Everyone’s collecting habits change over the years. One thing that I used to do as a kid and have considered starting back up again is through the mail autograph requests. I don’t think I have sent out a request for twenty years now! Curtis Howson of @autographblog has received thousands of TTM autographs over the years! Curtis answered some questions for me and shared some of his successes and tips for fellow collectors.
BU: Can you give us a little background on you?
CH: My name is Curtis Howson, and I am a 36 year old husband and father of two from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I am a longtime sports card and autograph collector. I have been collecting since I was 8 years old. Along with collecting sports cards and autographs, my other hobbies include powerlifting, hockey, and professional wrestling. When I’m not collecting or spending time with my family, I can be found in a classroom teaching young and bright minds. I also work in remote Aboriginal communities in Northern Manitoba.
BU: How were you introduced to the trading card hobby?
CH: Like most guys my age, I was introduced to the hobby during the big boom of sports cards. Growing up in Canada, hockey cards were always the most accessible cards. My first memories of collecting are chasing Eric Lindros 1990-91 Score Rookie Card #440. I would save all my allowance to buy packs at my local community centre. This same year my local community centre hosted a sports card show. From that point on I was hooked!
BU: What do you currently collect? Any favorite pieces you’d like to share?
CH: I currently collect autographed sports cards, photos, and memorabilia. Along with sports cards, autographs have always been one of my biggest passions. I grew up 15 minutes away from the old Winnipeg Arena and Winnipeg Stadium. I spent countless hours meeting virtually every major hockey star of the 1990s. During the summer, I would spend a lot of time at the Winnipeg Stadium getting autographs from CFL (Canadian Football League) players, as well as former Major League baseball players playing in the Northern League (AA). I also collect TTM Autographs! This is my absolute favorite part of the autograph hobby! Favorite pieces in my collection include: Bobby Hull autographed Winnipeg Jets 16×20, Roberto Alomar Autographed Toronto Blue Jays World Series Photo, Bruno Sammartino Autographed Program, Slash Guns N Roses Photo, Roger Waters Autographed Pink Floyd Album, and many more! I’m constantly adding to my collection. I love it, my wife not so much….
BU: For anyone who doesn’t know, what exactly are TTM autographs?
CH: TTM autographs are through-the-mail autographs. This is a hobby I have been doing since the early 90s. I send cards and/or photos to athletes past and present, requesting their autographs. I handwrite letters to athletes letting them know that I am a collector. I also let the athlete know why I would like to add them to my collection. I try to make my letters as personal as possible. I will share a memory of watching them play or perhaps a video I’ve watched of them, or a book I read about their career. I always include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). I find addresses via StarTiger.com. Collecting TTM Autographs has been a blast! Every trip to the mailbox is an adventure, you never know what you are going to receive
BU: How many TTM autographs have you obtained over the years?
CH: If I had to estimate I would say that I have received over 3,000 autographed items through-the-mail over the years. I continue to add to this total on a daily basis.
BU: If you had to choose a Top 5 favorite autograph returns, what would those be?
CH: 1.) Wayne Gretzky 2.) Gordie Howe 3.) Don Mattingly 4.) Georges St-Pierre 5.) Kareem Abdul Jabbar
BU: What kind of success rate have you experienced with your autograph requests?
CH: I do a lot of research before sending to an athlete. I never send expensive cards or items. Sending TTM’s can be a gamble at times. I’ve sent to some athletes like Derek Jeter, Sidney Crosby, Ichiro in the past without getting a response. Sometimes you have to take your chances because you never know. If you follow me on Twitter @autographblog, you will see some huge successes on a daily basis. A lot of the successes are from many of the same athletes who are known TTM signers, but every so often there is a success from a complete longshot. With that being said, my success rate is around 70%. I track all my requests, successes, and failures through Star Tiger.
BU: Do you have any tips for someone who wants to start collecting autographs TTM?
CH: Do you research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. One thing I can honestly say is that we have a great community full of knowledgeable collectors willing to help. Use your manners! Please and thank you’s go a long way with athletes and fellow collectors. Sign up with a TTM Community website like Startiger.com, Sportscollectors.net, and Sportscardforum.com. These are invaluable resources for any TTM collector. Also be sure to check out @autographblog on Twitter ;)
BU: Anything else you’d like to share?
CH: Keep it fun! Don’t burn yourself out and don’t be afraid to send to longshots! Keep up with what’s going on in the hobby. In this day and age, there are so many resources out there including this one! Websites, Podcasts, Videos, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, take your pick. Obtaining items for your collection is great, but building friendships with likeminded people is better in my opinion. This hobby has enabled me to meet a lot of great people. The friendships I have developed with fellow collectors is what I cherish the most about our hobby!
Ultra-Pro® Single Card Screwdown. Acrylic. Displays cards up to a 2-5/8 x 3-3/4″. 3-1/8 x 5-3/16 x 1/4″ outside dimension. 4-screw. Crystal clear. Acid-free. Beveled edges. Non-recessed.