Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Two Cents: Cut signatures and Signature-only Card Releases

I am not a big fan of the signature-only releases. Comparing cost versus return it seems to be more of a gamble than even I am willing to make. The cards present in these sets, in my opinion, are not individually worth enough to make up for the overall cost of a box when added together. Also, most of the celebrities who sign the cards are not ones I'd be interested, and if I decided I did want an autograph or two, it typically would be much more cost effective to buy them individually off eBay or trade for them via the trading forum at Non-Sports Update Magazine's Card Talk. For instance, in the 2010 Razor Pop Century set, I was able to snag a Taryn Manning autograph off eBay for 99 cents plus a couple bucks shipping.
The other types of signature only releases I don't care for are the cut signatures. The difference between autograph cards and cut signature cards is that regular autograph cards have the signatures actually on the card (or on a sticker that is directly applied to the card) while the cut signature cards have an autograph that has been cut from a previously autographed item (autographed photo, signed letter or a canceled check, for example) and placed inside a card much like a costume or prop card. The reason I dislike the cut signatures so much is two-fold:
  1. I would much rather have a signature on a card that was signed specifically for that card set as opposed to a signature cut from something unrelated to the card set in question; and
  2. I really take issue with these companies cutting up items in order to make cards.

Now, I understand that cut signatures are often the only way to insert autographs from historic figures into card sets. If you cut up a signed 8x10 photo is one thing, but to cut up a letter that was written and and signed by a historical figure is another. In the near future, Famous Fabrics is putting out a set called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW that will include cut signatures from many of those who have served as President of the United States. The checklist includes John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Obviously, these signatures will be cut from previously signed items. And that's the problem.

In order to get signatures from these historic figures, historic documents will be sliced and diced to remove the desired autograph that will be placed into a card. Personally, I would much rather have the actual document. Sure, it may not be a document of historic value beyond the fact that it was handled by a former president, but wouldn't that actual document make a much better addition to any person's collection than just the signature cut out and placed in a trading card? I think so. I think an actual presidentially signed document hanging in my home would be infinitely nicer.

But I must say, that if I were to open any product of cut signatures and I pulled a highly sought after card, I would definitely be happy about it. I have to say, I'm a bit jealous about the huge, HUGE pull that a collector made from the 2011 Leaf Pop Century. And I couldn't resist mentioning it here.

The collector/dealer who goes by the Cardtalk handle "Miss Lizzy" posted recently that she had decided to open a single box of Leaf Pop Century. In addition to the guaranteed 8 autographed cards, she also received a redemption for the most sought-after card in the set, a unique 1-of-1 fold-out card featuring a cut signature of John F. Kennedy, a cut signature of Lee Harvey Oswald and a rare seat swatch of the limousine transporting President Kennedy at the time of his assassination. The panels of the card looked like this:

First let me say that I find this card very strange and something I would not want to own. As historic as the individual pieces are, I just would feel weird owning something like this that is associated with the death of a president (mostly it's the swatch from the car seat that gives me pause). But let me say this, if I had purchased a box and pulled this card, I would not be able to resist collecting on any amount that I could get for selling it. A double-standard? Maybe. But I have no doubt that this card, should she decide to part with it, could bring in a significant amount of money.

Of course, many sets offer these 1-of-1 type pulls to entice collectors to make purchases, and typically they are ones that could be sold in the after-market for significant profit. But up to this point, I have not been enticed enough to make such a purchase. And now that the one big hit of 2011 Leaf Pop Century has been snagged, I certainly will not be paying anywhere from $150-190 per box for this product.

My tendency to make the gamble in non-sport trading cards just might make me pull the trigger on a future product. However, I can't imagine I'd ever be as lucky as Miss Lizzy was with this product.