Memory Lane Inc. launched its first-ever football-only event on Jan. 22 with the opening of The Big Game Auction, encompassing more than 350 lots of high-grade and rare football cards and memorabilia, with telephone and online bidding set to close Feb. 6, the night before Super Bowl XLIV.
MLI has spent months accumulating a wide range of pieces, many of which represent some of the biggest names in NFL history: from Nagurski to Namath, Baugh to Butkus and dozens of others in between.
The auction’s premier item is the No. 2 rated 1935 National Chicle football set listed on the PSA Set Registry (minimum bid $225,000), pieced together over many years by a dedicated and discriminating collector from Hawaii. Each card in the set is at least a PSA 8, including the ‘Holy Grail of football cards,’ Bronko Nagurski. Memory Lane officials called the set “a true museum-quality artifact from the early days of the pro game.”
A 1978 game-worn Franco Harris Pittsburgh Steelers jersey will also be among the more dazzling items up for bid, with a $20,000 minimum.
The Big Game auction includes a selection of vintage football cards representing virtually every era. From the 1930s through the 1980s, collectors can bid on some of the most famous and rare examples in existence.
In addition to the 1935 National Chicle set, the auction will include single, high-grade cards for those still working on building their own sets. Among them: a PSA 7 Bronko Nagurski (minimum bid of $5,000) and a PSA 8 Knute Rockne ($2,000), as well as numerous other high-grade ’35 Chicle cards. The 1933 Sport Kings issue includes two cards that will be found in the MLI sale, both in exceptional condition: Red Grange and Jim Thorpe (both PSA 8).
The first football card ever produced actually featured a college player. The 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions Harry Beecher card shows the Yale star clutching an oversized football; the specimen in this auction is graded PSA Authentic but Altered. The card is nonetheless an important and historic piece, both in the sport and in the hobby for what it represents.
There is a Mint condition 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas (PSA 9) that carries a minimum bid of $3,500 and top-level rookie cards of legends like Tom Landry (1951 Bowman PSA 9), who gained fame as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys but was a player for the New York Giants back then. There are even multiple rookies of some players like Jim Brown (1958 Topps), Paul Hornung (1957 Topps, one in PSA 9 condition) and Dick Butkus (three rookie cards: PSA 7, 7.5 and 8).
There’s a PSA 7 example of Broadway Joe Namath’s 1965 Topps rookie in this auction, plus other rookie cards, all in ultra high-grade: Mike Ditka, Ernie Davis, Fran Tarkenton, Deacon Jones, Bob Lilly, Len Dawson, Lance Alworth, Don Maynard, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Walter Payton, Jack Lambert, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Steve Young.
There are numerous Mint and Gem Mint graded star cards available, including a 1951 Bowman Sammy Baugh, 1956 Topps George Blanda (PSA 10) and a 1950 Bowman Elroy Hirsch (PSA 10).
Several complete sets are offered, including: 1953 Bowman, 1955 Bowman and 1955 Topps All-American. Collectors piecing together sets of their own will find a number of exceptional lots as well, many of them consisting of cards that have already been graded.
Super Bowl trophies are rarely available to the general public but MLI has secured one from one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time.
The St. Louis Rams held off the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV on a last-second tackle near the goal line; a Lombardi trophy presented to a member of the Rams’ staff after that game is offered with a minimum bid of $2,000.
Few items are more well known among college football fans than the photo of Notre Dame’s legendary “Four Horsemen” backfield. The quartet became known coast-to-coast after a sharp public relations man put the Irish stars on horseback in response to a famous column by Grantland Rice that labeled them college football’s version of the literary tale. This auction includes the photo, signed by all four men, with bidding starting at $1,000.
There are numerous other lots of quality football memorabilia and cards available in this unique event. To register and bid, visit MemoryLaneInc.com, or call (877) 606-5263.