Buying vintage sports memorabilia

Tips that will help you purchasing online valuable and authentic antique sports collectibles and old autographed memorabilia

Vintage sports memorabilia and collectibles are sports items that existed before the 1980s. Because vintage sports memorabilia immortalize the beginnings of sports, they also become valuable objects from history (some of them become pieces for museums).

Thus, old sports collectibles and memorabilia become in demand by many collectors to complete their collection.

How to buy vintage sports memorabilia?

Sports memorabilia collecting is a very successful industry which has both advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is, because it is a huge market, it would not be very difficult for collectors to find useful information about pursuing their hobby including tips in purchasing sports collectibles. A big disadvantage is the sports memorabilia trade becomes an avenue for widespread fraudulent practices.

In buying vintage sports memorabilia, you have to be very careful against forgery especially fake autographed sports memorabilia.

Almost billions of dollars are lost in a year in the sports collectibles industry because of the enormous population of fake sports collectable merchandise in the market.

To lessen the risks, here is a buying guide of vintage sports memorabilia:

  1. Be wise and knowledgeable.

You must back your self up with the sufficient knowledge about the sports memorabilia market. Know the characteristics of real antique sport collectibles.

In vintage sports cards for example, you have to be aware of card makers, release dates, the correct size of an authentic sports trading card (depending on the year it was produced; from 1952, sports cards were of bigger size – an innovation by candy manufacturer, Topps), the color of a photo, and other product features.

There are many collectible cards which are only reproduced and made to look old but are actually not vintage. A black and white picture or a sepia effect is not an assurance that the card existed before the 80s.

Ask a lot of questions. What do baseball stitches look like in the 1960s? What were the specifications of Joe DiMaggio’s final World Series jersey? What game-used sporting equipment did Muhammad Ali sign on aside from his boxing gloves?

See which are available for sale and which are not. There are certain rare sports memorabilia that cannot be sold because they are already owned by private collectors. But if you see them in an online auction without prior news, then you would have to think twice about the authenticity of such sporting collectibles!

  1. Make that wanted list of antique sports memorabilia

Making a list will help you to prioritize and avoid impulse buying. It is always best to spend only within your means so,set priorities. Aside from spending within the budget, it is also advised to purchase the best collectible that your money could afford.

Do not go for less quality, although you can settle for less number of collectibles to purchase at a time. Your collection will eventually grow anyway, so do not focus on quantity when you are just starting.

  1. Know where to go.

Common “destination” for purchasing memorabilia online would be eBay but it turns out there are counterfeits that dwell in that auction and shopping website.

There are other reputable sports memorabilia shops online where you can visit and send inquiries to. Some of them are even affiliated to sports associations and leagues like the National Basketball Association or authorized by third party authenticators assuring you of real sports merchandise available.

It is also important that you read and gather customer feedbacks to guide you. Choose stores that specialize in selling vintage sports memorabilia for best finds and expert advice.

  1. Pay attention to terms of service from the seller.

Does the dealer offer a money back guarantee? How about one year warranty? Do they assure you returns or exchange for defective vintage memorabilia? See to it that sellers do not only provide you quality merchandise but also quality customer service.

Look for a certificate of authenticity that always comes along with a specific product. It would be better if such certificate would come from a reputable third party rather than from an unknown institution or from the dealer itself.

  1. Beware of bargains

You must be familiar with price ranges and changes. Browse for a certain collectible item in different shops and see if their prices vary and have major differences. Bargains are not necessarily good finds. When the value of a vintage memorabilia seems to be less than the others, it can be too good to be true and that is risky. You might end up with a fake and you should have not wondered why it was cheap.

Here are some factors that influence the market value of vintage sports memorabilia:

Quality – the condition and quality of the item should be top priority. This is often measured by sports collectible grades. The Professional Sports Authenticator or PSA follows a 10-scale Grading Standards (most commonly used for sports cards). GEM-MT 10 for a perfect card and PR 1 for cards in poor condition.

Off center images in trading cards will decrease their value. If the memorabilia is not properly taken care of – with some signs of damage and neglect (scratches, tear, or wear) – then most likely, they would not be as valuable.

Rarity – the availability of an antique sports memorabilia in the market will affect its market price. One reason why the T206 Honus Wagner is considered the most valuable baseball card is its scarcity. There had been only 50-60 cards said to exist produced by tobacco companies. According to some stories, Wagner (who does not smoke) requested to stop the production of the card because he did not want his name to be associated with encouraging tobacco use. Others say production was stopped because he was not compensated accordingly for the advertisement.

Popularity of the athlete – the more famous the sports superstar is, the more expensive could his item get. If a player is inducted into a Hall of Fame or lined up into the World Record Breakers, the memorabilia that features him will presumably be very pricey.

Player performance – this is somehow related to the athlete’s popularity. His performances in the game would often result to his recognition, and so memorabilia that features him will be in demand.

Sports autographs – vintage sports collectibles with authenticated autographs are generally priced higher than ordinary items. It is for this reason that signatures of famous stars are forged.

To avoid being a victim of fake sports autographs, you have to familiarize signature patterns of an athlete. If the letters “B” and “R” in Babe Ruth’s signature are usually bigger than the other letters in his name, be wary of Ruth autographs where all letters appear to be of the same size.

Authenticity of the vintage sports memorabilia – fakes simply do not deserve any value.

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