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Destined for Hotness: Auction Reps Talk Underrated Vintage Baseball Cards

The 1916 M101-4 and 5 Babe Ruth cards have seen a big jump in price and interest during 2012.   Four years after reaching a $44,000 high point, a PSA 7 example of the former sold last January for over $200,000.  The 1914 Ruth Baltimore News card may soon challenge the T206 Wagner if the current trend continues.

Other collectors say vintage Cracker Jack cards are starting to rise.

So what’s next?  What cards or card sets are still underrated?  In the fourth of a 10-part Q&A with representatives of hobby auction companies, we asked for their thoughts on the topic.  Here’s what they said:

Rob Lifson, Robert Edward Auctions:   The 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth is an obvious choice and REA’s  recent sale of an example in Good condition for $575,000 highlights its well-deserved increasing value. We think this card is very undervalued and have for a very long time. It’s great to see the marketplace start to properly recognize this card.

Another extremely important Ruth card that has fallen “below the radar” of collectors and might be undervalued  is the 1917 E135 Babe Ruth. It has a lot in common with the 1916 M101-4 and 5 Babe Ruth cards, in many ways is an even more impressive card, and it is many times rarer. We think the only reason it has not received more attention over the years (not unlike the now iconic 1914 Baltimore News Ruth) is because it is so rare that it doesn’t come up often.

We can’t help but be partial to nineteenth century cards in general. N172 Old Judges, especially Hall of Famers, look like a great value to us.

We have a T210 Joe Jackson coming up in the next auction. I don’t think anyone has ever lost any money buying that card. Sometimes the undervalued cards are slightly unusual issues that come in and out of favor. I look at 1909-1911 Colgan’s Chips, for example. I can’t help but think these are a great deal compared to almost all other sets from the era. They are rarer than most other issues of the era and they are very unusual in design. But at any given time, the market is the market. And the market is never wrong!

J.P. Cohen, Memory Lane:  We at Memory Lane believe that other Ruth type cards and collectibles will follow suit with Ruth’s rookie card like the Four different Ruth cards from the 33 Goudey set as well as high grade Ruth autographs (especially when a story is connected to the autograph piece). In addition we think the 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack sets are under valued and are some of the best sets in the hobby. From a post war stand point we also feel the 1952 and 1953 topps sets are undervalued as iconic sets.

T206 Red Hindu backsDavid Hunt, Hunt Auctions: The T 206 baseball tobacco card set continues to rate among the most collected sets in the history of  the hobby  and yet still , in large part, remains relatively affordable.  As such, we see potential value increase for that set and others of its type.

David Kohler, SCP Auctions: I think any of the mainstream sets in high grade like T206, 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps will just continue to be strong.  It’s supply and demand.  More people are going to want those than are out there and available.

We had the recent ‘Southern Find’ of T210 cards and other vintage cards with rare backs.  There were two T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson rookie cards, so the population grew by two on what is a very scarce card but you know they’ll bring great money at auction because people know that card.  Maybe they’ve never been able to buy one but now they can.  There are a lot of people just waiting for a chance.  These Jackson cards are not high grade but it’s OK.  People realize the scarcity.

Leighton Sheldon, Just CollectJim Thorpe cards and crystal clear Old Judge’s.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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