Bowling is a sport that most people associate with blue collar workers, 50s greasers, and…well, I honestly don’t know what else. Nachos? I feel like that’s a thing. While I may not understand this sport at all, I can tell you that people get pretty damn attached to their bowling balls. There does appear to be a strata of bowling ball quality and price.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what the most expensive bowling balls are. It’s time to take a closer look.
- What Makes A Bowling Ball Expensive?
- Is Buying An Expensive Bowling Ball Worth It?
- The Most Expensive Bowling Balls Currently On The Market
- 1. New Quantum Technologies RAVEN Bowling Ball – $12,000
- 2. The Mikasa Clear Green Acrylic Ball – $10,000
- 3. Brunswick USA 1977 Rubber Bowling Ball – $10,000
- 4. The Red Pearl Whiplash – $1,800
- 5. 1982 Gyro Balanced Ebonite Magnum Ball – $1,100
- 6. 2003 New Brunswick Vis-a-Ball Elvis Edition Bowling Ball – $1,000
- 7. 2008 Hammer Vintage Black Widow Bowling Ball In Clear – $1,000
- 8. The New Brunswick Collectible Coca-Cola Bowling Ball – $850
- 9. Hello Kitty Bowling Balls – $680
- 10. Hammer Vintage Black Urethane Bowling Ball – $595
- Are These Bowling Balls Expensive Enough For You?
What Makes A Bowling Ball Expensive?
Bowling balls are sports equipment, which means that you are going to have a price point that is meant for amateurs and pros. Here’s why people shell out big money on bowling balls.
Pretty materials that have a high level of spin and reactivity will make for a more expensive bowling ball. Not all balls are made from the same material. Urethane, specialty materials, and a core that is meant to be responsive to twists and turns can all boost the price significantly.
This is a term that denotes that a ball has a very good quality to it, and that quality usually deals with workmanship. It seems to be a tournament thing. Having a 1st Quality bowling ball doesn’t really matter when it comes to an old ball, simply because you’re not going to be playing with it.
From what we can tell, the heavier the ball, the more likely it is that you are going to have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Most of the top bowling balls we’ve seen are over 14 pounds. Children’s bowling balls and similarly small ones are going to be cheaper by default.
Vintage + Rarity
New bowling balls can still be pricey, but the truth is that they are not going to be the most expensive on the market. You can buy a new one and that means that you are going to be able to find others on the market. A rare bowling ball is going to be one that was made decades ago. Some bowlers swear by the older balls.
Unused + Undrilled
The holy grail of bowling balls, for many vintage bowlers, is an undrilled bowling ball that comes from a vintage. You do not want a used ball, as bowling balls can lose their grit over time. An unused, undrilled ball is what makes the grade of pricey.
Is Buying An Expensive Bowling Ball Worth It?
This all depends on what you want to buy. If you are getting a brand new ball that is far above the average price tag, then you are probably getting a ball that is meant for competitive play.
People who are very serious about bowling, to the point that they’ll get a custom ball and custom finger holes, might want to spend extra. It can improve your game.
When it comes to vintage bowling balls, the truth is that it’s an extremely niche market. You often can’t actually play with vintage bowling balls because the materials might not have held up as well as one would hope. Moreover, limited edition bowling balls also don’t appreciate the way that other collectibles would.
So, if you want to buy an expensive bowling ball, be aware that it may not be the money-making investment piece you hope it to be.
The Most Expensive Bowling Balls Currently On The Market
Bowling balls are not just about having cute shiny exteriors. They’re about function, and when it comes to the most expensive ones currently on the market, they tend to be about history too. Let’s take a look at the most expensive bowling balls, and why people want them.
1. New Quantum Technologies RAVEN Bowling Ball – $12,000
So, this purple monstrosity currently holds the title as the most expensive bowling ball up for sale. It’s an undrilled, mint condition vintage bowling ball that is currently for sale as a part of a major charity drive. You might be wondering what makes the Quantum ball so pricey.
Well, it boils down to two major factors. This is a vintage ball design that was released in the early 90s. The Quantum Raven had a massive mushroom core that people adored. While the ball itself was a limited release item, the waitlist to buy one was massive. People had to wait for months. Seeing one “in the wild” today is seriously rare.
2. The Mikasa Clear Green Acrylic Ball – $10,000
So, Mikasa had a moment where the bowling balls they made were almost entirely made from acrylic, rather than urethane. It was a time during the 80s and 90s, and those balls looked as good as they felt. The demand, therefore, became pretty heavy—though they did eventually stop using acrylic to make their bowling balls.
What you’re looking at is a relic of a time long ago. You are probably never going to see a clear bowling ball roll down the alley you’re at because they were so difficult to properly drill. This particular model was never drilled into and was used as a display item.
Note: They also have Mikasa Acrylic ball in neon orange and hot pink. They are selling for $2,000 to $4,000. For the sake of this article, we’re only including one. So while some colors and years are lower price, they’re all still a fairly pricey bunch.
3. Brunswick USA 1977 Rubber Bowling Ball – $10,000
The seller of this bowling ball points out that you’re probably not going to be able to use this ball on the lanes. It’s rubber, and it’s almost 50 years old. However, that doesn’t mean that it holds no value. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is a very rare ball that is now considered to be a museum-quality artifact.
Very few balls from the 70s exist in this shape, and it still comes with its Limited Lifetime Warranty certificate. So, if you are looking to get a bowling ball museum started, then you are going to have to take a look for something that is similar to this. It’s up to you to determine whether or not it’s worth the splurge.
4. The Red Pearl Whiplash – $1,800
This vintage bowling ball was another pro shop display from the early 90s, and it kind of shows. (It has that retro logo etched in, you know what I mean?) The ball itself is not as rare as others on this list, but it was still a fairly iconic model back in the days of yesteryear.
Though it is hard to find an undrilled ball these days, it was still a common choice. From what we’ve researched, the Whiplash was known for having good control and for being used on standard bowling lanes. Even so, we’ll hazard a guess and assume this is more of a display item than a playable ball.
5. 1982 Gyro Balanced Ebonite Magnum Ball – $1,100
This is yet another “museum piece” that would make many bowling ball collectors a little jealous. This particular ball was known as the Magnum 11, part of the Earl Anthony line. Made in 1982, this ball has an old school finish and color that remains hard to find in modern balls.
Like others on this list, this is more about the history than the ball itself. This was one of the first balls to have a little bit of engineering involved to help balance out spin and improve your overall control. While the tools that were made to create this bowling ball’s “gyro” are now considered obsolete, it is definitely fun to see how things evolved over the past couple of decades.
6. 2003 New Brunswick Vis-a-Ball Elvis Edition Bowling Ball – $1,000
So, this is a big relief to the writer of this article. I’ve always associated bowling with the rockabilly community, and seeing an actual bowling ball with the King of Rock n’ Roll on it was confirmation that I wasn’t crazy. This was a part of a series of limited edition bowling balls to feature the portraits of major pop culture icons.
Today, this New Brunswick ball tends to be extremely rare, especially in its own original box, undrilled. It was a 1st Quality ball, and it also happens to be an amazing mancave item. Even if you are not a bowler, it’s easy to see why some people might buy this ball just to display it in their home.
7. 2008 Hammer Vintage Black Widow Bowling Ball In Clear – $1,000
If you check out the most expensive bowling balls on eBay, you’re going to see a lot of spider-themed balls at the top of the list. The truth is, you’ll also see this trend with newer ones, like the Hammer Black Widow 2.0 ball on Amazon. The reason why is simple: it’s a very popular series.
Hammer’s Black Widow line is one of the oldest specialty ball series in existence. The workmanship makes it an excellent ball choice for anyone that’s a beginner or a major pro bowler. The Black Widow line is actually famous for being durable, too. So, older ones are play-ready.
This is one of the older vintage balls we’ve seen. To fetch this price, it has to be both undrilled and new in box.
8. The New Brunswick Collectible Coca-Cola Bowling Ball – $850
Remember when we mentioned that New Brunswick had a line of bowling balls that featured designs relating to pop culture? Another collaboration that came from this line of concept balls was from Coca-Cola. This ball was extremely limited edition, but still a bit more common than Elvis Presley’s bowling ball.
Much like the Presley pick, the Coca-Cola bowling ball is one that definitely could be used as a statement piece in a mancave. I mean, if you like soda and bowling, this basically deserves to have a place on your shelf. It shows the classic coke bottle, and it’s undrilled.
9. Hello Kitty Bowling Balls – $680
If you are a major fan of Japanese culture, then you will be happy to know that kawaii icon Hello Kitty is also going to be available as a bowling ball form. Not much was able to be found about this series of balls, primarily because there seems to be little information that is pertinent to all of the balls.
What we do know, though, was that Hello Kitty did have a dalliance with Brunswick, which means that the famous character was part of the pop culture series. Regardless of the maker, these balls fetch a high price on the market. Most of them are vintage and rare. They often go for anywhere from $200 to $680.
10. Hammer Vintage Black Urethane Bowling Ball – $595
Recently, a bowling ball shop on eBay decided to unveil something that would make a major bowling ball fan squeal with joy. At one point in the bowling ball world, Hammer was considered to be the number one maker of high quality bowling balls in America. So, they have a remarkably popular brand name.
This vintage ball is undrilled, works best on low to medium oil tracks, and has the quality you expect from Hammer. Oh, and let’s not forget the slick midcentury look of said bowling ball. You can use it on the track without any problem thanks to its 1st Quality Rating.
Are These Bowling Balls Expensive Enough For You?
It’s amazing to think that bowling balls can be so simple, yet so expensive. While there are many people who might view them as all the same, the truth is that each ball has its own story. Some are made for specific types of bowling lanes, others are made to help you get more control over the ball as it casts down the lane.
Unlike most other sports equipment, the most expensive bowling balls are not going to be the ones that are hot off the factory conveyor belt. Rather, they tend to be the ones that have been sitting on store shelves before they became a vintage item. It’s a quirky thing, but that’s to be expected.
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