What are sports memorabilia?

Sports memorabilia can be defined as any object which has value due to its close relation to sport and athletes. This category of collectibles covers a wide range of objects. The most popular include sports equipment used or signed by athletes (e.g. balls, poles, gloves), collectible cards, photos, autographs and sportswear. Essentially, sports memorabilia include everything that commemorates teams or individual athletes, as well as special sports events.

Sports memorabilia market

Although sports memorabilia, autographs and collector’s cards were already popular at the beginning of the 20th century, it was towards its’ end that the sports memorabilia market really developed. It has been growing steadily ever since and its value in 2015 has been estimated at around $ 5 billion. Currently, sports memorabilia are sold all over the world, especially in emerging markets, and are the subject of specialized sales. Some even beat price records. From Babe Ruth’s shirt from 1920 to Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves – these unique and rare items are now regularly valued and sold for millions of dollars. The most expensive items are those that commemorate a success or are closely related to it, such as medals or trophies.

How are sports memorabilia valued?

There are several aspects that experts must consider when valuing sports memorabilia. These include the subject, player or team associated with the item, the issue number and the most important aspect, which is the role of the item in the history of the game or sport. In addition, the type of item also impacts the value. A card will not be worth the same as a helmet, and a helmet used in a game will be worth more than one that has never been worn on the pitch.

As with other types of collectibles, the rarer the item, the higher its value. It should be noted that in the case of well-known athletes, the popularity of memorabilia associated with them is higher, and the value of such items also increases after their death. This explains the fact that many people want to own objects commemorating and paying tribute to iconic characters. For example, after the death of the well-known boxer Muhammad Ali, the market is booming with collector’s items associated with him.

What you should know about buying sports memorabilia

To help you make a conscious decision when buying sports memorabilia, we present our top tips:

Buying as an investment

As with other memorabilia, sports memorabilia are often bought for sentimental reasons, but this does not mean that they can’t be also investments. If you hope that the item will be a wise investment, you should carry out an extensive analysis. Get acquainted with other sold items related to the athlete or the team to find out what the market demand for such an item is. Find out if the team or the player has many fans or contributed something to their discipline, thanks to which they will be remembered. This may help to some extent assess whether your investment is likely to be viable in the future or not

Problems with authenticity

Be careful when buying sports memorabilia: a large market also means that you can often find many counterfeits. To avoid scams, get sports memorabilia from reliable sources only. These include renowned exhibitions, sports groups, dealers and auction houses. In order not to fall victim to fraud you should also buy only certified items. However, it should be remembered that a certificate doesn’t always guarantee that the item will be legal or of good quality. Certificates can also be fake. Therefore, we recommend that you check whether the company that provides them works in accordance with the law.

It’s a common practice for fully legal institutions selling sports memorabilia to take photos of the athlete signing the item. Ask for the opportunity to see those photos.

The online market

Please note that a growing part of the memorabilia market is available online. Online businesses such as eBay currently have many items that were deliberately produced for autographing and selling. They are not counterfeits but they are not fully considered sports memorabilia either, because they were produced as collector’s items that are easy to get and have no relation to a specific event or match. In addition, since they are generally mass-produced, their value is lower.

The importance of research

As we mentioned earlier, we recommend conducting proper research in order to learn how to properly judge offers. You can focus on comparing prices, checking availability and origin, or even getting advice. There are several guides and forums that can be helpful if you are planning to buy sports memorabilia. Over time, you will become acquainted with this type of an item and get enough knowledge that will allow you to distinguish good offers from bad ones. Always remember that if the offer looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true, and you should approach it carefully.

Experienced ValuePedia experts can help you determine the value of your sports memorabilia

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