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Rare Championship Awards, High Grade Cards Highlight Football-Only Auction

With just days left before the NFL crowns its new champion, America’s mind is on football. That goes for Memory Lane Inc. as well. The company has once again gathered hundreds of high-grade, rare football cards and memorabilia for its special Big Game Auction, its once a year football-only event set to open this week (1/22)  and conclude Saturday, February 5, the night before Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. Big Game Auction II offers a wide array of collectible items that span the history of the pro game. Included in the sale is a never-before-offered Super Bowl XXIX trophy. The salesman’s sample is an exact replica of what was given to ownership, players, coaches and selected staff after the team won its unprecedented fifth Super Bowl title in January of 1995.

From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, the San Francisco 49ers were the NFL’s premier franchise. With Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks running the offense, it seemed like big news anytime the Niners didn’t reach the Super Bowl.

The inscription on the Vince Lombardi trophy reads “Super Bowl XVI XIX XXIII XXIV XXIX”. The plate states “ San Francisco 49ers First Five Time World Champions”.

The trophy is not lightweight. It weighs 17 pounds and is approximately 18 inches high. Bidding starts at a very reasonable $1,000.

One of the most iconic football card sets in the hobby will also be among the featured items. The 1955 Topps All American set of 100 PSA graded cards comes from the Jim Nahigian collection. Nahigian is the hobby’s expert on 1955 Topps All Americans and had an article written about him in the January 2010 SMR. After opening several cello packs and investing countless hours on understanding this set, the California resident compiled multiple sets and this is one of them.

This set, with an average grade of 7.77 includes 70% of the cards in PSA 8 (nm/mt) grade including #1 Hickman, #12 Graham, #16 Rockne, #20 Baugh, #27 Grange, #52 Lujack, #56 Nevers, #68 4 Horseman, #85 Luckman, #97 Hutson and #100 Henry, with the 2 lowest graded cards being PSA 6’s (both commons).

The cards were pulled from cello packs, then submitted to PSA. They have literally been touched only twice. All feature great eye appeal and bold color with razor sharp corners. Minimum bid is $5,000.

A companion piece to the set is a 1955 Topps All-American unopened cello pack, graded PSA 8.

The pack contains a whopping 20 cards. It has #94 Chuck Bernard on top and #100 Hall of Famer Fats Henry on the back (one of the toughest cards in the set). Contained in a tight, clear seal, the cards inside have the potential to be gradeable cards worth tens of thousands of dollars. But do you have the nerve to crack it open? Bidding for the pack starts at $3,000.

A unique item commemorating one of pro football’s most memorable games comes in the form of a 1947 Chicago Cardinals commemorative championship ring presented to Hall of Famer Charley Trippi. The game was played on an icy field and many players, including Trippi, wore sneakers. Trippi’s performance was one for the ages. He totaled 206 yards on offense, scoring twice in Chicago’s 28-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He even punted for the Cardinals.

Trippi is the only Pro Football Hall of Famer to amass 1000 yards of receiving, 1000 yards passing, and a 1000 yards rushing. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968. The 1947 championship ring was given to him in 2001 when the franchise, now based in Arizona, honored the 1947 Cardinals, offering long overdue recognition to one of the league’s great teams.

Football history is more than just the pro game, though. Memory Lane serves up a pair of vintage cards featuring legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne in the auction; the 1933 Sport Kings and the 1935 National Chicle. Both produced after Rockne’s death, they have been preserved to PSA 8 status. Minimum bid on each is $2,000.

The first post-war football card set is the 1948 Leaf issue. This auction is jammed with a number of high level 1948 Leaf cards, perhaps the largest collection ever offered in single card form.
Printing was far from perfect at the time and high-grade examples are difficult to locate. Memory Lane offers a group of them here including the highest graded PSA Bobby Layne Leaf rookie card ever graded by PSA. The card is the rare “Yellow Pants” variation and is graded PSA 8. Minimum bid is $10,000.

The highest graded Doak Walker card is also in the auction. Graded PSA 8, it is one on a lot of collectors’ lists.

Other rare premium grade cards available in the auction from the ’48 Leaf set are Steve Van Buren (8.5), Sammy Baugh (8), Ken Kavanaugh (9) and a remarkable Bob Waterfield (8.5) that sold for over $31,000 at auction in 2010.

The Big Game Auction II catalog includes representation of virtually every major football card issue produced in the post-World War II era including many of the finest examples known.

While the auction is exclusively football, a famous baseball face pops up in two lots. A photo of the 1927 Shriner’s College All Star football team shows Babe Ruth, standing proudly at the back. The Babe would, at times, dress the part of the gridiron warrior for publicity’s sake. Another rare photo in the auction shows Ruth, dressed head to toe in a 1920s Drake University football uniform.

The auction includes dozens of autographed items including all-time great autograph collections on 49ers and Raiders helmets, a Hall of Fame quarterbacks signed helmet as well as a Super Bowl MVPs signed helmet.
A leather helmet, vintage unopened packs, modern era football card rarities, game-worn jerseys and other items round out the sale, which is open for previewing now. Bidding opens Saturday, January 22 and closes Saturday, February 5.

To receive a full-color catalog or to register for the auction, contact Memory Lane via their website ( or by phone at 877.606.LANE (5263).

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