Well, isn’t this is a surprising post? From a site that advocates for starting a hobby (like in my last article), you’d think the title was a typo. It’s definitely not. Let me explain why you should not collect autographs through the mail. I think if I didn’t explain some of downsides of collecting autographs through the mail, that wouldn’t be fair to you!
Time is of the essence
Let’s get things straight. Collecting autographs in person or through the mail (TTM) is a huge time suck. Of course, the rewards can be extremely gratifying, especially after the initial month or two of sending out cards, if we’re focusing on items sent TTM. If you’ve got other priorities in life, definitely do those first.
Kids? Be sure to take care of them.
Family & Friends? See them once in a while.
Making money? Increase your financial know how and become the CFO of your life.
Of course, it’s not my place to decide where or how you use your time but as long as we get that out of the way, I’m good. Let me just state some of the facts that I have regarding sending out items to be returned through the mail. Assuming you’re starting from scratch, here are some of the things to be considered:
- Travelling to the store to buy hockey cards, supplies, etc. = 60 mins
- Opening up cards from hobby box = 20 mins
- Determining which players to send to / if they return signed items = 20 mins
- Finding addresses = 10 mins
- Writing letter = 10 mins
- Prepping card = 1 min
- Addressing envelope = 1 min
Total Time = ~ 2 hours
As you become more experienced and start to accumulate hockey cards while having the supplies at your finger tips, it gets significantly easier. You’ll also become more efficient on how you do things. You might start to be able to write, address, research and send a letter to a player
Autograph collection can be extremely expensive and if you don’t have the funds, it might be better to start off with sending items sparingly. In regards to sending items through the mail, here is my breakdown of costs:
- Envelopes = 25 cents x 2 = 50 cents
- Stamps (CDN -> CDN) = 85 cents x 2 = $1.70
- 2 hockey cards = 50 cents
- Misc. costs (pens, paper) = 50 cents
Total Cost = $3.20 / item sent
In 2018, I sent 460 items through the mail.
If I sent 100% to Canadian Addresses = $1,472
I assumed that you already having things like a computer to do research and that you’re buying items individually. While $3.20 may not seem like a significant amount, if you send out as many as I did in 2018 (~460) and to various locations around the world, the amount would be significantly more than ~$3.20 / item. I’d say roughly 60% of my mail actually gets sent to the USA from Canada.
Stamps from Canada to USA = $1.20 and USA to Canada = $1.15 USD (estimated exchange cost to be $1.30 CDN)
If we assumed 60% were sent to USA here is how much it’s costed me this year.
- $3.20 x 184 (40% Canadian Addresses) = $588.88
- $4.00 x 276 (60% American Addresses) = $1,104.00
Total Cost = $1692.00 CDN
The argument could also be made that if you buy the above items in bulk (ie. envelopes, hockey cards, etc), your costs would be significantly lower. It’s true but as you can see, things can add up. Especially with another drawback that comes with this hobby…
Missing / Unreturned Mail
One of the biggest reasons why you should not collect autographs through the mail are the long wait for mail. Getting signed items in the mail is part of the thrill. Coming home to an empty mailbox can be frustrating (although can be remedied by sending out more!).
I’ve got mail, in the thousands, waiting to be returned and I have no idea where they are. They could be sitting in a players’ basement, at the arena or tossed aside in the trash. It’s part of the hobby, unfortunately.
CHL players, are typically the easiest to get but players in the NHL take the longest. I’m sure you can realize they also have a much more heavy workload and responsibilities as an NHL player.