The consignor was looking to sell his collection and showed up unannounced at Mile High Card Company’s Denver area offices with binders full of nice vintage baseball card sets.
Inside one of them was a 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card that looked like it had been pulled from a pack that morning. Incredibly, the top of the valuable card was sticking out of the nine-pocket plastic sheet in which it was housed, the owner apparently opting never to move it to the eight-pocket style for which it was better suited.
It didn’t matter.
Somehow the card, acquired decades earlier, had maintained its sharp corners. Sent to PSA for grading and authentication, it became a PSA 9 and the centerpiece of MHCC’s recent auction. When the cyber hammer fell early Friday morning, the card had sold for a whopping $233,443—the highest recorded price for a mint Aaron rookie in four years.
While the heart of the auction featured numerous vintage singles, sets and lots, it was a modern era card that finished as the auction runner-up. A 1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Derek Jeter graded PSA 10 netted $166,713, topping a sale from two months ago by over $25,000.
One of the more fascinating items in the sale was a 1910 J.A. Peach Company baseball gloves advertising display featuring Cobb, Wagner, Mathewson, Young and other stars of the day. One of the most coveted baseball advertising pieces ever made, it sold for $31.409.
It wasn’t alone, though. A possibly unique1915-16 Rose and Company Clothiers World Series Champions advertising display featuring Babe Ruth drew a crowd of advanced collectors, realizing $28,795.
“With the uncertainty of the current economic climate, we really didn’t know what to expect. But at every checkpoint during the auction process, we were ahead of our goal and finished well above expectations. Right now, there isn’t a better time to be a consignor,” stated MHCC President and CEO Brian Drent.
Other high-profile sports cards sold included the first and only 1971 Topps #625 Lou Brock PSA 10 that brought the interest of advanced collectors and sold for $20,868. Other cards chased by vintage collectors included a 1910 E98 Ty Cobb SGC 9 ($16,626); a 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb PSA 3 ($19,729); a 1915 Cracker Jack Rabbit Maranville PSA 9 ($19,729); a 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie SGC 8.5 ($39,375); a 1959 Topps Bob Gibson PSA 9 rookie ( $17,872); a 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson PSA 9 ($25,182) and a 1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain PSA 8.5 ($29,378).
Among the record-setters: a 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams PSA 6.5 that sold for $11,977, more than doubling the previous record price; a 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson White Back PSA 9 that earned $13,133, making it the first time the card has ever topped the $10K mark and a 1956 Topps Willie Mays PSA 9 that sold for $13,611– over $2,000 above the previous high mark. A 1969 Topps #255 Steve Carlton PSA 10 shattered the previous record of $5,497 with a price of $7,436, a 1991 Topps Desert Shield #333 Chipper Jones SGC 10 sold for an unprecedented $7,618, and a 1996 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant PSA 10 also recorded a new high mark at $6,007.
A Home Run Derby Mickey Mantle PSA 5 rocketed to $8,998 (previous record was $2,670) and a Gil Hodges PSA 7 went for $7,137. According to Drent, that same Hodges card sold a year ago for $1,440.
A 1997 Skybox E-X2001 Jambalaya complete set on an uncut sheet was one of the most hotly contested items in the auction, closing at $10,648.
There was plenty of unopened material for the bidding including a 1959 Topps 4th Series 500-count vending box and a 1964 Topps high numbers vending box, each of which sold for nearly $10,000. Other packs and boxes sold included:
- 1951 Bowman Baseball Unopened 1-Cent Wax Pack GAI 8 NM/MT ($4,770)
- 1972 OPC Baseball Second Series box ($3,813)
- 1975 Topps Mini wax box ($6,760)
- 1961 Fleer Basketball pack with Oscar Robertson RC on back GAI 7.5 ($5,268)
- 1974-75 Topps Basketball unopened box ($6,760)
- 1975-76 Topps Basketball unopened box ($6,154)
A 1951 Bowman complete set with graded Mantle and Mays rookies netted $8,745); a 1952 Topps near set (374/407) with some graded closed at $14,018; a 1953 Topps set with Mantle PSA 4 and Mays PSA 5 ended at $8,467 and a completely graded (8.515 rating) 1986-87 Fleer basketball set Set realized $9,538.
Complete auction results can be found here.
Mile High’s next auction will take place in August.