The lone copy of the 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 graded PSA Mint 9 sold for $4,212,000 early Sunday morning as part of an eight-figure collection of sports cards and memorabilia sold through Memory Lane Inc.
The Ruth card was the kingpin of more than 900 lots in the auction of items consigned by the family of the late Dr. Thomas Newman, a Florida neurologist who fell victim to COVID-19 in January. Newman’s collection included some of the highest graded examples of the hobby’s most popular issues.
In all, five cards sold for more than $1 million each including the 20% buyer’s premium tacked on to all winning bids. The entire collection sold for $21.5 million. According to Memory Lane, over 50 lots established new price records.
Seventy-six bids were made for the Ruth card—the last coming at 5:40 AM Eastern time Sunday as bidders slugged it out in online bidding for one of the best collections ever to reach the auction market. Newman purchased it for less than $20,000 in the mid-1990s.
Another 1933 Goudey Ruth, one of four in the legendary set and also graded PSA 9, sold for $1,272,000. One of six #181 Ruths at that level, it destroyed the previous record for the grade, set two years ago at $456,000.
Newman’s PSA 6 1916 Ruth rookie card soared to $1,452,000. The card is one of four bearing an ad for The Sporting News on the back, with just two higher.
Another record fell with the sale of a PSA 8 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle at $2,112,000, establishing a new bar for NM/MT copies of the iconic post-War card. In 2020, there were six other sales of PSA 8 examples, with all but one bringing less than $500,000.
Newman purchased it in 1986 after it was discovered that year in Massachusetts as part of a large find of 1952 Topps cards sold to Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen.
Newman’s 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie, graded PSA 8, realized $498,000.
1925 Exhibit Lou Gehrig rookie cards have exploded in price in recent years and the Memory Lane sale of one of the higher graded examples—a PSA 5—established a new record. One of four rated EX by PSA with one higher on the population report, the Gehrig ended at $1,032,000.
The catalog, which was devoted exclusively to items from Dr. Newman’s collection, included a vast array of pre-War cards, many of which sold for record prices. Among them: a 1921 E121 Ruth card graded PSA 7 that sold for $337,906. In addition to the previously mentioned Goudey Ruth cards, the collection also featured a 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ruth graded PSA 8 that went for $182,863; one of the hobby’s best 1933 Goudey #92 Lou Gehrig cards—a PSA 8—that landed at $302,579 and the accompanying #160 Gehrig, also a PSA 8 that sold for $185,582.
Additional Goudey cards of Ruth and Gehrig that reached new heights included a ‘33 Goudey #144 Ruth PSA 7 ($161,582); a ‘33 Goudey #149 Ruth PSA 7 ($171,484) and a 1934 Goudey #61 Gehrig PSA 8 ($75,252).
A T206 Cy Young portrait graded PSA 8 was among the top cards from the iconic Deadball Era set offered in the auction and it didn’t disappoint, rocketing to $137,794.
Considered the first football card ever made, an 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions Harry Beecher graded SGC 7, sold for a record breaking $37,313. A PSA 8 example of the Cap Anson card in that same set sold for a whopping $207,484.
Other cards from the pre-World War II era that saw record-setting results included:
- 1895 N300 Mayo ‘s Cap Anson PSA 5 – $14,682
- 1902 W600 Sporting Life Cabinet Ed Delehanty PSA 6 – $35,264
- 1909 T204 Walter Johnson PSA 5 – $61,792
- 1909 M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Joe Jackson PSA 1 – $12,688
- 1910 Tip Top Honus Wagner PSA 5 – $84,998
- 1911 T3 Turkey Red #5 Sam Crawford PSA 7 – $58,788
- 1911 T3 Turkey Red #42 Cy Young PSA 7 – $122,579
- 1911 T3 Turkey Red #47 Frank Chance PSA 6.5 – $38,357
- 1922 Lou Gertenrich Babe Ruth “Photo Montage” SGC 3 – $49,620
- 1911 T3 Turkey Red Eddie Collins PSA 7.5 ($99,665)
- 1932 US Caramel Babe Ruth PSA 7 ($75,252)
- 1933 DeLong #7 Lou Gehrig PSA 7 ($46,111)
- 1935 National Chicle #34 Bronko Nagurski PSA 7 – $99,444
- 1936 World Wide Gum #51 Joe DiMaggio Rookie SGC 8.5 – $117,604
- 1939 Play Ball #26 Joe DiMaggio PSA 9 – $218,579
- 1941 Play Ball #14 Ted Williams PSA 9 – $205,906
Additional post-War baseball cards generating impressive results included:
- 1952 Topps Willie Mays graded PSA 8 $233,582
- 1953 Stahl- Meyer Franks Mickey Mantle PSA 7 – $68,125
- 1954 Bowman #65 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 – $244,736
- 1955 Bowman #202 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 – $209,794
- 1958 Topps #418 World Series Batting Foes PSA 9 – $37,027
- 1959 Topps #10 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 – $110,970
Newman’s expansive accumulation of World Series programs was also offered in the catalog, including one from the first contest in 1903 between Boston and Pittsburgh. One of the best known copies, it sold for $112,103. Others included a 1906 program (Chicago) that went for $19,031 and a 1918 Game 5 program from Boston that hammered at $20,188. Proceeds from the entire collection of programs (Lots 766-805) totaled $310,242.
A Ruth signed baseball—one that included the 1929 film clip of Ruth signing it for the son of an Eastman-Kodak employee—sold for $34,421.
A rare high-grade program from the 1962 game at Hershey, PA when Wilt Chamberlain poured in a still standing record of 100 points sold for $16,121.
Complete results of the auction can be found here.