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Condition, Condition, Condition: How to Value Your Old Sportscard/Memorabilia Collection

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We have heard it so many times when buying a home: location, location, location. Similar verbage applies when valuing that vintage memorabilia collection from your childhood days. Unfortunately, sentimental value does not increase the value, but it does make for a good story. I always look for collections that have a story to tell because these stories' are quickly leaving us. One of my favorite stories came from an older gentleman whose father played for the Yankees several decades ago. The house was being sold and all the artifacts were being unearthed from the attic. The man wanted an appraisal value for the the items, which included player rings from the World Series, team signed photographs and baseball cards. Listed below is the advice I provided to him.

1. Autographs: Need to have a trusted third party authenticate the items. (I provided him with three of the best so he could make the correct decision.) I also advised him that the quality and darkness of the autographs was very important. Signatures tend to fade if left in sunlight, which will affect value. Generally, autographs on baseballs, bats and jerseys are worth more than autographs on cards or baseballs.

2. Rings: I use a loupe to look at the diamond, gold and overall condition of the ring. Be on the lookout for diamonds being switched out for CZs. In this specific case, the diamond was authentic and rings were rarely worn. The player didn't like to wear rings. He only wore them on VIP occasions such as Hall of Fame Museum visits, charity fundraisers and family dinners. Rings that don't show lots of wear are worth more because they have fewer scratches on them.

3. Cards: Are the cards trimmed? Many people trim cards to have sharp corners. I measured every card from every year to make sure the cards were genuine. Many more important factors must be looked at to determine the ultimate value of the card.

a. Paper loss?

b. Rookie card?

c. Centering

d. Creasing

e. Year of the card (most cards from 1970-present are virtually worthless)

A qualfied sportscard/memorabilia expert will be able to advise an exact dollar amount, but the ideas above can provide you with an approximate range (low, medium, high).