The answer to those questions revolves around a host of answers. It all depends on the quality of the item being signed, the utensil being used to sign it, the handling of the item, and where and how is it being displayed. There are just too many theories on preservation to attempt to cover in a blog posting. You really need to be an expert on sharpie color, ball point pens, paint pens, acid free, matte or glossy paper, and any other material you might have autographed.
I personally, like to have my autographs signed in specific colors for aesthetic reasons, vs. what I think will last longer. I like hockey pucks and bobblehead dolls signed with gold or silver paint pens, basketballs signed with silver paint pens, baseballs signed with blue ball point pens and photos signed in blue, black or silver sharpies. While I know some experts would dispute some of that thought process, I say, these are my autographs and I know how I want them to look. As I said when I started this blog, acquiring the autograph to me is about the experience about meeting the athlete, not selling the items on ebay.
There are items you can purchase to help preserve autographs such as UV protected ball cubes and museum glass for photos. You can find acid free boxes, frames and other raw materials used to preserve color. However, there are 2 common denominators, in all conversations, that every expert, authenticator or collector will agree on. 1. Natural light, and artificial light will most definitely have an adverse affect on autographs. Both will quickly cause items to fade into an unidentifiable object. Especially any type of light that directly hits an item. 2. Dirty hands cause long term damage as well. The oil from your fingers as well the constant handling of an item can cause damage to the signed object. I've seen smudges, creases and stains form on an item, almost always just from 2 dirty fingers handling the item. The items can absorb the stain or mark and have long term negative affects.
|Derek Lowe no hitter inscribed baseball that sustained light damage.|
So my advice, make sure you wash your hands prior to handling an autograph and turn off your lights and pull your shades in the display space. The less light that interacts with your items, the better the long term preservation.
|Curt Schilling signed ball that sustained finger damage. There are 2 spots on the autograph and inscription that have faded due to the damaged ball.|
|Curt Schilling signed ball with no light damage on a well handled item. Notice the good quality compared to the 2007 world series signed ball.|
For more information on autograph preservation, you can complete an online search and, guaranteed, you will find a plethora of information on this topic. I personally like ehow.com and their ideas on autograph preservation.