What A Good Sport!

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Known for regular appearances on Flog It!, Bargain Hunt, Dickinson’s Real Deal and Cash In the Attic, and one of the UK’s finest antique experts and auctioneers – Adam Partridge takes a look at sporting memorabilia that might be worth a bob or two!

With the Euros and the Olympics being major sporting events in 2021 and with millions of viewers tuning in to watch their favourite teams, players and sports persons, then we must look at when the sport crosses from the screen to our walls and our homes.
I am referring to sporting memorabilia, auctioneers always encounter sellers who are wanting to sell their memorabilia be it football programmes, signed shirts, signed boxing gloves or even an Olympic torch they had the honour of carrying. But is it really worth anything and what type of items does well at auction?

Sir Tom Finney’s 1952 England cap


Football programmes, in the 50s and before most programmes were simply booklets and sometimes just one folded sheet bearing the team selection with maybe one advert for the local tailors or butchers, it was usual for just one member of the group to buy the programme. From the 60s and especially the 70s the programme became more affordable, containing more match information and of course more advertisements, instead of just one person buying the programme more members of the group would have one and thus there are more football programmes from the late 60s in boxes in the loft. Prices can be good for early programmes like the pre-war matches but ones from the 70s onwards tend to struggle.
Rare and unusual football memorabilia sometimes comes in to our free valuation events like this England cap that was given to Sir Tom Finney in the 1952 match where they beat Austria 3-2, this cap was brought in to our Preston office in Catterall for valuation, Steven Parkinson our senior valuer based in Catterall immediately saw the potential excitement this would create at auction, the first question a valuer will ask is what is its provenance in effect how do we know that this is the real thing and belonged to Sir Tom Finney and not someone else, the sellers reply was… ‘He’s my uncle’, now you cannot get better than that. England caps from the 50s are quite rare so we suggested an estimate of £3,000 – £4,000 and the cap will be offered for sale in our September sporting memorabilia auction.
In the early days the players of the winning team would receive winners medals like this one we recently sold for £2,000 it was an exceptionally rare 1906 15ct yellow gold League Winners medal, awarded to J. Asbury, with enamelled decoration centred with the Liver Bird and inscribed ‘League Champions 1906 Liverpool, A.F.C.’, This was Liverpool’s second league title, beating Preston to the honour. The medal was in the original gilt tooled leather case.

1906 15ct yellow gold League Winners medal


Victorian football memorabilia, the older the items the more people it will appeal to for example these two prize fobs that would have been attached to watch chains they sold for over £400. A 15ct yellow gold and enamelled medal inscribed ‘E.L.C.C.’ to front and ‘1889 Blackburn Rovers Winners J. Forbes’ to reverse with later brooch mount and an enamelled medal inscribed ‘Lancashire Football Association 1890’ to front and ‘Runners Up Blackburn Rovers FC J. Forbes Captain.’
Let’s not forget cricket, signed bats look good on display but remember to keep them away from direct sunlight that can fade the ink, we recently sold an important Gradidge Woolwich Imperial Drive ‘The Special’ cricket bat, bearing 99 signatures including the Australian touring team of 1930 for £230.
Football shirts, the framed signed shirts if bought from galleries or from charity auctions can sometimes cost more than what you can get for them at auction. However there are some exceptions especially if they are vintage and there is a good quantity like a group we sold a couple of years ago for £4,300. These were sold by the person who had them signed and there was good provenance to support the signatures
Remember when buying signed sporting memorabilia do your research and ask for solid proof, don’t accept anything less especially if you might decide to sell it on later, anyone can buy a team shirt and copy a signature, it’s certainly worth waiting and paying a little more with good provenance.

Steven at our Lancashire lakes and rural office based in Catterall is currently looking for rare, old and especially quirky sporting memorabilia for our September auction if you have something and would like a free valuation call him on 01772 347 380.

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