By Larry Canale
A very good year — Mantle and Chevy
What would you rather have in Near-Mint condition: a ’57 Chevy or a ’57 Mantle? Funny we should ask, right? Last month, a 1957 Mickey Mantle card in PSA 9 condition listed on eBay reeled in a winning bid of $26,750. Or slightly more than a beautifully restored maroon 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 150/210 that sold for $25,000.
Of course, vintage ’57 Bel Airs can go much higher, too, but so can Mickey Mantle cards. So we’ll focus on the two items at hand.
In this particular comparison, we’d be tempted to go for the wheels: the Chevy Bel Air shown here is a two-door hardtop with a 350 turbo transmission engine and four-barrel chrome carburetor. We can only imagine driving that old classic. And to think, it drew 72 bids on eBay and still sold for almost $2,000 less than the PSA 9 1957 Mantle.
And why not? The’57 Mantle is a beaut, too. It’s got that dark, haunting photo of a 25-year-old Mantle finishing a big lefty swing, with the infamous ghosted passerby in the background (the result of an air-brush job gone bad). And the reverse reflects Mantle’s dominant Triple Crown season. His .353 average, 52 HRs and 130 RBI made 1956 a season for the ages and earned the young center fielder a unanimous MVP Award. The ’57 Mantle card reminds us, yet again, why he became known as The Magnificent Yankee.
Yep, we think we’d take The Mick over the Chevy Bel Air . . .
The Legend of Kobe
Does it make you feel old to think of Kobe Bryant as a former NBA star? At least one bidder misses the Laker legend enough to invest a huge sum into one of his most coveted trading cards: a 2008-09 Upper Deck Exquisite Collections “Emblems of Endorsement” insert.
The autographed card, which bears a patch from a Bryant game-worn uniform, is one of only 10 to be created. It sold for $18,100, even though it’s ungraded (albeit in top condition, judging by the listing’s photos).
Nolan Ryan on a roll
Anyone who collects Topps’ beautiful burlap-bordered 1968 baseball set knows that the key is the Nolan Ryan rookie. As the years roll on, the card – which also features fellow Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman – is getting exceedingly out of reach. For example, we reported in a recent issue on a PSA 9 specimen of the Ryan/Koosman rook that sold for $72,100.
Last time out in this space, we showed another PSA 9 of Ryan’s rookie at No. 10 on our chart, an item that sold for $60,500. Just beyond that card was a PSA 9 Ryan that sold for almost as much: $59,850. Whew!
Given those prices, the Ryan we’ll mention here is a major bargain. Graded a hair below those mentioned above, a PSA 8.5 Ryan landed just outside our Top 10 chart when it fetched $17,500. Sounds like a steal, relatively speaking, doesn’t it?
Worth a Bunch: Brady Rook
Yes, he’s getting up there in years, so we might see nostalgia-driven NFL fans starting to stash Tom Brady collectibles. And why not? He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer, his fingers are loaded with Super Bowl rings and he isn’t done yet, so we’ll be seeing more highlight clips.
One bidder got into the spirit by spending $15,000 for a Gem Mint, PSA 10 specimen of Tom Brady’s 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic rookie card. Two months prior, a BGS 10 of the same card went for an even higher price: $23,901. If you settle for a PSA 8 or 9 of Brady’s 2000 SP Authentic, you’ll be able to snag one for around $2,500 to $3,500.
Whenever the Olympics roll around, they inspire a flood of collecting choices on eBay. The Games that just ended in Rio de Janeiro were no different: Some 150,000 Olympic-related items moved on eBay over the summer. The top three prices among all of them:
1. $11,655 for an original second-place silver Olympic medal from the 2008 Games (Beijing)
2. $11,210 for a 1988 (Seoul) USA Men’s Baseball gold medal
3. $10,000 for a piece of a bike frame used by Olga Slyusareva, a Russian racing cyclist, in the 2004 Games (Athens, see below).
About the contributor: Larry Canale is a regular columnist for Sports Collectors Digest. In the past he served as editor in chief of the former Antiques Roadshow Insider, editorial director for the former Tuff Stuff magazine, among other entities. He has also authored and edited several books.