the Los Angeles Rams during the 1980s; even if your uncle refuses to sign.
Demand for the Signer’s Autograph
A determination in any industry on the price is the demand. An autograph’s demand can increase or decrease based on many different factors. A hot moment like an actor having a big movie series coming out will cause the demand to jump immediately. A string of box office bombs can make the autograph completely undesirable. Keep yourself aware of changing trends to know whether or not the value has drastically changed.
Rarity of the Autograph
Each time someone signs an autograph it becomes a little less valuable. If everyone had the autograph then there would be no value to it. Deceased athletes and celebrities have much more expensive autographs because there will never be any new ones, at least not authentic.
Upside of the Signer
The potential for growth in their industry has an effect on an autograph’s value. A top baseball prospect will have a very valuable signature, possibly even exceeding where it would be if he has the type of career everyone expects him to have. With the future uncertain, autographs of young professionals can be worth a lot of money due to the amount of upside they have at becoming the greatest. Few people ever do which is what makes autograph collecting a gamble at times.
The Item that Was Signed
Simply put, an autographed game-used Michael Jordan jersey will be much more valuable on the autograph market than if he signed a piece of bread. The signed jersey would probably be less tasty, but it is a far more valuable item on its own.