At times I feel like Joe Riggins, the manager of the Durham Bulls in the movie “Bull Durham”. No, I am not talking about calling people lollygaggers, but rather when he says “this is toughest part of a managers job…” The issue is how do you give people bad news that also comes a bill.
It is different when the guy at the garage calls and tells you that the car repairs will come to $1400. The upside in this case is that after spending the money and getting the car back, it is better than when you dropped it off. Not so with sports memorabilia and unlike wine, it does not get any better with time.
My hope for is that items have been sent in under the premise that a sale would be conditional upon the results of the evaluation. Even better are those instances when some previous arrangement has been made between the seller and potential buyer that involves the seller absorbing the cost or some portion of the evaluation if it does not come back favorable. If you haven’t thought of this, you may want to consider it in the future.
Recently I looked at a number of jerseys from Hall of Fame caliber players that share a number of the same problems. There are a number of take aways from these evaluations for collectors.
First, always confirm the tagged size to the actual size. In an number of cases, the tagged size is often what is consistent with what the player wore at a given point in his career, yet the shirt is either lager or smaller. When you detect this, look CAREFULLY at the tags for subtle signs that they have been reapplied. This may also appear in the form of tags that have been trimmed to cut off the open seam holes. Take the time to roll back the tags as often you will find these open seam holes on the underside.
This next point relates back to the first. Study and understand the concept of “manufacturer’s characteristics.” This is simply not the study of one team, but other teams by the same manufacturer from the same period. Consider MacGregor jerseys from the 1960s. Notice that the MacGregor manufacturers label is sewn through only the first collar fold on all three jerseys. When tag switching occurs, the signs will include either the tag being sewn through both collar folds or the collar seam having been opened up, new tag applied and collar resewn. Signs of this can include a difference in thread as well as double stitching in the collar area where only a single stitch line should be present.
Also take note of Wilson player identification over time as well. At times, the player name will be sewn below the collar fold. You will find this with other manufacturers as well. In most cases this is because a manufacturer’s label is in the collar area.
Lastly, an often overlooked aspect of manufacturers characteristic deals with supplemental tagging for laundry instructions. I have seen jerseys that have been faked to appear to be that of star player that have featured either a tag for laundry instructions that is inconsistent with either the period and manufacturer.
NOTE: All the above jerseys pictured are commons from my personal collection of exemplars and not those sent in for submission by any person.
When considering flannels, look at fabrics, especially with respect to older fabrics vs new fabrics and what should happen with them over time. Things to check for include consistent thread color and wear, comparing all the fabric of the numerals, lettering, and crests and looking for consistency, as well as examining the backing on felt to see if it has aged or is cracking.
If you can’t afford to build a collection of actual jerseys for reference, then build a reference library/data base of exemplars that you can refer to. Ask questions of folks who might have similar items. You can always send the item for an opinion, but that is not the focus of this article. Be sure and comfortable with what you are buying. If you are pressured by the seller to “take it now or no deal,” consider what may be behind this. If nothing else, think about the jerseys within the context of some of the things I have mentioned and shown here.
MEARS Auth, LLC