“When you start getting into pre-1970 memorabilia, it’s worth exploring,” says Kenny Lindsay, of American Eagle Auction Co. in Livonia, Mich.
“Twice a year, The Super Auction is held, which always features quality vintage sports memorabilia, and we’re seeing historically strong prices coming from the floor bidders. Keep in mind we’re seeing these results in one of the most economically depressed states in the country.”
Pre-war sports cards, advertising and autographs of turn-of-the-20th century athletes are exceptionally strong, he says. Contemporary memorabilia — particularly sports cards from 1980 and beyond — do poorly because of what he describes as an over-production of sports cards that flooded the market.
Sports memorabilia, Lindsay says, is a complicated industry.
“I’m often asked, ‘What’s a Babe Ruth autographed baseball worth?’ My answer is, ‘Between $2,500 and $100,000.’ There are a lot of factors involved in price discovery, but the best way to sell really is at auction,” he says.
John Hums, of John Hums Auctions in New Holland, Pa., says given the state of the economy, sports memorabilia is treating him well.
“The state of the sports collectors market today is not what it was in the ‘90s when it was an extremely strong market, but we’re doing better than we were a few years ago,” he says.