What's It Worth?
Knowing Sports Gallery's reputation for quality, authenticity, and customer service, as well as our expertise in the sports collectibles market, customers, clients and web visitors frequently approach us with questions about their personal items. Most are special sports collectibles that they have collected over the years, often handed down from past generations.
The Three Most Frequent Questions:
- How much is my signed [fill in the blank] worth?
- Do you want to buy my signed [fill in the blank]?
- What was it like to meet Willie Mays at your in-store signing?
- Difficult question with many factors. See below.
- Unfortunately, we cannot purchase collectibles from personal collections. We would not be able to maintain our authenticity guarantee if we accepted items from private collections and we simply will not compromise our commitment to the authenticity of our collectibles.
- Amazing! Something none of us at Sports Gallery will ever forget.
Collectibles Value Variables
Determining the value of a collectible from a personal collection can be extremely difficult. Ballpark figures are sometimes possible but there are so many variables involved that a knowledgeable and accurate evaluation is nearly impossible. Factors include:
Who signed it? Is your collectible signed by a Hall of Famer or a journeyman? Are autographs by this athlete readily available or hard to come by? Is the athlete deceased or still alive? Most importantly, is there a strong public sentiment for this athlete and demand for his/her signature or are people mostly indifferent to this star and his/her collectibles.
Like most markets, the basic economic principle of supply and demand applies to valuation in the sports collectibles industry. The greater the supply relative to the demand, the lower the value and visa versa. That being said, all things being equal...
- The greater the athlete's accomplishments (Hall of Fame, MVP, Championships, special sports moment, etc..) and records/milestones (HR record, 300 wins, etc.), the greater the value of the collectible (greater demand).
- A deceased athlete's collectibles will be greater in value (finite supply) - the longer the athlete has been deceased the greater the value.
- Strong public interest in the athlete will increase the value of his/her collectibles (greater demand);
- Special inscriptions (i.e., "HOF 78") will increase the value of the collectible (limited supply): personalized inscriptions (i.e, "To Mark") will decrease its value (less demand...unless you're named Mark).
- The fewer signings the athlete does, the greater the value (limited supply) - to the contrary, the more accessible the athlete, the less the value (greater supply);
- And, most important, the more an athlete charges for appearance fees and signatures, the greater the value (i.e., LeBron James high appearance/signature fee results in a higher value for his collectibles).
And of course, the tricky part is All Things Are Never Equal. All of these factors, and many more (see below) will be involved. And all are dynamic and in a state of constant change. Thus even an accurate valuation at a particular moment in time may become grossly inaccurate a few years, months, or even weeks later.
Probably the most important thing to keep in mind in pricing an athlete's signature is that the one factor that typically IS NOT relevant is your personal feelings towards, and connections to, the collectible and/or athlete. These elements determine the collectibles sentimental value and are often priceless. But they typically have little or no bearing on the item's worth in the eyes of the public.
Is the item signed by more than one person? Often collectibles are signed by more than one person, often people that are connected by some record/milestone (i.e., a 300 Win Club baseball) or a championship. In general, a significant milestone or Championship raises the value of the collectible significantly. Championship team signed collectibles can be worth thousands. However, if the team or other signatures hold little significance (i.e., team was not that memorable or players have no real connection), the presence of multiple signatures can decrease the value of the collectible, sometimes significantly. Having a collectible signed by Ted Williams and "Joe Blow" definitely decreases the value greatly.
What item is signed? Typically, the more relevant the item is to the athlete the more it will be worth. Sports items such as jerseys, helmets, bats, balls, and photographs are always best. Game Issued and Used items are even more valuable. And since authentic sports equipment can often be expensive by itself (i.e., a football helmet), the value of the signatured item will be impacted accordingly.
In general, signatures on items with broad appeal (i.e., photograph, ball, etc.) are worth more than signatures on specialty items (visor, magazine cover, etc.). This is just basic supply and demand economics - more people want a ball than a visor so the signature is generally worth more.
What is the condition of the piece and/or autograph? The better the condition the item is in, the greater the value. Any damage to the autograph, photograph, or signed item will lower its value unless the item is game-used. Also, smear, smudges, stains and fading of the signature will impact the value.
Has the autograph been authenticated? At Sports Gallery we've implemented the best safeguards in our industry to ensure the authenticity of our collectibles. Every item in our collection has been properly authenticated and comes with a Sports Gallery Certificate of Authenticity.
Does your collectible have a Certificate of Authenticity? In order to sell your collectible, you may first need to authenticate it using an authentication service. But even if you don't plan to sell it, the lack of proper authentication will definitely have a negative impact on the value of your collectible.
Please Contact Us if you have additional questions on your collectible(s). Also, we specialize in Sports Framing and Displays, so if you are not already doing so, consider giving your special item the presentation it deserves with SGA Custom Framing.