Collecting sports memorabilia might well be dismissed by many as an immature recreation but the industry has grown to become a large part of the $370 billion collector’s industry.
Over 200 million collectors exist across the globe and here is a look at some of the most valuable sports memorabilia they are getting their hands on.
Babe Ruth Jersey ($4,415,658)
Legendary baseball player Babe Ruth is widely considered the greatest Major League Baseball (MLB) player of all-time. His playing career lasted 22 seasons where he hit 714 home runs, 2,213 runs batted in, and 2,062 bases on balls.
His jersey from the 1920 season playing for the New York Yankees was purchased for the sum of $4.4 million in 2012 by Lelands.com and broke the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever bought.
James Naismith’s Founding Rules of Basketball ($4,338,500)
The original editions of the first rules of a sport are always hugely attractive to collectors of sports memorabilia. Written by the father of basketball, James Naismith, in 1891 these documents were widely deemed to be priceless.
It took a bid in excess of $4.3 million from Kansas-born collector David Booth for the documents to change hands in 2010.
The Laws of Baseball ($3,263,246)
Documents that outline the laws of the sport of baseball that were written in the years 1856 and 1857 by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams fetched a seven-figure sum in April 2016 from an anonymous bidder.
At first look, it appears that it is a complex collection of rules that appear insignificant to the untrained eye. The large fee of $3.2 million to purchase the documents proves how valuable they are to baseball enthusiasts though.
Mark McGwire’s 70th Home Run Ball ($3,000,000)
Controversial San Diego Padres bench coach McGwire will forever be remembered as one of the best home run hitters of his generation. Unfortunately, in 2010, McGwire confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs for a large part of his career.
This had a huge impact on the value of memorabilia associated with the former Oakland A’s and St Louis Cardinals player. One piece of memorabilia that did not suffer such a hit in value was his 70th home run ball from the 1998 season.
Sports obsessive Todd McFarlane splashed out the $3 million figure on the ball clearly unfazed by the manner surrounding its achievement.
1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner Baseball Card ($3,120,000)
It is no secret that baseball cards hold a prestigious place in the world of sports memorabilia. Baseball fans all over the US collect them from an early age and certain cards become the stuff of legend.
This rare card is so sought after that it has its own name. It is called the “Jumbo” Wagner. This is due to the extra border at the bottom of the card.
In October 2016, a bid of $3.1 million made it the most expensive baseball card ever. The previous record was held by another copy of the card that was worth $2.8 million when it was sold in 2007.
Sheffield FC Rule Book ($1,400,000)
Soccer memorabilia is big business. Vintage shirts, signed balls, autographs, match programmes, and competition medals all transfer regularly for vast sums of money.
The most lucrative purchase of soccer memorabilia came in July 2011 when the Sheffield FC Rule Book sold for $1.4 million to an anonymous bidder.
It was originally written in 1857 and was owned by the first ever professional soccer club in the world, Sheffield FC.
A lot of the rules stated in the book are still used today and it is considered to be the first authentic draft of rules relating to soccer in the world.
Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series Jersey ($1,275,707)
Sports memorabilia that is believed to be rare often draws the most cash on the collectors market. The Paul Henderson 1972 Summit Series Jersey is an example of that.
The Summit Series took place in the year 1972 between Canada and the Soviet Union. It was an 8-game series. Henderson managed to score the winning goal in three of those games.
The feat would be regarded as one of the finest set of performances by a Canadian ice hockey player in the history of the sport. The fact the series was such a rare occasion in itself makes the achievement even more special.
Babe Ruth’s Bat ($1,265,000)
Iconic baseball player Babe Ruth once again features on this list. This time it is one of the bats he used during his career as opposed to one of his jerseys.
The legend hit 714 home runs and the bat with which he hit the first of those home runs for the New York Yankees at the Yankee Stadium sold for over $1 million in 2004.
The winning bid at the Sotheby’s auction came from a Chicago-based sports memorabilia company called Mastronet Inc. It was purchased on behalf of an anonymous collector living in New York.