Back in 2015, some collectors and dealers probably felt spending $80,000 or $90,000 on a PSA 5 Babe Ruth rookie card was a lot of money. After all, the card had sold for about half that—or less—just six years earlier.
It may have turned out to be not only a shrewd investment, but a steal at under six figures.
As Sunday turned to Monday, a new bar was set for the 1916 M101-5 Blank Back Sporting News Ruth in EX condition when Robert Edward Auctions closed out its Spring catalog with a $336,000 sale of a card featuring a young Babe, still toiling for the Boston Red Sox.
The Ruth sale topped bidding in the auction, which often serves as a barometer for the vintage card market and includes hundreds of well-known and rare baseball collectibles.
REA also offered a rare M101-4 Ruth with an ad for Indianapolis Brewing Company on the back. Offered as part of a local promotion, it is the only one ever graded by PSA. Rated a 2, it sold for $168,000.
The largest REA auction ever in terms of the number of lots (more than 2,600) tallied over $10.9 million in sales when the dust settled and established new marks for most bids (29,906) and most winners (877). REA President Brian Dwyer says 176 items realized in excess of $10,000.
The second highest price in the auction was for Jackie Robinson’s signed 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers contract, one of only three Robinson contracts known to exist in private hands. Coinciding with his MVP season, the pact brought $276,000 including the buyer’s premium. It had last sold at auction 17 years ago when the winner paid $13,558.
“This document ranks as one of the most historic pieces we’ve ever had the privilege of handling. Bidders understood and appreciated its significance, which led to an impressive price for our consignor and an incredible addition for the new buyer,” Dwyer stated.
A first day cover signed by all 11 living members of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural 1939 induction class shattered all pre-auction estimates, bringing $144,000, as did a rare surviving 1961-1962 Fleer Basketball wax box, which sold for $120,000.
A fresh-to-the-hobby find of fifteen 1888-1889 N173 Old Judge cabinet cards, which had been in the possession of the same New England family for more than 115 years, realized $73,680, including $19,200 for the hobby’s highest-graded example of Boston Hall of Famers Charles Radbourn.
The auction included multiple copies of the iconic 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle including a PSA 7 which netted $168,000 and a 6 that sold for $78,000.
Additional highlights included:
– 1911 T3 Turkey Red Ty Cobb SGC 84 – $156,000
– 1903 E107 Breisch Williams Christy Mathewson SGC 50 – $144,000
– 1941 Play Ball Complete Set on Three Uncut Sheets – $124,000
– 1909-1911 T206 Ty Cobb Bat Off Shoulder Uzit Back PSA 6 – $108,000
– 1953 Jackie Robinson Game-Used Bat PSA/DNA GU9 – $96,000
– 1934 Tour of Japan Photo Signed By Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx – $90,000
– 1914 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson PSA 5 – $84,000
– 1915 Cracker Jack Christy Mathewson PSA 9 – $72,000
– 1925-1928 Babe Ruth Game-Used Bat PSA/DNA GU7 – $72,000
– 1962 Topps Football Mike Ditka Rookie PSA 9 – $72,000
– 1962 Stan Musial St. Louis Cardinals Jersey MEARS A10 – $66,000
– 1971 Tom Seaver New York Mets Jersey MEARS A10 – $66,000
– 1948 Leaf Unopened Wax Pack – $57,000
– 1938 Goudey Uncut Sheet – $54,000
– 1912 Boston Garter Christy Mathewson Advertising Display – $51,000
– 1955-1957 Ted Williams Game-Used Bat PSA/DNA GU10 – $51,000
“This auction proved the amazing strength of the hobby and once again demonstrated that there is an extremely high demand for rare and high-quality items,” Dwyer said Monday as he reviewed the final numbers. “Collectors turned out in droves for this auction and walked away with some incredible items.”
Robert Edward Auctions is already assembling its Fall Auction, scheduled for October, and will be accepting consignments through August 1.Special consignment terms are available to early consignors who contact the company prior to June 15. For more information on consignments, to view prices realized from the spring auction, or to request a free catalog, visit www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com.