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Collecting Through The Mail (TTM): A Guide For The Beginner

By: EarlsWorld’s Collecting Universe
October 24, 2018

In this day and age, it’s pretty hard not to know what collecting autographs is all about.  You can find them randomly inserted in packs, on most any table at a card show or sold just about everywhere on the internet.  Autograph collecting isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact its as old as collecting itself!  However, in the world of autograph collecting, there is nothing more special or personal than the autographs received through the mail or better known by the acronym TTM.  Have you ever sent out a TTM request?

Although the era in which we live has changed from the days when I started sending requests out myself, the process or method really hasn’t.  In this quick through the mail introduction, I would like to cover for the beginner some basic information you’ll need to know before getting started.  Although TTM Autographs can be very fun and satisfying to most interested collectors, it can also be a point of frustration to the novice due to their lack of experience and knowledge on the subject.   Do you know the etiquette of making a TTM request? 

Like most beginners, you may have grand ideas of obtaining an autograph from your favorite player through the mail.  However grand that idea may be to you, unless you know how to reach that person of interest and what their signing habits are, a TTM request sent to them may be a shot in the dark or in most cases a waste of time, as many well known ball players do not sign through the mail like Derek Jeter or Aaron Judge for instance.  Sending out such requests can not only be frustrating but discouraging to a novice requester.  So my first point of advice I would offer is to make a list of the persons of interest you’d like to send out TTM requests to. Once your list is compiled, the next task would be to find out if those marked on your list actually sign through the mail requests.  Now, you’re probably scratching your head asking yourself,  “Where do I find that information?”  Good question!  This is where I suggest connecting with other TTM collectors from sites like earlsworldscollectinguniverse.com  or on our Facebook page EarlsWorld’s Old School TTM Autograph Collecting.  You may also find a connection with EarlsWorld’s Old School TTM Autograph Collecting Group, another one of our social media connections found on Facebook.  These are great resources to find out more on through the mail collecting and the how-to’s.  In communities such as these, collectors are usually willing to share player addresses, signing habits and so on.  Are you a member of any through the mail groups?

After putting together your list and researching the signing habits and where to send your requests, next you’ll need the following supplies:

  1. Writing paper
  2. A good writing utensil
  3. Envelopes
  4. Stamps
  5. Items you will send with request – this may be a photo of the person of interest, sports cards, 3×5 index cards, a baseball, etc.

First step is to prepare a short note that in my opinion, should be handwritten.  The contents of the not should be very courteous and positive.  A simple example of a written request could be something like this:

“Dear ____________,  It is a pleasure to write to you today with this request asking that you would do me the honor by signing my (whatever the item is) for me.  I watched you play (whatever sport) growing up and followed your career.  I hope you are doing well these days.  In advance, I would like to thank you for honoring my request.  Sincerely, ___________.”

A simple, short handwritten request will most always be received with gratitude from the person you are sending your request to.  Typed letter seem mechanical and impersonal and why I always recommend handwriting your note.

After you have completed your note, be sure to fill out the mailing envelope with the person of interest’s address and your return address.  On the Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, only your mailing address need to be written for privacy of the person sending it back.  Once you have your envelopes filled out and stamps placed on each, you may now stuff the mailing envelope with your  handwritten note, items to be signed, any required fees and the SASE.  Once you’ve sealed your envelope, its ready to be mailed.  One of the rituals of TTM collecting is keeping a mailing list with dates sent & received so you know what’s out and what you are expecting back in the mail.  Organization is all part of the TTM’er’s process.

So there you are – the most basic steps to get started collecting through the mail.  I must warn you, TTM autographing can become addicting!  Once you get your first requests back you’ll know exactly what I mean!  To help get you started here are some TTM addresses you can try out!  All the research information has been done for you.  How many TTM requests will you sent out?


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