Heritage remained one of the largest seller of sports collectibles in 2012 after closing the year with more than $20 million in sales.
In early August, with a story that set national media ablaze, Heritage offered a set of baseball cards from 1910 popularly referred to as the “Black Swamp Find.” Found in an attic in Defiance, Ohio, the first 71 cards offered brought $785,445.
Among the highlights of the year was also the May auction of the baseball that rolled between the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series, allowing the New York Mets to win in the 10th inning. The ball realized a stellar $418,250.
Private treaty transactions proved quite important for the year to the sports category, with more than $1 million realized, led by a 1923 Lou Gehrig game-used bat, which brought $625,000, and a 1965 Sandy Koufax game-worn jersey that sold for $225,000.
Heritage, overall, experienced its fourth straight year of record sales in 2012: More than $860 million, the highest tally yet for the world’s third-largest auction house and largest auctioneer of high-end collectibles. Markets ranging from U.S. Coins, Comics and Comic Art and Historical Americana showed strong gains, as did sales of Western Art, which more than tripled over last year.
“Heritage is attracting new buyers across more categories than ever before,” said Steve Ivy, co-chairman and CEO of Heritage Auctions. “Both consigners and collectors alike can use our services with the utmost trust, transparency and accessibility.”
U.S. Coins remains the core of Heritage’s business with a record $218.68 million in sales in 2012, including $174.51 million sold during Signature Auctions. World and Ancient coin sales have seen stunning growth over the last four years and increased an impressive 40% to $37.2 million last year – a record achievement bolstered by growth across the board.
Yet another success story took place at Heritage’s design district annex where auction sales in fine art grew 20 percent in 2012 to exceed $45.5 million – the category’s best year ever. Sales of Western and Texas Art more than tripled in 2012, solidifying Heritage as a leader in the category with $10.4 million in total sales. Likewise, Heritage’s antiques and decorative arts sales grew 32 percent to exceed $7.27 million – highlighted by the largest single collection of Lalique offered at auction at one time, which realized $1.6 million.
Its growing comic book and comic art department saw its fourth record year in a row with sales exceeding $37 million, including Weekly Comic Internet-only auctions which realized $7.4 million – a new record for the subset and a 17 percent increase over 2011. Heritage’s Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auctions recorded $27.98 million in sales, highlighted by the $657,250 sale of Todd McFarlane’s original cover from The Amazing Spider-Man #328 and the first Calvin and Hobbes Sunday comic strip ever sold at auction, which brought $204,150, as well as by the company’s August auction, which topped $10.4 million to stand as the highest grossing comic auction ever.
“Diversification has been key to our success,” Ivy said. “We’re proud to offer Heritage as a one-stop trusted platform for selling diversified, high value collections and estates. We’re the largest auction house capable of delivering success to every aspect of a collection and are honored to help so many wonderful consignors attain record prices for their precious objects.”
It also was a record year for sales of rare books and manuscripts, with $7.27 million, led by impressive growth in Weekly Internet Rare Books auctions.
Heritage’s budding Luxury Accessories department redefined the category in 2012 with $5.12 million in sales, including a record $3.2 million Handbags & Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction, featuring the world’s most exclusive handbag: an Hermès Diamond Birkin, which realized more than $100,000. Luxury Weekly Vintage Internet auctions realized $677,000+ – delivering an average of $700 per lot sold in 2012 and establishing itself as a seamless and affordable entry point to the market.