Make way for another hot performer on the list of trendy performers. The 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie card is now squarely on the list.
Collectors and investors continue to be confounded by the relative few high-grade examples that enter the marketplace and recent sales data reflects that fact.
While some may have dismissed the 2012 sale of the only PSA 10-rated Clemente for $432,690, it’s having a market impact. Late last month, a PSA 9 example of the 60-year-old card came on the market and was auctioned for $310,700. That’s nearly $275,000 more than a Clemente rookie in the same grade sold for just nine years earlier. Not a bad return on investment.
The trickle down effect has pushed sizeable increases in near mint examples. So far this year, three PSA 8 examples have sold at prices ranging from $25,101 to $29,126. The latter sale, by Memory Lane last January, was part of the market change. Prior to it, PSA 8 Clemente rookie cards had generally landed between $11,000 and $17,000.
At the near mint level, the increase has also been noticeable. Cards that sold for $2,000-$2,500 in 2012 are now north of $6,000. SGC 84 (7) examples have sold for $3,800 and up five times in 2015. In 2011, the same card was bringing $1,500-$1,700.
There’s need to tout Clemente’s accomplishments and it’s fairly obvious by the prices paid that he’s one of the best baseball rookie cards of the 1950s.
Like many vintage cards, Clemente rookies were often handled by young fingers, leaving wear on corners and edges but the 1955 Topps set is also plagued with poor centering at times and the Clemente card is no different. Many graded examples carry ‘off center’ qualifiers.
If your set—and your disposable income—tends to be a little more pedestrian, you’re doing OK. Since last August, there has been only one sale of a graded EX example at less than $1,000, with most trading for $1,400-$1,500. Five years ago, it was worth about one-third of that.
There are a few dozen Clemente rookie cards currently on eBay.