Following his sporting achievement, Roger Bannister was one of the most famous men in the world
The running shoes worn by Roger Bannister when he beat the four-minute mile go on sale in September
Cool and Collectable With a summer of sport in prospect memorabilia expert Paul Fraser reveals how collectors can score highly in its investment opportunities
BOWLED OVER I have a friend whose dining room is adorned with at least 50 Wisdens (Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack) – those weighty compendiums of cricketing statistics. Unfortunately for him – from an investment point of view – they are all post World War II. Because it’s first editions from WWII and earlier that command the big prices, and the big price gains – especially hardback editions.
A hardback from 1900 can sell for more than £3,000. Original paperbacks from the same year achieve around £200.
Yet both antique hardbacks and paperbacks have proved sound investments over recent decades.According to Wisdens.org, values for pre-WWII Wisdens in hardback form increased by 10.8 percent a year on average between 1982 and 2012. Paperbacks grew by 4.4 percent per annum over the same period.We have seen a slight drop off in prices of late – most probably the effect of the financial crisis causing prospective buyers to feel a little less flush.
A year to look out for is the first: 1864.
Here prices can reach £8,000-9,000.
Also consider years 1969 to 1972. These first edition print runs were much shorter than for surrounding years. It means values routinely reach £60, with 1971 examples particularly scarce.
TRACK RECORD If you’re keen to own a superb piece of sporting history, you’re reading this at a great time. Because on September 10, Christie’s is auctioning the running shoes Roger Bannister wore to break the four-minute mile.
It’s impossible to over emphasise what a landmark achievement it was. Most commentators thought it impossible. Many had tried and failed.Yet on May 6, 1954 Bannister clocked 3:59.4 and – for a time – became the most famous man in the world.
WHAT PRICE WILL THE SHOES ACHIEVE? Considering that one of five stopwatches used to time the historic feat auctioned for £20,000 in May, Christie’s £30,000 to
£50,000 estimate looks conservative. Whatever they make, I could see them being worth far more when the 100th anniversary comes round in 39 years’ time – it is such a pivotal moment in the history of sport.
“These shoes are the last tangible link I have with the four-minute mile.All my trophies are now on display at Pembroke College Oxford, where I was Master,” explained Bannister, who is auctioning them to raise funds for neurological research.
The record for athletics memorabilia is one of the four gold medals Jesse Owens won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It auctioned for $1.4m (£890,000) in 2013.
A SLICE OF HISTORY The golf ball Rory McIlroy sunk to win the 2014 Open Championship auctioned for $52,038 (£33,000) not long afterwards.A sound investment? A risky one in my eyes. The story of Rory McIlroy is still unfolding. We don’t know if he will win 20 more majors or none.Will he be looked upon as one of the greats in 50 years’ time?
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