Is Autographed Sports Memorabilia Worth It

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I saw an article the other day claiming that sports memorabilia is one of the top 10 biggest wastes of money. Chris Pummer, who wrote the article claims that, “This market for the celebrity struck may be the greatest separator of fools and their money ever.”

He lists premium coffee to go and cigarettes as a few other “biggest wastes of money.”

I agree with Pummer that sports memorabilia is a waste of money if you buy the wrong player or if you purchase something that is fake.

But the bottom line is that the market for autographed sports memorabilia and collectibles is huge. Authentic autographs are tough to get, expensive, and there are limited amounts available.

Take Pete Rose, who signs every weekend in Las Vegas. There is such a demand for his autographed memorabilia that his jerseys, baseballs and other items consistently bring good money — no matter how much he signs.

When Pete becomes unable to sign — or he dies, his existing, authentic autographed memorabilia will double or triple in value.

Pummer mentions how a $700 Barry Bonds ball is worthless. I have to agree with him on that one. Sports memorabilia shopping is all about picking the right player (and Bonds is not the right player). When a Willie Mays autographed baseball currently sells for around $250-$300, why would you spend $700 on a Bonds baseball?

Mays is proven, he is the greatest living baseball player on the planet — do the math. Even when Bonds surpassed Willie’s home run record, he did not become more collectible than Willie Mays. Bonds will never be more collectible than Mays and his baseballs will never be worth more.

Sports memorabilia collecting is similar to the stock market. The athlete is the stock. You have to make sure the athlete has good fundamentals, management, and you also have to investigate how the market values them.

Joe Montana, for example, is one of the all-time best selling autographs in the industry. He is a proven athlete, no steroid scandals, and people love him. He does sign frequently, but there is such a huge demand for Joe Montana memorabilia, it doesn’t matter.

Sports memorabilia is not a waste of money, it is an investment if you know what you are buying. Educate yourself on the market — for example, shopping on eBay if you don’t know how to spot fake autographs is a bad idea. There are tons of sellers on eBay that still sell fake autographs even though a few forgers went to jail as a result of the FBI’s Operation Bullpen over 3 years ago.

If you educated yourself on authentic autographs, found good players to invest in, and studied values of items based on what they are currently selling for, then you could see better returns than your stock market portfolio — well, maybe at least better returns than the S&P 500 and those horrible mutual funds!

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