Sports Memorabilia

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

Flogging memories to the masses -- Channel 9's sales pitch is almost as familiar as Richie Benaud himself. "To me a limited edition should be 25 maybe 50 and in a pinch up to 100 but they're 300, 500, a thousand in some cases -- way too many ", said licenced sports valuer, Rick Milne.

Retiring great Adam Gilchrist, the latest to be immortalized; but at $2,500 for one of 200, is this pricey piece a good investment? "Buy it if you like it and love it, but don't ever, ever try and sell it and get your money back, because it just won't happen", Rick said. Rick believes the perceived future value of modern memorabilia is far beyond the reality.

It will be a $500,000 windfall if each Gilchrist piece is sold, but how big a cut Channel 9 and Cricket Australia take, they won't say. And while this isn't the only website to offer the item, it's prominent promotion during the cricket isn't doing sales any damage.

"The modern limited editions are sometimes a triumph of packaging and presentation, whereas the earlier pieces or the pieces that appear to be going up in value and demand worldwide, are the unique pieces that have a primary relationship with the sporting hero", said auctioneer, Charles Leski.

Charles knows what sells on the secondary market. Having bought a 2002 test team bat from the television, the owner is in for a rude shock. " It's in good condition, it's still a beautiful piece, but in today's market its worth less than it originally cost. I believe it was something around $2,000 and we're estimating it at around a quarter of that", Charles said.

Each year tens of millions of dollars worth of sporting memorabilia changes hands -- Bradman bats, football jerseys, signed photographs, even figurines -- in the search for that one item which may fund early retirement.

AFL memorabilia is generally considered the nation's most popular; a framed Geelong piece will set you back $1600 -- 300 were made. For League fans, $2000 buys a Melbourne Storm piece - 200 of them exist.

"Among the pieces we sold was Doug Walters' baggy green cap from the 1968 Test Series. We also had in the same auction, Ian Chappell's baggy green from that series -- you're looking at $20 - $25,000 dollars for a piece like that", Charles said.

According to Charles these items represent the quality and rarity required for memorabilia to be a good buy. But, there's no need to spend a fortune to make your investment wise. Rick Milne showed us a book - "This is a good one -- it was out in 1946/47, done by a South Australian caricaturist and the book was withdrawn --in other words was taken out of circulation -- because it was felt to be too unpleasant. It should be worth about $100 and it's probably worth about $400 because they withdrew it", he said.

"Little cards were put out by a company called McCrackens, which was a very early beer producer in Melbourne. You'd be heading towards $500 each but they'll increase at 20% a year, no problems, because there's so few of them", Rick added. "Wanted to buy" columns are a good indicator of desirability; but the best advice - "If you're buying something that's available to the masses, you can't win", Rick said.