The Babe is still a crowd pleaser.
When bidding came to a close in the early morning hours of Sunday, five of the top eight lots in Memory Lane’s Sets and Set Breaks Auction featured the familiar countenance of Babe Ruth. From a 1916 rookie card to high-grade examples of some of the final gum cards of his career, the Bambino was once again in demand.
The top selling card was a PSA 8 1933 Goudey #149 that sold for $510,000. Only two other examples rank higher–and not by much as each of those carry an 8.5 grade.
Not behind was card #144 from the same high-grade set. The card showing a full length image of Ruth also carried a PSA 8 grade and netted $436,736 including the buyer’s premium added to all winning bids.
The cards were all part of a 1933 Goudey Baseball near set that was among the headliners in the auction and featured three of the four Ruth cards and a Lou Gehrig, all in high grade. Ruth card #181 also sold for a six-figure price, closing at $256,736, while the Gehrig netted $157,906.
The Ruth rookie, an M101-5 from 1916 graded SGC 2, was offered at auction for the first time and found a new home for $292,736.
The consignor of the Ruth rookie is the granddaughter of the card’s original owner, who became fascinated with the photos of baseball greats and worked to accumulate a near set of the M101-5 cards, which have been in the family ever since.
A 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ruth graded PSA 8 (only three higher) drew a crowd of interested bidders before the hammer fell at $193,295.
The auction featured one of the biggest accumulations of high grade iconic sets, near sets and unopened material offered in the hobby this year. In all, the auction generated over $8 million in sales. Bidding began on November 20.
Basketball collectors had a chance to snare one of the sport’s top vintage cards. Collectors and investors battled over a 1957-58 Topps Bill Russell rookie card graded PSA 8 before the hammer fell at $229,295.
A rookie card of Russell’s long-time Celtics teammate Bob Cousy from the same set went for $45,007.
The auction included numerous breaks of high-grade vintage sets, giving collectors the rare chance to acquire some low pop cards from some of the hobby’s most popular issues. Among the big sellers from the Goudey set break that included the three Ruth cards were PSA 8 examples of Glen Hyatt ($22,476), Paul Cress ($22,476) and Andy Cohen ($24,723). A 1952 Topps break included Red Back PSA 9s of Allie Reynolds ($48,954) and Billy Goodman ($24,723). A 1961 Topps set surrendered PSA 9s of Mickey Mantle ($41,490 and Willie Mays ($22,747) while highlights from a 1968 set included the Super Stars card featuring Mantle and Mays graded PSA 10 ($20,187) as well as a PSA 10 of Ernie Banks ($11,011). A high-end 1970 Topps set break saw the sale of a PSA 9 Johnny Bench All-Star card for $25,313 and a Roberto Clemente ($9,166).
The unopened portion of the auction was topped by a 1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Booster box at $328,726, a 1970-71 Topps Series 2 Basketball unopened box that changed hands for $96,752, a 1979-80 Topps Hockey box that sold for $55,466 and a 1978 Topps Baseball vending case of 24 boxes that reached $50,420.
Rare vintage packs also saw plenty of action with a 1954 Red Man Tobacco pack with a Willie Mays rocketing to $33,133, a 1957-58 Topps Basketball pack (GAI 6.5) selling for $26,960, a 1961 Topps rack pack at $13,956, a 1960 Topps Baseball cello pack with Mantle showing (PSA 9) netting $26,932 and a rare 1972 Topps Baseball 3-pack tray soaring to $15,352.
Full results are available on Memory Lane’s website.