Sunday, January 31, 2016
Cpt Caveman's TTM autographs Bonus blog-Beginners guide to TTM collecting
Hello and welcome everyone to a bonus post, this week I thought id do a quick step by step guide to our method of TTM autograph collecting to help any new collectors out there that may need a little info or help to get them started. This is an updated version of the original beginners guide post.
Step 1-Research and Address Hunting
First thing I do is research the celeb or athlete i intend to write. I look to see what they are currently doing are they filming or retired, for musicians and bands maby there out on tour. I research for there addresses and management addresses. I look at there signing habits do they even sign autographs for fans. Some big name celebs wont sign period. They get tired of signing or seeing the items they thought they signed for true fans online for sell on eBay so they just dont sign. Luckily alot still do sign IP and TTM. When researching addresses a website that was ok and free but now its full of spammers is fan mail.biz. There are other sites but they are payed membership sites and fanmail is a free site and its a great place to start, but i recommend StarTiger its a pay site but with more current addresses and forums that actually help members, but with enough online research you can find at least one contact address or email for about any celeb. For sports stars if a home address is unavailable try sending it to the teams stadium or training facility has worked well for us.
Step 2-What to send -pictures and printing
After I have my info and addresses then comes what I think is the hardest part. What do I want signed. We usually send 4x6 photos but others prefer 8x10s and others use 3x5 index cards. Some collectors send baseballs to everyone not just baseball players to have signed its really a matter of sending what you like. Choosing the perfect picture to get signed can be the hardest part. You want one that you like but it also has to have lighter areas for the celeb to sign. Some will sign with silver or gold sharpies that show up well on darker pictures but most of our reply's have been in black ink so I always try to choose pictures with a lighter background behind the celeb so they have a good area that they can sign in. For athletes sports cards are a great thing to have signed if you have them laying around might at well try to get some signed but id shy away from glossy cards the ink doesn't stick so well. One thing I do is gently rub glossy cards on a small piece of flat denim. This buffs some of the gloss off but be careful not to damage the card. We also started sending the DVD and bluray covers from our favorite films to be signed. Authors are usually happy to sign a copy of there book. To find the pictures I use I like to use BING to search for images of the person I want to send to or pictures from there films just go with what you like. After I find the pictures I use my cell phone to save the pictures I then transfer them to my laptop for editing if needed and to transfer to a standard size SD card. Iv tried saving the pictures off google search images but they always seem to print out fuzzy or are the wrong size. Then I either print them myself on my photo printer or I go to a place that has a photo kiosk then print my photos there. Now IV heard people try that at wall mart and have been hassled about copyrights. I asked my photo tech at the local chain pharmacy I goto they said as long as its not marked with a copyright and i pulled it offline then they consider it public domain and IV never had a problem printing my pictures there.
Step 3-Stamps and Envelopes
So after we have what we want signed the next step I do is get my request envelope and my SASE or self addressed stamped envelope ready. For envelopes we primarily use 4 1/8 inch by 9 1/2 inch strip and seal envelopes they fit 4x6 pictures perfectly and no licking or water to seal the envelope. I address the envelope to the celebs with my address in the return area and there's in the proper place. For my SASE I put my address in both spots to insure it returns to me that way even if it doesn't have proper return postage it will still return to me postage due and not be sent back to the celeb. Then I write "please do not bend or fold thanks" on the front and back of the envelope and the celebs initials very small on a back corner (incase it comes back empty and opened I know who to re write). Then put proper postage on both. For our 4x6 photos usually one stamp per envelope works. That gets us 2-3 pictures our letter and our SASE sent for one stamp and that's plenty for our return of just a couple pictures. For in the US just regular postage stamps will do but for the overseas requests you need Global forever stamps (my post office worker said that they are now phasing out the US Global stamps and that now you just use regular postage stamps for send to foreign lands.) Its usually around $1.20 to mail the regular size white or small brown envelopes overseas but its always best to have the post office weigh it just to make sure.
Step 4-Writing your letter of request
Now its time to write that letter. I usually write a full front page letter sometimes a front and back depending on how big a fan we are. We write sincere heartfelt personal letters to the celebs and not just a generic can I have your autograph letter. Sometimes that's all it takes but id rather be sincere its worked better for us. I write them thanking them for all the joy they have given us over the years. I tell them exactly why we are fans and not just we loved you in such and such movie. We tell them exactly how there work has touched our lives and thank them for it. After all that towards the end I add my request for there autograph followed by please and thanking them again for everything especially there time. Now for really huge celebs or extremely rare or harder to obtain ones we write 2-4 page letters. Sometimes it just takes the right letter and they could decide to sign. Sometimes is still a waist of time and stamps you just never know.
Step 5-Mail and wait
So you have your pictures and you're envelopes ready and you letter is written its time to neatly put it all in your request envelope, dont forget item to be signed, letter and SASE and seal it up check that proper postage is on both then drop it in you mail box and wait and sometimes wait some more lol sometimes your lucky and it only takes a week or two but usually it takes months or even a year or more before you might get a reply. Usually the bigger the celeb the longer the wait but not always its all in the luck of the draw when they pull your letter out of the fan mail pile and reply.
Step 6-log book
So after I send my letter a handy thing I do is keep log books. I write the celebs name and date I sent the request along with the address I used in the book and that way I can mark the date when and if its returned. Another tip is I dont hesitate once I find a working address I get a letter out the next day. They can stop signing at anytime you just never know and especially when its an older celeb I dont waste time getting my request to them they may develop health issues that can stop them from signing or maby just get tired of signing all these years. Its there choice to sign for us fans not something they have to do but I always appreciate the ones who do and I'm sure they appreciate us fans or they wouldn't reply at all.
Step 7-Autograph storage
So you finally got a reply and some autographs so now what to do with them. Since we send 4x6 photos the best thing we have found is 3 ring binders and protective photo pages. They hold 6 pictures each ( 3 on each side plus they have a small pocket on the top corner that's fits out blank autograph cards perfectly and its also a great spot to store the occasional guitar pick you get back. For larger pictures like 8x10's we use acid free page protectors. I prefer the thicker one. There a little more on cost but the protection is better than the cheap flimsy page protectors. Plus they fit perfectly in our 3 ring binders. For large posters we frame them. Frames can be found on Amazon for reasonable prices. Its also a good place to purchase UV protected ball cubes for just about any type of sports ball. We store all our signed Baseballs and golf balls this way. PSA/DNA also offers to encapsulate you're autographs for a fee when you send your autographs in for authentication. This is a great way to protect and increase the value of a special autograph in your collecting but depending on the item and the number of signatures it can get expensive.
Well everyone that's how we do it I hope this helps any new collectors looking to get into TTM autograph collecting. Ill be back next week with new autographs and tested addresses until then keep graphing and keep an eye out for more bonus posts with helpful TTM autograph collecting tips on certain Sundays or Mondays coming soon.