There is always a market for sporting memorabilia, whether the items are connected with a certain sport like golf or cricket, a certain personality like Fred Perry or a certain event like the world cup.
Sporting memorabilia performs increasingly well at auctions. Sotheby's and Christies held their first sport themed auction as late as 1995. Since then such auctions have become a frequent event at houses across the country.
Cricket, horse racing, tennis and angling are the most commonly collected sports themes, but football and rugby are also gaining importance. The rise in satellite TV has also led to an upsurge in American sports like baseball.
It's not just the equipment itself, which is collectable. Items like cigarette cards with a sporting theme; prints of sporty cartoons; material signed by great sports personalities or sporting figurines are all eagerly sought after by collectors- there is an endless supply and variety of sporting collectables.
For cricket: bats, balls and gloves are amongst the most favoured items. The earliest bat which is still in existence dates from 1750 and is housed at the Oval. It is probably priceless. A late 19th century cricket bat may be worth upwards of £50 in good condition.
Like cricket, lawn tennis is a very English sport, which is probably why it too is so popular. Tennis was as important to the high society Victorian's way of life as tea, and many stars of Wimbledon were absolutely idolised at the time. It is the only racket sport to have inspired a complete set of cigarette cards.
Angling also was a popular sport for the Victorians (Prince Albert himself was a keen fisherman). Line winders, rods and lures are all collectable, but perhaps the most widely available fishing accessories are reels. Whilst some reels are worth £10 or less, some are worth thousands. An important name to collectors is Hardy of Alnwick. One of their 1891 brass reels fetched £17,000 only a few years ago. Their name on a reel definitely increases its value.
Sporting memorabilia are popular because they appeal to collectors on three levels. Some collectors may be academic enthusiasts who are looking for an opportunity to gather historic details; some may be sportsmen themselves and may even make use of their special purchases and some may just be looking for a decorative item to complete a room.