As a student in the early 1990s, a Georgia man was a huge college basketball fan and never missed a home game. He was fortunate to have a class with Dennis Scott, a stand-out player who went on to a long and successful career in the NBA. Along with teammates Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver, Scott was part of Tech's “Lethal Weapon 3,” leading the team to the Final Four in 1990. The young man thought it would be a great idea to have a basketball jersey autographed by all three of Tech's star players as a gift for his dad. He was right; the jersey was a big hit. But the next time he visited home, his dad was wearing the jersey while mowing the lawn! Needless to say, wearing it while working outside is not the best way to display an autographed jersey.
Whether your investment in an autographed jersey is emotional, financial, or both, there are important considerations in how you protect and display it. Light, air circulation, and climate can all affect autographed jerseys, causing signatures to fade or smudge, or causing fabric to deteriorate. One of the best ways to protect your investment is with a specially-designed case for autographed jerseys. Depending on complexity, professional framers can charge up to $500 for these displays, but there are a variety of options on the market that will allow you to do it yourself for much less.
Your first consideration when choosing a case for autographed jerseys is light. Light can cause signatures to fade, affecting the value and appearance of your jersey. Having said that, you want enough light to be able to see and enjoy it. The best way to display an autographed jersey and protect it from light is to choose a shadow box or frame with built-in UV protection. This protection usually involves a special type of glass (which also reduces reflections), different coatings, or acrylic. Amazon has several options, including one with a hinged door, a standard case that is under $50 and this clear, acrylic case. While slightly more expensive than regular glass, cases with UV protection will help prevent damage to your sports memorabilia.
Proper air circulation in your case or frame is just as important as the right amount of light. Autographed jerseys need room to “breathe” and can become damaged when pressed directly up against their glass or acrylic cases. A good rule of thumb is allowing at least half an inch between the front of your autographed jersey case and the display itself. That makes the large selection of options, particularly shadow boxes or cases built with hinges, appealing. If you have other items to display with the jersey, this extra deep shadow box with room to store other items might be a good call. You may want to include items in your autographed jersey display such as a photo of the athlete wearing the jersey, sports trading cards, or custom-engraved plaques with the name and date of the autograph.
Among the newer display cases are those with team logos etched on the front. These typically cost a little under $200.
If you prefer a stand-alone display case so you can see both sides of the jersey, this is an interesting option.
You should also think about your climate when considering the best way to display autographed jerseys. If you live in a very warm or humid climate, your autographed jersey display should be in a place with moderate temperature control. In other words, your air-conditioned living room will be a better choice to feature your jersey than outside by the pool or in your converted garage. Moisture can cause fabrics and signatures to smear or shrink which is not a good look and alters the value of your autographed jerseys.
Once you have chosen a case for your autographed jersey, there are many ways to create the display. Some cases include straight hangers to simply attach at the top and hang the autographed jersey as you would any other garment, but many purists prefer the control and visual appeal of pinning the jersey. Pinning is best accomplished with an autographed jersey case that includes a padded felt backing designed especially for this purpose. You can lay out the jersey however you like, and use dressmaker pins or straight pins to secure it in place. However, if your jersey is something you may someday sell, you may want to avoid that route.
With a little thought and planning, you can create a memorable, lasting, and enjoyable autographed jersey display.