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Derby Day offers a wealth of memories and collectibles for fans

Apr. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

In just a few short weeks two of the most interesting minutes in sports history will happen.

On Saturday, May 4, the Kentucky Derby will celebrate the 138th run for the roses. This is the longest continuously held sporting event in the United States.

It's a horse race that has wowed the public all these years and over that time period has generated some interesting memorabilia.

Souvenir mint julep glasses seem to be the one artifact everyone associates with the Derby. First distributed in 1938 as a water glass, this is a collectible you can acquire from the year that suits you. Perhaps you only want to collect glasses from the year you actually sat in the stands at Churchill Downs. Maybe you only want to collect sets that show each consecutive year from 1938 to the present. There are very few of those in existence.

Some will contend a true collection of Julep glasses doesn't start until 1945 when the first official Julep glass was produced.

Prices of the glasses can range from a few dollars at a rummage sale to hundreds of dollars for one of the early renditions that had limited production. Much of the cost can be attributed to whether it is a tall or short glass, frosted or unfrosted, Bakelite, aluminum or glass, decorated or not. Like all collectibles, there are standards that are important to the cost.

Programs are another big collectible associated with this particular horse race. Like all ephemera, it tends to deteriorate with time so being perfect for some of the older missives is not a necessity. With that said, note that there is such a glut of newer programs that perfection is the word of the day for them.

In terms of price, the older programs can go for hundreds of dollars unless it is a really important race and then the ante is increased. It should be noted that pre-1973 programs are considered quite rare.

Other memorabilia include Pegasus pins, framed photos, invitations, tickets, betting forms, hats, T-shirts and more.

It's all in what you want to bet your fortune on as to what you might decide to collect.

Since we are a few weeks away from the race you might want to get in the racing mood by taking a virtual tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum at www.derbymuseum.org.

Jean McClelland writes about antiques for The Herald-Dispatch.