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Sports Collectibles Buying Guide

Tags:  sports | autographs | trading cards | baseball | sports memorabiliaWrite a guide!

Imagine owning a vintage baseball signed by Babe Ruth, a Ted Williams bat, or Mohammed Ali autographed boxing gloves. Or maybe you’re a sports fan looking for a bobblehead of your favorite player. Whether you’re a serious collector or a casual hobbyist, you’ll find sports collectibles to fit every budget on eBay.

Discover Sports Collectibles


Discover Sports Collectibles

If memories of Yankee Stadium fill you with nostalgia, or NASCAR races make your heart beat faster, then you’ll want to select your favorite sport and collect what you enjoy on eBay’s Sports Mem, Cards & Fan Shop portal. Take a few moments to think about your favorite teams and players and what kind of autographed items interest you before starting your collection. Get creative!

  • 500 Home Run Club: Aim for a photo, card, autograph, or miniature of each of the 20 members of this exclusive out-of-the-park hitters’ club.

  • 3,000-Hit Club: Roberto Clemente, Cal Ripken Jr., and Hank Aaron are just a few of the players in this elite 26-member club.

  • Teams: Maybe your loyalties lie with a team. Collect autographs, photos, pins, apparel. The challenge is to include every member.

  • Award winners: Focus on the high achievers of such awards as Olympic Medalist, Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Golden Glove, or Stanley Cup.

  • Hall of Famers: The “best of the best” make up a strong and valuable collection. If you want to aim high, Hall of Famers are the way to go.

  • Individual players: Honor your favorite players by targeting their memorabilia as your treasure.


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Explore Types of Sports Collectibles


Explore Types of Sports Collectibles

Memorabilia takes many forms, both vintage and modern, including:

  • Autographed items: Balls, bats, gloves, cards, and anything that can be signed. Look for clean surfaces, clear signatures, and authentication certificates. The most valuable autographed items were played in actual games. Make sure you review eBay’s Autographed Items policy before you place a bid or buy an item.

  • Sports cards: Examine sports cards for sharp corners, a smooth surface, and good centering. Signed cards can be worth more. The most valuable cards are Rookie cards of star athletes.

  • Game-used equipment: Bats, balls, jerseys, shoes, rackets, and other equipment actually used by an athlete during a game can be extremely valuable.

  • Team jerseys and other apparel: Look for sweat stains, authentic wear and tear, and proof of game use on the apparel.

  • Stadium items: Seats, turnstiles, plain and neon signs, benches, and other stadium items can be rare and valuable, especially if vintage or historically significant.

  • Ticket stubs & programs: Look for tickets stubs and programs from important tournaments, games, and World Series items.

  • Bobbleheads: Collect bobblehead dolls with oversized heads on a spring. Full sets are valuable. Look for clean ceramic items in excellent condition.

  • Boxing gloves, belts, robes: Harder to find than many sports items, boxing gear can be quite valuable.

  • Pins: You’ll find pins of all sports on eBay, both vintage and modern. Collect full sets.

  • Pennants: Autographed pennants in mint condition are especially valuable.

  • Handwritten letters: Handwritten letters can be rare and valuable if authenticated.

  • Cereal boxes: Vintage Wheaties are the most popular cereal boxes. Look for boxes protected in plastic display cases.

Shop sports collectibles by brand

Also, consider items from top brand manufacturers, such as:

  • Upper Deck: Trading cards, autographed baseball memorabilia, and unsigned sports collectibles.

  • Topps: Baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards.

  • Steiner: Autographed memorabilia, licensed collectibles, display cases, and sports photos.

  • Mounted Memories: Display cases, guaranteed authentic memorabilia, and autographed items.

  • Mitchell & Ness: Vintage sports jerseys, hats, and other sports clothing and accessories.

  • Beckett: Sports collectibles, authentication and grading services.

  • Donruss: Sports trading cards.

Look for graded and authenticated sports collectibles

Look for authenticator pre-certified collectibles that have been examined and declared genuine by a respected third-party expert. Recognized sports memorabilia authenticators include:

  • Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA): PSA is an independent organization that evaluates sports cards for authenticity and quality using a 10-point grading scale, then secures the card in a tamper-proof holder along with proof of certification.

  • PSA/DNA Authentication Services (PSA/DNA): A spin-off of Professional Sports Authenticator, PSA/DNA grades and authenticates bats, autographed items, and other sports collectibles. Compare autographs for sale with genuine sample autographs in their database by subscribing to their online autograph service. PSA/DNA also has an online "QuickOpinion" program that allows potential buyers to have listings evaluated for a minimal cost. Within 24 to 36 hours PSA/DNA will return one of three opinions: "likely genuine," "unlikely genuine," or "cannot render an opinion."

  • Global Authentication Inc. (GAI): Global Authentication grades trading cards and authenticates sports memorabilia, autographs, and a variety of other historical documents and items.

  • Beckett Grading Services (BGS): BGS is affiliated with Beckett magazine and also uses a 10-point scale. What makes BGS unique is that it also offers a secondary rating for, say, corners or edges. eBay also teamed with Beckett to develop a "Value Guide" for sports cards, available at Beckett's Web site.

  • Sportscard Guarantee (SGC): The SGC grading scale starts at 10 (poor) and goes up to 100 (pristine).

Remember: eBay does not review any listings for quality or authenticity. It is up to you to research the item you are interested in and any information about its authenticity before you place a bid or buy an item.


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Protect Your Sports Collectibles


Protect Your Sports Collectibles

The value of your collection will depend largely on its condition. An item’s worth may increase over time, so be sure to protect your collectibles from the wear and tear that can reduce their value. You can find a full range of storage and display supplies on eBay that will keep your collection safe.

Supplies to consider include:

  • Acrylic display cases: Acrylic display cases provide excellent storage for balls, gloves, caps, jerseys, and other items.

  • Baseball bat display cases: Baseball bat display cases are usually made of wood and acrylic.

  • Binders and sleeves: Binders and sleeves enable you to both store and display your cards.

  • Card holders: Screw-down or snap card holders protect your most valuable cards.

  • Storage boxes: Plastic or cardboard boxes protect and store large numbers of cards.


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Find Sports Collectibles on eBay


Find Sports Collectibles on eBay

Once you know what types of Sports Collectibles you want, go to the Sports Mem, Cards & Fan Shop portal and click a category link. Options include Authenticator Pre-Certified, Autographs - Original, Autographs - Reprints, Cards, Fan Apparel & Souvenirs, Game Used Memorabilia, and more.

  • Categories: Located on the left side of the page, these links will help you narrow down item listings to find the products you want. For example, if you click Other Sports Memorabilia, the Other Sports Memorabilia list will appear containing links to Baseballs, Bats, Gloves-Baseball, Publications, Schedules, and more. Clicking Publications next will display a Categories list that contains links to Magazines, Media Guides, Programs, Schedules, and Yearbooks. Keep clicking until you run out of options that apply to your search.

  • Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find a Rawlings "Mickey Mantle" fielder’s glove, type "Rawlings Mickey Mantle" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell sellers what you want by creating a posting on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and get notified by email when a match becomes available.


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Buy Sports Collectibles With Confidence


Buy Sports Collectibles With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that you don't receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection will cover your purchase price plus original shipping. Learn more.


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