The only 1980-81 Larry Bird/Magic Johnson rookie card ever to be deemed worthy of a perfect 10 by Beckett Vintage Grading is about to go on the auction block. Sports Collectors Daily has learned that the card will be sold by SCP Auctions in its upcoming summer auction. SCP estimates the card could sell for more than $75,000.
The 1980-81 Topps set was unique in design, with three mini cards joined together with perforations enabling separation. Most adult collectors kept them intact, but high grade examples of the Bird-Magic-Julius Erving shared card are difficult to find because the card is often found with a thin black mark from the printing process. PSA has awarded a 10 grade on 18 occasions, but the example SCP Auctions will offer represents Beckett’s only 10. High grade modern era cards carrying BVG’s 10 label have often sold for astronomical premiums to speculators, investors and well-financed collectors.
In PSA 10 holders, the Bird-Magic rookie card has nearly doubled in price over the last three years with the most recent public sale coming last September at $16,000. Cards graded ‘9’ have stayed relatively consistent, with a slight uptick this year. The card generally trades at $1,000-1,400 at that level; much lower in the relatively pedestrian EX or NM levels (you can track current action on eBay here).
Some may scoff at the tight wire act between grading companies and exactly what makes for a ‘gem mint’ designation, but there’s no denying the card is a blazer with perfectly sharp corners, 50-50 centering, no scuffing and obviously, no noticeable print marks.
“It’s represented correctly,” said Calvin Arnold, Operations Manager for SCP. “It is every bit of pristine.”
The 1980-81 Topps issue showcasing the two college rivals at the dawn of their pro careers—not to mention the addition of Erving on the card—makes it one of the most highly prized rookie cards of any sport from any era.
The auction preview is expected to go online next week with bidding via SCPAuctions.com set to open July 24 and close August 10.