Memory Lane’s 20th anniversary year is off to a strong start. The Southern California-based company unleashed the largest auction in its history last month, with 440-page catalog featuring over 1,700 lots. When the dust settled in the wee hours of Sunday morning, a new single auction record had been established with nearly $7.6 million in sales. The figure beat the company’s old record by more than $2 million.
Vintage cards, rare unopened material and some valuable old photographs helped drive the results, led by a few of the hobby’s most familiar icons.
A pair of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards each set records in the auction as interest in the Yankee great’s most famous image continued to grow. A PSA 7 sold for $220,642 while an SGC 6 easily established a new milestone when it netted $123,484. A third card, rated PSA 4, went for $105,685.
A PSA 8 copy of his 1953 Topps card also reached the six-figure mark, closing at $113,908. Mantle rookie cards also continue to skyrocket with a PSA 5 example of his 1951 Bowman issue climbing to $52,102.
The auction also featured a remarkable collection of 27 different autographed Mantle cards ranging from 1953-1969. Among the cards sold: highly graded signatures on his 1953 Bowman Color ($29,303), 1953 Topps ($21,456) and 1962 Topps ($20,432).
One of the finest known copies of Babe Ruth’s 1916 Sporting News rookie card topped all lots when it sold for a record-setting $940,831. One of just four copies rated at 6 (EX/MT) by PSA with only two higher, the card generated 32 bids. It blew past the old record price for the grade of $204,000 set back in 2015.
Ruth cards were sprinkled throughout the catalog including an autographed copy of one of his 1933 Goudey cards with the signature graded 6 by PSA that rocketed to $197,576. The card originated with a Boston autograph seeker who chased down over 150 different players in the set not long after they were issued in packs of gum.
A 1921 American Caramel E121 Ruth (SGC 3.5) sold for $82,807, a 1921 Oxford E253 graded SGC 4 found a new home at $35,264 1921 National Caramel E220 (PSA 2) went for $26,968 and a 1922 Neilson’s Chocolate (PSA 2) ended at $15,716.
Pre-War cards beyond Ruth were strong sellers, too, with a T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait featuring a rare Polar Bear Tobacco back (PSA 5) among the highlights, bringing $24,427.
Demand for Jackie Robinson cards continues to be strong. Memory Lane sold a PSA 9 1950 Bowman Robinson for $95,860 and a 1949 Bowman PSA 8 for $71,459.
Bidders flocked to a PSA 8 copy of the 1938 Goudey Heads-Up Joe DiMaggio, with bids going back and forth before it sold for $61,909 while a 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card, also graded PSA 8, went for $39,846.
High profile rookie cards in other sports included a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky graded PSA 9 that soared to $211,199, a 1976 Topps Walter Payton PSA 10 that closed at $96,752, a PSA 8 1961-62 Wilt Chamberlain rookie ($76,978), a PSA 10 1981 Topps Joe Montana ($75,808), a PSA 10 1974-75 Topps George Gervin rookie (record price of $39,846) and a PSA 9 1969-70 Topps Pete Maravich ($36,128).
The auction included dozens of unopened boxes, cases and rare vintage packs. Among the top sellers were a 1979-80 Topps Hockey box that likely contains at least one Wayne Gretzky rookie card ($68,256); 16 1978-79 Topps Basketball boxes from a sealed case ($57,530); 16 1979-80 Topps Basketball boxes, also from a previously sealed case, ($41,321); a 1948 Bowman Basketball pack ($50,933); a 1948-49 Leaf Baseball pack from the “short print series” ($48,508) and a quartet of 1980-81 Topps Basketball boxes that sold for over $40,000 each.
Some quality ungraded vintage baseball sets also drew interest including a 1971 Topps set ($19,506) and a 1972 Topps set ($8,871).
Set builders had the rare opportunity to check off some low population cards on their want lists. Top sellers included a 1953 Topps Johnny Groth PSA 10 ($17,288) and a 1956 Topps Johnny Podres PSA 10 ($17,288).
The auction included numerous lots of rare vintage photographs included a circa 1913 Charles Conlon image of Joe Jackson. The 6×8” PSA/DNA Type 1 photo opened at $10,000 but when bidding came to a close, it had realized $105,888.
Complete results and consignment opportunities for the company’s Summer Auction are available at MemoryLaneInc.com.