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1951 Bowman Mantle, Mays Hit Record Highs in Memory Lane Auction

If you need proof of the growth of the high-grade rookie card movement currently taking place in the hobby, look no further than Memory Lane's latest sale, which saw many cards top their previous records by thousands.

A 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie card graded PSA 8 (NM/MT) sold for $49,568 in Memory Lane’s 2014 Spring Break Auction early Sunday morning, more than double the previous top price for the first-ever card of the New York Yankees icon.

The auction wrapped up at 4:45 a.m. Eastern time after a flurry of late activity pushed several rookie cards, vintage unopened material and high end memorabilia to new heights, with total sales, including buyer’s premiums, topping $1.65 million.

Industry records show the previous mark for the public sale of a PSA 8 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie was $24,308, established in 2009.

Lot 1

The other key card in the 1951 Bowman set is the first ever Willie Mays card. A PSA 8 example offered in the auction sold for $32,524. Less than a year ago, Memory Lane sold a Mays rookie in its summer auction for $19,881, illustrating the continuing strength of the high-end, vintage card market.

Upper echelon Mantle cards are the gold standard of the post-War era and several drew high prices in the auction. A 1953 Topps Mantle, graded PSA 8.5 (NM/MT+) brought $37,618, beating the previous record of $23,640 set less than two years ago.

A 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt/Ron Cey rookie card from the high number series and graded PSA 10 sold Sunday for $25,541. Two years ago, the card’s high water mark was just over $15,000.

A 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card graded PSA 9, realized $27,639, topping what the company attained for one less than a year ago by nearly $12,000. A 1948-49 Leaf Jackie Robinson PSA 8 rookie card sold for $19,544, topping the last major auction selling price by more than $6,000, established just six months ago.

Other high-grade rookie cards sold included:

  • 1964 Topps Sandy Koufax PSA 10, $20,702
  • 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan PSA 10, $18,037
  • 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star PSA 10 $9,078
  • 1961-62 Fleer basketball Walt Bellamy rookie PSA 9, $8,122
  • 1967 Topps Rod Carew rookie PSA 9, $7,502
  • 1958 Topps Charley Neal PSA 9, $6,482.

“The high-grade rookie cards did remarkably well,” said Memory Lane’s J.P. Cohen of the auction results. “We are seeing many new buyers for high-end cards and memorabilia.”

Lot 96

Vintage unopened material continues to attract bidders and prices showed no sign of slowing down. An unopened case of 1977 Topps Baseball sold for $35,101, while a group of eight vending boxes from the same issue sold for $13,257. A 1979 Topps rack case of six boxes soared to $20,114 while a group of seven 1976 Topps baseball vending boxes touched $22,219 when the final numbers were tallied.

Other memorabilia sold in the auction included a 1981-82 North Carolina Tar Heels team-signed basketball including Michael Jordan which ended at $7,132, a Jackie Robinson signed Little League baseball ($7,490) and a single-signed ball from long ago Hall of Famer Chick Hafey ($6,101).

Memory Lane is now taking consignments for its next event, the I Own It Now sale, set to go live in June. The company is also looking for material for its upcoming summer action and is handing out free five-day passes to the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention for major consignments. For more information, visit Memory Lane’s website or call 877-606-5263.