Heritage Auctions Winter Sports Card Auction Ends January 27-28, 2022 – Featuring No. 1 Card Collection

Heritage Auctions is thrilled to introduce the Winter Sports Card Auction. The auction is in progress and goes into extended bidding January 27-28, 2022. Bid, view and register for the auction at sports.ha.com. From Sports Hall of Famers to a John Lennon Rookie Card: The No. 1 Card Collection Makes Its Auction Debut!

Stephen Parthum began collecting sports cards in 1990 because a co-worker told him they were good investments – enough, if he was lucky, to put a kid through college. Parthum, then a 30-year-old coin collector, believed that as good a reason as any to dive into cardboard.

“I loved sports, and I loved the hobby, and if I could ever make money it was all well and good,” he says. “And I was hooked.”

Except Parthum did not collect like anyone else. He did not run out and buy boxes of new products, nor did he scoop up any old Hall of Famer he could fit into his mitt. Instead, his was a mercurial, methodical approach: Parthum, a collector of coin types, bought the very first and very last card from each set in which he was interested – initially, from baseball, football, basketball and hockey (the last, his personal favorite); then, from boxing and soccer and so forth; then, from old TV shows and movies celebrated with their own cardboard releases.

When that proved to be too much, he pared down even further to the first card in every set, and in the best condition in which he could find that coveted No. 1– which is how Stephen Parthum came to be known in the hobby as “The No. 1 Guy,” not merely a fantastic nickname but a succinct description of his more-than-300-card collection that heads to auction for the first time beginning in January.

Heritage Auctions is thrilled to offer in the All-Star-studded Jan. 27-28 Winter Sports Card Catalog Auction 143 cards from Parthum’s astounding assemblage, with best-example offerings from basketball to Batman, Roger Maris to the Red Menace, Jackie Robinson to Elvis Presley. And everything and everyone in between.

“That’s just how I started to collect, and it became an obsession,” says the Massachusetts collector. “Then the hunt began.”

It’s no mystery why he chose to focus on first cards in sports sets: Topps and its competitors often led their collections with a famous name, a gonna-be great, a would-be Hall of Famer. Among them: a PSA Mint 9 1962 Topps Roger Maris, one of six with none graded higher. And a 1969 Topps Wilt Chamberlain graded PSA Mint 9, one of four to reach that pinnacle. And the first card in Topps’ first basketball set, from 1957 a Nat Clifton graded PSA NM-MT 8, also with none higher.

“He bought really nice cards for the grade, some of which are better than their grades would suggest,” says Heritage Sports Senior Vice President Derek Grady. “Because he bought with such a condition-sensitive eye, it proved to be a very worthwhile investment since No. 1 cards are notorious for condition issues. A lot of issues had Hall of Famers and key cards in the No. 1 slot: the Maris, the Chamberlin, the 1963 Johnny Unitas, the 1957 Ted Williams. But they’re always the card on top, the first card in the shoebox when kids collected. That’s why No. 1 cards are usually in awful condition: That’s the card that gets the rubber band mark, the dust on top.”

Parthum says it just “made sense to focus on No. 1 cards and conditions,” since they usually feature “stars the companies wanted to promote.” He bought at auctions and went treasure-hunting at card shows, and likes to say his way of collecting “was the best of both worlds.” Yet he didn’t stick solely to sports.

More than a decade into his hunt for fantastic firsts, he branched out into the entertainment cards Topps produced, including the 1962 sci-fi series Mars Attacks that featured artwork by such notables as Wally Wood and Norman Saunders. To his collection he added the first of the Beatles’ color cards of 1964 (whose No. 1 is titled “Meet John Lennon”), the first cards in Topps’ 1966 Batman (“The Batman,” of course) and Superman sets (“Krypton is Doomed”), and No. 1 offerings from such series as Star Trek (“No Time for Escape”) and The Addams Family (“Gomez”) – again, all in highly rated conditions, with most among the best known.

“Anything with the No. 1, I collected,” he says. “It’s amazing the number of card sets they made. Almost any famous TV or movie series: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., McHale’s Navy, James Bond. All those shows had associated card sets people didn’t know about.”

Parthum says he’s parting with his remarkable assemblage now because “I decided it was time to give back to the hobby.” There are people out there seeking these best-condition, hard-to-find firsts to complete their sets, and since his sons aren’t card collectors, it’s time to find these cardboard gems new homes. Simple as that.

“I will miss them,” he says. “But collecting and hunting has been a great ride.”

1 – Signature Internet Extended Bid Session – Extended Bidding :
(Lots 50001-51583) – 10:00 PM Central Time, Thursday, January 27, 2022.
(Normal bidding closes and extended bidding begins at 10:00 PM Central Time the evening of the session. )

2 – Signature Internet Extended Bid Session – Extended Bidding :
(Lots 51584-52339) – 10:00 PM Central Time, Friday, January 28, 2022.
(Normal bidding closes and extended bidding begins at 10:00 PM Central Time the evening of the session. )

Highlights Include:

  • 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb #30 PSA NM-MT 8
  • 1961 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain Rookie #8 PSA Mint 9 – Only Three Graded Higher.
  • 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle Rookie #253 PSA NM-MT 8.
  • 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie #106 PSA Mint 9
  • 1986-87 Fleer Basketball Wax Box with 36 Original Unopened Packs
  • 1925 Exhibits Lou Gehrig PSA Good 2