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Rare Football Cards Top MLI’s Big Game Auction

Dozens of the most important football cards ever issued were sold over the weekend in Memory Lane’s first-ever all-football event.

Hours before the Colts and Saints prepared to make NFL history in Super Bowl XLIV, some greats from the past were gaining new respect as the focus of a special auction of vintage football cards and memorabilia.

Memory Lane Inc hosted its first-ever football-only event, the Big Game Auction, with over 300 lots featuring some of the greatest names in football history.

Topping the sale were two of the most desirable football cards of all-time.

1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford PSA 8 A PSA 9 1952 Bowman “large” Jim Lansford, rare in any condition but nearly impossible in mint form, sold for $25,805 including the buyer’s premium. One of only two cards ever to reach the “9” level, the Lansford card was the last in the set, making it susceptible to damage. Few high-grade, well-centered copies exist today.

1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski For many collectors, the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski is the “holy grail” of football cards. Memory Lane offered a rare PSA 7 (near mint) example and it drew a crowd of bidders before finally selling for $24,541. Clearly the most desirable and scarce card in the series, the Nagurski is a favorite of all football card collectors who appreciate the art-deco design and the history behind this lone mainstream vintage football card featuring the legendary Hall of Famer.

Numerous other 1935 National Chicle football cards drew the attention of devoted collectors on Saturday night, including a Knute Rockne in PSA 8 that sold for $5541, and a #1 Dutch Clark that brought $5037.

The 1933 Sport Kings offered proved to be a drawing card as well. Cards of Jim Thorpe and Red Grange are few and far between. The Thorpe sold for $5037 while the Grange brought $4157.

1957 Topps John Unitas PSA 9 A 1957 Johnny Unitas rookie card graded PSA 9 brought 18 bids and realized $20,785. The ’57 set, in fact, is filled with big name rookie cards. Memory Lane had them all, including a Paul Hornung, also graded PSA 9. It sold for $7555, while a Raymond Berry rookie (PSA 8), went for $3078 and a Bart Starr (PSA 8) sold for $2768.

Memory Lane offered a PSA 8 (nm-mint) Walker that drew 16 bids and sold for $7365. A super-scarce PSA 10 Elroy Hirsch from the same series, brought $5726.

Another high-grade beauty from the early days of the modern NFL, a 1952 Bowman Large Sammy Baugh (PSA 9), sold for $6695.

What football card auction would be complete without a Joe Namath rookie card? Memory Lane had a PSA 8 example that found a new home 41 years after Broadway Joe’s Super Bowl III heroics— at a price of $6096. It’s a card always in demand by buyers and fans who still remember the man and the moment.

Among the football memorabilia sold was a true museum piece: an autographed photo of the famous Notre Dame backfield known as the Four Horsemen. The famous vintage shot of the legendary quartet perched on horseback offered by Memory Lane brought $4907.

An instantly recognizable Hall of Fame alumni jacket once given to 1940s Chicago Cardinals’ star Charley Trippi sold for $3128 while a Super Bowl XXXIV Champions St. Louis Rams Vince Lombardi trophy, one of just 400 created for members of the Rams organization, sold for $3440.

Click here for a live look a the most watched football cards on eBay right now.

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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