1800s Harvard-Yale Trophy Oars Estimated Value in Millions

Game-used equipment and game-worn jerseys and clothing is serious business in sports collectibles. The value can be millions of dollars for prized items used by or worn by the likes of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Messi, Maradona and so on. But what about in trophy rowing oars?

It’s unique that the very first or “birth” of intercollegiate sports can be assigned to one pair of rowing oars. Sotheby’s is having a one lot auction May 17-24, 2022. The Harvard-Yale Regatta is the longest running competition in American intercollegiate sporting and, according to Sotheby’s, the Trophy Oars are among the earliest pieces of sports memorabilia in American history.

As a trophy piece of sports memorabilia the oars are estimated in the millions. Sotheby’s has an estimate of between $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 USD with a starting bid of $2,000,000.

Harvard and Yale are two of the oldest names in American history. Both schools continue to field champion rowing teams where former members annually compete in the Olympics. The image below is by Sotheby’s.

Collectors Dashboard evaluates collectibles as an alternative asset class. The same capital that could have been used to purchase stocks or bonds is being used to buy high-end collectibles. True sports collectors and hobbyists have a passion to own certain memorabilia like these one-of-one oldest known Harvard-Yale Trophy Oars for quite a long time. The investor class in collectibles is solely buying an asset to sell at a later date for a profit. This keeps collectors and investors in a constant battle for who can win in auctions. Rowing crew for either Harvard or Yale is a very prestigious achievement and the honor has produced some of the greatest athletes in this respective field.

Forbes had reported about these trophy oars a month earlier describing the provenance as a family that has owned the trophy oars for roughly 30 years after finding them in a rooming house basement during some construction work.

Sotheby’s is featuring Lot 1 as the 1852 Harvard-Yale Trophy Oars, and it is dubbed as “The Birth of American Intercollegiate Sports.” According to Sotheby’s:

“The contest between Harvard and Yale is an institutional staple marked by competitions each year, including the annual contests on the gridiron—“The Game”—and the ice. But its origins lie in the very first intercollegiate athletic competition: “The Race.” First contested in 1852, the inaugural Harvard-Yale Regatta predates The Game by twenty-three years—as well as the very first college football game, between Rutgers and Princeton, by seventeen. The Race, now the longest-running intercollegiate athletic competition in the United States, remains one the most venerable contests between the two institutions.”