You've managed to acquire the famous autograph you have been after for years.
It's everything you'd hoped it would be: clear, crisp and beautiful.
Yet, if you don't protect that autograph, it could end up being an unsightly, and valueless, smudge. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your autograph remains as bold as the day it was penned.
Let the ink dry
This sounds like such a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people immediately touch the coveted signature they have just acquired, ruining it forever with a clumsy thumb. Have patience, resist temptation and let the ink dry fully.
Even then, it's still not a good idea to touch it!
Do not use shellac or other varnishes
Using shellac or other varnishes is most common among baseball collectors, who feel the need for extra protection as the autograph they've acquired is often written on a shiny surface, such as the side of a bat. Using shellac and varnishes will preserve the signature, but will also significantly detract from its value in years to come.
Shellac tends to turn an unpleasant shade of yellow over the years and start to crack. Other varnishes may follow suit, or react with the autograph ink and have devastating effects.
Protect it from UV rays
There aren't many collectibles that enjoy being left in the sun, especially autographs. The UV rays that the sun emits will fade and discolour even the most robust marker pen signature.
But you will still want to display your autograph on the walls of your home, so the solution is to invest in a UV protective display case. It's worth spending a little extra money to protect an autograph that could be worth thousands in years to come.
Consider the climate
You've had the sense not to get your autograph wet (obviously a bad idea), but have you ever considered where it may come into contact with other moisture?
If you live in a particularly humid climate, the signature is likely to fade or run. The same applies with heat, so avoid anywhere that is too hot. The golden rule is - if it's uncomfortable for you, your autograph won't enjoy it either.
Protecting autographs on fabric
A signed piece of clothing can be a very special thing indeed, but signatures on fabric are also some of the hardest to preserve. Contrary to the above, the trick to keeping fabric autographs fresh is heat - and lots of it.
Firstly, you will want to set your iron to the cotton setting and ensure that there is no steam. Press the iron on to the inked area, but try to avoid sliding it across as you normally would.
Then place your garment into the tumble dryer and select a hot setting, allowing it to run for around 15 minutes.
Some autograph collectors choose to use clear fabric paint, but this isn't favourable, as it often ruins the integrity of the fabric.
See the PFC40 Autograph Index to track the price performance of the world's most valuable signatures.