Collectors may want to add themselves to their holiday gift list when Memory Lane Inc. pulls back the curtain on its Wintertime Classics Auction this week.
Scheduled to open Nov. 19, the auction includes a who’s who of sports figures from the 20th century in the form of high-grade vintage cards, along with rare memorabilia.
The event leads off with an eye-popping autographed 1951 Bowman baseball set. Missing just one card (Don Bankhead), the 300+ cards in the set have all been graded by PSA as authentic while some carry an autograph grade. Pieced together before sending cards away for autographs became a popular hobby, the set is a testimony to the dogged determination that is present in collectors who like to take on a tall task. The starting bid on the museum-quality set is $10,000.
The theme for the Wintertime Classics Auction could also be “We’re Number One”. Memory Lane consignors have turned over several vintage, graded cards that are numbered ‘1’ in their respective set. By nature, these cards were subject to excessive wear since they often sat atop a young collector’s stash. Those which escaped corner wear are prized by collectors piecing together high-grade sets. Memory Lane offers several significant vintage #1s including a 1934 Diamond Stars Lefty Grove in PSA 7, a 1940 Play Ball Joe DiMaggio in PSA 8 (just two graded higher), and a 1933 Sport Kings Ty Cobb in PSA 8.
MLI also offers one of the most elusive high grade football card sets, the 1950 Topps Felt Backs. With a grade of almost 7.0, the condition-sensitive set is on most collectors’ want lists. Also offered is the iconic 1950 rookie card of legendary football coach Joe Paterno. Then a quarterback and co-captain at Brown, the Paterno rookie grades PSA 8 and belongs in any collection of cards featuring the greatest legends in sports. Starting bid is $5,000 on both the set and the Paterno rookie card.
Just seeing a mint 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams rookie card is a dream for most collectors, but this auction offers the opportunity to own one. The blazing PSA 9 authenticated card looks like it just came out of an unopened pack and carries a minimum bid of $10,000. Want more Williams? MLI offers a 1950 Bowman in this sale, also graded PSA 9. “As close to a 10 as we’ve ever offered,” reads the catalog description. There is also a 1941 Play Ball Teddy Ballgame graded PSA 8 and a tough 1954 Wilson Franks (SGC 84)
Early 1950s baseball card issues include two of the hobby’s most important cards, two New York icons joined at the hip after their joint debuts. First is the iconic 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. A PSA 7 (near mint) example is offered by MLI, showing its gorgeous color and pack-fresh appearance and the company also has a ‘51 Bowman Willie Mays, graded PSA 8.
More near mint, mint and gem mint graded rookie cards in the pages of the catalog include a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan in perfect PSA 10 condition, a 1970-71 Pete Maravich, 1954 Topps Hank Aaron, 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente, 1966 Philadelphia Gale Sayers, 1967 Topps Tom Seaver and Rod Carew and dozens of others.
There are runs of 1933 Sport Kings in high grade including a PSA 7 Ruth. Also offered are several autographed 1950 Callahan cards, all graded and authenticated. There are also rare Babe Ruth cards and signed items.
The auction includes numerous pieces of vintage autographed memorabilia including a tremendous historic baseball contract featuring the signature of Christy Mathewson. In 1924, Matty was president of the Boston Braves and it is his signature adorning an Edgar Padgett players contract that will no doubt have collectors of vintage memorabilia scrambling after it.
Mathewson died just a year after this contract was signed. Padgett earned a $3550 salary in ‘24. Minimum bid on the document 86 years later is $5,000.
Collectors of unopened boxes and packs have several to choose from including an ultra scarce 1952 Topps pack (GAI 8.5), a high grade 1955 Topps All-American football pack, a 1986-87 Fleer box with the Jordan rookie and a selection of early 1970s Topps hockey. There are also some stellar display boxes up for bid including Sport Kings and Goudey from the 1930s.
Even our 16th President makes an appearance in the auction thanks to an incredible signed military commission dating from February 1864. The stunning, framed piece includes a full name signature (“Abraham” Lincoln rather than the often seen “A. Lincoln” autograph) and a photo of the man whose life would be cut tragically short by an assassin’s bullet at Ford’s Theater just months later. The document is also signed by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was also attacked the night John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. With signatures authenticated by the American Historical Guild, the piece carries a $3500 minimum bid.
To register for the auction and obtain a full-color catalog, simply contact Memory Lane online at www.memorylaneinc.com or call 877.606.LANE (5263). Bidding will take place via phone, internet and fax.
Bidding concludes Saturday, December 11.
MORE RESOURCES FOR SPORTS COLLECTORS
- Get current market values for 400,000+ baseball cards issued between '81 & '09
- Get the Ultimate Yankee package
- Interact with other sports collectors in Tuff Stuff's online forum
- Sign up for your FREE email newsletter from Tuff Stuff
- Read the latest 7th Inning Stretch Blog from Tuff Stuff Editor Scott Fragale