What to Look For At a Garage Sale
Do you enjoy collecting football memorabilia? It does not carry quite as high a price tag as baseball memorabilia, but it is still easy to empty the bank account if you are a collector.
Football cards have sold at auction for as high as $240,000 for a 1935 National Chicle card of former Chicago Bears great Bronko Nagurski, while another of his cards went for $350,000 in a private transaction. Another Bear, quarterback Sid Luckman, is depicted on a card valued at more than $70,000 if of sufficient quality. Johnny Unitas' famous home white number 19 jersey from the Baltimore Colts (pictured below) recently sold for $118,230, topping the list of highest-priced jerseys sold at auction.
Autographed footballs and helmets can go into the tens of thousands of dollars, and not just for the oldest memorabilia, either. The helmet that Auburn University kick returner Chris Davis wore in the 2013 Iron Bowl sold for $47,190, the most paid for a college football helmet at auction. Considering his famous "Kick Six" run ended the championship hopes of rival Alabama, we are pretty sure it was not an Alabama fan that bought it.
You are not likely to find bargains of that nature at the average garage sale, but it is certainly possible to find football-collecting gems that will fit into your collection and are priced far below their value. Here are a few hints to help you find those gems and steer clear of potential money-wasters.
Ask to examine cards that are in unsealed holders. Cards that are placed in holders can look great but the reflections can hide creases in the surface of the card.
Other paper-based memorabilia like programs and ticket stubs are also condition-sensitive. Memorabilia like helmets and jerseys are less prone to environmental conditions (especially if game-worn) and more dependent on the quality of the autograph.
Examples of typical signatures for many famous athletes are available online. That will help you detect obvious fakes, but for anything priced higher, you may need to dig deeper into why such a valuable artifact is in a garage sale and not at an auction house.
Armed with these tips, you are ready to rummage through the garages of America looking for football gold. Good luck, and start early! Garage sales can have early bargain hunters lined up in a three-point stance outside the garage waiting for the opening, especially when sports memorabilia is involved. Take a few blockers with you if necessary.
Johnny Unitas photo by Malcolm W.Emmons (The Sporting News archives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons