Ruth, Mantle, Ryan Among Hottest Tickets in $10 Million Memory Lane Auction

High end and scarcity ruled the day as Memory Lane wrapped up its Fall Rarities Auction early Sunday morning. Featuring over 1,750 lots, the auction generated $10,475,389 in sales.  Vintage baseball cards led the way, with several items selling for six-figure amounts, topped by a 1953 Bowman Color Mickey Mantle graded PSA 9, which sold for a record price of $473,793. With only one 10 in existence and 9s rarely surfacing, bidding was fierce and the former record of $77,500 set just two years ago was obliterated. The auction featured several high-grade Mantle cards and none disappointed.

A 1955 Bowman Mantle graded PSA 9 was the third highest selling lot in the auction, with the realized price of $375,483, besting the previous record set just a few months ago by more than $160,000. The card was famously pulled from an unopened cello pack at the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.

A PSA 9 1962 Topps Mantle nearly doubled the previous record set just two months ago when it landed at $314,578. A 1957 Topps sold for $209,793—more than twice the previous record and seven times the price of another copy that sold less than two and a half years ago. A 1956 Topps Mantle PSA 9 also blew past the $100,000 plateau when it sold for $149,793.

The second highest price in the auction belonged to a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth. The highest graded #53 Ruth card in SGC’s population report, the 8.5 example sold for $456,000. Another popular piece was the 1921 E121 Ruth. The highest graded example on any grading company population report, the PSA 7 (PD) example sold for $243,483. A signed 1933 Goudey Ruth carrying an autograph grade of 8, netted $135,483.

It wasn’t just Yankee icons seeing a lot of action, though. A pair of high-grade vintage Nolan Ryan cards attracted a lot of bidder interest. A 1968 rookie card soared to $125,583 while a 1973 Topps Ryan—one of six graded PSA 10– sold for an astounding $70,960. Dating back to 2015, others have generally sold in the $15,000-$20,000 range. Collectors wanting more proof that strong prices aren’t exclusive to rookie cards need only look at the ’73 Ryan—and the $27,457 sale of a PSA 9 1966 Topps Sandy Koufax—the last individual card in the career of the legendary Dodgers ace.

The only PSA 10 1952 Topps card of Tommy Brown, who during World War II became the youngest position player to appear in a major league game, generated a buzz with bidders before closing at record price of $64,814.

Bidders also chased a 1963 Topps Pete Rose rookie card graded PSA 9, which ended at $125,793.

Pre-War baseball cards sold included a T205 Cy Young graded PSA 7. High-grade copies of the gold-bordered issue are always hard to come by and the Young card wound up going for $110,084, a record price for any T205 at the PSA 7 level. A 1915 Cracker Jack Branch Rickey graded PSA 5 had plenty of fans, too, selling for $16,886. A newly discovered and one-of-a-kind Lenox back T206 Hughie Jennings, which entered the hobby as part of a collection brought to a Georgia hobby shop earlier this year, closed at $9,662.

Vintage and modern basketball cards in the auction included a 1999 Upper Deck SP Sign of the Times Gold Kobe Bryant autograph, which sold for $57,441. 1970s cards setting records included a 1971-72 Topps Spencer Haywood rookie (PSA 10) that sold for an eye-popping $36,794, a 1970-71 Topps Jo White rookie card (PSA 10) that soared to $22,754 and a 1961-62 Fleer Lenny Wilkens rookie card (PSA 10) that sold for $25,648.

Football cards included a 1961 Topps Jim Brown graded PSA 9 ($20,432) and a PSA 10 1955 Topps All-American of Heisman Trophy winner Bruce Smith ($8,871).

Memorabilia sold included a copy of Mantle’s 1953 Yankees contract that realized $86,235 as well as signed Yellow Hall of Fame plaques from Jackie Robinson ($5,918) and Roy Campanella ($8,666).

A second catalog shipped to bidders featured dozens of rare photographs. Top prices included $46,111 for a 1947 Jackie Robinson image and $36,090 for a 1917 Joe Jackson photo dating to that year’s World Series.

Complete auction results can be found here.

Memory Lane is accepting consignments for its next auction, scheduled to open late this year.

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