These days, is it not uncommon for a player’s autograph to change throughout their professional career. With card companies requesting thousands of autographs in one sitting and ease of access to players increasing, the demand to sign often results in a shortened signature. Sometimes the results are drastic and even unrecognizable, while other times the first name is just shortened to an initial.
Imagine being one of the top prospects in all of baseball and having fans in all cities eager to score some ink. Ronald Acuña Jr. has not yet reached Atlanta, but the demand for his autograph is high everywhere he goes. As shown below, his autograph has certainly evolved from 2017 (left) to 2018 (right).
Acuña Jr. is not the only player in the Braves organization who has changed their autograph. One of the most well-known shortened signatures is Freddie Freeman. At some point in his career, he realized that he could not sustain the full signature and changed it to the easily recognizable FF5.
Julio Teheran is still known to give out a full signature at times, but typically he shortens it to J. Teheran. Either way, Julio’s autograph is one the more attractive, and he always takes his time with each fan.
One of the most interesting autograph changes comes from Touki Toussaint. As you’ll notice in the photo below, the autograph on the right is severely shortened. Touki’s real name is Dany as reflected in the autograph on the left. Looking back to his first Bowman Chrome auto (2011 Bowman Chrome USA Auto) which were sticker autos, they include the shortened TK auto. While not all of 2016 Bowman paper cards are the shortened auto, it is my assumption that Topps had some of the old stickers leftover and used them for this product. This means that Touki actually extended his autograph, rather than shortening it. This is very interesting due to the fact that his preferred name went from Dany to Touki, but his autograph went from TK to Dany Toussaint.
Although he is no longer with the Braves but is still loved by Braves fans, Andrelton Simmons made the list of autograph changes. Both autos were obtained by me at spring training. The one on the left was from 2012 and the one on the right was from 2015. As previously mentioned with Teheran, I have seen Simmons give a full signature on a nicer item such as a game used jersey, but for the most part he has resorted to initials.
So what does a shortened signature mean in terms of collecting? A full signature, or one from the player’s first few professional years, will usually sell for more than a shortened autograph. Collectors value a “full sig” more than a shortened one because it is typically far more rare. In comparison, Dansby Swanson wore the #2 jersey for the 38 games he played of the 2016 season. As we know, he now wears the #7 jersey and will for the foreseeable future. For this reason, collectors may find in the future that their #2 jerseys are worth more because they were only available in his first season, therefore they are more rare.
Another comparison is the great Hank Aaron. Bless his heart, but with age comes a decline in penmanship. His older autographs, which are more legible, will sell for more than his modern autographs because collectors value a beautiful signature.
At the very basics of collecting a full, clean, and bold autograph is what is most desired in the memorabilia market.