Thousands of sports fans enjoy collecting memorabilia. As well as being a fun hobby, a well curated collection makes a wonderful display in your games room or den, and can even be a good investment, too. But there are plenty of elephant traps awaiting the unwary. Here are some tips for would-be collectors to keep in mind.
If you love sport and you love “stuff” then it can be tempting to take the magpie approach and grab everything that captures your attention. A baseball card here, a game shirt there and a signed ball if you can only remember where you put it. A year or two of that and all you have is a pile of random articles, mostly dumped in boxes. Focus on one thing, that way you can get to really know your subject, you can display your collection such that it can be enjoyed and the whole thing becomes more coherent.
Do your research
This directly follows on from the first point. Make your passion an area of expertise. Read up on it as much as possible, and as well as being a knowledgeable collector, you will be a savvy one, able to immediately assess an item’s value and to spot the fakes or frauds that inevitably appear on the market from time to time. If you’re buying extremely rare items, like these Pete Rose cards, make sure they are legitimate and come from a reputable source.
Think about budget from the outset
Be clear up front about how much you are prepared to spend on your hobby. Some forms of memorabilia can get very expensive very fast. For example, collecting baseball cards is one of the oldest memorabilia hobbies going, but the most valuable WNBA cards can easily run into the thousands of dollars. If that fits your budget, well and good. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to accept that your collection is going to focus differently, maybe on a specific era or team where the cards are bought and sold at lower prices.
Grow your network
This is where the internet is a wonderful thing and can really broaden your horizons as a collector. Having said that, sitting staring at your computer screen and bidding on items on a certain online auction site will never replace traveling to conventions or exploring the dark recesses of junk shops. However, there is nothing to stop you doing both. We mentioned earlier, there are shady operators about, so get to know some of the trusted names, both physically and online, and let them get to know you, and your specific areas of interest. That way, you often get access to genuinely good deals on genuinely good memorabilia.
Whether it’s a specific baseball card or perhaps a game shirt that was only used for a brief period, some collectibles will prove elusive. Accept the fact, don’t panic or be tempted to pay over the odds to some shady source. The real joy is in the journey – after all, where would be the fun in putting together a collection in 5 minutes flat?