At last count there were over 600 vintage or antique baseball gloves selling on eBay. It is tight market. The people who collect them know exactly what they want and usually just for their own personal reasons. It could be a glove for each decade they want, one from each manufacturer from a certain time period, or signed by MVP’s. What is valuable to one collector can be meaningless to another.
Age is very important to most collectors. There are some easy tells to find the approximate age to most mitts. The earliest baseball mitts of 1890’s to 1900 were workman gloves either handmade or existing gloves that were modified. Early examples had the fingers cut off for better handling of the ball. Thumb and finger were not webbed together yet. Catcher’s mitts were “pillow” type, meaning that they resembled a mitten and they had more padding. 1900-1915 glove makers started sewing in webs between the thumb and index finger. These webs were ‘full webs’ and would extend the entire length of finger and thumb. Around 1910 one-inch straps were appearing in some gloves. Between 1910 -1920 one and one half inch straps were being used.
In 1920 Bill Doak designed the pocket for helping to catch ball. Before Bill, Gloves were for protection. A vertical tunnel loop was sewn on the forefinger and thumb; a simple rawhide lace would pass through. Sometimes two tunnel loops were used. The one-inch straps are still used but they also form pockets.
The 1920’s also brought about endorsements. Most players would endorse gloves as they became popular. Researching a players name can also narrow down the age of the glove.
When buying your glove for re-sale, pay close attention to the details. Watch for cracking of the leather, tears of the seam, broken laces, and obvious repairs. Smell it for odors other than leather. Feel it for softness. People generally do not want a dried out and stiff glove.
Prices realized on eBay for these old gloves are from $20 up tp $300.
Keywords to look for stamped on gloves are:
- Home Run Special
- famous name endorsements
- Cy Young
- Ted Williams
- Bill Doak
- Roger Maris
- many others