Sports Memorabilia Price Guides and Manuals

Updated January 5, 2022
Collection of antique sports equipment.

From rugby to baseball and all of the activities in between, people have hoarded collectibles from their favorite sports teams and players for decades. However, 20 or 50 years down the line when their legendary lineups have changed, it can be tempting to toss out those dusty relics; but, you don't want to be too hasty in filling the trash bin with your commemorative jerseys and placards. In fact, looking over a couple of sports memorabilia price guides can save you from tossing out a $100,000 collectible by accident, making these easy-to-find tools must haves for amateur and seasoned sports collectors alike.

Tips for Using Sports Memorabilia Price Guides

A sports memorabilia price guide is the perfect way to gauge the value of a collection. Whether you're just starting to collect sports memorabilia or you have a large collection already, value guides can help you determine approximate costs for insurance purposes or for selling your collectibles.

Find the Most Current Editions

It's always important to keep abreast of what the professional market is valuing sports-related goods at. Using guides from 10 to 15 years ago might be helpful for identification purposes, but the current market value can change dramatically in just a few years. Therefore, you want to try to find the newest editions of whichever guides you're looking at getting the most accurate estimates possible.

Let the Guides Point You Towards Collectibles

If you're new to collecting, then flipping through a specialized guide or two is a great way to narrow down your interests and discover what type of collectibles you want to start looking for to launch your collection. This is especially helpful if you're on a budget as these guides let you quickly identify what items have low-market values and are thus safe investments for someone that's strapped for cash.

Don't Take the Guide for Law

While these guides can give you current market values for specific types of sports memorabilia, their prices aren't guaranteed. Market demand and the quality and authenticity of your items all factor into what you can actually make on an individual sale. Don't get too excited over a sticker price because there's no telling if your item's going to actually sell for that much at auction.

Popular Types of Sports Memorabilia

There's something inherent in the human genome that loves watching and playing games. Whether it's a friendly bout of double-dutch among school kids or a career-defining save in the Super Bowl, humans never grow out of their love for play. Thus, sports memorabilia is a continuously popular category of collectibles, with some favorite types being:

  • Autographed sports balls
  • Autographed baseball bats
  • Hickory golf clubs
  • Primitive golf balls
  • Signed jerseys
  • Signed football helmets
  • Bobble head dolls
  • Signed posters
  • Trading cards

Collecting sports items has never been easier, especially with so many items readily available online. Whether you purchase items from online retailers or through a digital auction, the internet may be the best way to find that special, coveted item for a sports fan or for yourself.

Prices for Common Categories of Sports Memorabilia

There's a seemingly endless array of things that sports fans can and will like to collect. From towels, to equipment, to limited edition bobble heads, the list goes on and on. Yet, the most popular types of collectibles tend to have the largest value ranges, making them monetary wild cards. Thus, it's important to keep track of what makes these particular items valuable so that you can separate the hidden treasures from the fool's gold.

Trading Cards

Dom Mullaney, Jacksonville Team, baseball card portrait

Sports trading cards really peaked in popularity during the mid-20th century, especially with baseball players, though basketball and football also featured their own rosters of seasonal cards. High-value vintage baseball cards like ones featuring Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, and so on, are generally sold between the $100,000-$200,000 range, though this is mostly thanks to the player's career and the card's significance. Thus, rookie cards and rare cards from limited runs are worth the most. For example, these are a few of the higher valued trading cards that've recently sold at auction.

Professional Player's Jerseys

Babe Ruth's Farewell Jersey - National Baseball Hall of Fame

Another incredibly popular item that sports collectibles love to find are physical apparel that a player wore. In particular, people gravitate to jerseys with a player's iconic number emblazoned on the backs. Thanks to these items' personal connection with the players, collectors are willing to spend quite a lot of money on them. Of course, contemporary jerseys from lesser known players can sell for a couple hundred dollars, but the big ticket sales come from title winning jerseys. For instance, jerseys that players wore when they won championships, world competitions, and so on. These collectibles will also sell for a few hundred thousand dollars when in good condition, and on the rare occasion, for millions as well.

Olympics Memorabilia

Montage of Olympics memorabilia

The Olympics is one sporting event that nearly every country around the world either participates in or avidly watches unfold every two years. Thanks to this global reach, the Olympics provides more merchandise and player-related memorabilia for sports collectors to find than any other sporting event around the world. Best of all is the fact that a large number of Olympics memorabilia is relatively low-cost. Things like Olympic trading pins can sell for a few hundred dollars each, while even some retro Olympic medals are listed at auction for a few thousand dollars.

However, thanks to the variety of items available, there is a very wide range of values for these Olympic-related items, such as with these that've recently come to auction:

Collectibles Manuals

It's a great idea for new collectors to familiarize themselves with the collectibles they want to start collecting, and an easy way to do so is by reading up on the trades. There are many collectible price guides on the market, from books to magazines and places online. These manuals include information on collecting as a hobby, collecting items for profit, how to determine values, current estimated values, and techniques for identifying authentic items, as well as fakes. Current notable sports memorabilia price guides on the market are:

  • All Sport Alphabetical Price Guide by Kruse Publications Sports Division
  • Sports Postcard Price Guide by J.L. and Emma Mashburn
  • The Official Beckett Price Guide to Football Cards by Dr. James Beckett
  • The Official Beckett Price Guide to Basketball Cards by Dr. James Beckett
  • Malloy's Sports Collectibles Value Guide by Roderick A. Malloy
  • Tuff Stuff's Baseball Memorabilia Price Guide by Larry Canale

There are many more books on the subject written by various authors. Visit your favorite bookstore to find more sports memorabilia price guides.

Places to Find Sports Collectibles

If you prefer to purchase your sports collectibles in person instead of through an online seller, there're plenty of places to find them. Great places to start looking are:

  • Estate auctions - Check out your local paper for estate auctions listed for the coming week. Included in these listings are usually the items of interest, like autographed sports items, so you know if it'll be worth heading out to the specific location.
  • Antique stores - Many antique stores purchase items for sale from large estate auctions. Sports memorabilia items, especially vintage or antique ones, sometimes pass through an antique store. Save time and call ahead to find out if your local stores have any of these items, and if they can reserve any for you so they don't get sold before you arrive.
  • Sports collectible stores - Many communities have small stores that buy and sell sports memorabilia. These are great retailers to check out, and they often carry a wide variety of items, as well as know who may have a special item for sale that isn't being displayed in the store.

Sports Collectors' Clubs

Sports fans may find that joining a collectors' club is another way to expand their knowledge about sports memorabilia. Memberships in a sport collectible club can have many benefits, such as learning about how to preserve collectibles, being taught how to use display cases to properly protect your goods, and discovering where the best places to buy and sell items are in the community. These collector's networks can help you hunt down that holy grail of an item that you've always wanted to add to your collection or to pin down what exactly you just found in a mysterious antiques lot in an online auction.

Thankfully, there are a ton of these clubs around the United States and the rest of the world, and are often regionally based. Thus, your best option is to try to locate the closest sports collectors' club to your area so that you get all of the in-person and digitally distant benefits that the club has to offer.

Hit a Home Run Every Time

Sports memorabilia price guides can help you hit a home run every time that you want to buy or sell a type of sports collectible online and in-person. These handy collections can help you bypass the wait-lists for renowned sports appraisers on items that aren't worth the dust that's collecting on them as well as discover which items in your collection you should probably be taking better care of. In truth, every sports collector could do with checking out these price guides now and again to keep up-to-date on all of the current market trends.

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Sports Memorabilia Price Guides and Manuals