Containing everything from 19th century baseball history to classic Topps cards of the modern era, Memory Lane’s Winter Historical Rarities Auction has more than a few stories to tell. The newly opened sale includes over 1,200 lots with bidding open through January 13.
The auction is highlighted by a group of original 19th century baseball documents related to the Players’ League, a short-lived professional baseball organization founded by some of the game’s top names. Uncovered in the 1990s by a contractor working inside an abandoned office building in upstate New York, the items are coming to public auction for the first time.
Offered in 17 different lots, the “Northeast Find” includes a hand-written note from John Montgomery Ward, a pencil-written Buck Ewing telegram, a draft of the original Player’s League constitution, a dual-signed letter from Ewing and Tim Keefe and the original lease for the land upon which Brotherhood Park, eventually known to baseball enthusiasts as the iconic Polo Grounds, would be built. There are also receipts for printing of player contracts and other significant papers associated with the league’s 1890 launch that draw much attention from the sports public, but lasted only one season. The signatures offered on the documents are among the rarest Hall of Fame autographs in the hobby with only a few known authentic exemplars.
As usual, though, the bulk of Memory Lane’s auction centers on a huge array of rare and high-grade vintage baseball cards. Among the top items is a PSA 9 (mint) 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card. Within a few hours of the auction launch, bidding had surpassed $50,000 for one of the highest rated examples of Aaron’s first card. There is also a PSA 8 Aaron rookie card in a separate listing.
The auction also features the lone PSA 10 example of Ted Williams’ 1956 Topps card (white back variation); one of the two existing 1909 Ramly Walter Johnson rookie cards that are graded PSA 8; 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente and ’53 Topps Mickey Mantle cards graded PSA 8; a NM/MT+ 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson; a PSA 8.5 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle; a PSA 10 1959 Topps Aaron; a PSA 9 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie and a 1975 Topps Mini George Brett rated PSA 10.
Memory Lane is also breaking up a 1914 Cracker Jack set, one of the hobby’s scarcest and most desired pre-War sets.
In all, nearly 1,000 lots of single vintage baseball cards are in the catalog.
Complete set collectors have the chance to pin down complete accumulations of 1953 Bowman baseball (all 160 cards graded); 1956 Yellow Base-Path PM15 “Litho” Pinbacks including a PSA 10 Mantle; 1962 Topps and 1959-60 Home Run Derby.
Other highlights include a high-grade 1915 1915 PM1 Honus Wagner pinback, a possibly game-used and multi-signed 1933 American League baseball with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a single-signed Roberto Clemente ball; over 30 lots of vintage Type 1 photographs including images of Ruth and Gehrig and a 1910-1915 Hillerich & Bradsby Joe Jackson decal bat.
To view the online catalog and register for bidding, visit Memory Lane’s website.