Led by the most famous game-used bat to hit the auction block in recent memory, the 2015 Love of the Game Premier Catalog Auction realized record prices on significant sports cards and memorabilia, helping solidify the company as the hobby’s fastest-growing young auction house. With total sales approaching $900,000, the auction was the company’s biggest and most exciting sale to date.
Closing in the wee hours on Sunday, August 9, the auction generated a company-high 5,239 total bids from 558 different bidders, resulting in total sales of $895,976. Factoring out the phenomenal Gehrig bat, the realized prices averaged nearly $660 per lot, the auction’s 697 lots generating an average of 7.5 bids each.
“We’re thrilled with the results of our Summer auction,” stated Auction Director Al Crisafulli. “Since our inception it has been our goal to deliver a trustworthy auction, in which bidders can have total confidence. We’ve always felt that confident bidders can help restore integrity to the auction process and that as long as we present a high-quality auction, that bidder confidence will help realize record prices. This auction proves that theory, as we’ve realized record or near-record prices in many areas.”
1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat
The auction highlight was, of course, the hobby’s only photo-matched Lou Gehrig game-used bat. Graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA, the bat was consigned by a Northeast family that depended on it for protection from potential burglars; for 35 years, the bat rested behind the family’s front door. LOTG was able to find a fantastic photo match – a picture of Gehrig sitting alongside Babe Ruth and Bob Shawkey at Comiskey Park in 1930 proved to depict Gehrig holding the very same bat! Thus, the “miracle bat” added another miracle to its impressive resume, becoming the only known Lou Gehrig game-used bat with photographic documentation. As a result, the bat sold for nearly $437,000, the highest-ever price for a Gehrig bat, and one of the highest recorded prices for any game-used bat, ever.
“The Gehrig bat has become the most famous Gehrig bat in the world, and one of the hobby’s most desirable game-used bats,” Crisafulli noted. “The story behind the bat is fantastic, and the winning bidder has received an incredible piece of memorabilia. We couldn’t be more overjoyed for our consignor.”
Record Prices Realized
The Summer auction also featured a number of other record or near-record prices on cards and memorabilia of all kinds. The most notable, of course, was the amazing price recorded on the 1916 M101-4/5 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth, which sold for $44,100, an increase of nearly 20% over its last sale. The 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA EX 5 also approached a record price, hammering down at $32,400, becoming just the second recorded example in that grade to eclipse $30,000.
The following ten lots achieved the highest realized prices in the auction:
- Lot #1 – 1930 Lou Gehrig game-used bat – $436,970
- Lot #3 – 1916 M101-5 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth rookie – $44,100
- Lot #4 – 1909-11 T206 Near-Complete Set – $37,200
- Lot #5 – 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle – $32,400
- Lot #6 – 1888-89 N173 Old Judge King Kelly – $14,400
- Lot #10 – 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson – $13,200
- Lot #11 – 1916 Famous & Barr Joe Jackson – $9,600
- Lot #9 – 1911 T5 Pinkerton Cabinets Honus Wagner – $9,000
- Lot #464 – 1953 Topps #82 Mickey Mantle – $9,000
- Lot #367 – 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth – $7,200
Additional highlights include the 1906 Scranton Miners postcard signed by Moonlight Graham, which sold for an astonishing $5,100; the 1964 Bazooka Stamps panel featuring Mickey Mantle and graded NM-MT 8 by PSA which sold for $3,600; the 1949-52 Los Angeles Angels PCL game-worn jersey and cap which attained an incredible price of $2,100; and an incredible1888 Detroit Wolverines advertising trade card that reached $1,680.
Bidding activity was brisk across the board, with a company record number of bids placed during the frenzied final 36 hours. “We realize that the auction business is a crowded field, and it’s difficult for collectors to pay attention to all of them,” explained Crisafulli. “That’s why we try and make each auction an event, with truly special items with fantastic stories and a deep sense of history. We want our auctions to be exciting, and judging from the amount of activity on the final day, it seems to be working. Our auctions are special events – we want everyone to bid, and enjoy watching the fantastic finishes.”
Indeed, in the Summer auction, 91% of the items featured in the auction ultimately sold, with a record number of bids placed for the company. The bids were spread across the board, with significant bidder activity on both high and lower-dollar items. A list of items that received the largest number of bids is as follows:
- Lot #1 – 1930 Lou Gehrig game-used bat – 46 bids
- Lot #21 – 1910 Philadelphia Athletics Cardboard Display – 27 bids
- Lot #3 – 1916 M101-5 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth – 27 bids
- Lot #108 – 1909 E101 Christy Mathewson – 25 bids
- Lot #11 – 1916 Famous & Barr Joe Jackson – 24 bids
- Lot #382 – 1933 Worch Cigar Lou Gehrig – 24 bids
- Lot #279 – 1916 Famous & Barr George Sisler – 23 bids
- Lot #624 – Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris signed, framed photo – 23 bids
- Lot #174 – 1910 Plow Boy Tobacco Shano Collins – 22 bids
- Lot #630 – Thurman Munson Signed 3×5″ Card – 22 bids
All the auction lots, along with descriptions and high-resolution photos and prices realized are archived on the Love of the Game website.
Love of the Game is currently preparing its Winter, 2015 auction, which will run in November and December. The company is currently accepting consignments for the sale, and offering excellent incentives for early consignment. LOTG is also planning its Fall Roadshow; a cross-country consignment-gathering tour that will take the company on a coast-to-coast trip to meet with consignors and accept consignments for the sale. Interested consignors can contact Al Crisafulli at (973) 452-9147 or by email at email@example.com.