Stuck With Stickers

Posted: November 15, 2013 by Crackin' Wax in autographs
Tags: , ,

Image borrowed from

This is a topic that’s been discussed over and over again since the first autograph sticker surfaced and likely will continue to be discussed until there’s no one left around that cares enough to do so. Of course, it’s also a topic that I have yet to tread. I was recently inspired to do so when scanning cards from my personal collection to add to my Sports Card Album.

Many people’s feelings on the subject will likely fall into one of the following categories:

ENTHUSIASTIC This person loves the idea of sticker autographs and embraces them fully. They are well aware that the signatures of some, if not many, of their favorite athletes, celebrities and other personalities may be more difficult to acquire on-card than others. Stickers provide a way to include late addition autographs in products soon to go to press and pack-out. They also make it possible for collectors to obtain “new” autographed cards of deceased players produced posthumously.

INDIFFERENT This person is in no way affected by the use and application of the autograph sticker and is concerned only with the autograph itself. The only time this person may become irritated by the sticker is if the signer scrawls beyond the border of the sticker, effectively cutting off part of the signature. This person has no preference and can live with or without autograph stickers–so long as they get their autograph.

DISGUSTED This person absolutely hates autograph stickers–no matter what. It doesn’t matter if the card was designed to perfectly and seamlessly include the sticker. It doesn’t even matter if the autograph sticker makes getting certain signatures possible. They can live without someone’s autograph if their card isn’t going to be hard-signed. This person has such distaste for sticker autographs that they refuse to collect any item that includes them.

Actually, most people fall in the middle of those categories. I don’t know if I’ve come across any person that completely fits any of those descriptions. Not even Gellman. *wink* However, no matter what any of us think about autograph stickers–NEWS FLASH!–they’re here to stay.

Uber collector and side-arm slinger Pat Neshek lays ink to stickers

Uber collector and side-arm slinger Pat Neshek lays ink to stickers

With that said, a word now to all of the manufacturers and the designers of trading cards and other collectible items that incorporate autograph stickers… DO A BETTER JOB DESIGNING CARDS USING STICKER AUTOGRAPHS!

Okay, okay. Not all sticker autograph cards are ugly. Some are actually downright gorgeous. For the purpose of this post, let’s have a little session of “Compare and Contrast.” Both cards pictured below are in my possession and are part of my personal collection. The card on the left is an example of how NOT to use a sticker autograph. The card on the right is an example of how to properly design a card using a sticker autograph. Click each image to view a larger version.

That Willie Eyre card is a pure example of a card company “needing” to use a sticker but not planning ahead. By the look of the card, it was meant to be hard-signed. There is a semi-transparent white tab just above the player’s name typically built into card designs to help make on-card autographs stand out better, but instead of utilizing it, a sticker was placed there instead. My guess is that Topps/Bowman could not secure Willie’s signature before the cards went to pack-out and made good use of the leftover stickers he had signed at some earlier point. In an effort to still provide a card that would technically fit their definition of an “autograph card” (not “autographed“), they squeezed that sticker on that card without a single printing dot of room to spare–in fact, it overlaps the “Rookie Card” graphic. I’m sure this card was not designed to be stickered in this manner, but the fact that it still was and was still released was, in my opinion, bad form and, quite frankly, embarrassing to the hobby.

The designer of the Ben Revere card, on the other hand, was very mindful of the company’s intention to make use of an autograph sticker. That card was laid out specifically to include a sticker and, while it may not be the best example of how to design a trading card to include an autograph sticker, it looks beautiful. There’s balance, there’s a designated space for the sticker, the card makes good use of a well-conceived border for the sticker and the collector knows full well that the designer crafted this card with care. In my opinion, if you absolutely must use an autograph sticker, this is one of the best examples of how to go about doing just that.

I challenge you, readers and collectors alike, to find and share with me the absolute worst sticker autographs you have in your collection. I want to see just what you think makes a sticker card ugly. Then, I want you to share with me the best looking autograph sticker you have. Maybe it’s the centerpiece to your collection? Find those uglies and beauties and post them in a comment for all the world to see! Also, please tell me which category best describes your feelings towards autograph stickers (Enthusiastic, Indifferent, Disgusted). I can’t wait to see the results!

Hey! While you’re here, you might as well get yourself signed up for our 2nd annual trading card gift exchange! The drawing is being facilitated by Elfster and names will be drawn by December 1st. There is no spending minimum or limit and you have until December 31 2013 to ship out your gifts. Oh, and guess what? Ultra-Pro is even in the gift exchange!

In case you missed it, I’ve posted a schedule of all of the case breaks I’m planning on holding in the coming year. You can reserve your spot in any and all of them for just a $20 down payment for each slot! Just pay the rest before each break! Not only that, for every one of my case breaks you join in 2014, you’ll get $5 off of a special private break I’ll be holding at the end of 2014. Go ahead, take a look at the case breaks I have to offer!

  1. Kirk says:

    I guess I’m indifferent to this. An autograph is an autograph?

    What is the basis of the hatred? That the auto’d card is ‘manufactured’ to be an auto and the signer didn’t really have the card in-hand and the auto isn’t ‘natural’? I could see that, but I don’t see how that would be any worse than, say, a relic that is just a non-descript piece of fabric glued into a card, especially one that is a different color than the player’s normal uniforms…

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