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How Much Would You Pay for a Rare 50-yr-old IHL jersey?


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About a month ago, I came upon a rare 1960s game-worn Fort Wayne Komets spaceman jersey that is still up for grabs on ebay.

It was worn by former Komets' sniper Merv Dubchak, who still holds the Fort Wayne record for goals in a season with 72. I was very interested until I saw the price tag -- $6K!

Now, I'm a big Komets fan. I cut my hockey teeth listening to the Komets games on the radio during the early 1960s.

But, as hard as I try, I can't see paying anything close to $6 grand for any IHL jersey, even the orange Komets spaceman jersey (in the Toronto Hall of Fame) worn by the IHL greatest player, Len Thornson.

Looking at past auctions by some of the major sellers, such as Gameworn and Classic Auctions, I couldn't find any vintage minor league sweater that sold for anything close to $6,000. Last May, Gameworn sold a rare mid-1960s Cleveland Barons durene worn and autographed by the late AHL HOFer Fred Glover. The price was about half the cost of the Dubchak jersey.

While I loved to watch Dubchak play during my college days when the Komets came to Columbus, Ohio, to face the expansion Checkers (as a brash kid, I once handed Dubchak a cigar as he walked to the dressing room after scoring a late goal to beat the Checkers one Saturday night. I told Stubby, who took the cigar and thanked me, he was my "Player of the Game."), but Dubchak was no Fred Glover. Glover is still called the Gordie Howe of the American Hockey League.

And, there's no contest when comparing the two leagues. The IHL was a weekend, Class A, bus league in the 1960s. The AHL was, and still is, the top minor league in North America.

To put the Glover jersey in perspective, I think the guy who bought it -- me -- probably overpaid by at least $500. I don't think the Dubchak jersey is worth more than $1,500 tops -- unless there's a Komets fan out there who is crazier than me.

But, it's all about supply and demand. Here's the Dubchak jersey:KometsDubchakJersey_zps2b5af86d.jpg

Edited by LouMarcon
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I bought a jersey last year in spring that was well above whatever value I could ever hope to re-sell it. It was something that I had been hunting for for a very long time and I sacrificed a lot to get it. It was a modern jersey but I still paid an arm and a leg for it. It was $1500 more than I have ever spent on a jersey and I have no regrets. I was willing to pay so I got what I wanted. The point is, value comes from people's perceptions and not necessarily it's market worth. The first guy might pay $6000 for that Komets jersey and the next guy might not be willing to pay more than $500 for it. Just the way it goes. The seller either has no idea the market rates of these sorts of things or has perceived the value to be $6000 or is trying to get someone to bite at that price.

Either way, you have put a price on what you think it's worth so if you really want it, I would get a hold of them, present the evidence and try to swing a deal. It's a great looking jersey with a great personal story to attached to it. As an addendum to the conversation on price, I managed to find a similar jersey to the one I bought in spring for a much more reasonable price just a couple of months later. I am sure that if you are patient enough something better (or more reasonably priced) will come along eventually.

I also really appreciate the quality of your posts and the stories that come out of them! It's an insight a different generation and you seem to have a bit of knack for storytelling. Keep it up!

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Guest Dr_Puck

Thank you, Lou, for the thoughtful post. I do enjoy reading your commentaries. And I agree with Oxbo 100% on your comments.

I'll add one word to this discussion: Context. We all agree that a jersey is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. For me, though ... I'm consistently aware of a price point that guides most (if not all) of my purchases. If you're used to spending several thousand dollars on jerseys, then $6K would be reasonable. However, I would have a hard time putting up that much for a jersey even if 1) it was my grail and 2) I suddenly won the lotto.

I tend to notice that collectors here ascribe to a similar philosophy. We spend X not only because we can afford it but because X jersey fits in our collection.

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I got in touch with the seller and we went back and forth but couldn't come up with a number that was mutually acceptable. My absolute maximum was half of the original price, $6,000. Actually, $3K was too high. I would have preferred about $2,500, but that wasn't going to happen.

The buyer put the Dubchak jersey up for a second cycle on ebay, but took it down after a couple of days. It wasn't sold, but the ebay message said the jersey was no longer available. The seller told me he was selling the jersey on consignment for one of the old Komets, who he didn't ID.

The jersey would have fit nicely into my collection of mid-1960s gamers, but the price was just too high. There are a couple of mid-60s jerseys currently up for grabs on Classic Auctions that I've had my eye on. Perhaps I'll have better luck there.

As I mentioned in my first post, the price that a jersey sells for in strictly up to the individual buyer. I purchased a Cleveland Barons jersey last year strictly on emotion. Common sense went out the window. I overpaid and as a result I did not particularly like the feeling in my gut when I woke up the next morning to find I had won the auction.

Since then, I always go into an auction or ebay sale with a maximum number that I'm willing to pay. It's based on what similar jerseys have sold for, AND what I think I can get when it's time to sell. And, I try to keep emotions out of it. I think that follows Dr._Puck's definition of CONTEXT.

But, we all have our Holy Grail(s).

Two of my three HGs were up for grabs over the last few years. I missed on one due to price and the second one due to bad luck.

The first, the white 1960 US Olympic sweater was auctioned for $9,400 by Legendary Auction in 2010. I submitted an early bid, but the winning number was way out of my league. That was the first time one of the 1960 jerseys was on the open market, and based on the sale price I've pretty much written off ever owning one of those. Just too expensive.

The one that really hurt, however, is the Frozen Pond auction last year of the 1961-63 blue wool Pittsburgh Hornets jersey worn by Gene Ubriaco. I do a periodic Google search for my Holy Grails, but I had never heard of Frozen Pond and didn't learn of the Ubriaco jersey until one day after the auction closed. I would have paid much more than the winning bid, so I contacted Frozen Pond and had them notify the winner of my interest. After a few days, FP informed me that the jersey had already been re-sold by the winning bidder. Out of desperation, I contacted the original seller of the jersey, Dan Woods, who was the trainer of the Hornets in 1966-67 and runs a sporting goods store in Ontario. I asked if he had any leads on former Hornet players who had jerseys from this period and might be willing to part with them. No luck.

But, I agree with Oxbo. One has to be patient and keep looking. And, if you find one of your Holy Grails, hope the price is within your range -- and always try to keep your emotions in check.

Edited by LouMarcon
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