Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn reveals how Panini sticker albums can be worth a fortune...
The World Cup kicks off (so to speak) next week - I wonder how far England will get this time? For those like me whose dreams of playing at Wembley were dashed by having two left feet, one way to get involved in the action is collecting football stickers.
It’s something many of us did as children, and you might even have a half-completed album gathering dust in the loft.
The idea of collectable cards and stickers originated in the 1880s, when illustrated card “stiffeners” were inserted in paper cigarette packets. Collecting became popular with children, who would queue up outside tobacconists to beg customers for the cards from their newly-purchased packets, but wartime restrictions on paper use meant production ceased in early 1940.
However, when Italian newspaper distributers Benito and Giuseppe Panini acquired a collection of stickers that were attached with glue in 1960, they were astounded that their repackaged collectable stickers sold three million packets!
Founding the Panini Company, they replaced the early flower and plant designs with popular footballers, and the craze for “swaps” and trades really took off. Within two years annual sales had reached 29 million.
Whilst Panini produce stickers to this day, it’s mostly nostalgic adults left collecting, often ruing starting a collection that will cost a fortune to finish! However, it’s the older stickers that interest me.
As with most collectibles, these increase in value over time- subject to condition, of course. A child of the Panini-heyday in the 80s who had the foresight to keep his pristine stickers loose could be sitting on a lot of money, as for most the fun was in sticking them in and trying to complete the book!
So, for that reason an empty album is really quite rare and could be worth a lot of money. Similarly a complete album from the early period could fetch up to £1,000, and individual stickers £10-20. The most expensive Panini sticker album, from their first World Cup in 1970, sold just this March on eBay for £1,550, despite missing six stickers!
Cricket tried to “get in the game” in early 80s, but their stickers didn’t sell as well as football, so it’s very rare to find these albums. But it could be worth checking the loft - and you’ve just got time before the World Cup starts.