(TUSTIN, CA) - Bidding lasted long into the night and beyond but when the dust settled in Memory Lane Inc.'s Spring Fever Rarities auction early Sunday morning, sports memorabilia history had been made with several record-breaking sales and the establishment of a new company record for one auction.
Over 1400 lots were purchased, accounting for $2,850,259 in sales to bidders from around the world who took part via the internet, telephone and fax.
Until Memory Lane's event, no 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card in a PSA 8 (near mint-mint) grade had ever sold for six figures. That changed when a beautiful example of what is considered the 'holy grail' of post-War baseball cards sold for an astonishing $112,800. The price includes a 17.5% buyer's premium. The recent average selling price for a PSA 8-graded '52 Mantle had been $60,972. Memory Lane's effort pushed the current average to $73,332.
A 1951 Bowman Willie Mays rookie card, one of few mint condition (PSA 9) examples in existence, drew a crowd of excited bidders, who pushed the final realized price to $85,775.
Extremely high quality examples of sports cards and memorabilia are a hallmark of Memory Lane auctions and another record was smashed when a pristine, PSA/DNA 8 (near mint-mint) graded Babe Ruth autographed baseball sold for $81,075. Collectors were drawn to the beautiful blue signature adorning an official American League baseball, but also to the history of the ball. It had been signed by Ruth and given to one of the players on a 1940s American Legion baseball team from Idaho. The boy, who grew up to be a dentist, is now retired and living in Texas. He had saved and preserved the ball in like-new condition for over six decades.
Another item bearing the Babe's signature was a 1923 Yankees team signed autograph book which also included Lou Gehrig and the others on that club and brought an astounding $51, 955.
Memory Lane also offered one of the more unique pieces in the sports memorabilia arena with its sale of the World War II-era file documents from the court-martial of Jackie Robinson. The papers include over 41 pages of court proceedings, formerly owned by entertainment lawyer and noted collector John Branca, and brought $29,042. Among them was a page with Robinson's hand-written initials attesting to a change in his testimony during the famous case in which Robinson was acquitted of insubordination charges.
The ball Ruth hit for his 13th home run during the record-setting 1927 season was one of the more interesting items in the sale. Caught by a fan and kept as a family heirloom for generations, the sphere even included a faded Ruth signature obtained after the game at Yankee Stadium in May of '27 and sold for $18,467.
Among the other sports card highlights of the auction was the sale of a W600 Sporting Life Honus Wagner (PSA 5) that drew 51 bids and raised the bar for the issue with a closing realized price of $41,257. A rare 1922 Pacific Coast League Zeenuts 'rookie card' of sports legend Jim Thorpe sold for $32,249.
Rare sports cards don't come any more desirable than the beautiful 1888 Goodwin's Champions. A PSA 7 Cap Anson card from the set drew heavy interest for the Tustin, CA based auction company. The ornate card appears actually more like artwork and fanciers of baseball history and memorabilia treat it as such. It was purchased at a price of $25,831. Another pre-War highlight was a T206 Ty Cobb portrait (red) in PSA 8 that drew a winning bid of $24, 923, setting a record for the grade.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig continue their lofty perch atop the pantheon of Yankee lore and collector want lists. A 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth (PSA 7) sold for $26,105. Of the last four previous sales of that particular card, none had reached $18,000. A '33 Goudey #92 Gehrig card brought $21,405 in the Spring Fever sale.
New records could be found throughout the auction results, spanning a variety of collecting genres. A 1933 Goudey Dizzy Dean in PSA 8 grade sold for $16,387, which nearly doubled the selling price of the last PSA 8 Dean which sold last year. Just two years ago, the card was bringing $5,600 on eBay.
Among the more 'modern' vintage cards, a 1956 Topps complete baseball set, all graded PSA 8, went for $38,775 while a 1954 set of Wilson Franks cards, still uncut, found a new home for $31,725. A 1960 Topps Hank Aaron became the highest selling PSA 9 ever when it was purchased for $19,805 while a 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 10) also set a new record with its realized price of $15,799.
Unopened wax pack collectors gravitated toward a rare opportunity to add a 1948 Bowman basketball pack. It sold for $18,344.
Complete results from the Spring Fever Rarities sale can be found on the company's website.
The Spring Fever Extravaganza auction was dedicated to the memory of our dear friend Roger Cameron, Memory Lane's marketing director, who passed away January 14. Memory Lane is now actively seeking consignments for its next auction, scheduled for later this summer.
"If consignors are interested in maximizing the value of their collectibles, it's important to get them to us as quickly as possible," said Memory Lane president J.P. Cohen. "We're hoping to display some of the best items at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. We'd love to set some more records in our next auction."
Memory Lane Incorporated has bought and sold some of the most rare and desirable
sports cards and memorabilia in existence. Recent sales have included:
• 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle PSA 10 $600,000
• T206 Honus Wagner PSA 2 $294,337
• 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 9 $282,587
• 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig PSA 10 $274,750
• 1927 New York Yankees team signed photo $206,000
• Babe Ruth single-signed baseball PSA 9 $150,000