Are Old Tennis Rackets Worth Anything?

The days of wooden rackets being used in professional tennis matches are long gone. You will not find a single professional player using a wooden racket.

The only exception is perhaps in an exhibition match, but this is just for showmanship.

Even in exhibition matches that have used a wooden racket, it is normally just for a few points.

One notable exhibition match in which someone used a wooden racket was the 2013 Rally Against Cancer.

Then, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, played with a vintage wooden racket. Commentator Andrew Castle remarked that Boris had taken it out from underneath some stairs.

Old tennis rackets do not increase in value based on their age. They would be worth something if they were previously owned by a professional player or used in a match. The other reason they could be valuable is if they are a limited edition.

If you do an eBay search for vintage rackets, you will see many going for less than $20.

In this article I will be discussing:

  • If rackets purchased today will increase in value
  • Whether antique racquets are valuable
  • If old rackets made of wood are collectible.

I wouldn’t recommend you play with a vintage racket today, but it is nonetheless an interesting topic of discussion.

Will Today’s Tennis Rackets Increase Their Value In The Future?

Are wooden tennis rackets worse?

Tennis rackets will rarely increase in value over time. In fact, they will usually decrease.

A racket I used to own was the 2012 Head Speed MP. At the time of purchase, it cost me almost $200.

Today the going rate is a little over $100. It’s important to remember that most old rackets sold today are second-hand.

Even sealed and new rackets seem to depreciate a little in value. I found a brand new 2012 Head Speed MP going for $140.

The exception to this rule is if a pro player has previously used the racket.

When writing this, there is a racket Ashleigh Barty used in the 2012 US open being sold on eBay.

The price of the racket is AU$1,095. This translates to almost US$800. However, despite costing nearly $800, the description mentions that the racket has a few scratches.

The quickest way for a tennis racket to increase in value is to be used by a pro in a match.

A racket will rarely increase in value on its own, but some antique models will go up.

I did find a valuable antique racket sold on eBay back in October.

The 1878 Horsman NY 30 sold for $2,358. I don’t know the going rate for this racket in 1878, but I’m confident it was a lot less than $2,358.

The racket was described as being in perfect condition with no breaks or cracks. By 1885 Horsman claimed to be the largest racket manufacturer in the US.

Long story short, unless there is something special about the racket or it has been used by a pro, it will likely decrease in value. This is because people want to buy new models when they are released.

As the new models are released, shops reduce the price of the old ones to clear out their stock quicker.

As the prices shops are offering for unused models goes down, the price of pre-owned rackets will drop even more.

The price of rackets is determined by supply and demand. There is high demand for flashy new models but not so much for old rackets.

What purpose do they serve beyond decoration or being collectibles?

Are Antique Tennis Rackets Valuable?

Ginger hair female player in squat holding a wooden vintage racket, wearing Tommy Hilfiger polo

Vintage rackets aren’t usually worth much unless there is something unique about them or they were used by a pro player.

On the other hand, antique rackets can increase in value due to their scarcity.

An item must be at least 100 years old to be considered an antique.

It is harder to get a hold of an item as time goes on. So, in theory, you could see a racket bought today drop in price over the medium term but eventually increase.

The problem is that it is unlikely to increase substantially in our lifetimes.

Below is a table of several antique rackets I found that had recently sold on eBay.

Antique Racket Sold Year Price
Horsman NY 30 1878 $2,358
Horsman Minnetonka 1910 $53
Wright & Ditson companion 2 Ca 1905 $134
Edw.K.Tryon Co. Wynnewood Ca 1920 $30
Spalding Gold Medal 1920 $123

As you can see from the table, most antique rackets are not worth much.

Considering that all of these rackets are over 100 years old is a pretty poor investment.

You may come across a piece of gold like the Horsman NY 30.

The truth is that most antique rackets found today are worth less than new models released each year.

While they are all antique models listed, the sport of tennis in 1878 was very different from how it was in 1920. 1878 was only the second year that Wimbledon was played.

Neither the US, French, nor the Australian Open existed at all.

It is hardly surprising that tennis rackets from that era are worth more. But unfortunately, tennis at the time was not popular, and thus there were few tennis racquets available.

On top of that it was almost 150 years ago.

Are Old Wooden Rackets Collectible?

vintage wooden rackets

For tennis fans, old wooden rackets definitely make nice collectibles even if they are not of much use for playing.

I know many tennis players and fans who collect old rackets. They do this mainly for decoration but in some cases as a speculative investment.

The most attractive wooden rackets that people collect are used by players in matches. With this fact in mind, it begs the question.

Is the racket collectible because it is old and wooden, or because of the value it obtained being used in a professional match?

There are a lot of tennis clubs that choose to decorate their premises with vintage rackets.

There was a club I once played at that had a comprehensive gallery of rackets through the years.

The club had a racket displayed for each decade from the 1910s until the modern-day. I found this to be a really nice touch.

It sparked curiosity from both children and adults. I wonder if they ever found a racket from the 1900s for their collection.

I also once gave an old wooden racket to a player I used to coach. I think it was just £20 on eBay and came from the 1960s.

Final Words

Old tennis rackets are worth something, but, in most cases, it’s not much.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a 19th-century treasure, it could be worth substantially more.

If you’re looking at investing in old tennis rackets, I advise you to stick to limited-edition models.

If they are not limited edition, I would only consider rackets previously used by professionals, preferably in famous matches.

What do you think? Are tennis rackets a good investment?