Celebrate our national love for sport with memorabilia

Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at the lucrative world of sporting collectables...

How many of you have been running, leaping or throwing for Sport Relief this week? Or maybe sponsoring a stream of young relatives.

So, we are celebrating our national love for sport with a look at some of the most award-winning, and most lucrative, sports collectables.

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Cricket, horse racing, tennis, football and rugby are the most commonly collected sports themes, with satellite TV enabling sports like baseball and American football to gain ground in recent years. All sell well at auction, often to sports themed pubs and restaurants.

A 19th century cricket bat can fetch £50 upwards in good condition, but sports-linked items like cigarette cards, cartoon prints and figurines, medals and trophies are also eagerly sought after by collectors.

Signed memorabilia can be a good investment, especially if the athlete is on the rise or, like Tiger Woods, known for not signing very much. His autographed pictures sell for over £1,000; signed golf balls much, much more.

The hottest sports signatures include Usain Bolt, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. Muhammed Ali’s autographed practice shorts or gloves easily fetch £10,000, with authenticated fight clothing rising to tens or even hundreds of thousands depending on the fame of the bout.

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After the cricket world cup in the summer, Ben Stokes memorabilia doubled in value.

All this pales beside the most expensive piece of sporting memorabilia: a Babe Ruth 1928 baseball jersey which sold last year for $5.64 million!

But at the more realistic end of the pitch (and which won’t bankrupt you on the insurance alone), vintage sports gear can be a great way to pick up well made equipment without breaking the bank. Oars, fishing rods, hockey sticks, golf clubs and pool cues, plus more unusual items such as hurling, croquet and polo sticks were all made to last and cheaper than new.

A last tip before the referee’s whistle: canny traders know sports collectables benefit from a temporary rise in profile and value during big sporting events.

Note international cricket and rugby tournaments, Wimbledon, and high stakes FA Cup finals in your diary for good selling opportunities- but avoid buying until after full time!