I belong to an MMA collector’s forum, Combat CardBoard, and about two weeks ago one of the members posted about purchasing two signed but unused autograph sheets. The sticker autographs, Frank Shamrock and Mario Sperry, were meant to be used for an Topps International Fight league set that was eventually cancelled when the IFL folded in 2008.
Some of the fighters who signed returned their sticker sheets to the IFL league office, who in turn sent the sheets back to Topps. Eventually Topps used these signed stickers for their UFC sets. The sheets that did not get returned to Topps, for whatever reason, were sold off with the rest of the IFL’s assets when the league folded. This is where the Shamrock and Sperry sheets came from. A similar situation happened when Fleer closed the doors, you can find unused Fleer signature sheets selling in the $50-90 range.
Which brings me to why I am posting today, I am torn on the idea of selling unused sticker autograph sheets.
On the positive side a collector can add a signature of their favorite player to a card in their collection for a unique addition that they never intend to sell. Another cool use would be for a sketch card, an artist adds the sticker and now you have a custom sketch-agraph card. If some of sheets were more reasonable in price I would probably pick some up to make custom cards for friends.
On the flip side, I am concerned that an unscrupulous dealer adds a sticker to a cheap base card, adds a handwritten “1/1” and now here is a super short-print buyback autograph selling for big bucks. Given the autograph is authentic and the card is authentic and it is literally a buyback card but it is a card that was not released (with the autograph) by the company. At best it is a custom or ACEO card.
I realize that these sticker autograph sheets are really not much different from buying cut signatures but the difference, in my eyes, is that someone can not just toss a cut signature on to a card and claim it was an unannounced buyback where if you toss an authentic Fleer sticker on a Fleer card some collectors may assume that it really was released by Fleer (or Topps).