The popularity and success of the high-end baseball card and memorabilia market was on display at Robert Edward’s record-setting May 2013 auction. All told, 172 lots sold for $10,000 or more. The total sales of $10,177,000 made this REA’s largest and most successful sale ever.
One of only 10 known examples of the ultra-rare 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card sold for a record price of $450,300. This was nearly triple the previous auction record for this card, a 2009 REA sale at $152,750. An example of the famous T206 Honus Wagner in poor condition sold for $402,900, setting a record price at auction for the most famous baseball card in the world in this grade. A Sandy Koufax jersey dating from 1963, purchased by the consignor for $30,000 in the 1990s, set a record for any Koufax jersey ever sold at auction, realizing $201,450. The highest grade Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig dual-signed baseball (graded 8.5 by PSA), which last sold in 2005 for $98,000 (which since 2005 has been the record price for any Ruth-Gehrig autographed ball ever), was hammered down for an extraordinary $343,650.
A Lou Gehrig single-signed ball with exceptional provenance sold for an extraordinary record $142,200, more than doubling the previous record price at auction. An extremely high-grade 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle rookie card was hammered down for a record-setting $272,550. A 1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson SGC 30 sold for $118,500. The only known uncut Boston Garter Advertising Panel realized $177,750.
The list of extraordinary record-setting prices seems almost endless. REA President
Robert Lifson said, “These results speak for themselves: about the quality of the material offered, about the appreciation of the collecting world for how REA presents items and conducts auctions, about the well-deserved trust collectors have in REA, and about the strength of the market.
“The market was extremely strong across the board. The auction results were staggering and exceeded our highest expectations,” Lifson continued. “It was also the smoothest running auction in all respects, including collecting the money. As always at Robert Edward Auctions, there were no delays in collecting money and getting it into the hands of consignors. That’s another extremely strong area for REA.”
The stunning prices on all 19th and early 20th century baseball cards and memorabilia totaled a staggering $10.177 million – a for REA and the highest-grossing single-day sports auction of all-time. The 1,826 lots, offered on behalf of 333 different consignors, were won by 692 different bidders, illustrating the power of the marketing and auction process, and the breadth of bidder interest. Successful bidders included some of the nation’s most prestigious museums, universities, and corporate institutional collections, as well as representatives from numerous Major League teams.
In all, 25,426 bids were placed. “All areas of the auction received a tremendous response and very strong prices. Nineteenth-century baseball items were unbelievable, as always, as were all early baseball cards, advertising and display pieces, graded cards, Babe Ruth items, autographs, memorabilia, non-sport cards and artwork,” Lifson said. Of the 1,826 lots, 99.78 percent of the lots sold.
The Sultan of Swat once again proved that he’s the biggest name in baseball with numerous Babe Ruth items selling for record prices throughout the auction. In addition to the record-setting prices for the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth Rookie Card ($450,300) and the extraordinary Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig dual-signed baseball ($343,650), a 1916 M101-4 Ware’s Basement Sporting Goods Babe Ruth rookie card graded VG drew tremendous interest from collectors both because it was a great looking card and because of its rare advertising back. It was hammered down at $130,350
T206 Honus Wagner
The auction featured one of the most interesting T206 Honus Wagner cards in existence: “The All Star Café Wagner.” This card’s rich history reads like a script straight out of a Hollywood movie: The card was once owned by actor Charlie Sheen. In the 1990s he loaned it for display to the All Star Café in New York City, where it was stolen by employees who replaced it in the display with a color photocopy. When the ruse was finally discovered, the FBI was called in, solved the case, and recovered the stolen card. “While the condition was technically very modest, most T206 Wagners are in the same low grade, and this card stacks up very well against most or all of the other examples graded similarly.” Bidders responded very favorably to this famous card as it set a new auction record for any T206 Honus Wagner in this condition. It was hammered down at $402,900 with eighteen different serious bidders competing beyond the $100,000 opening minimum bid. “This is a particularly great Wagner. The card not only looks great, it has a special and unique story,” noted REA President Robert Lifson.
Vintage Card Prices Strong
One of the finest examples of the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle rookie card ever offered was particularly well-received by bidders. The card, graded PSA NM-MT+ 8.5, ended the night with a final bid of $272,550, leaving the SMR value of $185,000 in the dust and setting a new bar for future sales of this “blue chip” card in the highest grades. A 1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson, graded SGC GOOD 30 sold for $118,500. The only known uncut Boston Garter Advertising Panel sold for $177,750. One of card collecting’s legendary rarities, the 1933 Goudey #106 Napoleon Lajoie PSA NM-MT 8 sold for an extremely impressive $77,025, a record price for the grade.
Extremely strong results such as this were seen across the board among 1930s gum cards at REA. A 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth PSA NM-MT 8 soared to $59,250, also a record price. Also included in the auction were the other three 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth cards, each graded PSA NM-MT 8, which sold for a total of $82,950. A 1949 Bowman #84 Roy Campanella Rookie Card PSA MINT 9 sold for $9,480. A 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle Rookie PSA EX-MT+ 6.5 was saved from the consignor’s childhood collection. His cost: one penny. Price realized in the REA auction: $11,257!
More Memorabilia Highlights
A 1910 Philadelphia A’s World Championship Trophy Cup presented to Jack Lapp sold for $23,700. A 1912 Boston Red Sox World Championship Sterling Silver Cigarette Case was a fascinating item that an antique cigarette case dealer purchased in a collection, happened to notice it had a baseball connection, and took the time to call REA to see if it might be worth more as a baseball item than the several hundred dollars it was worth just as a cigarette case. He was handsomely rewarded for his efforts! The case sold for $14,220.
An extraordinary 1920 Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb photograph realized $7,702. A 1928 original New York Yankees team news photo purchased by the consignor for $2,900 at public auction just months prior to consigning to REA, realized $5,332. A 1936 original New York Yankees team news photo purchased by the same consignor (who was reorganizing his collection) for $329 at public auction in 2012 realized $4,740 in REA’s spring auction.
The auction also included an impressive selection of items from other sports, all of which sold for extremely strong prices. Leading the way in this category were a pair of Muhammad Ali fight-worn shoes from the “Rumble in the Jungle” bout against George Foreman (Ex-Drew “Bundini” Brown Collection). The shoes generated tremendous interest from collectors, as well as garnering national attention via ESPN, and were hammered down at $100,725. An extraordinary 1968-1972 Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers game-used road jersey – the only MEARS A10 Lakers jersey sold for $50,362. A 1948 Leaf Boxing #50 Rocky Graziano, one of boxing card collecting’s great classics and extreme rarities, sold for $38,512.
Non-Sports Cards (1886-1976)
While REA is primarily known for baseball cards and memorabilia, non-sport cards and card artwork from all eras have always been an important area of focus. In this auction, non-sport collectors were treated to a treasure trove of newly discovered Topps material dating to the late-1960s. Among the highlights were five unopened wax boxes of 1966 Topps Batman trading cards which realized an astounding $27,255. In total, the collection of material, which originated from a former Topps salesman, realized $72,581. Among older cards, a phenomenal collection of 61 1887 N288 Buchner Gold Coin “Police Inspectors & Captains and Chiefs of the Fire Dept.” tobacco cards stunned all observers with a selling price of $29,625 (reserve $2,000, estimate $4,000).
Many other auction records were shattered for pre-1948 baseball cards, 19th-century baseball cards and memorabilia, non-sport cards, and Americana. Further information and complete auction results are available online at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com.
Copies of the 792-page full-color premium catalog are also still available free. Go to www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com, click “Free Catalog,” and fill in your name and address. Robert Edward Auctions is currently assembling its next sale. For further information contact: Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ or call (908)-226-9900.