OT: Best way to keep a signed helmet from fading?

Submitted by go16blue on July 10th, 2013 at 3:07 PM

My question is kind of boring, so if people want to use this thread talk about memorabilia generally, go ahead.

But in my case specifically, I have a minihelmet signed by Hoke 1 year ago, that I hope to have signed by Denard later today. Once that happens, as you can probably understand I will really want to keep this helmet and the signatures on it in good condition. What is the best way to do this? I already keep it in a plastic display case, away from direct light, but are there any more steps I can take? I feel like I heard somewhere about potentially laminating it, is that possible? This is the one piece of Michigan memorabilia that I really care about, and I want it to stay perfect!

Thanks in advance



July 10th, 2013 at 3:27 PM ^

I can tell you to be careful whatever you do use.  My brother got Payne Stewart to sign a golfball at the Buick Open when we were kids and someone told my dad he should spray hairspray on it to seal it.  He had the can too close to the ball and the hair spray ran and basically washed the name right off the ball.


July 10th, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

Do a test before applying any coverings.

Take a Sharpie and mark a similar piece of plastic or whatever it is that you plan on coating. The reason for this is that some spray-on clear coatings might cause the Sharpie to run or dissolve altogether and that is the last thing you want for your signed memorabilia.

A non-acetone clear spray would probably be a good place to start but make sure you do a test run first...


July 10th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

I'd be careful with that, or anything solvent based for that matter - I'd be worried about the clear spray attacking either the helmet paint or the marker ink used for the signature.

The other issue is that, depending on the paint, the clear spray is probably just as likely to yellow or otherwise react badly to UV over time as the helmet paint.

Really all that clear coating will gain you is protection from scratching / rubbing off the signatures - but you've already accomplished that by keeping it in a clear case.

You're probably already doing the best you can. The lifetime of the signature is going to be largely dictated by the quality of the ink used to sign it and the finish of the helmet itself.


July 11th, 2013 at 8:15 AM ^

The other issue is that, depending on the paint, the clear spray is probably just as likely to yellow or otherwise react badly to UV over time as the helmet paint.

Well, I would think if you want the signature to last as long as possible, you'd want to keep it out of direct sunlight altogther. If you have a basement mancave, I'd display your helmet down there and touch it as little as possible. If you wanted to dust it, you could get a bottle of that compressed air folks use to clean off their computer keyboards.


July 10th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

I actually had not heard about laminating helmets, but the best way that I know of is essentially doing what you're doing right now. If you have an airtight display, that might even be better - the key is simply to minimize handling, contact with dust and so forth. If you want UV protection, I think most acrylic cases have that. 

oriental andrew

July 10th, 2013 at 3:48 PM ^



Seems you don't really have to do anything like spray clear coat on it, which could diminish the value (if you ever have it certified).  Just put it in a nice acrylic case in a safe, cool, dry place and call it a day.  


July 10th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

 It sounds like you are taking good care of it.  But I would not reccomend putting any type of coating on it. 

The only suggestion I could make is to have it on a base with an enclosure made of museum glass.  Museum glass is designed to prevent fading.  I have artwork that is framed using museum glass with no signs of fading.  Go to a local frame shop and see what they can do.  It doesn't have to be a permanent enclosure, just something to keep dust, dirt, moisture, etc off of it. So you could preserve it and be able to add more signatures down the road.


July 10th, 2013 at 6:00 PM ^

I own an actual recent football Wolverine's helmet signed by Brady Hoke.  (God Bless my Significant Other, and Mott, for this great birthday gift especially since my little Harvardian is a clueless Ivy, I guess the stars were in alignment because I didn't request it...)  I just wear my helmet everywhere.  I am THAT GUY you might see roller blading along the Chicago lakeshore with the full cage protection.  While singing The Victors and skating to the Hawaiian War Chant...


July 10th, 2013 at 6:05 PM ^

If you aren't already here, you probably will not be getting a sig. I am about 220 in line and they are saying anyone over 300 is more than a long shot. At least 275 in line now.


July 10th, 2013 at 8:37 PM ^

Do not use a black Sharpie! You need something that is archival. I have seen Sharpie signed articles fade to nothing in a relatively short period of time.

Sanford is making a pen marked as "Industrial" that they claim is "Super Permanent". The marking on the barrel is red, as opposed to black on the standard Sharpie. Note that I have no long term experience with the Industrial Pen, so I can't comment on it's durability.

The advice above about using a paint marker or silver Sharpie addresses the solution - you have to use a pigmented marker.


And while I'm sure that Sex Wax is fine, for archival/restoration you really want Renaissance Wax.


July 10th, 2013 at 9:14 PM ^

but not too much. I have a jersey of mine about to be put back into my direct possession that has a screen printed logo on the front covered in signatures. It's not something I would sell one day (first hockey jersey, sigs are more a memory than an investment or anything) but I'd like to keep them at least visible/recognizable for as many years as possible. As far as sealing that somehow, does anyone know of any resources or have any experience in something similar?


July 10th, 2013 at 10:12 PM ^

Advice on where to: 1) buy frames and 2) get the objects framed.

The jersey, along with the NCAA jacket not shown, will go into its own frame.

The night game pic will go along with the "oh what a night" mgoblog shirt, still brand new, and my ticket stub.

The pennant is just a pennant at this point.  I dont know what to do with that. 

Essentially I will need two frames that can hold a shirt/jersey.  Thoughts and suggestions?


July 10th, 2013 at 10:59 PM ^

about what a "d-bag" you are for collecting an autographed helmet. I mean, all people with vanity plates are d-bags in his book so it stands to reason.


July 11th, 2013 at 1:10 AM ^

Do not put mini signed helmet on Blue Rock-em-Sock-em Robot. Do not put mini osu helmet on red Rock-em-Sock-em Robot and then commence to clobbering. It may damage the signature, but watching the red robot's head pop off is still pretty cool.


July 11th, 2013 at 1:22 AM ^

Just get a nice archival quality, UV protected case.  The types they used for sports cards, comics, action figures, etc. that get graded.  That should work just fine.