Forget sticking a penny inside the Exhibit Supply Company vending machine at the county fair in 1925. If you’d stuck a few thousand dollars into a low or mid-grade Lou Gehrig rookie card just a couple of years ago, you made a shrewd investment.
The postcard-sized image that is considered by most to be Gehrig’s first baseball card has skyrocketed in value.
Measuring 3 3/8″ x 5 3/8″, the Gehrig was one of 128 different unnumbered cards in the 1925 set, issued in the early years of Exhibit’s long run of producing cards of all kinds. The picture itself was actually taken in 1923, not long after the Columbia University slugger had joined the Yankees. While a Gehrig of any sort has always been a welcome addition to any vintage collection, the Exhibit was a true hobby sleeper for decades. As interest in the rookie cards of iconic players intensified over the last couple of years, collectors and investors have begun to zero in. The result? A remarkable surge in selling prices.
In 2014, a PSA 2 Gehrig rookie card sold at auction for $2,474. That was just barely above the selling price of a card in the same grade four years earlier, indicating very limited growth. In August of 2016, an example rated SGC 30 sold for $35,850.
SGC 40s have doubled in less than two years if auction results are any indication, with one selling for $17,000 in December 2015 and the next one bringing $33,210 in April of this year. A PSA 3 offered by Memory Lane in its first auction of 2017 six months ago soared to $60,000. Another is going on the auction block this summer via Heritage.
Even lower grade cards have found a new level. An SGC 10 (poor) Gehrig sold for $5500 on eBay in June of last year. In March of this year, another sale was recorded: $19,297.
The record price for any 1925 Exhibit Gehrig rookie card was established in February when Heritage Auctions sold a PSA 6 with an “MK” qualifier for $102,000.
The graded population of Gehrig cards is an indication that demand will always outstrip supply. The combined total in grading company population reports is about 50. Even accounting for ungraded examples that may reside in advanced collections or remain undiscovered, it’s likely the Gehrig rookie card is in roughly the same supply as another card that’s gotten far more attention over the last 75 years: the T206 Honus Wagner. Lou’s card doesn’t have the legendary back story, of course, but not many Hall of Fame rookie cards have a population small enough to make you wish you’d had a little more foresight a few years ago.