Sports memorabilia collecting

An introduction to the hobby of sports collectibles

Knowing about sports collectibles is just a first step in engaging to the hobby of collecting sports memorabilia and other sports collectible pieces.

While there are a lot of people who consider collecting as an enjoyable pastime, there are also collectors who see more than that.

Collecting sports cards, jerseys, baseballs, boxing gloves, football helmets, etc. can also be profitable especially for valuable, rare, and vintage sports collectibles. This article will be an introduction to sports memorabilia and other collectibles.

These two terms in collecting sports items are often used interchangeably. It is important to note that these two sports collecting jargons do have a major difference.

Sports memorabilia refers to cards, sports uniforms, helmets, and other sports items that are signed by an athlete and such signature is authenticated by a reliable and respectable distributor.

Sports collectibles are those unsigned sports equipment, cards, postcards, and other collectibles. Autographed sports merchandise which are not certified or authenticated are also considered sports collectibles.

Why do people like the hobby of collecting sports items?

  1. To show support

Most, if not all collectors of sports collectibles are huge sports fans. Collecting is a way of a person to show support to a sports superstar or to the basketball, baseball, or football team a person idolizes.

  1. To keep the momentum

Through memorabilia, action cards, photos, or those magazine clippings, you keep that nostalgic feel of the won championship, that record-breaking home run, or that legendary dunk. Sports memorabilia simply capture winning moments and immortalize them.

  1. To get connected

It is amazing how a tiny signature on sports trading cards makes you connected to that athletic star you admire. This is one reason why fans could not just get enough of autographed sports memorabilia.

Another advantage of being a sports collector is you get to meet people of same interest and passion. Before you realize it, you will find yourself in a network of both novice and expert hobbyists who would help you know more about the sports collectibles industry and help you grow your collection. There is a pool of learning in interaction.

  1. To be involved and know the sport better

More than knowing about the hobby, collecting sports memorabilia keeps you more involved of the sports itself. Many collectible sports cards do not only display images of your favorite athletes, cards also bear facts about the athlete, technical information about the sport that he plays, etc. A collector becomes a sports enthusiast.

  1. To earn or to invest

The sports memorabilia market has become a big industry through the years that is why investing in sports cards, baseball bats, hockey shirts, etc. is a feasible business endeavor. Evidences of the growing market are the online sports collectible auctions, sports forums, and online shops.

Countless pieces of sports collectibles had already been sold for thousands to millions of dollars especially if they are rare. An example of valuable rare sports memorabilia is the baseball that Mark McGwire hit for the 62nd home run in 1998 (breaking the Roger Maris’ single-season 61 home run record). The ball was sold for more than a million US dollars. A soccer shirt of Pele, the greatest footballer of all time, was sold for $ 224,000.

There are other rare collectible sports items which may not have as much value as those mentioned above, but will earn you bucks as well. All you need to do is to be very much oriented with the sports memorabilia market.

History of Sports Collectibles and Memorabilia

The history of sports collectibles and memorabilia began with sports cards, particularly baseball cards inserted in tobacco boxes. This was during the 1800s when the hype of inserting cards inside product packages became a popular marketing strategy not only in the tobacco industry but even in soaps, and later within bubble gum wrappings.

Among those promotional cards issued by tobacco companies, the T-206 Honus Wagner became the most popular even until today. It is in fact considered as the “Mona Lisa” of all sports cards and is one of the most rare sports cards.

In the dawning of the World War II until 1950, there was a halt in producing sports cards from different companies. In 1952, collectible cards came back to business when the chewing gum manufacturing company, Topps, produced sets of innovative collectible cards bearing colored portrait of a baseball player, team logo, and other statistical and biographical information.

The card sets were also larger than its earlier versions derived from the tobacco cards. Because of the innovation, Topps cards were considered the first true baseball card set. Then on, more cards were released to the market from various manufacturers.

Examples of sports collectibles today

Sports collectibles is not limited to collectible sports cards but also to collectible and autographed sporting uniforms and equipment in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, soccer, and boxing. Here are sports collectibles and memorabilia available in the market today:

  • Sports trading cards are the pioneer in the sports collectibles industry. They were the first forms of sports collectibles (as baseball cards), nowadays, these sports collectibles remain to be the favorite among sports collectors.
  • Rookie cards – there has been a lot of confusion on the real definition of what a rookie card really is. Some say a rookie card is called such when it is the first time that an athlete appears on a sports trading card. Others also believe that the first time a manufacturer features an athlete in a card, such card is called a rookie card. A safe definition of a rookie card is a card that features an athlete during his rookie year in the sport.
  • Autographed cards – are signed sports trading cards by the athlete. Generally, an autograph add more value to a memorabilia. However, signatures must be authenticated to be called as real sports memorabilia. Uncertified autographed cards are still considered collectibles.
  • Vintage cards – sports cards are considered vintage when they are produced or released during pre-1980s. Because of their age, they are highly collectible and valuable and can become even more expensive through time.
  • Graded cards – graded cards are those sports cards that were evaluated and authenticated by independent card grading services. There are many factors that are looked upon to grade a card such as centering, borders and corners, surface, condition, and eye appeal. Cards with high grades (GEM-MT 10: Gem Mint as the highest) have higher market values.
  • Game worn jerseys or uniforms – among the top ten most expensive sports memorabilia are the baseball legend Babe Ruth’s jerseys. Basketball jerseys, particularly from the National Basketball Association (NBA) today are also very widely collected. A Kobe Bryant LA Lakers Jersey could cost more than $3, 700.
  • Game used sporting equipment – game used sporting equipment may include football helmets, baseball bats, basketballs, boxing gloves, etc. Famous among sports enthusiasts are baseball bats and balls. The world’s oldest hockey stick (1850s) became recognized as the most expensive non baseball sport memorabilia after it was sold for $2.2 million in 2006.
  • Event memorabilia – this type of sports collectible or memorabilia includes tickets, programmes, and photos taken during the actual game. In football and rugby for example, it has been a tradition to buy a tournament program before entering the stadium. As these accumulate in every match, they can become collectible items. A signature of a football superstar will even add more value to this sports memorabilia (sentimental or monetary value at that).
  • Sports Bobbleheads – a bobblehead is a type of collectible doll originating in the 1950s. It usually has an oversized head attached to the body by a spring that when tapped, the head bobbles (moves up and down like a nod). This kind of doll may vary in designs – from popular cartoon characters, politicians, Hollywood actors and celebrities, or animal miniatures. The most collected are the sports bobbleheads featuring different sports superstars.
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