When you love playing the game of tennis, it’s easy to get the disease of seeking out unusual and old tennis items that catch your eye. It can be even worse if you come from a family of collectors, where auctions, antique shops, flea-markets, and yard and garage sales are a way of life.
As far as tennis memorabilia goes, antique tennis items are not all that expensive to purchase (in comparison to so many other sporting antiques) and there are a thousand different types of tennis objects to keep you filling your house for years.
There’s a fine line between being a collector and hoarding, but when you come across that mint and very special piece it has a way of talking to you. It becomes too tough to resist and finds a resting place within your eye-sight at home that may only appeal to you. Many call the spot it lands as their “feel good” wall, room or house.
The side-line of getting into the groove of collecting is the other people you meet who enjoy doing the same thing and sometimes collecting the same type of items. You get to compare notes, learn from each another and share the knowledge you all desire to come by, acquire and possibly profit from.
If you’ve been at it a while, you become knowledgeable about quality, condition and price - what’s rare and what is fairly common. Early on you might grab just about anything that’s on your list, but it won’t be too long before it has to be in very good condition and semi-rare or unusual to fork out much money or to find a place in your collection.
You may start out with old tennis racquets - or is it rackets, actually it’s both or either.
Racquets with old wooden handles and gut strings. Wood racquet presses. All the popular racquets made during a certain time period. Racquets that were used by famous players. Racquets from different countries. Racquets that had/have unique designs or stringing patterns.
If you don’t have a lot of room to dedicate to your cause, you may want to collect old tennis cards. Yes, they are currently made but just like baseball cards from years past, there were also tennis cards you could buy.
Books are fun. The older the better. It’s pretty fun to compare what they were teaching players in the late 1800’s, early 1920’s and so forth to date. What tennis books were popular and why.
Old tennis photographs and postcards are great to find and don’t take up too much space.
Vintage clothing, paintings, shoes, magazines, prints, ball cans, ceramics, plates, cups, knick-knacks, equipment, trophies, silver and metalwork, tins, bronzes, figurines, broaches, medals, posters, programs, rule books, famous player items ... your imagination is your only limitation.
One of the best ways to get an idea of what is out there is to go to some of the great tennis museums that have been put together for tennis buffs. Two of the best are at the following sites:
Here in the states visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame at 194 Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I. The phone number is 401-849-3990. If you happen to be in London, England, it’s a must to visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum at the All England lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Church Road. Their phone number is 081-944-6131. Certainly you can go online and look up just about anything you might have an interest in.
Visit tennis dealers known as Auction Houses online like - Christie’s (in London), or Sporting Antiquities here in the states.
Good luck in your tennis collecting ventures - I’ll be the other person taking a quick look as well, so please try to not push the price up too much or we’ll both lose out.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or email@example.com.