Heritage March 22-23, 2024 Spring Sports Card Catalog Auction In Progress

Heritage has opened for bidding the March 22-23 Spring Sports Card Catalog Auction — and already collectors have driven bidding among its 2,103 lots past the $4 million mark, if ever one needed reminding that the love affair with chasing cardboard remains as deep and abiding as ever.
That’s because of the copious gems spread across this auction — the coveted classics, the iconic images, the gem-mint masterpieces and the auction newcomers so seldom seen they’re nothing less than mythic.

Look no further than the auction’s lead-off hitter, the front of which features an image of Ty Cobb against a blood-red background, the back of which reads, “‘Ty Cobb’ King of the Smoking Tobacco World.” It’s estimated there are fewer than 30 survivors of this T206 card, which SGC has graded Good+ 2.5 and dates from 1909-11; it’s rarer even than the Honus Wagner T206s about which books have been written and documentaries shot.

This card, which has never been auctioned, even has a nickname: The Cobb/Cobb.

Jim Blumenthal, writing on T206 Resource in 2012, said that collectors would rally around this rarity sooner or later. “The Cobb/Cobb,” he wrote, “continues to warrant more attention within the hobby.” That’s because it was a small-run card made for a little-distributed, short-lived product: Cobb’s “granulated cut plug smoking tobacco.” And, Blumenthal wrote, it was likely considered a “premium” offering; even a glance at this gorgeous portrait of the Georgia Peach explains why.

Cobb is joined in this event by what Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions, calls “The Hobby’s Big Hitters” — Babe Ruth among them, represented by two of his most iconic offerings.

One could argue these are the two Ruths to own. Here, in a PSA VG/EX 4, is the 1916 Sporting News rookie with the blank back featuring a black-and-white photo of slender-reed Ruth hurling fastballs while still a Boston Red Sox. Close behind is the damned-near Technicolor 1933 Goudey offering that depicts The Sultan of Swat, The King of Crash, The Colossus of Clout in all his pinstriped glory. The Goudey is almost gaudy: Graded a PSA NM-MT 8, there are just five examples considered superior.

Only two examples of Cobb’s T206 “Bat Off Shoulder” Sweet Caporal 350/30 card graded PSA NM-MT 8 exist, with just one graded higher, and one of that rare pair can be found here. This is as iconic as any slice of pre-Depression cardboard: Cobb, shrouded by his black cap and white turtleneck, stands before what looks like a sunset, wielding his bat like a club.

Cobb and Ruth are joined here by countless other immortals, legends and all-timers hitting, catching and throwing their way across history’s most famous cards: Lou Gehrig on a ’33 GoudeySatchel Paige on a ’48 LeafMickey Mantle on a ’51 Bowman. Here, as well, is a card familiar to anyone who’s ever heard Kevin Costner talk about having a catch with his old man: Joe Jackson’s 1915 Cracker Jack prize, just before the son of a South Carolina sharecropper better known as Shoeless Joe was traded from Cleveland to Chicago.

Then there’s this card, so beautiful it has been rendered into countless prints to hang on endless walls: the 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson rookie card, which was likely issued in 1949 but whose perfection renders it timeless. This example, graded SGC NM/MT 8, features yellows as bright as sunrise as Robinson reshaped a sport.

This auction also features a card with the potential to rewrite the history books: Nolan Ryan’s 1969 Topps solo debut, one of just three in the world graded PSA Gem Mint 10. These Ryan Perfect 10s are as rare as a hit against the Ryan Express, who still holds the record for the lowest batting average allowed. The ’69 Ryan in this auction has already crossed the six-figure barrier with three weeks remaining. The man is 77 and still throwing gas.

Ivy reminds: “The modern GOATS are here, too,” among them, the deeply desired Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer debut graded a Gem Mint 10 by PSA and a then-newcomer named Tom Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contender Championship Ticket Autograph card numbered 7 out of a scant 100.

There are also numerous opportunities for those enamored of authenticated fresh wax, the unopened treasures that look like they just rolled off the printing press. Look no further than these two Baseball Card Exchange-shrink-wrapped boxes from 1970: a wax box filled with 24 unopened packs of Topps basketball cards, which might contain within its confines Nate Thurmond, Walt Frazier, Connie Hawkins, Willis Reed or a rookie named Pete Maravich; and the Topps baseball cello box as beautiful itself as the 24 unopened packs within. To open or not to open, that’s the only question.

1 – Signature Internet Extended Bid Session – Extended Bidding :
(Lots 57001-58533) – 10:00 PM Central Time, Friday, March 22, 2024.
(Normal bidding closes and extended bidding begins at 10:00 PM Central Time the evening of the session.)

2 – Signature Internet Extended Bid Session – Extended Bidding :
(Lots 58534-59103) – 10:00 PM Central Time, Saturday, March 23, 2024.
(Normal bidding closes and extended bidding begins at 10:00 PM Central Time the evening of the session.)

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