Click on the categories below and you will see articles that give you a pretty good idea what sort of information is included in BCN, at least you get a taste. Of course there’s lots of categories of memorabilia NOT even mentioned in this website but, hey, that’s what BCN is for.
Oh, and a word on VIDEOS. You won’t find them here. Most boxing films are copyrighted by Big Fights, Inc. and it is illegal to distribute copyrighted material without permission. Of course lots of BCN subscribers do trade videos but we don’t allow advertising of videos which have been bootlegged from film and that’s most of them.
The trickiest things to collect are autographs. The major problem with autographs is that so many of them aren’t legit. Even in a world in which no one would dream of forging someone’s name for profit (and that isn’t this world) there would still be lots of bogus autographs.
Firstly there are what’s known as “secretarials” or signatures by a family member, staff or friend done for the celebrity because the celebrity either won’t, or can’t, sign. In BCN we publish addresses in each issue and in one some years back we put in an address of a deceased fighter by mistake. One reader wrote and said he was grateful for the address since he had gotten all his stuff back signed. Hmmmm.
Then there is the problem that some previous owner of the piece may have merely written the name of the boxer on the photo to identify the fighter pictured. I cannot tell you of the number of folks who have sent me xeroxes of items they have purchased like this. One dealer was offered a “Max Bear” signed photo (It’s “Max BAER”). Or the signature on the picture may be legit but it is actually in the photo, not on it. Many famous fighters had photos done where they signed the negative and every picture contains their “autograph.” And let us not forget the dreaded stamped signature.There is also a device which can do an ink signature very well called an autopen that is very difficult to distinguish from the real thing. It is rumored that many early Mike Tyson photos were signed by autopen. Still not dissuaded? Your best bet, then, is to collect signatures in person. But if you live in 99.9% of the country, boxers just don’t get to town much, do they? I can tell you to simply deal with a reputable dealer. This is, however, conventional wisdom that doesn’t always hold water since lots of fine dealers have been fooled, too. Nothing succeeds like doing your homework. There are some folks who pay fighters to do private signings and these are great. Not only does the fighter get something in return, but you are now sure that the guy’s daughter didn’t sign. The older stuff just requires some study and the opinions of folks in the hobby. It is, after all, the acceptance by dealers and collectors which actually legitimizes a signature.
I have seen signatures which were gotten in person that I know, 20 years from now, will be discredited. And signatures change over time. I got the signatures of Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, each when they had just turned pro, and I assure you, they are radically different than those gotten in person today. As for prices, signed photos and personal letters in long hand are worth 3-5 times a simple signature.
It has been said that the difference between a boxing historian and a boxing book collector is that the historian actually reads the books he collects. Or at least that the reason he bought the books is to read them. In actuality, most of us intend to read all of them — right?
According to antiquarians and dealers who have read many titles in all sports, boxing has the richest literature of all the sports.
First, a few general rules for collectors. Books with dust jackets are more valuable than those without, some say as much as twice as much, most allow about 20-30% more. Frankly, I take the nicest jackets off the books and store them separately if I do not have a plastic cover for the book.
Second, condition of the binding and contents do matter and any book which has once been in a public library is worth less, These are usually noted in ads as “ex-lib.”
Last, know whether or not what you have is rare and be especially careful of the way you handle those books. Do not take Pugilistica to the beach. Just remember what your third grade teacher told you about handling books. Remember Mrs. Jones’ lecture on “Books are our friends?”
All books are collectible. There are, however, some titles which are rarer than others and are most sought after. Many of these are not really books you want to curl up with but are essential to any well-rounded collection and are excellent reference books. Here are the top 15 (exceedingly rare and obscure books are not included) ( * also considered good reads):
- Boxiana (5 vol. set), Egan
- Pugilistica (3 vol. set), Miles
- Black Dynamite (5 vol. set), Fleischer
- Two-Fisted Jeff , Fullerton
- Ruby Robert , Davis
- The Champ Nobody Wanted, Young
- Give Him to the Angels, Fair
- The Roar of the Crowd, Corbett
- Black Prince Peter, Hales
- The Michigan Assassin, Fleischer
- The Life and Battles of Jack Dempsey (Nonpareil), Fox
- The Life and Battles of John C. Heenan, Fox
- Bad Nigger, Gilmore
- The Life, Battles and Career of Battling Nelson, Nelson
- Relief to Royalty, Lud
The overall champion in this category — number one on everyone’s reading list — is The Sweet Science by Hall of Famer, A.J. Liebling. It is an exquisite experience for fight fans, by a fight fan – and a great writer. The book that got this collector tuned into the older stuff via an interest in the early fighters is Johnston’s, Ten and Out. Updated many times, pick up an edition no later than the fourth printing since much that was added lacks inspiration and insight. While there are a few minor factual errors, it is an easy read and doesn’t miss many of the legends and myths of the sport.
Speaking of legends, pick up The Legendary Champions by Rex Lardner. It is a fairly in depth look at the heavyweight heroes through Gene Tunney. Published in 1972, it also has some very rare photos. But if it is photos and history you want, you must get a copy of A Pictorial History of Boxing by Andre and Fleischer and The Encyclopedia of Boxing by Gilbert Odd. The former whisks you through the sport in words and pictures. The latter resembles an encyclopedia, but read the biographies of the fighters listed and you will catch tidbits you never knew as well as the author’s opinions of them. Very interesting stuff by our finest historian. Where else will you find out that Harry Greb rarely trained and get a list of the 41 longest fights in history?
There are many biographies of heavyweight champions. Most are just glowing tributes, but some are insightful looks at the kings of the sport. My pick in this category is Finis Farr’s Black Champion. Farr does what Johnson could not do in his autobiography and what other biographers miss, he puts Johnson in perspective without losing sight of the man, himself. Most folks feel that Roar of the Crowd by Corbett and A Man Must Fight by Tunney are required reading because each appears to have actually been written by the fighter, himself. How rare is this? I asked Angelo Dundee what his favorite boxing book is and he replied, “Are you kiddin’, I don’t even read my books!” He added, “I just edit ’em.” Angelo isn’t alone, some books list the ghost writer or collaborator, but many do not. Writing is a whole other talent than, say, the left hook.
One thing we cannot get consensus on is the best book written on John L. Sullivan. Is it John the Great by Chidsey, by John L. Sullivan and His America by Isenberg, or John L. Sullivan by Dibble? Most folks like the way Chidsey writes and the historical perspective he gives, but believe Isenberg’s is the most thoroughly researched.
Most feel there is no clear winner in Dempsey books so pick up Round by Round by Stearns or Randy Roberts’ later book.
The best book on Ali has to be Muhammad Ali, by Tom Hauser. Hauser, with that book and The Black Lights, has firmly established himself as Liebling’s current day successor. The Greatest by Ali is the second best on Ali but cannot compare to Hauser’s. Hauser lets the folks who have been around Ali tell their story and the result is fascinating.
There are lots of books on the lighter weight divisions but the clear winner here is The Michigan Assassin by Fleischer. It is, in most opinions, Fleischer’s best book. In general, Fleischer books are easy reads but done more like magazine articles, which were Fleischer’s forte. It is no wonder that Nat produced so many short, breezy, but informative books in his day.
Most people collect old equipment which have been owned by a particular fighter or used in a particular fight. There isn’t much market for just “old equipment.” But to establish ownership and use requires the patience and diligence of Sherlock Holmes.
The operative word you must learn is “provenance.” Antique dealers and collectors want to know what establishes the item to be what it is purported to be. What is its origin or “provenance?” When you buy such an item, you are buying the item and its provenance and if either is poor, the chances of you ever reselling it, if you have to, is remote. Look at provenance as the story behind the piece.
Here is a checklist for good provenance:
- Is it in writing and signed?
- Does the signer have first hand knowledge that the item is what he/she says it is? Testimony of what a relative or friend has told the signer weakens, but does not totally negate, the value of the piece.
- Is there any hard, or even circumstantial, evidence that can corroborate the provenance. The best such corroborative evidence is a photo or a film which at least establishes that the item is the same brand and look as what is being offered. Remember, however, that lots of folks fought with Everlast gloves, for instance. An actual autograph on an item helps to establish that the item was actually touched by the fighter but doesn’t put them in the ring with the fighter. It is one more piece of evidence.
A collector I know, traded for a pair of Ad Wolgast’s fight-worn gloves. The only provenance is that they came from a well-respected antique dealer in Cadillac, Michigan who got them from a local person who said her husband got them from a barbershop where Ad would hang his gloves after each fight. The dealer had apparently verified that Wolgast did, indeed, hang gloves in an old barbershop in Cadillac, according to press reports of the time. The gloves are vintage horsehair-stuffed gloves of the period. Well? My evaluation is that this is not strong but marginally acceptable provenance.
I was once offered a pair of Marciano gloves. They turned out to be the exact brand, model and weight of his gloves for the fight, facts that would have been hard to determine ahead of time to perpetrate a fraud. There is photographic evidence to back this provenance. It is the best case scenario but very rare. I was glad to get them.
One of the most popular of all boxing collectibles is the boxing card. Just like baseball cards, boxing cards have been produced in this country since the 1880’s. First they appeared in tobacco products, then, later in gum and candy. Unlike baseball cards, however, boxing cards have also been produced in countries around the world. Unfortunately, there’s no price guide.
Card collectors either collect complete sets, all the cards of one fighter, one of each type of card (type collectors) or collect cards of just certain eras. Some collectors do all of these and their collections can be quite extensive. Because rarity means so much in card collecting, several unusual situations exist. In 1910 the Mecca and Hassan tobacco companies put out a couple of colorful boxing sets that include such names as Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries in one set and John L. Sullivan and Jim Corbett in the other. While these are great names and beautiful cards, they are also not very rare. The companies made a large quantity of them. At from $5-30 a piece, they do not compare at all favorably with prices of baseball cards of the day. Much rarer and more valuable are two cards made some 40 years later. In 1951 Topps gum company made a large card set called “Ringside” and in that set, for some unknown reason, #49 light heavyweight Bob Murphy is hard to find and in mint condition may fetch as much as $200. No other card in that set is worth as much (though Marciano is close – not rarer, but it IS Marciano). Even rarer is a card made in 1948. For years collectors thought that the Leaf gum company’s “Knockout” set consisted of 49 cards, erratically numbered. Indeed, uncut sheets of the cards could be found that were exactly 7 cards by 7 cards. Then, about 8 years ago, a Rocky Graziano Leaf emerged and since then one other has been found. The Graziano card may not have been released except by accident or may have been recalled. The last Graziano Leaf sold at auction for over $1,000. One owner of the card says he got his in a trade with a neighborhood friend in New York City in 1949 so they must have been available. The next most expensive card in the set is the Joe Louis at about $75 in mint condition. In cards, condition is very important and a card rated as only “fair” may sell for only 10% of what a “mint” one will sell for. “Mint cards” must have a new sheen, very sharp corners and no blemishes or creases. Very minor imperfections lower this to “Excellent” and what you and I might consider a card in “great shape” could be graded at only “Good” or, at best, “Very Good.”
The most challenging cards to collect are the pre-1900 cards. This is an expensive hobby for advanced collectors. Research is absolutely necessary to assemble a good 19th century collection. Beginners can come into card collecting with the new stuff. In the early ’90’s, several sets were released that are very good. These are inexpensive and are a great way for card collectors to get a start. They can be found for sale by dealers in major sports collectors’ publications and at sport card shows. The four most popular sets are Ringlords, AW, Brown’s and Kayo.
The process of putting someone’s image on a celluloid button is over 100 years old and, as result, there are lots of different souvenir buttons out there with fighters’ pictures on them. As a collectible, they are pretty – and pretty cheap. Until more recently, the largest group of celluloid buttons was made during the late ’40’s and early ’50’s when they were sold outside fight venues across the country. Marciano, Walcott, Charles, LaMotta, Robinson and Louis are the fighters whose faces are most commonly found. In the last twenty years, however, a deluge of souvenir pinbacks advertising fights and honoring fighters has produced colors and varieties previously unavailable to button collectors. A look through past issues of my newsletter, reveals that many souvenir buttons can be had for $10 or less. Celluloid press badges, pinback buttons of a different variety, are still less valued than their paper press pass counterparts and are good buys at under $40.
The most prized buttons are pre-1900 buttons of Sullivan, Corbett, and Fitzsimmons. These are smaller buttons with the advertising company printed inside. The Fitz Pepsin Gum button on the cover has not, to my knowledge, been reprinted and can sell for $100 or more (anything less than $50 is a steal). Condition of an old button is important and there a few things to look for. Firs, is the image clear? Like many mass-produced items, fuzzy, off-centered specimens are inevitable. Foxing, those brown spots and “stains” that plague antique photos also are found in pinbacks. Second, there is rust, which appears first on the underside of the button. Badly rusted buttons are virtually worthless. Third, there is the presence or absence of the pin, itself. The pin is a twisted piece of wire that ends in a sharp point and fits into the back of the button. Absence of a pin isn’t a catastrophe, since many pins are interchangeable and can be found on less valuable buttons, but having a pin is a plus.
Amateur Boxing Pins
There are so many different pins which are not celluloid pinback buttons, it is impossible for one article to encompass them all. Therefore, let’s look at amateur pins. Many countries produce pins for each sport in which they compete internationally and these are sold at competitions around the world as souvenirs. Europeans are particularly prolific in this area and the countries of the old communist bloc produce them in great numbers. The most valued of these are, of course, Olympic pins, but there are many others. Every time the US fought Russia in a dual meet or the eastern bloc nations had a tournament, pins resulted. In this country a limited number of similar pins result at Olympic box-offs and, especially, at major international events held here.
Look for these pins at pin shows in major cities or at flea markets almost everywhere. Several immigrants from Russia have brought back large inventories. Some day, maybe soon, pins from the USSR (which doesn’t even exist any more) will fetch big bucks, but this is probably a bad area to speculate in. After all, they look great, can be found for $20 or less and provide an accent to any collection.
Boxers are often given medals at amateur competitions and while most of these are plain, many are pretty ornate. It is, once again, the significance, rarity, age and look of the piece that matters most in any collectible, but in medals it is almost always mostly the “look.” Ornate officials’ medals from the Golden Gloves in Chicago of the ’20’s, ’30’s and ’40’s are some of the nicest around. Many have colorful ribbons and, especially, backing ribbons. Expect to pay from $30-$50 each for these and also expect to see prices from $100-200, also. no one knows what to pay and no one knows what to charge. I have several of these and I know that I wouldn’t part with them – period (and I do not usually collect medals). I have been offered very few since I have been collecting. Look for the details of the medal, itself, and the material it is made of (usually brass or bronze). The condition of the ribbon is also important.
No boxing collectible has changed more over the years than the fight poster. In the old days, the boxing poster was produced for the sole purpose of advertising an upcoming fight in, and around, the city in which the fight was held. The poster listed the fighters involved, date, cost for tickets, and maybe a picture of the main eventers.
Fight site posters from the major fights from the earliest days through the ’50’s are highly prized. Their rarity is due to their limited initial supply, local distribution and their tendency to be displayed outdoors — so few survived. In the years since the motion picture has been invented, up until the l960’s, films of the fights were shown after the fight and posters advertising their showing may also be found. Obviously more of these survived since more were made (wider distribution) and they were often displayed behind glass in front of movie theaters, not on billboards in the weather. The earliest of these movie showings was the 1894 Corbett-Courtney bout staged in Edison New Jersey for the newly-invented movie camera. A poster for this movie would be highly prized (as is most pre-1900 stuff). A poster is known to exist for the Jeffries-Sharkey fight film and this fight was the first filmed under artificial light.
Most posters from movie fights are not so highly sought after and are priced much less than their fight-site counterparts. There are also “fight movie” posters as opposed to “movie fight posters.” We have discussed the latter but the former are also prized. These “fight movie” posters are actual movie posters of Hollywood productions such as “Raging Bull” or, for that matter, “Joe Palooka, Champion.” The most highly prized here are those that are most graphically pleasing and contain an actual photo of a real fighter who may have appeared in the film.
In the late ’50’s, as boxing on television waned, the closed circuit broadcast of fights began. the live theater shows began, the first of the closed-circuit broadcasts. For a while there were movies of past fights and closed circuit bouts, so posters of both types could be found, as well as fight-site posters. The format of the new closed circuit posters usually were window card sized (about 14″ x 22″). These were propped up in store windows advertising what theater would get the live broadcast.
Most film posters of fights were the standard one sheet posters so common for the movies. These theater posters, both closed circuit (CC) and movie fight films are much more common than fight site posters but still fairly rare. In the ’70’s, the way we watched the big fights changed and so did the promotional items, including the poster. The entire fight business catered to the closed circuit venues and multiple sites blossomed. Satellite hook-ups began. Literally anyone with the site fee and a dish could sell tickets and show the fight. It was the beginning of an era and the death of the filmed fight showing. With promotion necessary to fill these sites, sports artists such as Leroy Neiman were hired to produce flashy images to catch the eye, or, alternatively, full-color photos appeared on the posters with the contestants grimacing at each other. Each fight had a nickname such as the “Thrilla in Manila,” or “Rumble in the Jungle,” (remember those?). Very attractive closed-circuit posters can be found from the 70’s and into the 80’s. The end of the ’80’s saw the end of closed circuit fights as we knew them. Now pay per view has ended the need for promotion of “gatherings” to watch the fight and the fight poster has undergone yet another transformation.
Posters are prettier and more common than ever before. Why? Because of you and I and slick designers. It doesn’t t make sense any more to spend all the money that it takes to print up posters for a fight like Holyfield-Tyson, for instance, and not run off enough extras for collectors. Consequently, posters are produced the way pin-back buttons once were (and still are), simply as souvenirs of the fight. Besides, how important would posters now be to bring fans to a fight in this electronic age? It must be said that MOST posters are made for collectors and fans, not for publicity. The hobby is left with a quandary, however. For years it has made the distinction between fight-site and non-fight-site posters and the desirability and price have varied accordingly. Now, who is to say what poster was actually mounted around Las Vegas for the fight at one of the casinos and which has been made and sold as souvenirs, if any? And do souvenirs sold at the fight site which are posters worth the same as posters produced by the promoter but sold after the fight? If all this sounds like an exercise in semantics, it is not. It is the difference between a collector paying $700+ for a poster, in the case of a truly rare limited production fight site poster such as one of those made for Chavez-Taylor I, and $20-40 for a souvenir poster of the same fight.
But all of this talk, of course, still applies only to the big fights. Every day there are amateur and professional bouts held across the country with posters that have no snarling full color photos, no splashy Neimanesque drawing and no extra copies for collectors. These are, when found, mostly free — after the fight. What is most certainly NOT free are the early posters, pre-closed circuit fight site posters. Expect a Joe Louis fight poster to run you from $1,000-2,000 and Marciano posters as much or more, if you can find them. Earlier posters are also extremely rare. Ali posters are in that limbo between what is clearly common and what is rare. Don’t let folks tell you that just anything Ali is costly. There are some exceedingly rare Ali posters but most can be had from $100-300 and closed circuit posters from $40-100. And nothing made since 1982, say, should cost you an arm and a leg.
It is what you read while you are waiting for the fight to start and maybe even what you whack the guy in front of you with when your guy hits the canvas. It is the boxing program and it is very collectible these days. Since most promoters want folks to know who is fighting and few can pass up a chance to make a buck, the boxing program may be as old as the game itself. Certainly programs can be found from the late 19th century till the present day. They vary in their form, however, and in their desirability. They may vary, for instance, in size from one page to over 100 pages. They may be in color or not, may be chock full of ads and no articles or the reverse. They vary in their collectibility by several key factors. First and foremost is the significance of the fight and fighters involved. Big favorites are Dempsey-Carpentier, Dempsey-Tunney (both fights), Louis-Schmeling (both fights), Marciano-Walcott (both fights) and, well, you get the drift.
The most desirable of all fight programs is the Sullivan-Corbett program from 1892 is rare, well made, and from the dawn of popular pugilism in this country. When found, this sells for $8,000 or more. Second, programs vary by rarity and this, as in all other areas, is tricky. For some reason, every now and then, many more programs are made than were sold at the fight. That is common today since there is a secondary collectors’ market but no one can figure out why there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of some programs such as Floyd Patterson vs. Roy Harris or the closed circuit program for Foreman-Ali. Closed circuit programs are always less desirable than the fight site programs when there was a difference. It eventually became common to avoid the extra expense and simply print one program. Nowadays, with pay-per-view replacing closed circuit, programs are being made in sufficient quantities to be sold by dealers specializing in them.
As in any collectible hobby, to know what is rare and what is a good price, you have to get into the hobby and look around.
Finally, quality and condition do count. The Harry Stevens Company made some of the grandest and most sought-after of all programs in the New York area from the ’20’s to the ’60’s and Seidman Productions in the ’80’s made some dandies. Oddly enough, Ring Magazine produced a few programs, too. These were free with a copy of the magazine in New York City. They only usually consisted of a mimeographed sheet of the contestants and were primarily for fights in Madison Square Garden, however. I have seen a four page illustrated program given free with the Ring for the Harry Greb vs. Tommy Loughran bout, but that is the nicest of those I know of. Speaking of the Garden, there were so many fights held there in the late ’20’s through the ’70’s that there was simply a MSG magazine produced each year and merely a different 4 page insert for each different fight. While rare, these are not as nice as those produced for the stadium fights in New York. Here are some prices. Please keep in mind that most programs made in the ’80’s can still be had for $20-$30. Many of these were made in fairly large quantities but are some of the nicest programs ever made.
When Ring Magazine first opened its doors, the only former heavyweight champions who were not still living at the time were John L. Sullivan and Robert Fitzsimmons. Jack Dempsey was champ and would be for four more years. The Ring has been alive and well since 1922. It is no wonder that this magazine is the most collected of all boxing magazines and one of the most religiously collected magazines in the country. Where to buy and sell them: There are several collector publications, including my own, that feature ads buying and selling old Ring’s and there are sport card shows and antique shows to attend in most metropolitan areas.
Do not assume that magazines bought at flea markets and antique shows will be good buys. Ring’s are still a pretty affordable collectible and many dealers at these affairs believe otherwise. Be patient and know what they are worth. What to pay when you buy: Buying Ring’s individually will cost more than whole collections, so remember that when we talk prices. Also, condition is very important. The prices listed below are for individual magazines with intact covers, no noticeable creases, and no writing on them. For magazines where there is a moderate amount of these defects, expect about 60% of these prices and where the condition is rough, about 20%. Ring’s without covers are almost impossible to resell if you find a better copy later, so pass on them (except for 1920’s Ring’s).
The ranges listed below depend on the cover subject and what end of the decade they are from. The first copy of the Ring (February 1922) may sell for as much as $550, other 1920’s Ring’s sell for $25 ( from 1929) – $250 (in 1922). 1930’s Ring’s sell for $15-25 each; 1940’s sell for $7-10; 1950’s sell for about $5; 1960’s sell for $3-4 and all Ring’s after 1969 should sell from $1-3. Bound volumes of Ring, bound by the Ring, may add about $30-50 to the individual copy price, bound by libraries or others, somewhat less.
How to sell: First, please understand that dealers in magazines have to maintain large inventories and are constantly trying to fill individual requests. They cannot afford to pay more than 20-30% of the above prices – when they are even interested. Most just haunt flea markets for their stock (where they pick even the oldest Ring’s up for $3 or less) and hope to buy in large quantities. The only way to realize even close to the above prices is to enter the hobby and have patience. Connect with collectors or sell your collection in a hobby publication.
One of the hottest collectible items is the boxing ticket. It is the ticket, after all, that often best evokes that sense of what is was like when the tension and anticipation of the event was at its peak. It is the last thing you look at before you go inside. Many of the older tickets and even the newer large illustrated tickets from major casino fights are hard to find, great to look at, and on everybody’s want list. Even if you didn’t go, you want the ticket. But before you start rummaging through your desk drawer to start your collection or run off to your local collectibles dealer to buy a few tickets, there are some things you should know or you could be very disappointed.
First, some very basic terminology. Most tickets come perforated or at least made to be torn into two sections. You know, you keep one part to find your seat and the guy at the gate keeps the other. A complete, untorn ticket is called a full ticket. The smaller, seat check portion is called the stub. But what is the other, usually larger, part called? Well, it is the ticket minus the stub. If this sounds simplistic, I assure you it is not. Most folks will call either end of a torn ticket a “stub.” But the large end is usually much nicer and more collectible. Folks with the large end sometimes describe what they have as a “ticket.” Not as collectible as a “full ticket.” See what I mean? When you start describing stuff to other people, it helps to know what you have, or want. Of course some tickets (and this is rare) do not have stubs. The most notable is the Sullivan-Corbett ticket, the grandaddy of the hobby. So full tickets are most desirable, and the most costly. If you restrict yourself to these there are quite a few available. You should know that many of these are not actually tickets which could be bought for the fight, however. These tickets have entered the hobby through finds at old ticket printers. I have been told that the printer first ran off many more tickets than he would ever put seat numbers on. Then he would number the tickets and throw away the rest. Some just got thrown into bins and have since been rediscovered. They are still very nice, there is just no seat number on them. These are often called “printer proof” tickets and maybe some actually were part of a run before the actual tickets were produced. They are a bit less valuable than those which were purchased for the fight and just never used. One can readily find Marciano-LaStarza, Marciano-Walcott II, and Louis-Mauriello tickets in the hobby that were “printer proofs.” Some of these tickets can be found with holes punched in them, presumably to avoid their illegal use. Then there are the periodic finds of pristine fight tickets that actually could’ve gone to the fight. One such find came to a sports dealer from a one time employee of Tex Rickard. Several mint Dempsey-Carpentier tickets were found and sold. It is an old story that Rickard actually stood outside the stadium at Boyles Thirty Acres and sold tickets as the crowd streamed in. Did these come from Tex’s coat pocket when he returned to the office?
There are, incidentally, some tickets that were over-produced but never sold and then there are “phantom” tickets, made for fights that never came off. Tickets from the Patterson-Liston fight,first scheduled in Miami Beach, then postponed, can be readily found. Only a close working knowledge of the hobby can tell you what to look for in these categories but you can at least check an old Ring Record Book to make certain the fight was actually fought.
“Illustrated” tickets, incidentally, are more highly sought after than others. This means that the fighters are pictured on the ticket. Tickets minus the stub and ticket stubs are some of the best buys in ticket collecting. Some folks would actually prefer to collect something that went to the fight and these fit the bill. They look great framed with a program to the fight or an autographed photo or two. Sometimes it is fun to find some that have no names on them and do the research. I got an old Henry Armstrong stub that way. The least collectible of all tickets are those ugly Ticketron tickets and any closed circuit telecast or film tickets. A few closed circuit tickets that are illustrated such as a commonly found Ali-Quarry ticket are also nice, however.