Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
Autograph collecting can be a very fun and rewarding hobby. The writer has collected autographs for many years. My emphasis has been getting hockey cards signed, but my collection is not limited to that.
You donít necessarily have to meet the person to obtain an autograph. If anyone has collected autographs at any level, they will agree that the pursuit is a large part of the fun. The same is true when trying to get an autograph through the mail. Sometimes that pursuit can even be more thrilling.
The first thing you have to do is write the letter to the person from whom you desire an autograph. It cannot be too long or too short. One sheet the size of a standard writing pad is about perfect. Hand written is definitely the way to go too. It must come off as being personal. Do not ask a lot of questions because you simply arenít going to get a response to them in most cases.
Next you need to know what you want signed. Hockey cards were already mentioned. One concern with these is that the newer cards are so glossy, ink often doesnít adhere well. Rubbing the card with your thumb will help this. Another option that has been a standard in the autograph collecting field for many decades is the three by five index card. You will want the unlined cards. Other items can vary greatly, such as photographs, with eight by tens being the standard. This will increase postage costs and chances for damage to the item.
How many items should you send to a particular person? The maximum is two. Surpassing that amount is definitely pressing your luck and lowering your chances of success. The items should not be identical either. If hockey cards are what you want signed, the two cards should be different or it will look as though you are trying to obtain at least one of them to sell and celebrities frown upon that, even though it is your right. One hockey card and one index card is a nice compromise.
Next you will need to know where to send the items. For any hockey players, coaches or other personnel such as scouts, the items should be mailed to the team they are playing or working for. You can get the mailing address for the teams on their web sites, which you can find at NHL.com. Address the envelope to the player in care of the team.
The next thing you need to know, and this is vital, is that a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) should always be included. You are not going to get a response without this. Say you live in the United States and want to send an item to a player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, for example. You must purchase Canadian stamps to put on the SASE since the item will likely be mailed from Canada. To do this, you can order stamps through Canada Post on their web site. While you are there, find out the cost of mailing a letter from Canada to the US and include a couple of extra cents on the envelope to allow for changes in postal rates. The writer has had some players take over a year to answer while other can take a week to ten days.
Keep a record of who you send autograph requests to, what you sent, where you sent them, when you sent them and when you received them back. You will not receive every item back. Just as some players donít give autographs in person, some players donít bother with fan mail requests, thus always send items you are prepared to lose. Donít send valuable items.
Collecting autographs this way will prove rewarding and interesting. As well, it will give you a nice collection over time.