Personal Effects: Old trophies

Published 9:30 am Friday, October 14, 2016

Question: OK J, I wanted to check with you before I tossed these in the garbage. I have literally four generations of old sport and academic trophies. Maybe even older as there are some from both grandparents. Horse, golf, tennis, school and band. Big ones and little ones. All are metal and some are really tarnished. They date all the way from the 1920s up to the 1960s. I doubt that anyone will want some stranger’s awards. Tell me quick. Thanks!


Answer: Are you crazy?? Trophies are cool and very much in the decorating scene. Check out just about any Ralph Lauren ad and you’ll see trophies on the book shelves or turned into lamps. Look at Pinterest and you’ll see loads of trophies used in homes and many ways.

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Don’t like the brassy colors? Just paint or powder coat them, instant style and panache.

I love the scholarly look of trophies and don’t mind at all that they aren’t mine. Trophies are cool and I’m always on the look out for them in the store.

I’ve not even mentioned the importance of the local historical aspects. People love memorabilia from local schools, clubs or groups that are now since gone or a little memento of a local citizen. Local stuff sells and often has a viable market.

Now I’m trusting that your family isn’t famous, just a nice average bunch of folks? In that case you’re not going to have the added tag of celebrity ownership to boost up value. The really large trophies like you sent me are in stores for maybe $15 – $25. Smaller trophies, like the little loving cups, are anywhere from $5 – $15 each.

Trophies that are in connection with horses, racing and older golf trophies will have an added cache.

Now, if your trophies are going to date to the 1970s and upwards, they typically are cheaper materials and just look it. So expect less.

Don’t worry about tarnish or copper base metal bleeding through the silver plate, decorators love that look.

Now, a word of warning. Pay special attention to the silver ornaments that you said were tarnished. There was a once a day, dear reader, that even school trophies, were made of sterling silver. However, it MUST say sterling. If that’s the case the value can rise dramatically, really dramatically. But yeah, put them in a yard sale or call a local dealer. At the very, very least take them to a charity resale store to at least give them a fighting chance. I think they are great. Thanks for sharing.