Collector’s Corner column: The wonderful world of vintage Packers pennant collecting, Part 2
With Chris Wood
Welcome back to part two of our exploration of the world of vintage Packers pennants, which we’ve defined as, “those dating back to the Glory Years and beyond/before.”
In doing additional research on the subject since last time, we’ve learned the oldest pennants from the early 1900s were truly works of art. They were bigger, in some cases being up to nearly three feet long, and featured hand-painted graphics. They were made of a soft felt material rather than the synthetic type we’re familiar with today.
Because of their visual appeal and historical significance, these are highly sought after and therefore, very collectible. For multiple reasons, including the small number that was manufactured and the moth damage sustained by many of those that survived, they are very rare today and command high prices. They were not regarded as “collectibles” 50 years ago, even though by then baseball cards were.
In the mid-‘60s, pennants went from a soft felt material to the synthetic material we know today. They also stopped hand-painting them in favor of silk-screening to allow for mass production. While they were no longer works of art, pennants were still very attractive memorabilia items, and had entered the realm of “cool” in terms of desirability.
As always, condition is everything in assessing values for any collectibles, and pennants are no exception. In fact, to the contrary, there are a number of “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) items to be aware of because it is very important the pennant hasn’t been altered to make its condition appear better than it really is.
Things to watch out for in this regard are: Alterations to the edges to make the point appear sharp, color added to the graphics to fill in cracks or make them disappear, and that the tassels (if it has them) are originals which haven’t been replaced by a modern-day substitute.
Additionally, faded color will lower the value. Even if it doesn’t readily appear faded, look at the backside to see if it’s darker, indicating the front side was once the same shade. The sun oftentimes will have bleached the color on the front. Which might not be obvious at first look.
Older pennants may have wrinkles or creases but sometimes it’s possible to remove them with a very careful ironing job. With newer synthetic pennants this is very difficult to do. In most cases it is impossible, and should not be attempted by anyone other than a professional. Be very careful and proceed slowly and cautiously if you attempt to do so with an older pennant. If you don’t or can’t do it properly, you will reduce the value of it, usually very substantially. Sometimes, it’s best to leave well enough alone.
Like most other collectibles of any kind, there are those who are always trying to produce high-quality counterfeits. However, it’s usually the baseball genre they go after. There are far more pennants to choose from, and many more valuable ones. As always, be very careful. If you have any doubts whatsoever, take a pass on it.
Before we get into a discussion about the price ranges that Packers pennants from various decades usually sell for, we would do well to look at how “the experts” arrive at the prices they put forth for specific pennants.
There are a number of things considered to arrive at the pricing they’ve come up with. These include auction results, pricing set by online sellers, and what the most knowledgeable and experienced collectors in the hobby have spent on or sold for specific items in recent transactions.
Several basic things to be aware of would include the following: Most guides you’ll find with specific values listed are what you should expect to pay. Remember, the people selling them have to make a profit to stay in business, meaning they had to obtain them for less.
And remember: There are many variations to be found in pennants – such as background colors – which will affect value because some are rarer than others.
There are also several basic size categories, including the full size (30 inches long), oversized (more than 30 inches long), and three-quarters size (24 to 26 inches long). There are also mini-pennants from the 1960s, which like their size suggests are worth a fraction of full size versions.
And then there are the tassels. Not all pennants had them, and a look at the back of the spine will reveal if they’re missing. If there once was one, it should still be there for the pennant to be considered in mint condition. If not, it will be worth less.
Wholesale prices, what sellers are used to paying, can vary from 20 to 50 percent. Individual prices for transactions can vary greatly, especially for rarer items.
If an experienced, ardent collector decides he or she really wants something badly enough, and that this could be the only opportunity they’re going to have to get it, they may decide to pay more, if necessary. Maybe even a lot more.
Information is power. The more you know, the better off you’ll be. When you determine there’s a Packers pennant from a time with that specific year’s team that you’d like to have, if you can find out the rarity factor before going after it, that information will be useful.
There are generally about five categories: Common, somewhat rare, rare (10-20), very rare (5-10), and extremely rare (1-5). As far as what they mean in collecting terms, think of it by how many of each of the rare categories generally come up for sale each year. I’ve included this in the parenthesis after each rare category.
We won’t even attempt to give a comprehensive guide to values for all of the Packers pennants out there, because over the 95 years of the team’s existence there are thousands.
All we will attempt to do here is give a very general range of values for Packers pennants, with the assumption being they are in excellent condition:
1970s: Very common, $10-$20.
1960s: Very common, $15, to extremely rare, which go up to $1,500.
(The 1968 Super Bowl versus the Oakland Raiders features some extremely rare pennants selling for big money.)
1950s: Rare, $30, to very rare, up to $450.
1940s: Common, $75, to extremely rare, $700.
1930s: Extremely rare, $300-$1,400.
1920s: Extremely rare. You would do well to consult an expert and find out more about a specific pennant before purchasing.
That pretty well covers it, so until we meet again next time, happy collecting!