One of the better examples of sports collecting’s holy grail sold early Sunday morning when Robert Edward Auctions’ spring catalog event came to an end. The PSA 3 T206 Honus Wagner generated 42 bids and sold for $1.32 million, a record price for the grade. That figure includes a 20% buyer’s premium added to all lots in the auction. The same card, dubbed the ‘Oceanside Wagner’ by REA, sold for $791,000 when it last came up for auction in 2008.
Many items in the REA catalog set records according to the auction house, including a 1915 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth, graded PSA EX-MT 6, which sold for $204,000. A near-complete 1910 T210 Old Mill set, consisting of 610 out of 640 cards and offered in 12 different lots, combined to realize $243,600, led by an SGC VG 40 example of the key Joe Jackson card, which sold for $168,000.
In all, the auction realized $7.54 million in sales with 18,973 bids made during the 24 days of bidding. A total of 121 items in the auction broke the $10,000 threshold.
The hobby’s finest example of an uncut 1933 Goudey sheet featuring three Babe Ruth cards, saved from the collection of William Gardiner, hammered at $168,000, eclipsing its last sale of $117,500 from 2010.
Pre-War era baseball cards generated much of the action. An SGC 30 example of the 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back sold for $131,000. The “rare back” T206 market continued to be one of the strongest areas of the market, with a Lenox-backed Ty Cobb, graded VG 3 by PSA, selling for $27,000; an extremely rare Brown Old Mill realizing $24,000; and a Uzit-backed Ty Cobb, graded VG 40 by SGC, hammering at $19,200. Numerous common players featuring rare Drum, Uzit, Lenox, Broad Leaf, and other scarce backs fetched thousands of dollars each.
Ruth items continued to reach new heights with collectors clamoring for one of the five known 1921 Frederick Foto cards, which sold for $42,000; an SGC FAIR example of the 1916 M101-5 Sporting News rookie, which sold for $36,000; and an 1917-1920 M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn, Ruth’s first card with the Yankees, which brought $24,000.
A newly-discovered 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings CDV, consigned by a non-collecting family who found it among old family photos, soared to $27,000.
A rare 1879 Chicago White Stockings “California Tour” cabinet card with Cap Anson and Al Spalding was chased down by a winning bidder at $42,000.
A one-of-akind 1899-1900 Brooklyn Dodgers ledger, containing detailed information about the team and its finances, ended at $48,000.
Two high-grade sets from the hobby’s finest 1959 Fleer “Three Stooges” collection were offered over twenty-six different lots, realizing a combined $118,680.
A painstakingly created set of ultra high-grade 1978 Topps cards also drew strong interest. Ranked third on the PSA Registry and featuring 602 different PSA 10s, the 37-year-old set sold for $48,000.
Two unique Topps proof cards, depicting Bernie Carbo and Larry Bowa from the 1971 Topps Artist’s Proofs set, brought $14,400 and $12,000, respectively.
A 1970 Hank Aaron game-worn Atlanta Braves jersey offered by REA in 2013 came back to market and increased in price by $13,000 in just two years, selling for $66,000.
Among other memorabilia were Satchel Paige’s 1965 Kansas City Athletics contract, which brought $48,000 and Ken Brett’s 1980 American League Championship ring, which changed hands for $33,000.