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Is your old Bok jersey worth big bucks?

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Rugby World Cup fever has arrived yet again, with millions of South Africans showing their support by donning Bok jerseys and hanging flags outside their homes. There can be no doubt that rugby memorabilia is as popular as ever and hundreds of fans are cashing in by selling their old Springbok paraphernalia on websites such as Gumtree. But are those old signed Bok jerseys, balls and tickets actually worth big bucks?

It’s all relative, says Gumtree South Africa’s Claire Cobbledick. “Many people are willing to spend a lot of time and money collecting signatures and jerseys believing that it’s going to worth hundreds of thousands of rands down the road. However, the worth of nostalgia really lies in the experience itself.”

Limited edition or signed rugby jerseys are listed on Gumtree at prices that range from R1200 to R100 000, depending on the age, condition and signatures. “When it comes to the second hand market, it’s a fact that an item is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. A huge fan of John Smith might be willing to fork out thousands for his rugby tie, while another collector might not consider the item rare enough to even consider making an offer.”

Items from the 1995 World Cup are the most popular and can fetch high prices.

Cobbledick says that in order for an item to be sellable, it’s important to keep the collector in mind. “Most collectors want to display the item, so there are a few elements that must be in place. It’s preferable that the signature is verifiable – even if you snap a picture of the Bok signing the jersey. Signatures should also be clear and not faded, take care to protect your signed items from the sun and wear and tear.”

Cobbledick also states that items are most likely to be displayed somewhere in the collectors’ home. “Presentation is key. A framed jersey, photo or tickets is more attractive to a collector than one that isn’t.”

Nostalgia “neutrality” is also important. “You might treasure that picture of you and Francois Pienaar, but that is because you were the one that met him that day – a collector won’t consider it valuable. Similarly, an item is automatically worth less if it’s made out to a specific person. A rugby ball with a collection of signatures is worth more than one that is made out to “Dear Joe”. Two signatures aren’t necessarily better than one either – someone might be after a signature of a specific player only, and does not want anyone else on there. But an item signed by a whole team is probably worth a lot more than one signed by half.”

Even rare items aren’t necessarily fetching huge figures. “We recently had two framed 100 year old jerseys go up for sale for a little over R1 000 – even though they aren’t ready available for purchase online – while a collection of World Cup Coke cans sold for R3 000. The worth is dependent on the fans themselves.”

Tickets to this year’s final have also appeared on the site – at a hefty price tag of R10 000 per ticket – but Cobbledick advises buyers to err on the side of caution before buying tickets from unofficial sources. “You have to be 100% sure that tickets are authentic and transferrable. Moreover, you have to be 100% sure that your team will actually be playing in the final to avoid disappointment!”