A Comment On What Makes A Hard Signed Card

To me, on card signatures have the rare ability to make a bad product better. They add a whole extra element of a set that becomes immediately more collectible because the signatures are not applied by someone other than the players themselves. There is much more room for the player to sign, provides space for creativity in the signature, and most importantly, looks better than a label without a doubt. Upper Deck has long been the company that has moved completely towards on card signatures with more than a handful of products done completely without labels. SP Authentic, Exquisite, Ultimate, Heroes, Black, Philadelphia, Draft, and others have all featured signatures that are hard signed without gimmicky ways of trying to fit into that category. For these sets, the autographs are signed onto the card itself, not some cloth manu-patch piece that is pre-built and signed at the rookie premiere or something. Granted, not all of the sets are done completely with good examples, and there are ones that use horrible half-gimmicks for their “on card” autos, but there sure are a lot that are done the right way.

Recently I read an interview with Panini where they got on the subject of on card autos versus stickers. They were talking about how with the Basketball products they were going to try to get as many on card signed parts to their sets as possible. They touted that they were already focusing on providing collectors with on card signatures and used Prestige as an example. Here is what I am referring to (the bold is mine):

“Panini came in and listened to collectors, as you can see by the increase in on-card autographs starting with Prestige. We feel that our wide array of non-sticker autographs helps give our products that added value, but our goal is to incorporate as many on-card autographs into our programs as we can, without passing that cost onto the collector. “
I will say that Panini has made a small effort to “increase” the amount of non-sticker autos in their products, but there is FAAAAAAAAR from a “wide array.” The manu-patch autos that Panini is counting as hard signed have been included in not one, not two, but three different products. These are not on card signatures in any way to me. Aside from being stupid, gimmicky, and ugly, they are a cop out in the hard signed realm of this business. Upper Deck and Topps both used manu-patches similar to these, but Upper Deck has far surpassed any on card offering in other aspects, thus giving them the opportunity to do so. Topps does not hide their love for labels, and does not try to blow smoke up our asses in saying that they are giving up on theirs. I hate their labels, but at least there is no bullshit on what to expect.
Panini does not have any focus at all on the hard signed elements of their products, and when they do try to break the mold, you either get this, or something like this. So, it means that when Panini does get around to actually getting on card stuff in their sets, they are awful at it. They either use horrible pens that bubble and look shitty, or they use paint pens that chip, smear and look amateurish. Then, to say you have a “wide array” of on card offerings is total and utter crap.
Bottom line, an on card signature is a signature signed on the card. Its not on a manu-patch, its not on a letter, its on the fucking card. Even if there is a set filled with redemptions, its still on card signatures that we know and love. Perpetrating some half assed attempt at trying to pass off shit as gold is not going to make anyone happy. Regardless of this stupid marketing ploy, hard signed autos need to be the rule rather than the exception, regardless of company, redemptions or no redemptions. I will wait for quality, I will not put up with rushed crap.

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