During his career, the general feeling was that Hank Aaron never quite generated the appreciation that rained down on players like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Whether it was his low-key manner or playing in a smaller media market, Hammerin’ Hank plugged along for 20 years before the career home run chase began to focus on him. The same could be true of the Hank Aaron rookie card.
Aaron was still a raw teenager when his photo was snapped for the 1954 Topps set. Nearly six decades after it popped out of gum packs, the Aaron rookie is still one of the key cards in the set, but lags behind the 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente and barely ahead of other high-end rookie cards. Considering Aaron’s status in the game, though, you would think it would have pushed ahead long before now.
It could be just the sign of a recovering market, but recent prices may indicate aybe the tide is turning.
The last three Hank Aaron rookie cards in PSA 7 (near mint) condition have all sold for $2300-$2499. Prior to those three sales, only one had broached the $2000 mark since March of last year. The last PSA 7 1954 Aaron sold generated 28 bids.
Since May 30 of last year, ten PSA 8 Aaron sales have been recorded. All but three have sold for $4515 or more and three have sold via eBay’s Buy it Now program since August, the last one for $5,000. It could indicate that demand for the card has collectors and/or investors believing they need to act quickly to secure a nice one because of competition. The average selling price of a ’54 Topps Aaron rookie in near mint-mint condition is $4654. In January of 2009, the card’s value in the Sportscard Market Report was $4000.
A pair of Beckett graded 8’s have sold for equally strong prices since last fall, one for $4627 and the other for $5900. Few SGC-graded Aaron rookie cards sales have been recorded over the last few months, so it’s hard to assess the market for them.
Even slightly lower grade Aaron rookies have shown a price spike of some sort. Since March of last year, the average selling price of a PSA 6 has been $862.
In Collecting Sports Legends, The Ultimate Hobby Guide, the Hank Aaron rookie card is rated as the 16th most important sports card of all-time, ahead of some of the hobby’s most expensive cards. While readily available in a variety of grades, the respect and value may be catching up to that lofty perch.
Click here to see Aaron’s 1954 cards available on eBay.