Whether you’ve just come by some unauthenticated sports memorabilia or you’re a lifetime collector, it can feel like there’s nowhere to sell your goods without certification. Fortunately, you have plenty of options.
In this article, we’ll highlight some of the best places to sell your collectibles and outline key tips for getting the best possible price for each item.
Best for: Mid-value items for which there’s significant demand and some level of price predictability.
eBay is the best-known site for auctioning items on the internet and has few requirements to become a seller. That makes it a great place to start selling your unauthenticated sports memorabilia. The site will give you near-total control over the presentation and pricing of your items, though competition from other sellers is fierce and may keep you from getting top dollar.
- More than 100 million buyers across the world.
- Control over listings, including titles, product images and descriptions.
- Memorabilia can be given a fixed price or put up for auction.
- Competition and fake items can drive prices down.
- eBay takes a big cut of the final sale price.
- Sellers can face additional requirements or restrictions depending on an item’s category.
While eBay is famous for its auctions, the better bet is to put a fixed price on your memorabilia. Using eBay’s auction function will result in a faster sale, but it risks getting substantially less than your item is worth.
Using the “Buy It Now” feature is the inverse of that; sales will probably take longer, but you’ll typically get a significantly higher price. You can also accept offers. Whichever format you choose, expect eBay to take a 10-15% cut of the final sale price.
Learn more in our guide to making money on eBay.
#2. Online Auction Sites
Best for: High-value items that appeal to serious collectors.
Online auction sites are a good bet when you have something extraordinary to offer, such as game-worn items, rare collectibles, autographs from iconic players and the like. Some auction houses, including Sotheby’s, even provide authentication services for you.
Some of the most reputable online auction sites for sports memorabilia include:
- Your items may be authenticated or appraised by experts in the field.
- Sites are well known to passionate collectors who are willing to spend.
- Auction houses do the marketing for you.
- Most online auction companies are only interested in top-tier memorabilia.
- Getting listings without authentication can be difficult, depending on the item and how you acquired it.
- Lack of control over the auction process.
Getting an online auction house’s attention is often straightforward. Many have a form on their website for you to submit details and images of the item or collection you’d like them to sell. If they’re interested, they may offer an appraisal and/or authentication services, which is the last step before deciding to work together.
#3. Facebook Marketplace
Best for: Items that are popular in your local market.
Facebook Marketplace makes it easy to create listings, giving you full control over the pricing, images, descriptions and other relevant details.
- Listing items for sale is very simple.
- Allows you to ship items anywhere in the United States.
- Offers seller protection for shipped items.
- By default, listings only appear within a limited radius of users, so memorabilia for a team across the country may be hard to sell.
- Scam buyers are rampant on the site, and while Facebook offers seller protection (if you follow all their rules), the volume of scam messages can be a major time-waster.
One notable downside to Facebook Marketplace is that users can’t search the “sports memorabilia” category, so your collectible jerseys will likely appear in search results alongside off-the-rack jerseys.
#4. Your Own Online Shop
Best for: People who have many items to sell, ideally all relating to a certain theme (like a particular team or player).
If you have a lot of memorabilia, including hard-to-find items, you may want to open your own online shop using a service like Shopify. This gives you the most control possible over how your items are sold, and insulates you from pricing pressure found on platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
- Control every aspect of the sale, from branding to price point.
- Relatively easy to set up.
- Have to do your own marketing.
- Ongoing fees to keep the website running.
- Occasional website maintenance required.
You don’t have to be a tech wizard to run your own online shop, but you should have some know-how. It’ll help you buy the right domain (keep it simple and direct), set up branding, and write product names and descriptions that’ll catch the attention of Google’s search algorithm.
That said, once you’ve got things up and running, the upkeep should be minimal and you’ll be able to sell your sports memorabilia on your terms 24/7.
#5. Local Sports Shops
Best for: Customers of local shops that already have a relationship with the owner.
Local sports shops have been a go-to place to sell sports memorabilia for ages. Wherever you live, you most likely have one near you. Whether it’s a card shop or a team-themed store, they’re hungry for merchandise. Your sports memorabilia could be it.
- There’s probably one near you.
- Can engage with the buyer face-to-face.
- Little to no waiting for payment.
- Could get low-ball value estimates from the store.
- May make less than you would through other means.
- Store may not be able to take large collections.
The best thing about local sports shops is you get paid immediately (or close to it). Selling is as easy as walking in with your stuff, making your case, and deciding on an agreeable price if the store is interested.
The catch is that you’re likely to get less money than you would have if you sold online — remember, the store is trying to make a profit, so they’re going to pay you significantly below market rate.
#6. Restaurants and Bars
Best for: People who have framed memorabilia that can be easily displayed on walls.
It’s possible that you could sell your memorabilia to a sports-themed restaurant or bar. It’s kind of a long shot, but you may find interest if you have local items that are easy to display, like jerseys or autographed photos.
- Sports bars and restaurants are prevalent.
- You can get paid quickly.
- You have direct contact with the buyer.
- Will probably make less than you would online.
- Can be a difficult market to crack.
- Unlikely to take items that aren’t flat/can’t be hung on a wall.
Restaurants and bars are cold leads — places that have shown no previous interest in your items — so you’ll have to be comfortable cold-selling. But if you have items related to your local teams, this can be a viable option, especially if you’re trying to move large flat items (like framed jerseys) that can be difficult and expensive to ship.
Advice for Selling Unauthenticated Sports Memorabilia
There are a lot of places to sell unauthenticated sports memorabilia, but you need to be smart about it. Here are a few tips.
Determine Your Item’s Value
Putting a price on your items can feel like taking a shot in the dark. Fortunately, there are some things you can consider to shed a little light on the process.
These factors drive the value of unauthenticated sports memorabilia: fame, rarity, condition and age. Your items will command higher prices if they are:
- Related to an iconic player, team or moment in history.
- In short supply.
- In pristine condition.
No one trait dictates what you should expect for your item, but taken together they can be a good starting point.
Another thing worth doing is looking at sales of similar items. If you can find how much your Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for recently, you can use that as another guiding factor in your pricing decision.
Prepare As Much Documentation As Possible
Even without a certificate of authenticity, you can go a long way toward demonstrating your sports memorabilia is the real deal with good documentation.
- A sales receipt revealing your source for the item.
- A photo from a reputable source of the jersey or shoes being worn in-game.
- A newspaper clipping proving that a player was involved in the game that day.
- An old auction catalog showing that the item has been sold before by a company that felt it was legit.
You can strengthen your case with this kind of evidence and more. Think about what other material you might have that can strengthen your case.
Only Accept Safe Forms of Payment
It’s important to consider how you will be paid for your sports memorabilia. Not all payment methods offer the same level of safety or security.
That said, you have a lot of options. Cash is best, but you won’t be able to take it if you’re selling online. Next in line are PayPal and Venmo, which only offer seller protection if you’re registered as a merchant. Additionally, you can face disputes within the apps as well as chargebacks requested by the cardholder’s issuing bank.
Credit and debit cards are your best bet if you’re selling through your own site, though they also come with the risk of chargebacks or reversals and you’ll need to pay processing fees.
There are a few common payment methods to avoid as well: checks, Cash App and Zelle.
You should steer clear of checks because you won’t know if the buyer actually has the money to pay you until you try to cash their check. By then, it could be too late or a lot of hassle to resolve.
On the other hand, Cash App and Zelle transactions are instant but final once they’ve occurred — meaning there’s essentially zero possibility for a buyer to scam you.
If You’re Shipping, Always Require a Signature
Requiring a signature at delivery isn’t just good for peace of mind. It’s crucial for taking advantage of seller protection policies offered on platforms like Facebook and eBay.
A buyer may challenge your sale in-app or through their credit card or bank as a chargeback or reversal. While Meta only requires a tracking number for its in-app disputes, you’ll be best served by requiring a signature in case the buyer takes their complaint to their bank or credit card. To dispute it, you’ll need to provide evidence that everything went according to plan.
Among other requirements, you’ll need to provide PayPal a signature for its seller protection at all times, and on Venmo once the order is over $750. Neither company offers seller protection to personal accounts. You must be registered as a merchant.
If You’re Shipping, Assume the Carrier Will Throw and/or Lose Your Package
Keep in mind that while you love your collectibles and have properly cared for them over the years, carriers like UPS and FedEx have no such attachment to the items; they are responsible for moving thousands of boxes per day, and they do it quickly — including by literally throwing packages.
If you’re shipping, it’s essential that you go above and beyond to pack your items sufficiently. Assume they will be thrown, dropped, kicked and otherwise abused. If your package arrives damaged, you (not the carrier) will be held responsible by the buyer/selling platform.
Also keep in mind that the major carriers regularly lose items. Never ship without sufficient insurance.
Summary and Final Thoughts
Even if you don’t have a certificate of authenticity for your sports memorabilia, there are good places to sell. The price you can get for your items and the ease with which you can sell them depends on the venue you choose.
Regardless, you need to take steps to prove the authenticity of your items to fetch the highest price possible. You also want to do your best to protect yourself from buyer fraud.
Selling unauthenticated sports memorabilia won’t be as lucrative as selling items with certificates of authenticity. However, you can make money doing it. You just have to know the right places to go.