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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 18:24 GMT
Memorabilia business booming
Gordon Bank's medal is auctioned
The auctioneer accepts the final bid on Banks's medal
By BBC Sport Online's Adrian Harte at Christie's

The sale of Gordon Banks's 1966 World Cup winners medal for 124,750 illustrates once more that sports memorabilia is big business.

Indeed, the six items of the Banks's collection sold at Christie's auction house in London on Thursday realised more than 171,690. Christie's football memorabilia specialist David Convery was particularly pleased with the sale of the World Cup medal.

"It's a world record for any football medal sold at any football auction throughout the world."

Cobery explained the history of Christie's football sales.

"Christie's started the football auction as a themed sale in 1989 in Glasgow. In 1999, we decided to move the market down to London and now we're having two sales a year.

"In the last three years it has grown and it's obviously on the up at the moment which is fantastic."

gordon banks
Banks: "Difficult decision"
He also outlined the work that goes into putting on an auction of this scale.

"This sale has taken some six months to organise. We have to get the lots together and valued," he said.

"People interested in selling come to us with medals and we tell them exactly what the medal is if they don't know already and tell them how much it is worth.

"Our team of specialists makes sure that every item is examined, researched, described, and assigned a pre-sale estimate in the auction catalogue."

Convery, a keen Scottish football enthusiast, is also the specialist in golf and boxing memorabilia, while Christie's in London also has specialists in tennis, cricket and skiing.

Christie's will hold a cricket auction on 25 May, a tennis sale on 22 June and a golf auction on 10 July, before the next auction of football memorabilia on 27 September.

In total, there were more than 300 separate lots at Thursday's football auction.

As well as the Banks collection, there were also items on sale from Ray Wilson MBE, Dixie Dean, Joe Hulme, Larry Lloyd, Cyril Robinson, Bill Shorthouse and Bobby Moore.

Dixie Dean's 1966 FA Cup winner's medal was bought for 15,000.

Painting prized

Lots included football shirts and boots, trophies and medals, programmes and tickets, as well as prints and paintings.

And it was not just shirts and medals with historical significance that provoked feverish bidding.

Indeed, a painting by Deykin of a 1950 Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion match was sold for a hammer price of 6,800 - treble its initial estimate.

Contemporary items were not forgotten either. A pair of boots worn and autographed by Roy Keane in the 1999/2000 season realised 1,550, while a pair worn by Sir Stanley Matthews in 1951 earned a mere 1,350.

But the auction was not solely the preserve of eagle-eyed investors or boys seeking toys.

A mere 25 was enough to secure what proved to be the cheapest item sold - a brown leather football, inscribed simply "The League Ball".

World record

That falls some way short of the highest price ever paid for an item of sports memorabilia.

The T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $640,500 in Christie's in 1996.

The 1906 card, featuring the great shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, once belonged to NHL legend Wayne Gretsky and was sold by a woman who won it on CNN.

Its new owner, investor Michael Gidwitz of Chicago, summed up the whole memorabilia business soon after his purchase.

"In this life, you only get to borrow history for a while," he said.

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