Anything that is worth collecting will differ in value because of many different factors. For instance, a Dallas cowboy's jersey may not be of any value whatsoever to a New York Yankees fan.
To maintain the value of many sports memorabilia, the items must have no imperfections whatsoever. No stains, no tears, no wear around the edges, no fading color, no chips, and no missing parts. On the flip side, there are items that are considered of greater value because they were used by the athlete. Avid fans will often go to great lengths to gain access to something an icon touched, wiped their sweat on, inserted their smelly feet into, or got grass stains on during a game.
Plenty of people who aren't sports fans often think the value placed on memorabilia is outrageous and silly. After all, the players are just people and the items are just stuff. However, any small town coach who has seen a player evolve into greatness will beg to differ. This coach will see a person with special talent who deserves a claim to fame and will honor any memorabilia connected to this person. Of course, there are also coaches who try to ride on the coattails who barely knew the person. Those type people will often try to grab some of the spotlight themselves in hopes of building their own worth.
Players make more than just themselves famous. They make items famous that they use on a daily basis, items they special order, companies associated with products they use (even if they don't personally endorse these items). Everything they use, touch, or buy for themselves becomes of interest to the public. Their camping equipment, lawn maintenance equipment, toothbrushes, socks, and so on, will now be of value to someone somewhere.
Zach Johnson won the 2007 Masters Tournament with Titleist golf balls, drivers, irons, and wedges. He wore shoes by Foot Joys, so this brings business to them as well. Now these products will be important to sports enthusiasts.
Of course, there is a downside. Collectors must beware of the dreaded forgeries and fakes. These can be devastating to those who saved their pennies for years and finally reach their goal of owning that special piece to their collection, only to find they'd been duped by some con artist. Fake memorabilia can be extremely profitable as they are hard to spot. A really good con artist can sometimes pass off something to even a seasoned collector as being an original. They have become professionals, perfecting the art, so to speak, of the scam.
An experienced collector can recognize the fake memorabilia upon close scrutiny most of the time. They research and educate themselves, becoming familiar with the signs. They learn how to find the value of an object before they spend their hard-earned money on it. They also learn the value of authentication and grading.
Remember as well that sports memorabilia value can change with the times and the importance to the public of the famous person it is associated with. Just because you had something appraised 10 years ago does not mean it will retain that same value today.
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