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Memorabilia provide personal connection to sport

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Over the years, football memorabilia has become as highly collectible as baseball items. Though the history of the sport is not as well-known as baseball, it does have an enormous following today.

The American Professional Football Association was formed in 1920, later becoming the NFL in 1922.

Sandy O’Neill, of Goodhue, says her Minnesota Vikings collection started almost by accident.

"The collection just happened and I didn’t realize it," she says. "One of my first items was a book about the team of the ‘60s and history. I’d take it to training camp and events for autographs."

Peggy Buchholz, of Altoona, Wis., collects Green Bay Packers items.

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"I bought a Bart Starr shirt when I was in high school," she says. "Then when my son was born, I bought him a football with the packer logo on it. That was in 1974."

Items signed by famous players can command big dollars, though you can start a collection of items for less than $100. Items such as clothing, lights, glasses, caps and hats, pins and jewelry can add up to a great collection.

Anything associated with Hall of Fame players or those who have shined in some way will always be desirable collectibles, along with historical memorabilia from Super Bowls or Rose Bowls.

"I notice when I'm at auctions that anything signed goes very high," Buchholz says. "Items having to do with Super Bowl go especially high."

Sports memorabilia is usually worth more in the state from which it originated. Many sports fans prefer to collect items representing their favorite teams for enjoyment rather than to make money off them.

"I think most people collect Packer or Vikings items for their personal enjoyment," Buchholz says. "Maybe some do for investment, but I believe most do for the fun of it."

There are many characteristics of football collectibles that can add to the value of an item, but for the average fan, the personal connection is the most important. If the collectible is going to be displayed in a bedroom or an office, a photograph, pennant, framed jersey or poster is recommended.

If you want a collectible to hold value and be passed down for generations, football cards, mini helmets and autographed items might be appropriate.

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Maybe the item is to be worn. In this case, a football jersey, T-shirt or hat would work.

O’Neill says her most valuable item is a 1973 book of the Minnesota Vikings history, which contains many autographs.

"To me, the most valuable are the newspaper articles about the Packers and the Super Bowl wins," Buchholz says. "These are fun to look at and read and you can't replace these. I do think the Bart Starr jersey that I wore to shreds would be valuable if it was in good shape today."

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