Hobby Musings: Catching up with Historic Autographs’ Kevin Heffner – Historic Autographs has been known in the hobby for its impeccable autograph checklists in their various products. Whether it’s baseball legends or historical figures, the company has been able to include some of the toughest signatures on the market. Trying something a little different, Kevin Heffner’s company also made the decision to start including base cards in their products, a departure from their normal hit-based offerings. To talk more about this and his other thoughts on the hobby, I had the chance to catch up with Mr. Heffner. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Kevin, we talked about this a little last time with your Fed League product. Beyond the hit card, you also included packs with more cards in the product. Do you have any plans to do that with any future products?
KH: Over the past year, Historic Autographs has been making true “trading cards” for our collectors. The 2019 HA Federal League series was a 66-card set featuring HOFers, players, owners and stadiums from the now defunct league. There were also randomly inserted color variations for every card, giving the collector the opportunity to chase serial-numbered cards/sets. So yes, we plan to make at least 1-2 products annually that feature true trading cards in packs in 2020.
KS: How much challenge does it add in terms of product planning and added cost?
KH: There is no real challenge, as my design team is good at what they do.
KS: One of the hallmarks of your products are the rare autographs. They can’t be cheap or easy to acquire. How much time and money goes into asset acquisition for your products?
KH: Acquiring the autographs is always the most challenging part of our products because our team tries to make sure that our autograph checklist is top notch. As far as time, each product has its own time frame – depending on the size of the product run and rarity level of the autographs within that checklist.
KS: Who would you say are the hardest signatures to acquire right now?
KH: Hall of Fame autographs are relatively easy compared to the scarce names of players from the vintage sets like T206, T205, Cracker Jacks, etc. But as of today, the Civil War autographs seem to be getting harder and harder to find.
KS: Do you find it’s harder to put together products for sports or non-sports categories?
KH: They all have their challenges so they are evenly difficult.
KS: What’s a dream product that you’d love to do some day?
KH: Yes, Historic Autographs has some ideas for products that will shock the market but we will keep tight-lipped on those until I can get the autographs and cards ready for them.
KS: What do you think is the overall state of the hobby right now?
KH: I personally like the current state of the hobby/market, but I do find the overall production of “limited” rookie cards to be a farce. Companies put out a base rookie, then a silver/chrome version, the color variations that are seemingly limitless. I have no issues with a few versions of each player but when you have color variations coupled with image variations then multiplied out with background variations – the “1/299” rookie card actually will have over 3,000 cards. Most rookie cards are NOT limited but are marketed as such and I believe that this will eventually hurt the market (for reasons, see the next question).
KS: If you could make one change in the hobby, what would it be?
KH: The one thing that could help the hobby is to allow small business like Historic Autographs access to MLB, NFL, NBA and other sports licenses – in a limited format. Maybe, for a fee, allow small companies the chance to prove that we can do as good – if not a better job than these corporations who continually pump out tens of thousands of cases with little concern for true “value” in the boxes they sell.
KS: When it comes to your business, what keeps you up at night?
KH: Very little, I sleep soundly knowing that I make products that I pour my heart into, good products and I take care of my family, my children and my employees. That makes for a good night’s sleep.
KS: You just released Limelight Signatures. What else do you have coming out for upcoming products?
KH: Look for 2019 Historic Autographs 1969 Trading Cards series – a real treat and true trading card set – with an absolutely LOADED autograph checklist. The end of the year, HA issues 2019 Historic Autographs Civil War DIVIDED (800 boxes, 4 Abraham Lincoln autographs and a whole bunch of great Civil War related autographs, relics and yes, our trading cards and inserts).
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.