SCP Auctions, one of the foremost specialists in the field of high-end sports cards and memorabilia, has recorded another record shattering transaction. On behalf of an anonymous client, the firm has purchased what is universally regarded in the sports card-collecting world as the most important and valuable basketball card known to exist; a 1948 Bowman George Mikan rookie card graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. SCP Auctions outbid all other competitors in an online auction that concluded in the early morning hours of Sunday Dec. 13, paying a final price of $218,550 for the highly revered card. The price is the most ever paid for any basketball card.
“We are thrilled to once again be involved in the sale of one the most significant sports cards in the world,” said David Kohler, President and CEO of SCP Auctions. “The Gem Mint 10 George Mikan card is a true hobby icon.”
The iconic Mikan card was issued in 1948 by the Bowman Gum Company as part of what was the first basketball-only series of cards ever produced. It was Bowman’s lone basketball issue, but its legacy has reverberated throughout generations of collectors, primarily for its inclusion of the Mikan rookie card.
Often described as “the T206 Honus Wagner of basketball cards,” the Mikan card was printed in Bowman’s more scarce second series, enhancing its value and allure. The record-setting Mikan card auction brokered by SCP Auctions is the finest condition example to have been graded and encapsulated by PSA, an industry leader in third party card grading. The card is the only example ever to receive PSA’s “Gem Mint 10” rating. Only four other examples of a Mikan rookie card have been graded at the “Mint 9” level by PSA. In 2008 a Mint 9 example sold for more than $52,000. More than 10 years ago, the very same Gem Mint 10 example was sold by SCP Auctions to another private collector for $32,000.
The pioneering professional basketball career of Mikan, nicknamed “Mr. Basketball,” was spent with the Chicago American Gears of the NBL and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBL, the BAA and the NBA. Playing with thick, round spectacles, the 6-foot, 10-inch, 245-pound Mikan redefined his sport as a game of so-called big men. An indomitable force whose game was ahead of its time, Mikan led his teams to seven NBL, BAA and NBA championships. Mikan’s level of dominance forced several rule changes in the NBA, among them widening the foul lane – known as the “Mikan Rule” – and introducing the shot clock. For his feats, Mikan was declared “Greatest Basketballer in the First Half-Century” by the Associated Press in 1950, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959.
SCP Auctions, Inc. has been a leader in auctions and private sales of important sports memorabilia and cards since 1979. The Southern California-based firm has handled some of the most significant individual items and prominent collections in its field, such as the record-setting sale of the T206 Honus Wagner card graded PSA 8 (sold for $2.8 million), Babe Ruth’s bat used to hit the first home run in the old Yankee Stadium (sold for $1.265 million), the original 1919 Contract of Sale of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees (sold for $996,000), and the private collections of Hall of Famers such as Honus Wagner, Tony Lazzeri, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Casey Stengel, Pee Wee Reese and Ernie Banks.