Game Used Memorabilia is on Fire!
In the past there had been thousands of “game used” and “game worn” items sold in the early days of catalog auctions (I remember meeting Don Larsen prior to his selling his personal items from some game he pitched in 1956), and the current trend among the professional player complete collections hitting the auction blocks or being sold outright to respectable full-time dealers. Many player collections have hit the open market, and while these mementos may have meant so much to the player, time (and money!) has a way of moderating everything – even the sentimentality of cherished items held for decades after the fact.
While many former players chose to make these sales for charitable endeavors, many retired stars who did not play in the multi-year contract era (ie: millionaire times), see college educations for their grandchildren, and their own bills getting paid. Whatever the reason, the current game used/worn era is here to stay and is increasing in stature year after year. Every catalog auction seems to have dozens of game used items from various retired players and many new current stars. Some current stars, such as Anaheim’s Mike Trout, have set up structures so their game used and signed items are properly represented on the secondary market.
And despite the increasing supply of “gamers”, which can include bats, balls, equipment, jerseys, gloves, helmets, awards, caps and even championship rings, there is continued increasing demand from a distinct and informative collector base. Unlike cards, which are oftentimes “entombed” in sealed plastic holders, memorabilia can be held, bats can be swung, and the display possibilities are endless.
While vintage sports cards has led a tremendous resurgence in prices realized, the demand for game used items of these same players has also increased in demand and value, but with much less a supply than that of the players sports cards. Certain cards of Hall of Fame or star players are significant due to their “rookie status” or MVP season, but there were tens of thousands produced of each card for each year, but only a dozen or so bats available for these same players, and even less in the way of game worn jerseys, gloves, caps and awards.
We see many vintage card collectors moving in to collect game used items of their favorite players and/or teams.
However, one obstacle they have realized is the competition for these items is very intense. We hear complaints all the time of “I thought I had that jersey (or bat/ring/glove) won, but was outbid late in the night.” It happens. West coast collectors do have a slight advantage in being able to stay up towards the end of the auction. (They also get to watch Monday Night football during happy hour!) Recently a major auction was still going on when I woke up the next morning at 7 am! The auction companies are tremendous in their ability to market their events, which brings new clients into the fold, but also creates the competition for many of the same items YOU want. You desire to build your collection.
That is why at Paragon Auctions, we have regularly scheduled auctions, but also have a fulfilling private placement service for those players items you desire. When we purchased the collection of Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett, many of his items sold for nice prices in our auction, but many of the really key items were brokered to our known Dallas Cowboys collectors…and never saw the auction market. As we stated in our first blog post, many key items which change hands are through private transactions. Some people avoid the spotlight, shy away from the auction process and prefer the one-on-one transaction.  We have purchased outright dozens of personal collections from collectors or players who wish to remain anonymous.
Memorabilia collecting has many rewards, most are one of a kind pieces, and almost always were owned by your favorite player. These items can also be displayed in many ways in your home, sports room or office. What better way to close that big deal than by having your client swing a bat Mickey Mantle once used in a game?
If you have been thinking about entering the memorabilia market and would like to begin a collection or even build upon your current collection, please call us to schedule a consultation so we can work together to get you the items you want or need.