The Heritage Sports Collectibles (HSC) Signature Sports Auction on May 14 edged past the $2-million mark behind a remarkable game-worn and signed 1954 Mickey Mantle jersey and several high-grade vintage sets.
The Mantle jersey topped all items at $119,500, essentially doubling the price tag of the No. 2 item, a complete set of 1952 Bowman Large Football ($59,750). In all, more than 600 lots sold in the auction.
“We had very high expectations leading up to the sale,” explained Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage Galleries, “but I don’t think anybody could have anticipated some of the tremendous prices realized. In every field, whether autographs, memorabilia or cards, we saw presale estimates doubled, tripled or better.”
Jim Halperin, co-founder of Heritage Galleries, echoed Ivy’s sentiments: “Some of the lots turned the auction room into a scene from the New York Stock Exchange, with hands waving, paddles flying, people shouting. There was definitely a serious case of ‘auction fever’ happening. It was quite a spectacle.”
Not surprisingly, Ivy pointed to the Mantle jersey as a special component of the sale. “With its fabulous, unaltered condition, very strong wear, and even a perfect blue sharpie autograph in the collar, the jersey was basically unimprovable. It’s the second Mantle jersey in as many Heritage Signature auctions that we’ve sold for six figures, and we’re thrilled with the $119,500 sale price.”
Mantle figured prominently in a couple of other of the headlined lots, most notably a 1951 Yankees team-signed ball that Heritage officials described as the finest known. The PSA 9 OAL Harridge ball, with 26 signatures, including Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Ralph Houk, Phil Rizzuto and Casey Stengel, sold for $29,875. “It is one of just a tiny handful of postwar team-signed baseballs to top $20,000 at the auction,” noted Ivy, “and this one did it by a wide margin.”
A 1961 Mantle game-worn cap from the World Series landed in the auction’s upper echelon at $17,925, the same price as a 1960-61 Yogi Berra game-worn catcher’s mitt.
Jack Dempsey’s 1926 World Heavyweight Championship belt brought $44,813, headlining a sterling boxing lineup that also featured Henry Armstrong’s 1936 Ring Magazine Triple Championship belt ($26,290), fight-worn and signed Cassius Clay Golden Gloves trunks from 1958 ($25,095), fight-worn Muhammad Ali trunks from Frazier II in 1974 ($21,510) and a circa 1900 James J. Jeffries championship sash belt ($20,315).
After the 1954 Bowman Large Football set, the vintage set roster included a 1909-11 T206 White Border set missing only the Big Three ($35,850), a high-grade 1953 Bowman Color set near-set, 141/160 ($33,460) and a second 1909-11 T206 White Border partial set, 463/521 ($17,328).
A game-worn Warren Spahn road flannel from 1954 sold for $31,070, complementing the Mantle-led grouping of game-worn jerseys that also included a 1970 Henry Aaron Braves ($26,290) and a 1987-88 Michael Jordan gamer ($17,925). There also were single-signed baseballs from the likes of Ruth ($31,070), Mel Ott ($17,925) and Roberto Clemente ($13,145).
Ivy touted the road grey flannel Spahn gamer as the finest Spahn jersey ever to reach the auction block, adding that it earned an unbeatable A10 rating from SCD Authentic. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest price ever realized for a Warren Spahn jersey,” Ivy added.
Ivy also offered a teaser, in a fashion, for the next auction. “Our next sale figures to be our strongest ever,” he predicted. “We want to keep the collecting community in suspense a little while longer, but let’s just say that one of the nation’s foremost collectors has consigned the bulk of his holdings to our September auction. The press coverage for the event is certain to be very heavy, so potential consigners couldn’t pick a better time to join this epic sale with their high-quality consignments.”
For more information about the Signature Sports Auction, go to heritagesportscollectibles.com, or call Ivy at (800) 872-6467, ext. 319.