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The Complete Guide to Starting a Sports Memorabilia Collection

The Complete Guide to Starting a Sports Memorabilia Collection

The sports memorabilia industry is estimated to be worth $5.4 billion per year. While some have found a buried treasure in a vintage trading card or a game ball signed by a legendary player of yesteryear, this isn't always the norm. 

But that shouldn't stop you from having some fun and picking up some unique items on the way. Sports memorabilia collecting should be, first and foremost, a fun hobby, not solely a profit maker.

If you're looking to build on an existing sports memorabilia collection or you want to start a sports memorabilia collection, keep reading for information on how to establish your sports memorabilia collection.

How to Start a Sports Memorabilia Collection

The first thing everyone looking to collect sports memorabilia should do is establish what sports and teams they want to focus on. Having a defined goal will help you to narrow it down to just what you're looking for.

If you are a hockey fan, are you searching for sports collectibles related to just one particular team or do you want to collect hockey memorabilia from all of the hockey teams? Are you looking for specific player jerseys, helmets, hockey sticks, or hockey pucks? Once you figure out exactly what sports memorabilia items you want to collect, you can begin the search. 

Try checking out a sports memorabilia forum for ideas on what to collect. Not only will you find inspiration for starting your own sports memorabilia collection, but you'll also make friends with other like-minded individuals who can guide you to the right sources. You may also be able to trade items amongst others that relate to your chosen sport, team, or player. 

Set a Sports Memorabilia Budget

This may go without saying, but setting a sports memorabilia budget is essential for starting a sports memorabilia collection. You don't want to go broke on a hobby. Then it's less of a fun and fulfilling activity and more of a job. Some items may increase or decrease in value over time. 

Sure, some items may seem too good to pass up at first. But if you get too eager right off the bat, you could end up with a costly mistake. Know which items are ripe for the picking and which ones you can wait on acquiring, as the budget allows. If there is a highly coveted item that is out of your price range, focus on saving up for that item in particular. 

Research Your Chosen Area of Memorabilia

While you are searching for sports collectibles, remember to also do your research on specific items within your interest.

If you are unsure about certain prices for items such as jerseys or game balls, do as much investigating as you can. Find out if an item's proclaimed worth is accurate or not.

This will help to save you from a big purchase you may regret later on if you overpaid for an item.

Likewise, if you underpaid for a piece of sports memorabilia and you think it was too good to be true, it very well might be. There are a lot of forgeries and fake items permeating the sports memorabilia market. You can also share and search for information through a sports memorabilia forum whose members are usually up to date on any current scams or hoaxes.

Make Sure It's Authenticated

Authenticity is everything. The certificate of authenticity is a deal-breaker that cannot go unnoticed. Game-used items are easy to fake because there are not many reputable places that can authenticate them.

Some high-dollar items even get dual authentication from multiple companies to prove they are legit. Look no further than the current Logan Paul Pokémon case scandal. While not exclusively sports memorabilia, it shows that fake merchandise can permeate all areas of collector niches. 

Signed cards already have authentication on them if they are pack pulled. Most authentication is already accounted for in the price of the item. It's considered to be in bad taste if authentication isn't readily available for the item in question. 

Protect Your Sports Memorabilia Collection

One of the most crucial aspects of having a sports memorabilia collection is protecting it. If you are collecting sports trading cards, get a binder with card sleeves or purchase top loaders to protect cards such as autographs, jersey piece cards, or other special collector cards.

If you are collecting hats or helmets put them in display cases. Not only will they look nice, but they will be protected from moisture, dust, or being accidentally bumped into. 

If you collect autographed jerseys, keep them in sealed airtight bags or have them framed by a specialty frame business to keep them pristine for years to come. Don't leave them in cardboard boxes in the attic, basement, or garage. If you ever do wish to sell them someday, you'll want them looking the absolute best so you can get top dollar for them later on.

Ideas for Sports Memorabilia Items

As stated above, there are many areas and different possible items you can find when it comes to a sports memorabilia collection. Here are some of the most popular items. 

Sports Trading Cards

Sports trading cards are probably one of the easiest and most affordable ways to collect unique players' autographs, limited prints, and special holographic cards. Hobby boxes come with relic cards that can contain actual jersey pieces, uniform patch or logo pieces, real field dirt or a piece of turf, and helmet pieces. For hockey sports trading cards, their cards may contain pieces of goal net within the card itself. 

Rookie cards are always a classic. They are a foundation in a collection. They may rise in value throughout a player's career. 

Autographs are now becoming common in sports cards. They are a nice and small way to build a sports memorabilia collection when compared to larger sports memorabilia. Which is good if space is limited.

Autographed cards that come out of packs are already authenticated on the back of the cards. The 2021 Leaf Valiant Football Hobby Box comes with 4 autographs from the 2021 Draft Pick. One graded autograph card in the box is guaranteed to rate 9.5 or better with Beckett Grading Services.

Helmets

For sports such as baseball, hockey, and football, collecting helmets is a distinct way to have a collection that is one of a kind. Special edition helmets are released each year featuring different designs and color options or alternate logos. 

You can buy game-used or autographed sports helmets from an online auction site such as eBay. Be certain they are authenticated. Replicas are also a more economical version to collect. 

College helmets from Division 1 players may be a great way to have a collection that could increase in value, should a player or team go on to be more successful later on. Even collecting sports helmets from movies and TV shows is a definitive way to have a notable collection. 

Mini helmets are offered from a variety of sources such as Riddell and Fanatics. They are a half-scale replica of their originally sized helmets, which makes them ideal for smaller spaces. Mini helmets are made for NFL and college football teams and can even come autographed.

Hats

Whether you are looking for actual game-worn hats from every player on a certain team or just want to collect as many team logo hats as possible, hats are a fun way to build a collection. Hats are available in snapback and fitted styles. They have logos for NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, NCAA, and more.

Custom hat styles may be released for Breast Cancer Awareness, Mother's Day, or Military honor events. Teams may also release hats with alternative logos that are popular collectible sports memorabilia items. Hats with custom colors, retro logos, and commemorative patches are increasing in popularity. 

Both helmets and hats should be stored in protective cases and kept out of direct light or areas where moisture can accumulate. Whether you wear your collection or prefer to keep them in pristine collectible shape is up to you. 

Bats or Sticks

You can buy a bat from any number of sporting goods stores and take it to an in-store signing. If a player signs your bat at an in-store signing, they have authenticators on site who can verify its authenticity and mail a certificate to you at a later date. It depends on the authentication company, but it may be a sticker or Certificate of Authenticity (COA), or both.

The sticker on the actual item must be the same as the number on the certificate to prevent forgery. The Certificate of Authenticity works like a registry. Some registries will even include details like game data if the item is game-used.

You may be able to find good deals on bats at your local sports memorabilia shop because they take up a bunch of space. Bats can be found under $300. Bats and hockey sticks can be easily mounted on walls.

It is important to note that game-used bats or sticks may not be in mint condition. But they are easier to authenticate as certain marks can signify pivotal moments of gameplay, such as a home run or a goal shot.

Bats are famous pieces of sports memorabilia because players are known for them, such as Ken Griffey Jr. with his iconic Louisville Slugger black bat. Those bats are ones everyone wants to have signed. Pitchers that sign bats are always fun because they are not known for hitting.

Even hockey sticks have gotten the miniature treatment. Tim Hortons restaurants offer a limited run of NHL team-branded mini hockey sticks and lockers available for purchase. These mini hockey sticks are a wonderful way to start a collection.

Balls or Pucks

Collecting baseballs or hockey pucks is another scaled-down way to have something from a particular team or player. They can be displayed in small cases on desks in an office or on a shelf as a centerpiece of a larger collection. Pucks are even more compact than baseballs. 

The beauty of these items is that both baseball and hockey utilize multiple balls and pucks throughout each game. This means they are a more plentiful asset. Baseballs may be caught as fouls during the game or distributed to the crowd before and after by players. 

You can buy new or game-used pucks online and take them to hockey games to see if you can get a player to autograph them after a game. 

Jerseys

Teams and players will have an exclusive contract, so they will be available on many different marketplaces. If you are a fan of a specific team, follow them on social media. 

MLB.com has auctions for game-used and signed memorabilia. The teams will often promote these auctions. The money raised goes to a charity of the team's choosing. Sometimes the NFL does a similar format for the Pro Bowl and the Hall of Fame. Signed jerseys are fantastic collector's items.

Framing a jersey is a good way to protect them and display them at the same time. Perfect for your mancave, office, or game room, or other areas. Just be sure to keep them out of bright light and places where moisture may seep in and damage your sports memorabilia collection. 

Signed Photos

Signed photos are tricky as they tend to degrade over time. If you collect signed photos, make certain they have been authenticated.

Frame your photos with acid-free mats to preserve your photos, deep photo frames are best as they keep the picture from touching the glass. Do not allow photos to touch the glass or they can stick to it.

Keep autographed photos out of direct sunlight, which can cause fading and yellowing of your photo. Red and blue felt tip pen ink tends to fade quicker than other colors.

Miscellaneous Memorabilia

Other forms of miscellaneous sports memorabilia items may include souvenir cups and glassware, replica Super Bowl rings, and bobbleheads. Some vintage sports memorabilia items can include Super Bowl souvenir programs and ticket stubs.

Start Your Sports Memorabilia Collection Here

Whatever sports memorabilia collection teams, players, or items you choose to collect is ultimately up to you and your budget. But at Breaking Bangers, we can help you get started.

We have all the leading hobby boxes from Topps and Panini. If you're looking for football, baseball, or basketball, we have it all. 

Whether you have specific sports and teams you're looking for or you're just getting your feet wet in the sports memorabilia collection hobby, remember to just have fun. Collecting sports memorabilia is a rewarding hobby on its own.

Check out our online store at Breaking Bangers today.

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