A 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey sold for $329,000 at the annual blockbuster event conducted online and by phone by Robert Edward Auctions. Bidding concluded early Sunday morning with the auction generating total proceeds of $9.5 million.
A total of 25,638 bids were placed and all but two of the 1745 lots were sold to 648 different bidders. 317 different consignors contributed to the massive auction.
"It exceeded our expectations and our consignors' expectations," said REA president Rob Lifson of the auction that attracts the hobby's most ardent collectors. "And it's hard to have happy consignors in a difficult economic environment. It was really strong across the board. "
The Gehrig jersey carried stitching dating to 1938, but period photos seem to indicate it was worn in 1939 as well, perhaps even when Gehrig removed himself from the Yankee lineup after 2130 games. A new photo discovery appears to place the jersey in Al Schacht's New York restaurant in 1942. Proving it would be the same jersey worn the day Gehrig's streak ended would make the jersey even more valuable, but for now, the new owner has more evidence of its provenance.
Southern California-based SCP Auctions purchased the jersey for a private client and president David Kohler indicated more research will be done to try and pinpoint exactly when the jersey sat atop Gehrig's shoulders.
Another unique Gehrig piece also drew heavy interest, as expected. A 1925-29 era game-used Gehrig bat, presented to his neighbor, sold for $176,250, a record price according to REA.
A 1919 World Series pin, consigned by the descendants of Reds' first baseman Jake Daubert and rarely seen, soared to $82,250.
"It's a great piece," said Lifson. " There are others known to exist. One sold in the Barry Halper auction several years ago and another sold privately but this one sold for more than the others combined."
Another rare piece of championship jewelry, Johnny Evers' 1914 World Series ring, brought $52,875.
Joe Jackson autographs are exceptionally scarce, given his limited ability to write. REA offered a signed receipt for a mortgage payment on a home Jackson and his new bride had taken out. The voucher sold for $64,625.
Several of the hobby's most rare baseball cards were part of the REA sale, including a T206 Honus Wagner. Once restored, then returned to its original condition, the PSA-authenticated card sold for $188,000.
A 1910 T210 Old Mill Jackson nearly hit $200,000. The famous and exceptionally scarce minor league card of the baseball legend ranks among the best copies known at PSA 3.5 (VG+). It sold for a record $199,750.
Most astonishing, however, may have been the price achieved for a T206 Eddie Plank. One of the four rarest cards in the set, the PSA 4 (VG-EX) example sold for $94,000, illustrating a level of interest in one of the hobby's iconic sets.
"There were 19 bids on the Plank card and about 15 different bidders," Lifson said. "This was not just two guys bidding back and forth. It shows how strong the market is. The number of collectors putting together T206 sets is enormous. There simply aren't enough Planks to go around. It also seems to indicate that the Wagner card is undervalued in general when the Plank cards are selling for so much and there are more of those than there are Wagners."
A rare Piedmont back Plank also offered in the auction sold for over $41,000 even with significant trimming.
A newly discovered version of the 1889 E.R. Williams baseball playing card set attracted a lot of attention from serious hobbyists, who pushed the one-of-a-kind set to a final price to $70,500. Lifson said it had slipped through the cracks in a different auction last year. "Everybody missed it," he said. The consignor 'flipped' the SGC-graded set to REA's vintage-heavy sale and came away with a substantial profit.
"After awhile everybody who looked at it said 'this is incredible'," Lifson recalled. "It's satisfying to see collectors who share our enthusiasm and understanding what's good. Collectors have grown more sophisticated and appreciate some of these truly scarce things."
An 1887 Kalamazoo Bats Jim O'Rourke card revealed what a solid investment rare, vintage baseball cards can be. Purchased for around $7,000 in the famed Copeland Collection auction in 1991, the O'Rourke card resurfaced at REA and brought $58,750.
Other highlights from the auction included:
- 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie PSA 8 $52,875
- 1952 Topps set in above average grade with PSA 5 Mantle $44,063
- 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders set; third highest graded $44,063
- 1951 Minneapolis Millers Willie Mays game worn jersey $44,063
- 1910 T209 Contentnea Ciarettes near set $44,063
- 1887 Kalamazoo Bats Roger Connor; only graded copy $44,063
- 1902 Christy Mathewson signed Giants contract $41,125
- 1968 Topps Baseball set; #3 on PSA Registry 9.26 GPA $38,188
- 1921-28 Ty Cobb pro model bat MEARS A7 $38,188