A 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie card graded PSA 8 (NM/MT) sold for $49,568 in Memory Lane’s 2014 Spring Break Auction early Sunday morning, more than double the previous top price for the first ever card of the New York Yankees icon.
The auction wrapped up at 4:45 a.m. Eastern time after a flurry of late activity pushed several rookie cards, vintage unopened material and high end memorabilia to new heights. Total sales, including buyer’s premiums, were $1.65 million.
Industry records show the previous mark for the public sale of a PSA 8 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie was $24,308, established in 2009.
The other key card in the 1951 Bowman set is the first ever Willie Mays card. A PSA 8 example offered in the auction sold for $32,524. Less than a year ago, Memory Lane sold a Mays rookie in its summer auction for $19,881, illustrating the continuing strength of the high end, vintage card market.
Upper echelon Mantle cards are the gold standard of the post-War era and several drew high prices in the auction. A 1953 Topps Mantle, graded PSA 8.5 (NM/MT+) brought $37,618, beating the previous record of $23,640 set less than two years ago.
A 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt/Ron Cey rookie card from the high number series and graded PSA 10 sold Sunday for $25,541. Two years ago, the card’s high water mark was just over $15,000.
A 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card graded PSA 9, realized $27,639, topping what the company attained for one less than a year ago by nearly $12,000. A 1948-49 Leaf Jackie Robinson PSA 8 rookie card sold for $19,544, topping the last major auction selling price by more than $6,000, established just six months ago.
Other high grade rookie cards sold included:
- 1964 Topps Sandy Koufax PSA 10 $20,702
- 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan PSA 10 $18,037
- 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star PSA 10 $9,078
- 1961-62 Fleer basketball Walt Bellamy rookie PSA 9 $8,122
- 1967 Topps Rod Carew rookie PSA 9 $7,502
- 1958 Topps Charley Neal PSA 9 $6,482
“The high grade rookie cards did remarkably well,” said Memory Lane’s J.P. Cohen of the auction results. “We are seeing many new buyers for high end cards and memorabilia.”
Vintage unopened material continues to attract bidders and prices showed no sign of slowing down. An unopened case of 1977 Topps baseball sold for $35,101, while a group of eight vending boxes from the same issue sold for $13,257. A 1979 Topps rack case of six boxes soared to $20,114 while a group of seven 1976 Topps baseball vending boxes touched $22,219 when the final numbers were tallied.
Other memorabilia sold in the auction included a 1981-82 North Carolina Tar Heels team-signed basketball including Michael Jordan which ended at $7,132, a Jackie Robinson signed Little League baseball ($7,490) and a single-signed ball from long ago Hall of Famer Chick Hafey ($6,101).
Memory Lane is now taking consignments for its next event, the I Own It Now sale catalog, set to go live in June. The company is also looking for material for its upcoming summer action and is handing out free five-day passes to the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention for major consignments. For more information, visit Memory Lane’s website or call 877.606.LANE (5263).