My dad is a 92-year-old World War II veteran, former professional athlete and my hero. After pitching for the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, he had a successful career in the aircraft business and enjoyed collecting as a hobby. And to my mother’s dismay, collect he did. My father saw the beauty and value in many diverse objects. From antique tools and weaponry to sports collectibles and athletic gear, my dad loved it all. He always had the most interesting things, even if it wasn’t neat enough for my mother’s taste. My audiences have probably heard me say that my favorite place in the world is my father’s garage — it’s filled with cool stuff.
So, with Father’s Day upon us, I want to dedicate this column to the men who, like my dad, enjoy collecting for collecting’s sake.
Some of the most interesting and masculine collectibles are military collectibles. From typical German Nazi edged weapons worth $800 to Navy uniforms worth $100, objects associated with our armed forces retain interest and value today. My dad was a combat medic in the Pacific theater, and like many other soldiers, he brought home souvenirs relating to his tour of duty — liberating the Philippines under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, fighting the Battle of Luzon and working for the occupation forces in Japan. Many GIs made objects highlighting war events or picked up a battlefield item here and there.
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Japanese flags, kamikaze gear and all types of weaponry are among the most common collectibles that I see at my events. Battlefield flags featuring the highly recognizable Japanese rising sun on a white background command as much as $400 from military collectors today. Vintage flags should be kept in acid-free boxes or in white cotton pillow cases to avoid deterioration. If you want to frame your flag, be sure to use acid-free framing materials.
Sports collectibles retain their value as long as provenance and authenticity is determined. Some of the most common include baseball cards, autographed photos of players (my favorite was New York Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry), signs and seats from historic stadiums, signed football helmets, NASCAR toys, team hats with logos, basketball jerseys signed by famous players, etc.
A few important tips to remember when collecting sports memorabilia are to snap a photo when you get that autographed baseball from Cliff Lee of the Phillies, because there are a good many sports collectibles that are fakes, keep your sports collectible away from direct sunlight and in good condition, and know the true market value before you make a trade. The owners know the value of the players when making decisions about drafting new team members, so you should know the value of your sports collectibles before you make a trade. And don’t forget that there is big money in the antique sporting objects too, like hand cast metal fishing lures, early 1900s football helmets made of leather and vintage equestrian equipment.
Tools are the first things that most women are ready to part with when their husbands begin the clean out process, but old tools can hold significant monetary value. There was a red hand drill from the 1940s in my dad’s garage that I loved to play with. I remember once asking my mother if it would help her to mix cake batter in the kitchen because it looked like an egg beater to me. She declined. That mid-century Stanley hand drill is worth $40.
Antique tools like planers, hammers and saws to objects demonstrating advancements in technology like old radios and TV sets command prices reaching into the several hundreds of dollars. The tools must be in good, working order and in well-maintained condition with only minor abrasions. A little wear and tear is expected in this collecting category.
If you are searching for a gift with Dad in mind this Father’s Day, don’t forget that he can always make room in his garage/museum for a newly autographed book on the history of ice hockey, a vintage fishing rod or an authentic piece of World War I trench art. Happy Father’s Day.