As long as sports have been in existence, there have been sports memorabilia. People have always felt the need to support their favorite team or player. Fans can be so loyal that even after they've moved out of state or even out of the country, they take their love of the game or player with them.
The desire to be a part of the team and have their favorite sport with them at all times is naturally what led to the creation and collection of sports collectibles.
Since the early days of baseball, fans have aspired to get their favorite player's autograph. The most popular way to get a signature was on a ball that had been hit into the stands, but some fans brought their own balls, not wanting to leave it to chance. Signed baseballs are still one of the most popular sports collectibles, and have set the precedent for other signed sports memorabilia, such as autographed basketballs, hockey pucks, footballs and more.
Footballs signed by the entire team are highly prized by collectors, but are usually more expensive, due to the fact that there are several autographs on it rather than just one.
Autographed clothing has become more popular in recent years, with hockey jerseys leading as the favorite. Many people will purchase a new jersey with the number of their favorite player to have signed, but the most valuable jersey is one that comes directly off the player and is autographed after a big game. Sometimes a well-known player will offer one of his jerseys to charity auctions to raise money for a favorite organization. This is a great way to own a piece of sports memorabilia and help out a worthy cause at the same time.
Whether the autograph is on an article of clothing or a ball, the important thing is really the signature itself. Some fans prefer to simply have the player sign a photo or magazine cover with his or her picture on it. These are just as valuable and sought-after as any other sports collectible on the market, and sometimes offer the added bonus of meeting the player in person.
Baseball cards are another favorite type of sports memorabilia that have been around since the late 1800s when the cards were drawn rather than printed with photographs. Baseball cards are one of the few kinds of sports collectibles that can be quite valuable with or without autographs. A rookie card from a legendary player is quite a find, especially if it's in good condition. The popularity of baseball cards has led to the introduction of football, soccer and basketball cards, although they are not quite as well-known.
Collecting sports memorabilia is a hobby that is generally centered around the value of the item, so it is extremely important to preserve your sports collectibles properly. Jerseys and other pieces of clothing will degrade over time if not protected, so the best option is to have them framed.
Professional framing shops have experience preserving valuable items, therefore they will have archival-quality materials and UV resistant glass to keep light from damaging your jersey or fading the signature. An alternative to framing is to purchase a special display case with a rod for hanging your jersey. These museum quality cases will also protect your jersey from UV rays and are often more affordable than having it framed.
Buying autographed memorabilia from other collectors can often be somewhat safer than online auctions, but you always want to be careful since it is extremely easy to forge a signature. Longtime collectors can often be knowledgeable about how to spot fakes, so it can be a real advantage to take someone who has experience with you when shopping. The Internet can also help with advice via message boards and chat groups, so be sure to do your research before you commit to a purchase.
The world of sports collectibles can be a fun and exciting one, but it can also be an expensive one. More so than any other type of collectibles, it's important to learn as much as you can before you buy in order to keep from making a costly mistake.