Since moving from Cleveland prior to the 1996 season, the Baltimore Ravens have been one of the most consistently successful franchises in the NFL. After three losing seasons in their first three years in Baltimore, the Ravens have consistently been a winning team ever since. The nearly unparalleled level of success has allowed the team to gain legions of fans. Despite their relatively short history, the team has been able to produce many memorable moments, as well as a great deal of memorabilia. Ravens memorabilia can be found at sports collectible shops, garage sales, and at NFL pro shops. By searching around, even the hardiest of collectors can find whatever piece of memorabilia he or she is looking for. If a collector is looking online, then eBay should be the first stop. This guide will go over some of the more common items considered Ravens memorabilia.
Fan Apparel and Souvenirs
There are few better ways to support a team than buying gear and wearing it on gameday (or on the Friday before games as some businesses allow). Common Ravens gear includes jerseys, shirts, and caps, but collectors can also find a wide selection of keychains, magnets, rugs, flags, and other novelty items. In this section of the buyer’s guide, a broad look at apparel and souvenirs will be provided. It is worth noting that many of these items can be bought in unused condition.
The Raven colors of purple, black, metallic gold, and white are fairly unusual in the sports world. They combine to create a distinctive look for the team and are seen on clothing of all types, including jerseys. While shirts and jerseys are the most common items available, there are also hats, jackets, socks, shorts, and a variety of types of jewelry (including rings, necklaces, and earrings). A fan can get decked out head to toe with Raven memorabilia to give others no doubt of which side of the line is being supported.
Unlike other teams, the Ravens have kept their jerseys relatively simple and straightforward with the team’s colors. When playing at the M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore players usually wear a purple jersey with white pants. Their alternate home jerseys are black with white highlights. On the road, the Ravens sport a white jersey with either black or white pants. Any of these color combinations can be found in a variety of sizes for a large assortment of players. Fans can even customize jerseys to include any number they like and can include their own names on the back.
Ravens helmets, with the purple bird, are an interesting subsection of football memorabilia. While wearing a helmet is not conducive to watching a game, helmets make for excellent talking pieces on work desks or in a fan’s den. Helmets come in a variety of sizes, from miniature helmets completely made from plastic to full-sized helmets that are similar to what the players wear on the field. Helmets are also gender-specific and come in youth sizes as well.
There are many other pieces of Baltimore Ravens memorabilia that are mainly for collecting or nostalgia purposes. Tickets stubs have become increasingly fancy and can be collected to commemorate past games in Ravens history. Playoff ticket stubs from the team’s runs in the postseason are particularly valuable. Other souvenirs from games, including pennants, publications, and programs, can be similarly valuable to collectors, especially if they come from important games such, as the team’s victory in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001.
Other Pieces of Memorabilia
There is an assortment of other collectible memorabilia that can be found. Since 2000, teams have offered bobbleheads, which are small plastic dolls with moveable heads, to fans. The bobbleheads usually commemorate famous players, such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Fans can also show their support via a variety of clocks, watches, license plate frames, mugs, and towels, which are all emblazoned with the Ravens insignia.
Football cards have never had the same level of fame or value as baseball cards. However, with the NFL’s popularity in the United States, there are many collectors of football cards, and a true market has arisen for them. Like any memorabilia, value is determined by the condition of the object. The table below can be used as a guide to determine the condition of a card.
The card would look like it just came out of the package or box; minor printing flaws do not necessarily detract from value
Slight wear on the card that is visible only on close inspection, including slight fraying on corners
Card may have slight scratches or rounding of the corners; minor chipping on the edges and a loss of the original gloss
Rounding of the corners is evident, but not enough to ruin the card; there may be creases or slight yellowing
Obvious surface wear and accelerated rounding of corners; card can have several creases and obvious discoloration
Poor to Fair
Advanced wear including scuffing, pitting, staining, and chipping; major creasing and dirt are often found on poor to fair cards; damage may affect the frame of the picture
As the table shows, the more pristine the condition of the card, the more it will be worth. Rookie cards (the card from the player’s first year as a professional) and autographed cards generally have more value than other cards. Cards with misprints are also highly sought after. Football card manufacturers include Topps, Fleer, Panini, Upper Deck, Bowman, and many others. Many card collectors protect their cards in plastics sleeves.
As noted in the football card section above, autographs add value to collectibles. Because the signature can be placed on almost any item (signing a bobblehead is difficult, but not impossible), there are a wide array of signed items available. Game-worn jerseys are often authenticated by the player via signature and date. Players occasionally send pictures of themselves to fans with signatures. For the Ravens, linebacker Ray Lewis, who has been with the team since it moved from Cleveland and has been one of the most productive players of his era, has many autographed items available. Other players who are well represented in the autograph section include Ed Reed, quarterback Joe Flacco, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer, and star running back Ray Rice.
How to Authenticate Autographs
Unfortunately, autographs are easy to fake, so here are some tips to authenticate the autograph on a piece of Ravens memorabilia. While modern day sports signatures are more difficult to authenticate (compared to classic signatures), collectors can compare signed items to evaluate if the autograph looks right. There are also authentication services, such as the Professional Sports Authenticator and Global Authentics. These authentication companies also grade football cards and can tell collectors how close to mint condition their cards are.
How to Find Baltimore Ravens Memorabilia on eBay
eBay has made finding sports memorabilia quite simple because the site has set up a Sports Memorabilia, Cards, and Fan Shop. You can buy memorabilia for any team in any sport. From that shop, you can either search for Baltimore Ravens and the product you desire, or go through the directory and choose the "football-NFL" option from any of the major categories, including autographs, cards, fan apparel and souvenirs, game used memorabilia, and vintage sports memorabilia. You can search by player name in any of these categories to narrow your results as well. If the product that is being sought does not fit into any of a clear category, there is a catch all not specified group. Oddball items include Ravens onesies for babies, backpacks, replica trophies, and garden gnomes.
Buying sports memorabilia can be a lot of fun, but there is also some risk involved. To reduce the risk, you can do a bit of research on the seller of your desired Baltimore Ravens item. You can check out the seller’s profile page by clicking on his or her name. This page will give a feedback percentage and rating, as well as detailed seller ratings, including buyer ratings on the seller’s item description, communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling charges. Check out the Feedback Forum for a more detailed explanation of how to use feedback from past buyers to your advantage.
The wealth of Baltimore Ravens memorabilia available is nearly overwhelming. The team and supporting companies have churned out many pieces of clothing and collectibles to allow fans to show their support in many ways. As this guide has shown, collectors and fans can purchase Ravens clothing, ticket stubs, game-worn gear, and almost anything else that would come to mind in connection to the Baltimore football franchise. Autographed items are always sought by collectors. Signatures add value and authenticity to collectible items. Football cards have value with or without autographs and this guide has provided a handy table to use to determine the condition of the card. Users should be sure to research the seller before finalizing the transaction. All of these collectibles and gear are available on eBay.