selling Red Sox memorabilia
April 25, 2008 5:13 AM   Subscribe

how would one sell of an extensive Red Sox memorabilia collection?

A family member recently died leaving behind a few filing cabinets of Red Sox memorabilia.I am not even sure what is in there but "people who know" say he was a serious collector. We are not in a position to hawk this stuff item by item on ebay or anything but would like to sell it for a reasonable amount as the proceeds would be going to an elderly person who could use the money. I have no idea where to start. Does any one know someone reputable who might assist us?
posted by Dcotton to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total)
1.) Either take them to a collectibles store, or have someone from a store come to your house.
2.) Do not let items out of your sight.
3.) Make it clear that you have no intentions of selling items, but that you want them valued for insurance purposes.
4.) Once you have those totals, sell items on ebay.

Good luck!
posted by adamfunman at 5:36 AM on April 25, 2008

Seconding adamfunman, especially #2. My long-ago experiences with baseball-card-store and sports-memorabilia suggest that they're all kleptomaniacs.
posted by notsnot at 5:45 AM on April 25, 2008

Since you say you don't want to sell this stuff item by item on Ebay, you really have no choice but to either contact a local dealer and sell him/her the lot, or possibly to sell the whole lot yourself on Ebay. You should be able to get some idea of what individual items are worth just by searching for comparables on Ebay yourself. Personally, I would be inclined to sell the items individually on Ebay, which is not really difficult, and a lot of fun, but I understand your predicament. Probably best to invite more than one local dealer to come look at the collection and make you an offer. I hope you live in the Boston area, as this would probably make a huge difference.
posted by thomas144 at 7:58 AM on April 25, 2008

Don't be in a hurry. Get several knowledgeable sports fans to look at it -- someone like a sports writer might be good. Consider contacting this guy from Antiques Roadshow, who could appraise and recommend the best way to realize the true value -- perhaps a live auction.
posted by beagle at 8:17 AM on April 25, 2008

Definitely take your time with it. Look locally first, but not knowing what you have, it's entirely possible, that if this person were a serious collector, a few of the items could be worth a great deal of money. I would call Sotheby's or Christie's in NYC and ask for their Collectibles Department. You can probably do most of the describing over the phone and send a digital image via email If it's in their ballpark, they will sell the items at auction, and take their buyer's premium on top of the hammer price (unlike eBay, which carves our their commission from the proceeds).

Full disclosure: I work for Sotheby's but today is my last day.
posted by psmealey at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2008

lots of auction houses will take a look at the stuff for you

try Heritage in Dallas
Sotheby's in NYC

Stick with the reputable folks to get a feel for what you've got

many dealers will take stuff off your hands for a song when given the chance...

Auction houses will try to get most they can for your stuff
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:22 AM on April 25, 2008

Post a description of the items on the Beckett forums and get a feel for more options there. Once you get an idea of the value, I'd also recommend posting an ad on Unless you have something extremely rare (Ted Williams signed jersey?), don't expect truckloads of money.
posted by mattbucher at 10:49 AM on April 25, 2008

BTW -- you can get a sense of the relative worth of some of the items by checking out the Boston Red Sox Memorabilia here.
posted by ericb at 11:41 AM on April 25, 2008

Here's a list of the most prominent sports memorabilia authentication companies (according to eBay).
posted by ericb at 11:46 AM on April 25, 2008

When my relative with an extensive movie memorabilia collection passed away, the proceeds his daughters received via a (traditional) auction were enough to ensure his grandkids will never have to pay for school.

Robert Edward Auctions specializes in high-end baseball memorabilia -- I'd contact them as well as the more well-known general houses to see if they think any of what you have is really valuable. Even if you come up short there, their blog has a couple entries regarding authentication that you might find interesting.
posted by Opposite George at 12:50 PM on April 25, 2008

Nthing take your time on this. If you don't know what it is, then you're going to get taken.

The baseball memorabilia market is very cyclical. For example, baseball cards went through almost a "speculative bubble" in the 80s and 90s, only to see a drop in value in all but the rarest of the rare. However, other forms of memorabilia, especially the one-of-a-kind items -- signed contracts, letters, ephemera -- have held up pretty well.

The Red Sox are very hot right now, so you'll probably want to get this stuff appraised sooner rather than later. But that doesn't mean you should run out and dump the lot.

Get someone who knows this stuff. Heck, just get a lifelong Sox fan to look at it.
posted by dw at 3:55 PM on April 25, 2008

Seconding that you should get in touch with Robert Edwards Auctions.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2008

A belated clarification, in case anybody's still reading this.

You're better off going to a broker (i.e., auction house) rather than a dealer for this -- a dealer's interest is to low-ball you to maximize his profit. An auctioneer gets paid based on a % of the sale price, but they don't want to waste their time or disappoint you either so they're more likely to give a reasonable range. And all reputable auctioneers should perform this valuation for free.
posted by Opposite George at 3:51 PM on May 3, 2008

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