In last night’s (or this morning’s, depending on your point of view) REA inaugural fall auction one of the most impressive prices realized was that of a scarce – possibly unique – T206 Walter Johnson card. The Johnson sold for $65,175 (with the 18.5% buyer’s premium) because it featured a Broad Leaf 460 back, considered by T206 Resource as the fourth rarest back, and second rarest of the backs that actually made their way into tobacco packs.
Over the past several years the number of collectors pursuing T206s because of their backs, rather than their fronts, has increased exponentially. The result has been a surge in prices in backs that used to be approachable, creating a bubble that, judging by REA results, shows no sign of bursting.
During this time perhaps no card has increased as much as the Broad Leaf Johnson, which publicly sold for $7,207 in Mastro’s December 2005 auction. In eight years time the same Johnson card increased in value by a staggering 900%.
Forget ticker symbols GOOG and APPL – the real money to be had was apparently in WAJO. For comparison, the week ending December 12 Google stock was at $430.15, and despite reaching $1,011.41 a share, represents only a 235% growth. For the same time period Apple increased from $71.11 a share to $508.90 a share, for a growth of 715%. Both fall short of the unexpected investment return produced by the loan graded Broad Leaf 460 example of The Big Train.
According to T206 Resource’s rankings, following Broad Leaf 450 back, the next two rarest backs are the Drum 350 and Uzit. A T206 of Hall of Famer Tris Speaker featuring a Drum 350 back commanded an impressive $32,587.50. Uzit was well-represented in the sale of a duo of two Hall of Famers – the immortal Ty Cobb for $17,775 and Rube Marquard for $18,960.
As a followup to two articles previously appearing in Sports Collectors Daily, the T206 Joe Tinker printing error sold for $11,850, while the newly discovered M116 Frank Smith team variation, sold for $4,740. For comparison of the premium placed on the Smith variation graded ‘A’, a common Smith sold for only $829.50 despite being the sole graded PSA 9 example.
It was the first time REA held a second auction during a calendar year and the sale generated $3.06 million. A complete wrap-up on the auction will be posted soon.