Selling sports memorabilia can earn you anywhere from a few dollars to a few million. The memorabilia market include baseball cards, football helmets, signed and unsigned photos and autographs. The first step is to appraise what your items are worth. Then, you have to choose the right path for selling them.
Study the Market
The sports memorabilia market is huge. Even if you are not interested in selling on eBay, browsing the website's offerings can show you the interests of sports memorabilia buyers.
It is not just baseball and football. Fans of horse racing, hockey, golf, wrestling, boxing, cycling and NASCAR are interested in collecting apparel, souvenirs and autographs. You can also make money selling sports memorabilia that is tied to major sports events such as the Olympics, either for their favorite sports or particular years.
Learn About Memorabilia Valuation
Sports memorabilia valuation is not simple. Not only is there a huge variety of collectibles out there, but many factors affect the price of an item:
- If it is a trading card, what is the brand?
- If it is a photograph, how big is it? What is the quality of the paper? Is it framed?
- If you are selling something autographed, is it rare? Some sports legends rarely sign autographs, while others autograph so many items that the value has dropped. A cheating or doping scandal attached to a famous player's name can cause the price to drop, but a spectacular win can nudge it upward.
- What was autographed? A basketball star's autograph on a ball is worth more than just a signature in an autograph book.
- Is it in good condition? A pristine baseball card will sell better than one that's worn and torn.
- Has the item been authenticated? An autographed basketball authenticated by a reputable third-party service is more collectible and valuable than one with a signature that hasn't been confirmed as legitimate.
Forgeries and Authentication
When selling sports memorabilia, you want to make sure every item is genuine, otherwise you will end up with a negative reputation among sports memorabilia buyers.
Frauds come in many varieties: knockoff NFL team jerseys, forged signatures and baseball cards that are actually reprints or copies of the originals. It is important that you separate the real from the false, particularly if you are buying items to resell. The baseball autographed by Babe Ruth that you bought for $100 may be a bargain if the signature is real — or worthless if it is not.
If the item has been authenticated by a reputable service, or you bought it from, for example, an authorized NFL store, you can have confidence that it is genuine. If not, you can pay for authentication yourself, as that will increase its worth to sports memorabilia buyers. Before paying for the service, you might want to check the basics for yourself, such as whether the Hank Aaron or Michael Jordan signature matches verified real signatures.
Methods of Memorabilia Valuation
Pricing is an art. You want to set a price that makes you a profit while not being unreasonable in the minds of sports memorabilia buyers. There are several methods of memorabilia valuation you can use:
- Research your item in books, such as an autographed sports memorabilia price guide. These give you a current market price based on factors that include the condition of the item. The guides do not guarantee you will get the price, as markets fluctuate, but they are a good start.
- Pay to have a professional appraiser or authentication service figure the worth.
- Look on eBay and other websites or in auction-house catalogs. See the prices at which other people are selling sports memorabilia like yours and how fast it moves.
How to Sell
Once you have an idea of the price, you can begin selling sports memorabilia.
- Use eBay, an app such as LetGo or Facebook. This requires you write up the description, with keywords to make your item easy for sports memorabilia buyers to find. You will also need to take photos that show your items at their best.
- Sell through an auction house. There are several auction companies that specialize in selling sports memorabilia, but they will require a percentage of your sale price.
If you sell on your own rather than through an auctioneer, be careful. Be sure you get paid before you part with the item. If the buyer is making the purchase face to face, do not do it in a place where you do not feel safe.
- Beckett: World Record $3.12 Million for T206 Honus Wagner Baseball Card
- Forbes: A Beginner's Guide To Selling Your Collectibles In Auctions
- eBay: Sports Memorabilia Selling Guide
- D'Camera Group: Sports Memorabilia: What It's Worth & How to Evaluate It
- Gameday Connexion: How To Determine the Value of Sports Autographed Memorabilia
- Beckett: How to Buy and Sell Sports Cards and Memorabilia Locally
Fraser Sherman has written about every aspect of business: how to start one, how to keep one in the black, the best business structure, the details of financial statements. He's also run a couple of small businesses of his own. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com