The first thing to remember in preserving your autographed baseball is to ensure that you get a high quality signature. The two best writing utensils for autographing baseballs are a high quality ball point and a fine point Sharpie marker. The best ink for the autograph comes from the ball point pen. This ink reacts well to the leather and gives the autograph seeker the most indelible autograph. However, the Sharpie will provide a clearer and smoother stroke from the signer than the ball point pen. The ink quality is not quite as good and it takes longer to dry so you have to be careful not to touch the autograph.
The other two major pitfalls to avoid when preserving your baseball are to keep the ball from direct sunlight and not to handle the baseball very much. The less you handle the baseball, the better it is. Direct sunlight can cause the ball to yellow and can dry out the leather causing the leather to crack. Handling the baseball too much can also have a negative effect on the baseball. Your hands are full of oils and bacteria and these two elements can have a negative effect on both the quality of the leather and the signature.
The best way to store the autographed baseball is in an acrylic holder. The acrylic holder should be stored away from direct sunlight in a location that tends to stay between 65 and 75 degrees. Large temperature swings can affect the quality of the leather.
Autographs that are not authenticated will sell at a far lower price than an authenticated one. Many times they will sell for half the price. There are two major authentication firms in the market. These firms are PSA / DNA and JSA. They both use a similar process for authentication. The customer must send the autograph in and the firm will do a two stage process for authentication. The process includes an Examination process where the autograph goes through a number of physical and mechanical tests to verify authenticity. Once the autograph is authenticated the autograph is documented. All authenticated autographs receive a certificate of authenticity. .
Once the authentication is completed the baseball goes through a grading process. The baseball is graded on a scale of one to ten for both the quality of the baseball and the quality of the autograph. This grading is based on the visual appearance of both the baseball and the autograph. If the ball graded a 10 and the autograph graded an 8 the overall grade would be a 9.
The higher number equates to a better grade.