Cricket memorabilia is one of the fastest growing areas in the sports collectibles field.
1864 saw the first publication of the “Bible of cricket” the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and this is certainly an area worth concentrating on. The founder John Wisden (1826-1854) created the longest running sports annual in history. The Wisden has been produced in both hardback form and soft cover, the hardback version being the collector's preference was first printed in 1896. The most sought-after category is the first issue covering 1864-1875. As a collector one would need to take the long-term view and ideally given the time, perseverance and resources would aim to eventually assemble a full set of these informative volumes. A number of individual books become available on a regular basis, recent editions which have interested me are the hardback versions 1901, 10,11,12, I am currently purchasing a 1945 hardback (one of 1500), and am interested in 1942 one of only 900 copies.
I recently purchased W.G. Grace “Cricket”(1891) signed by the author, an excellent read and much sought after, it was published in (1891) so great care needs to be taken enjoying the content of rare books.
As with all sports memorabilia condition is important but I feel consideration in the case of Wisden must be given to age and usage. Wartime editions are always popular collectibles usually owing to limited production.
County cricket memorabilia is often high on a collectors agenda as items may be specific to one particular county narrowing down the search, incidentally County cricket teams began forming around 1660, usually encouraged by local aristocracy, dignitaries and landowners of the Shire who had begun showing an interest in village green cricket and wished to encourage the locals to enjoy the game, possibly some becoming the first cricket professionals. It was not until 1963 that the distinction between amateur and professional was finally abolished in English cricket.
Popular county sports memorabilia may include blazer pockets, club photos, attire, dinner menus etc.
Ashes collectables are probably the most popular pieces and it is worth noting the importance of various dates for example the 1948 series would mean more to the serious collector than the ‘38 series, bodyline series always stands out and seems to command good prices, signed scorecards are always popular especially if they are completed and scores printed as opposed to handwritten.
Autographs are very collectible with an enormous variance in value, for example, Edmund Peate, Yorks, England may fetch £500, James Lillywhite £600 whereas Don Bradman a much-admired icon of cricket a lot less, some cricketers were prolific writers others not so.
My advice to an aspiring collector would be to study the subject, attend auctions and take notes then over time analyze the trends, a good start may well be Knights Sporting Auctions in Norwich.
Of course, the holy grail of cricket memorabilia is the Ashes, kept at Lords, the home of cricket, St Johns Wood, London.

Written by Selby