Sports memorabilia: 2016 auction review

Baseball memorabilia took the majority of the top spots this year.

The sport has an extraordinarily rich history, with an incredible cast of characters. We saw several records set for big ticket items.

Olympic memorabilia has proven increasingly popular, a trend that will likely continue next year in the run up to Tokyo 2020.

Top sports memorabilia sale of 2016

Doc Adams was a key figure in the development of baseball as a sport

Baseball had already been around for a good few years before Doc Adams sat down to write the Laws of Base Ball (1856).

The document lays out some of the sports' most important tenets, including the distance from pitcher to batter and the positioning of the bases.

In April the manuscript came up for sale at SCP Auctions. It sold for $3.2m, making it the third most valuable piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

2016's most important sports memorabilia sales

The 'Jumbo' Wagner has unusually large margins

The world's finest T206 Honus Wagner became the most valuable trading card ever sold when it realised $3.1m at Goldin in October.

In fact, it was something of a bumper year for baseball cards, as Joe Jackson's 1909 rookie realised $667,000 in August.

A major auction of memorabilia from the collection of legendary footballer Pele at Julien's in June included the star's own presentation Jules Rimet trophy, which achieved £394,000 ($568,876).

Charles Conlon's spectacular archive of iconic baseball photographs have helped to stoke much of the mythos around the sport. So it was no surprise that it did very well when it crossed the block at Heritage in August, achieving $1.2m.

The most unusual sports memorabilia sale of 2016

The original recipient of this 2012 Olympic medal is unknown

One of the stranger lots this year was a 2012 Olympic gold medal, which was offered anonymously at RR Auction in July.

This was one of the first medals from the games to be offered publicly. The athlete and their discipline was never revealed, but it still sold for $45,577.

It was a breakout year for…

Shoeless Joe's memorabilia has dramatically increased in value in recent years

The value of Shoeless Joe Jackson's memorabilia has been building for some time now. He was ejected from pro baseball in disgrace following the 'Black Sox' match fixing scandal, which he swore until his dying day he had no involvement with.

Baseball historians are largely agreed that he was unfairly treated, leading to a revival of interest in this extraordinary and misunderstood player.

One of his bats sold for $583,000 at Christie's in October, edging out even his legendary Black Betsy bat - which realised $537,750 in 2011.  

It was a year to forget for…

A group of three men in Ohio were each sentenced to several years in jail for defrauding buyers on eBay with fake sports memorabilia.  

One you may have missed

Jim Craig was still a college player when he helped beat the USSR in the 1980 Olympics

The 1980 Miracle on Ice is one of the greatest stories in sports history and memorabilia associated with the game is in high demand.

Goaltender Jim Craig's mask was the latest lot to come to auction.

It realised $137,849 at Lelands in June.

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