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A massive 1,700 lot spring auction, highlighted by one of the finest-known copies of Babe Ruth’s 1916 Sporting News rookie card, set a single-auction record of nearly $7.6 million for Memory Lane, beating its previous best by more than $2 million.

One of just four copies rated at 6 (EX/MT) by PSA, Ruth’s 1916 rookie card sold for a record-setting $940,831, far surpassing the old record price for the grade of $204,000 set back in 2015.

Babe Ruth rookie card

Babe Ruth’s 1916 Sporting News rookie card.

A pair of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards each set records as interest in the Yankee great’s most famous card continues to grow. A PSA 7 sold for $220,642 while an SGC 6 easily established a new milestone when it netted $123,484. A third card, rated PSA 4, went for $105,685. A PSA 8 copy of his 1953 Topps card also reached the six-figure mark, closing at $113,908. Mantle rookie cards also continue to skyrocket with a PSA 5 example of his 1951 Bowman issue climbing to $52,102.

The auction also featured a collection of 27 different autographed Mantle cards ranging from 1953-1969. Among the cards sold: highly graded signatures on his 1953 Bowman Color ($29,303), 1953 Topps ($21,456) and 1962 Topps ($20,432).

Ruth cards were sprinkled throughout the catalog. An autographed copy of one of his 1933 Goudey cards, with the signature graded 6 by PSA, sold for $197,576. The card originated with a Boston autograph seeker who chased down more than 150 different players in the set not long after they were issued in packs of gum. A 1921 American Caramel E121 Ruth (SGC 3.5) sold for $82,807; a 1921 Oxford E253 graded SGC 4 found a new home at $35,264; a 1921 National Caramel E220 (PSA 2) went for $26,968; and a 1922 Neilson’s Chocolate (PSA 2) ended at $15,716.

Pre-War cards beyond Ruth were strong sellers, too, with a T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait featuring a rare Polar Bear Tobacco back (PSA 5) among the highlights, bringing $24,427.

Demand for Jackie Robinson cards continues to be strong. Memory Lane sold a PSA 9 1950 Bowman Robinson for $95,860 and a 1949 Bowman PSA 8 for $71,459.

Bidders flocked to a PSA 8 copy of the 1938 Goudey Heads-Up Joe DiMaggio, with bids going back and forth before it sold for $61,909, while a 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card, also graded PSA 8, went for $39,846.

Wayne Gretzky rookie card

Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card, a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee graded PSA 9, sold for $211,199. Not only is the card cherished by hockey collecting fans, but it’s bilingual. Information on the back of the card appears in both English and French.

High profile rookie cards in other sports included a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky graded PSA 9 that soared to $211,199; a 1976 Topps Walter Payton PSA 10 that closed at $96,752; a PSA 8 1961-62 Wilt Chamberlain rookie ($76,978); a PSA 10 1981 Topps Joe Montana ($75,808); a PSA 10 1974-75 Topps George Gervin rookie (record price of $39,846): and a PSA 9 1969-70 Topps Pete Maravich ($36,128).

The auction included dozens of unopened boxes, cases and rare vintage packs. Among the top sellers were a 1979-80 Topps Hockey box that likely contains at least one Wayne Gretzky rookie card ($68,256); 16 1978-79 Topps Basketball boxes from a sealed case ($57,530); 16 1979-80 Topps Basketball boxes, also from a previously sealed case, ($41,321); a 1948 Bowman Basketball pack ($50,933); a 1948-49 Leaf Baseball pack from the “short print series” ($48,508) and a quartet of 1980-81 Topps Basketball boxes that sold for over $40,000 each.

Joe Jackson

A 1913 image of Joe Jackson by Charles Conlon, one of the first photographers to regularly shoot baseball at the turn of the 20th century, sold for $105,888. 

The auction included numerous lots of rare vintage photographs including a circa 1913 Charles Conlon image of Joe Jackson. The 6-by-8-inch PSA/DNA Type 1 photo opened at $10,000 but when bidding came to a close, it had realized $105,888.

Some quality ungraded vintage baseball sets also drew interest including a 1971 Topps set ($19,506) and a 1972 Topps set ($8,871). Set builders had the rare opportunity to check off some low population cards on their want lists. Top sellers included a 1953 Topps Johnny Groth PSA 10 ($17,288) and a 1956 Topps Johnny Podres PSA 10 ($17,288).

For complete results of the Memory Lane Spring 2021 Auction go to

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