TUSTIN, CA-One of the most rare and desirable baseball cards in the hobby was up for grabs in Memory Lane Inc.'s Winter Classics Auction. When the dust settled, the PSA 5-graded T206 Eddie Plank generated 16 bids and sold for $107,100. The scarce Plank card was lot number one in the large catalog auction that generated $1.6 million in winning bids.
In fact, several pre-War baseball cards and memorabilia items were the headliners in the auction, which closed early Sunday morning after more than two weeks of bidding.
A 1902 W600 Sporting Life cabinet card showing the great Hall of Famer Honus Wagner in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, graded PSA 4, sold for $33,842 to garner second billing, while a much talked about Ty Cobb Tobacco tin made more than a century ago, vaulted to $30,867.
"The auction again showed the strength of rare and high grade material," said Memory Lane's J.P. Cohen. "Collectors are willing to invest in items that either exist only in small quantities or carry a grade that makes them desirable to those who want the best they can find."
Pieces that combine both factors always attract a crowd of interested bidders. Among the other early baseball cards worthy of note included an 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions Cap Anson, graded PSA 6 that sold for $20,541, a T206 Ty Cobb portrait with a Cycle back ($7527) and a 1915 Cracker Jack Harry Hooper graded PSA 8.5 ($5604).
Post-War issues also found an aggressive audience however. Whenever the condition-sensitive 1971 Topps sets come up for bid in high grade, there is always strong interest. Memory Lane offered the fourth best set on the PSA Registry in the auction. It sold for $30,810.
The 1950s remain a popular decade for collectors, as evidenced by the strong showing of several cards produced during the 'golden era' of modern baseball. A pair of 1954 Topps cards, each graded PSA 9, kept bidders busy. An Al Kaline rookie card brought $18,040 while a '54 Willie Mays will change hands for $10,184. High grade Yankees are always strong at auction. A 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto, graded PSA 9, sold for $5336.
Several high grade Red Man tobacco cards from the era were also hot. A 1953 Stan Musial, graded PSA 9, sold for $10,767 and a '52 Mays graded 8.5 went for $8804.
Hockey card collectors know how scarce high end copies of the 1955 Parkhurst Maple Leaf Gardens card can be. MLI's PSA 8 offering went for $14,179. Another hockey item that attracted collector attention was a 1958 Topps set with a PSA 7 Gordie Howe that sold for $9943.
Two cards from the '60s of note were a 1968 Topps Rod Carew, graded PSA 10 ($3733) and a 1963 Topps Jim Bouton, PSA 10 ($3862).
One of the more unique pieces in the auction was a 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson rookie card that was actually autographed by the pioneering second baseman. It sold for $6164.
Memorabilia from Iowa Hawkeyes football legend Nile Kinnick is still highly sought after, decades after his tragic death in World War II. Memory Lane offered a hand-signed Kinnick note and personally addressed envelope that sold for $5094.
Fans of unopened material had plenty to choose from, topped by a 1956 Topps Baseball cello pack graded PSA 7 that sold for $3521 while a '58 Topps football cello featuring Colts' great Lenny Moore on the front and graded PSA 9, went for $1759.
Basketball card fanatics chased down a PSA 10 1972 Icee Pistol Pete Maravich ($4673) and a 1969-70 Topps Checklist (PSA 8/$3201).
Memory Lane isn't quite ready to call it a year, though. The company will have a major announcement later this week regarding an event that will be of interest to collectors of vintage sports cards.
To register for bidding privileges in any of the company's events and receive full color catalogs, contact Memory Lane at 877.606.LANE (5263) or visit their website (www.memorylaneinc.com).