Collectors are joining the team Antiques: Sports equipment and advertising are big hits.

December 21, 1997|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Don't discard Grandpa's old golf clubs, fishing tackle, baseball gloves, tennis balls or other sports equipment.

Many collectors have been saving baseball cards since the 1950s, but sports equipment was ignored by all but a few. All kinds of sports collectibles now are seen at the most prestigious antiques shows and at many flea markets.

High-end antiques include 19th century golf balls and clubs, large silver trophies, pottery and porcelain figurines and dishes that picture sports events and players, and authentic, game-worn uniforms or autographed balls associated with famous players.

Even toys can be of value. Collectors look for nodding-head figures, banks, miniature baseball bats and board games featuring a sport.

Don't overlook oddities such as cast-iron bottle openers, instructional films, posters, golf-ball washers and containers that held equipment. Scorecards, calendars, can labels, magazines, newspaper advertisements, trade cards and books of matches can be valuable as well. And prints and paintings related to a sport can take on extra value.

A few years ago, a box holding Babe Ruth underwear sold for $575. A Mickey Mantle's Holiday Inn soap bar in the original wrapper brought $440.

We have a grand piano manufactured by Decker Bros., New York. There's an 1863 copyright date inside. Can you tell me anything about the company?

Decker Bros. was founded in 1862 by David and John Jacob Decker. The brothers had taken out their first patent on a piano in 1859. The firm closed in 1893.

What's the difference between a "stock" trade card and a "national issue"? I thought that they are all printed on "stock."

Advertising trade cards were made by various lithography companies from about 1870 to 1900. The card fronts had colorful illustrations. The backs were printed with an advertisement for anything from baking powder to shoes. The cards were available free at stores or from salesmen.

The word "stock," in this case, refers to a trade card that was printed in huge quantities with a generic picture. Stock cards were shipped to all sorts of retailers, with their own messages printed on the back. Stock cards are usually less valuable than "national issue" cards that were commissioned by a single retailer. Their illustrations picture the retailer's product advertised on the back.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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