Comic book conventions: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. But if you manage to wade through the ranks of nerds, cosplayers, and vendors, sometimes you find something great. Like Mark Hamill signing Star Wars trading cards of himself as Luke Skywalker with ridiculous captions.
Steve Grad, an autograph authenticator who regularly appears on the reality show Pawn Stars, posted part of his collection of Hamill-signed cards on Facebook last week. Grad works as an authenticator for PSA, the largest trading-card-authentication company in the US.
Grad told Quartz he believes now that the cards Hamill signed were likely only signed under the promise that they would never be shown publicly. But the people Grad bought these particular cards from never told him that. Grad said he had no intention of embarrassing Hamill before the next installment in the Star Wars saga is released later this year, adding that every time he’s met Hamill “he’s been so nice.” Grad has another 60-70 Hamill-captioned cards that he said he probably won’t share now. But the internet was always going to end up seeing some of these cards.
“I’ve worked in this business forever,” Grad said. “Everything gets passed on and moved. If Mark Hamill is naïve enough to think that no one would ever see these, then he should’ve known that someday these would be out there.”
Grad told Quartz that he estimates that he has between 60,000-70,000 signed pieces of Star Wars memorabilia. He said he first fell in love with the movies—like many—when he was a child. He said the toys, and the distinct plastic aroma they had when first opened, has stuck with him over the years. ”I know it sounds weird, but I’ll always remember that smell,” he said. “I had to have all the toys, the ships; it just became just a part of my life.”
Grad said he just turned 45 and has no intention of slowing down his collecting: “Some years I spend between $75,000 and $100,000 on my collection.” Because of his job as an authenticator, it would be a conflict of interest for Grad to sell any of his collection. He said he’s going to pass his collection onto his two girls.
“I don’t profit from this,” Grad said. “I just love collecting Star Wars stuff.”
And it’s likely that Grad will keep up his weekly Wednesday postings from his Star Wars collection, though they probably won’t all be as popular as the Hamill post.
“Two Wednesdays ago I did Harrison Ford stuff and nobody really gave a shit,” Grad said.
Quartz picked out some of its favorites from Grad’s post below, reposted with his permission.