There were some cards that stood out, of course—big ticket cards selling for big ticket prices. The theme of Memory Lane’s Winter Rarities Auction, though, was the strength of the market across the board. From cards issued decades ago to those featuring players who are just now at the top of their games, there were bidders vying for them. The result was an auction that had generated multiple records and over $10.6 million in sales when it all came to a close in the early morning hours of Sunday.
Not surprisingly, the three top selling items in the sale featured the king of baseball memorabilia, Babe Ruth. The highest SGC graded example of his 1916 M101-5 rookie card, a 5.5, sold for $612,000, while a recently discovered promotional banner for his 1927 movie Babe Comes Home netted $246,000 and an autographed barnstorming photo of Ruth and Lou Gehrig dating to the 1920s went for $49,620.
The one of a kind 35-3/4″ high x 119″ long banner was one of the most remarkable discoveries of Ruth memorabilia in recent years. Found by descendants of an Illinois theater owner who had tucked it away nearly 95 years ago, the long forgotten relic had been rolled up and stashed in a closet. Designed to hang inside theaters, it promoted Ruth’s appearance in a silent movie at the height of his career.
The other top selling lots were basketball cards with a PSA 8 1957-58 Topps Bill Russell rookie card soaring to $204,608, a 2003-04 SP Authentic LeBron James Autographed SP Limited Rookie (#3/50 BGS 9.5/10) reaching $148,736, a PSA 10 copy of the 2007 Topps Chrome White Refractor Kevin Durant hitting $220,736, a PSA 10 1986-87 Fleer Johnny Moore selling for a record setting $90,199 and one of only 24 PSA 10 1981-82 Topps Magic Johnson cards also establishing a new mark at $26,960.
Registry set builders and fans of the classic 1952 Topps Baseball set battled over a group of high-grade examples. The jaw-dropping results included the sale of PSA 9 rookie cards featuring Reds legend Joe Nuxhall ($115,374), Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams ($104,842) and the tough Herm Wehmeier ($104,842). All three established fresh records.
High-grade Baseball Hall of Famers were strong, regardless of year. One of six 1961 Topps Juan Marichal cards to be awarded a PSA 10 grade sold for a record $89,248 while a 1959 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 9 was just one more bid shy of reaching six figures at $98,562. A 1971 Topps Super Roberto Clemente graded PSA 10 went for a whopping $92,308 while a 1966 Topps Ernie Banks PSA 10 netted $39,789, both establishing new benchmark prices.
Cards that are tough to find in top condition were part of bidding wars. A 1969 Topps Lou Brock PSA 9 finally closed at $48,364, a PSA 9 1971 Topps Reggie Jackson hit $58,849 while PSA 10 copies of the 1973 Topps Tom Seaver ($67,456) and 1975 Jim Rice rookie card ($68,125) also established new market highs.
The auction offered some autographed 1933 Goudeys, each PSA authenticated. Babe Ruth’s #144 (PSA 2) reached $145,905 while a Jimmy Foxx (PSA 4 with an autograph grade of 8) sold for $36,196.
Other vintage basketball cards sold included 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card graded SGC 9 at $159,483, a PSA 8 1948-49 Bowman George Mikan rookie at $147,483, a PSA 9 1970-71 Topps Pete Maravich rookie card at $86,947 and a 1972-73 Topps Walt Frazier PSA 10 at $62,481. The latter three established record prices.
A PSA 10 copy of one of the most popular football cards of all-time, Walter Payton’s 1976 Topps rookie card, went off the board at $114,098 while a 1952 Bowman Large Frank Gifford rookie sold for a record price of $49,620 and a 1935 National Chicle Dutch Clark PSA 8 went for $39,790.
Non-sport fans chased several lots, including a rare 1940 Superman set ranked sixth on the PSA Registry. It sold for $90,199.
Complete results are available on Memory Lane’s website.