The Milwaukee Braves jersey worn by Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron during his rookie season brought $167,300 on Friday, April 22, as part of Heritage Auctions’ Signature® Sports Collectibles auction, establishing the highest price ever paid at auction for Aaron game used memorabilia. The auction totaled just more than $3.7 million, with a sell-through rate of 97.6% by total lot value. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium. “Prices were consistent and strong throughout the entire auction,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports at Heritage Auctions, “with hundreds of lots surpassing our high pre-auction estimates and several more lots bringing record prices for type. We were extremely encouraged by the prices in this auction as well as in the trust that collectors put in us, as evidenced by the results we garnered across the board.
One of the most interesting record-breakers in the auction was a rare Charles “Kid” Nichols single signed baseball – one of many autographed pieces to rewrite the record books in the auction – that finished the day with a final tally of $53,775, showing that single signed baseballs remain one of the hobby’s fundamental building blocks.
“Single signed baseballs, in fact, stole the show in Friday’s live bidding,” said Ivy, “with no fewer than 10 autographs surpassing $15,000, an impressive figure if you know your autographs.”
A Nap Lajoie signed baseball established a new high at $26,290, while separate Paul Waner singles took auction history’s gold and silver medals with prices of $15,535 and $13,145 respectively. An Eddie Collins single came in at $22,705, leading his fellow first ballot Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, whose autographed ball came in at $14,340.
The auction likewise ushered in a new era for team signed pigskin, with five lots clearing the $5,000 threshold, effectively doubling the all-time population of signed footballs sold in that range at auction. Four of the balls derived from the early 1960s glory days of Green Bay Packers history, the fifth memorializing the 1969 NCAA Champion Texas Longhorns.
“Though this auction was, perhaps, most notable for its remarkable performance in the hobby’s core market,” said Ivy, “Heritage continued to assert its dominance as the venue of choice for consignors of high-end material.”
Ted Williams’ vault marked bat from his 1947 Triple Crown season registered a final bid of $77,675, second in auction history only to the lumber used to club his 400th home run. Nolan Ryan’s jersey worn to complete his record seventh no-hitter saw the last collector standing at $44,813 after a lengthy bidding battle.
The trading card session of the auction, on Thursday, April 21, set the tone from the very first lot when an example of the rare 1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stockings trade card registered a remarkable $26,290. The emergence of the number six 1959 Topps Baseball set on the PSA registry drew no shortage of attention, claiming $71,700 at the end of bidding and a newly discovered 1916 D381 Ferguson Bakery card, the only example known to picture the great Walter Johnson, posted a $8,963 final result.
Other noteworthy results from the two-day auction include:
Three lots comprising entire V145-1 Patterson Hockey set: Realized $29,288.
1961 Topps Bobby Hull #29 PSA Gem Mint 10 – The One and Only Gem MT 10 Known: Realized $8,365.
1958 Topps Roger Maris #47 PSA Mint 9 – Highest Grade Known: Realized $6,573.
1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #1 SGC 92 NM/MT+ 8.5 – None Higher: Realized $5,975.
1933 Goudey Baseball Encapsulated Signed Card Collection (86): Realized $21,510.
1980 David Thompson Game Used 10,000 Point Basketball: Realized $17,925.
2001 Roberto Alomar Gold Glove Award: Realized $16,730.
1872 Philadelphia Athletics vs. Boston Red Stockings Mort Rogers Photographic Scorecard: Realized $10,755.
1970 Ray Nitschke Game Worn, Signed Green Bay Packers Jersey: Realized $14,340.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.