Mickey Mantle proved himself the undisputed king of post-war baseball memorabilia on July 30, 2015, as a PSA-graded 8 example of his Topps 1952 #311 rookie card realized $382,400 and a 1966 Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey realized $322,650 to lead Heritage Auctions’ $6.1+ million Platinum Night Sports offerings at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, IL.
“The superb prices we saw on the Mantle pieces were indicative both of the overall health of the sports collectibles market and of Heritage’s ability to channel that strength into excellent prices realized across the board,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “The very evident bidder enthusiasm, translating into multiple bids on almost every lot, makes it very clear why Heritage Sports is the gold standard in the business.”
Not terribly far behind Mantle on the night was a 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente #164 PSA-graded 9, which was the subject of much spirited bidding before finally settling at its jaw-dropping $310,700 final price realized. The presented card is one of the finest known examples and one of just 11 Clemente rookies assessed at a Mint 9 level by PSA, a rating exceeded by only one other example.
“The other key rookie from the 1955 Topps set, Sandy Koufax, is more than three times as common as an unqualified Mint 9,” said Ivy, “a fact widely attributed to the difficulty in finding well-centered representations from the Puerto Rican hero. This card, however, is brightly-colored, perfectly-registered and enjoys flawless centering. It’s really a gorgeous tribute to one of the most beloved men ever to wear the uniform of a Major League team.”
While baseball memorabilia may rule the hobby overall, treasures from the NFL have been making significant inroads in recent years, especially in the form of Super Bowl rings. During the Platinum Night auction there were significant football fireworks when the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX Championship Ring presented to William “Refrigerator” Perry – the largest Super Bowl ring ever created, at an estimated Size 25 – soared to an incredible $203,150, the second highest price ever realized for a Super Bowl ring.
One of the stars of auction, a c. 1860 Brooklyn Atlantics Baseball Card – the earliest team baseball card to ever surface for public auction – which garnered massive international media attention, did not disappoint when it’s time came to cross the block, as it realized $179,250. The card, passed down in the family of player Archibald McMahon for more than 150 years, shattered its pre-auction estimate of $50,000+. It was offered by western Massachusetts resident and New York native Florence Sasso, 75, the great grand-niece-in-law of McMahon.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Early 1930s Lou Gehrig Game Worn New York Yankees Cap, MEARS Authentic: One of the very finest examples of a Lou Gehrig game worn cap ever to surface in the collecting hobby, a spectacularly preserved representation that exhibits all the durability of its famous original owner. Realized $179,250.
1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Ty Cobb Portrait Green Back PSA NM-MT 8: Cobb was honored four times in the T206 series, the most famous trading card issue of the Dead Ball Era, and the presented variation, on the green background, is the rarest of them all. Bold colors, sharp registration and solid centering are keys to its success, with the lightest corner touches the only apparent deterrent to “Finest Known” status. Realized $131,450.
1975 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Shoes from Frazier III Bout, “The Thrilla in Manila”: The white leather shoes that were laced to Ali’s feet as he claimed the greatest victory of his career in what many consider the most significant bout in the long and storied history of the Heavyweight division. Realized $119,500.
1914 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson #103 PSA NM-MT 8: Like the fabled Black Sox outfielder himself, Cracker Jack cards were largely a victim of circumstance, challenged by an array of factors limiting healthy survival, from the sticky contents of its original packaging to the century of time’s assault. The presented specimen is stunningly unscathed, effectively unchanged from its original printing date with not a stain or brushed corner to report. Realized: $101,575.
1984 Los Angeles Olympics Torch Carried by Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner: The Olympic Torch that Olympian Caitlynn Jenner, arguably the most famous transgender person in the world, carried in the 1984 Olympic Torch Relay as it passed through Lake Tahoe, NV – then just eight years removed from winning the 1976 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medal. Realized $23,900.