With the rise in popularity of sports memorabilia worldwide, one of the most common questions I see asked on the internet is: does sports memorabilia increase in value?
The answer is…
Yes and no. It depends on several factors.
Sports memorabilia is a relatively volatile market. The prices fluctuate based on many different things. The prices can respond to trends and the most recent developments in the industry and the sport in question.
There’s simply no clear-cut answer to this question.
It might make sense for you to buy a card of a player that’s destined to be legendary only for you to be left disappointed that the price of the card didn’t increase with time as much as you would’ve wanted.
Let’s take a look at what determines whether the values of sports memorabilia increase with time.
Deciding Factors of Sports Memorabilia Values
As I’ve already mentioned, the values of sports memorabilia are a complex thing.
Much like stock prices, memorabilia prices will go up and down depending on trends and the latest developments in the sport and the industry.
It’s thus hard to predict with absolute certainty that the price of a piece of memorabilia will increase or decrease with time. However, there are some good telling signs that you can use to determine whether the values are going to go up in the future.
- The player in question
- Type of memorabilia
- Historical significance
- Rarity and scarcity
- Authenticity – for more info on that, see our article on authentication of sports memorabilia
- The price that you bought it at
These are just some of the main factors that you need to consider. Other minor factors might determine the value of sports memorabilia.
Let’s see how each factor affects the values of sports memorabilia so you can better understand how prices are set.
The Player in Question
The first and arguably the most important factor to consider is the player involved. Whether you’re buying a card, jersey, or another piece of sports memorabilia, one of the first things to look at is the player.
Some players just simply attract more attention than others – and it’s as simple as this. Values will be significantly higher for players that are more popular than the rest.
For instance, the values of sports memorabilia owned or signed by sporting legends are always going to be high. There will always be interest from buyers in these cards, regardless of other trends in the industry.
A good example is the Kobe Bryant rookie card above. This Topps card will always be interesting to card collectors since it has Kobe Bryant on it – in addition, it’s his rookie card, so the values are going to be even higher.
The prices of these types of cards (and other memorabilia of sporting legends) will continue to rise, especially when you talk about players that are still playing or have retired recently.
Memorabilia with well-known sportsmen are usually a safe bet – however, this also means a few things:
- You’re competing against a larger pool of interested parties
- Consequently, the initial prices are always going to be high
- However, these types of memorabilia have a good outlook for the future since they’ll remain popular
Type of Memorabilia
The second factor you need to consider when determining whether the value of memorabilia will go up or down is the type of memorabilia in question.
You have many different types of memorabilia, including:
- Shoes, balls, gloves, or anything else that has been worn
Sports memorabilia is almost anything connected to any sporting event, venue, or a sporting person.
But some types of sports memorabilia are more valuable than others.
Pristine historical items worn or used by sporting legends are perhaps the most valuable type of memorabilia, followed by cards and other types of memorabilia that have historical significance.
Cards are perhaps the most popular since they’re slightly easier to find. But match-worn memorabilia is also popular and valuable.
The bigger and more memorable the item is, the more it is going to cost. And if it has any relevance when it comes to a historical event or person, then the value is going to increase even further.
The next important factor when determining the price of sports memorabilia is the historical significance of the item.
Some items are historically more memorable and thus more valuable than others.
For instance, rookie cards are much more valuable than non-rookie cards since rookie cards only happen once in a player’s career, while other cards are available every other season of the player’s career.
Sometimes, non-rookie cards will also be high in price.
This can happen if a card depicts a memorable moment from a player’s career. Or maybe it comes from a season when the player played an especially good season or his team won significant trophies.
Or perhaps there’s an item that was worn for a special game or memorable match – these items will always be extremely valuable and expensive. The more memorable the item and the event are, the more it is going to cost.
The higher the historical significance of an item is, the more it is going to cost.
Rarity and Scarcity
There’s a simple rule when it comes to sports memorabilia (or any other market, for that matter): the rarer an item is, the more it is going to cost.
You’ll get much more money from an item that is unique and has only one (or a few) copies than for an item that has hundreds or thousands of copies to it.
Even if you get an autographed item – this doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to cost thousands of dollars.
What is going to matter is the scarcity and rarity of the item.
If there are hundreds of other similar or same products out there on the market, then it won’t matter whether it has an autograph or not. But if the item is unique and there are no other equivalents, then you can consider the item to be truly unique and scarce, and that’s what makes it valuable.
Good examples of this rule are older pieces of memorabilia, especially old sports cards. For example, Honus Wagner’s T206 card from 1909 can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars even in the lowest conditions because there are only a handful of these cards still around.
Anyone who owns this card (no matter what condition it is in) can consider themselves lucky…
Authentic items are going to be the most valuable. These are items that have been verified to exist when they were originally used.
Luckily, we have many good services that will verify the authenticity of an item. For cards and other sports memorabilia, some of the best-known services are PSA and BGS, which will grade items based on their authenticity and quality.
These services cost money – big money if you have a big-ticket item. However, they’re worth using since they add some extra value to your item because they prove that the item is truly authentic.
It’s possible to get knock-offs for some of the most valuable items on the market and see them sold as originals.
However, you can’t truly prove they’re original unless they have been graded professionally by a grading service as described above.
The best way to avoid buying fake items for unrealistic prices is to only buy items that have been graded professionally. They might be a bit more expensive than the rest, but at least you’re sure that you buy a truly authentic item.
Last but not least, you also need to consider the price of the item that you bought it for.
The lower the price of the item, the better the chance of making a profit on the item will be. But to know what is a good price to buy an item, you need to follow the market closely and learn what sort of prices to expect for an item.
There are some good sites and services out there that will tell you the approximate prices of sports memorabilia.
The best strategy that some traders use is to buy items that are currently low in value with the potential to increase in value.
However, this strategy will take you years to learn and you’ll certainly need some experience dealing with sports memorabilia.
Sports Memorabilia Prices Fluctuate
To wrap it all up, you should know that the prices and values of sports memorabilia continuously change. They’re constantly alive and breathing, and the prices depend on many different factors.
It’s thus not possible to tell for certain whether the price of an item will increase in value or decrease.
The best you can do is predict what is going to happen based on the factors described above. Even then, you can’t say for sure what is going to happen with the values of sports memorabilia.