Collectors attending the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago this week will be able to feast their eyes on one of the most remarkable high-grade collections of rookie cards featuring members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, all of it coming to the auction block next month.
The “Graham Collection,” pieced together by a devotee of the PSA Set Registry, features dozens of Mint and Gem Mint cards of the biggest icons in baseball history, as well as higher-end examples of early Babe Ruth and Joe Jackson cards.
The collection, which also includes some of the highest-graded multi-player cards known, will be among the highlights in Memory Lane Inc.’s 2013 Summer Rarities Auction, which opens August 15. The cards and other historic pieces in the auction will be on display at the Memory Lane booth at the Stephens Convention Center, site of the 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention July 31-August 4. Bidding will end Aug. 29.
Rare, vintage high-grade "oddball" sets from the collection of Dr. William McAvoy will be up for bid, along with a Babe Ruth signed baseball, a full ticket to the 1972 game in which Roberto Clemente got his 3,000th and final hit, a Vince Lombardi-era Green Bay Packers team-signed football and hundreds of other items.
Hatch Graham collected sports cards as a kid but it wasn’t until the arrival of the PSA Set Registry that he began selectively pursuing high-grade sets. While he’s put together top quality sets from various years, including the 1955 Topps All-Americans, it is his accumulation of Hall of Fame rookie cards that is the most valuable and most stunning both in depth and quality.
Along with thrill of the "hunt" for cards, Hatch Graham says he also finds the "harvest" period equally enjoyable. In fact, he considers the process of breaking up sets and cycling cards back into industry as a defining milestone that celebrates the success of completing a major set build. Posting his set building project on the PSA Set Registry helps stoke the fires of his collecting.
“Comparing the quality of my sets to those of others, for good or bad, added a competitive ingredient to the recipe,” he recalled.
How dedicated was he? His first major project resulted in one of the greatest Mickey Mantle sets ever assembled. In another project, Graham built the industry’s top 1955 Topps All-American football master set in less than two years. His 1978 Topps baseball set attained Hall of Fame status on the PSA Registry in 2010 and came within only 13 cards from a complete 726-card PSA 10 Gem Mint set.
The Graham Collection coming to Memory Lane’s soon-to-be-released full-color auction catalog includes one of only nine PSA 9 (Mint) examples of the true rookie card of Mickey Mantle, the 1951 Bowman No. 253. Since none of the others have come up for sale in the last several years, it’s almost impossible to say what the card will bring at auction, but with the upward trend in Mint rookie cards of baseball icons, it’s almost assured a record price will be set.
However, the collection offers more than just The Mick’s first cardboard. Among the PSA 9 examples going on the block will be rookie cards of Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Ted Williams, Roger Maris, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Pete Rose, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver, Larry Doby, Reggie Jackson and others.
There are even several PSA 10 rookies including Tony Perez, Ron Santo, Juan Marichal, Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers, as well as a 1963 Fleer Roberto Clemente.
The collection will surrender a 1916 M101-5 Babe Ruth black back in Excellent-Plus condition and a remarkable M101-4 Joe Jackson in PSA 7 (Near Mint).
Multi-player cards showcasing two or three superstars on the same card were also a special interest for Graham, and collectors will have the chance to acquire his Gem Mint 10 1968 Topps Superstars card that featured Mantle, Mays and Harmon Killebrew, a 1953 Bowman Color showing Mantle, Berra and Hank Bauer (graded PSA 9), a 1962 Topps Managers Dream with Mantle and Mays (PSA 9) and a 1958 Topps World Series Batting Leaders with Mantle and Aaron (PSA 9).
Long-time collectors and his fellow dealers are certainly familiar with Dr. William McAvoy of McAvoy Sports Cards. This auction also includes 19 complete sets of vintage "oddball" material from his personal collection, many of them among the finest sets known to exist on PSA’s Set Registry.
You’ll find: a set of 1927 Rinky Dink Baseball Stamps with 10 Hall of Famers and even the Sunday comics sections they were cut from, a complete 1906 PC792 Embossed Postcard set, 1896 Little Pinkies Whithead and Hoag sets, 1948 Kellogg’s Pep Baseball, Sports and Celebrities sets, a completely graded 1964 Wheaties Stamps set with album, 1932 Orbit Gum Pin Backs and dozens of high-grade cards from the 1950 Callahan and 1959 Armour Coin sets, among others.
More than 650 lots will be presented in the auction. Collectors are encouraged to stop by Memory Lane’s booth in Chicago to see the items, register for the auction and pick up a free catalog. If you can’t make it to the show, call Memory Lane at (877) 606-5263 or visit their website.