When the fall of 2017 is over, it’s likely that there will be dozens of items sold through sports memorabilia auctions that reach $100,000 or more. From Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson to Mickey Mantle and Mickey Mantle, vintage cards and pieces from the career of sports’ biggest icons continue to bring unprecedented interest.
While there is some “new money” in the hobby these days, as investors and well-financed collectors pick up the latest auction catalogs, many of the consignors are old school. They never dreamed the card or jersey they bought ten or 20 years ago is now worth ten or 20 times what they paid for it.
The consignor of the $600,000 near mint Babe Ruth rookie card sold by Robert Edward Auctions Sunday night had paid $82,000 for it several years ago; a return that’s hard to beat no matter what market you’re into.
It’s an unexpected bonus when something you’ve appreciated simply for what it is becomes something with a far stronger tangible value.
The maturation of the “hobby” does bring with it some pitfalls, though. The value has perked the interest of those who aren’t above doing something illegal to profit from the desire of others.
The New York Times spoke with a long-time collector and others involved in the sports collectibles field about the current state of sports collectibles.