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Memory Lane Auction Tops $2.7 Million

A fella named Honus might have led the way – at $218,000-plus, no less – but it was a quality auction from top to bottom, covering more than 1,300 lots, that brought a $2.7 million price tag on Memory Lane's latest sale.
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Memory Lane Inc.’s Hot Summer Classic Rarities catalog sale closed over the weekend with more than 1,300 lots sold.

The sale was highlighted by a 1910 E93 Standard Caramel Honus Wagner card in astonishing PSA 9 (mint) grade, which brought a realized price of $218,549.99. The stunning card had been part of a recent discovery of similar high-grade issues. The E93 set is one of the most popular prewar vintage baseball card issues, with 18 Hall of Famers featured in the 30-card set. The last bid, registered late Saturday evening, was $186,000. The 17.5 percent buyer’s premium pushed the total passed the $200,000 mark, easily setting a record for an E93 Wagner.

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Record-breaking prices are nothing new for Memory Lane, and the auction proved that serious collectors will eagerly pursue truly special items. Total sales for the auction exceeded $2.75 million, similar to the figure reached in the company's last sale four months go.

“What is unbelievable about this event is that we had just come off our record-setting auction in May and fired back with this auction,” said J.P. Cohen, owner of Memory Lane. “The quality of the pieces we were able to present was incredible, and even though we again had some very special, high-end cards that sold for a lot of money, we also had some things that were still affordable to average collectors.”

Two other cards topped $80,000 in the auction. Thirty-two different auction lots brought at least $10,000 each.

A 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle rookie card graded SGC 96 (Mint) was purchased for $88,125, while an 1887 Four Base Hits James Mutrie in PSA 5 condition sold for $83,092. Two other 19th century cards brought impressive winning bids. An 1886 N167 Old Judge Roger Conner (PSA 3) went for $28,724, while an 1887 N370 Lone Jack Charles Comiskey (PSA 4) sold for $22,849. A high-grade 1911-14 Brunners Bread Ty Cobb went to a new home for $21,992.

A rare 1952 Topps Pee Wee Reese, graded PSA 10, started a bidding war that ended at $53,462. Another 1952 Topps rarity, a No. 337 Jim Hearn graded PSA 8.5 sold for $5,076. A 1953 Topps Willie Mays graded 8.5 sold for $30,526.

Two of baseball’s most popular collectible players showed strong results amid the array of superior 1960s cards offered. A 1961 Topps PSA 10 Roberto Clemente sold for $25,092 and a 1962 Topps Sandy Koufax, graded PSA 9, brought $24,651. Meanwhile, a 1960 Topps Willie McCovey rookie card (PSA 9) peaked at $6,703, while a 1959 Topps No. 82 Bob Boyd "common" card proved not so common in the eyes of collectors seeking a Gem Mint example. The Boyd card, graded PSA 10, soared to $5,076.

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Football collectors found a number of targets to chase, highlighted by a pair of early ’50s gems. One of only two 1952 Bowman “large” football #144 Jim Lansford cards graded PSA 9 sold for $25,517, while a stunning and one-of-a-kind PSA 10 1951 Bowman rookie card of Tom Landry brought $19,642.

A run of late 1940s and early 50s baseball cards found a legion of fans who pushed bids higher as time ticked down in the auction. While the Mantle rookie soared highest, a PSA 10 1949 Bowman Billy Cox reached $13,598. A high-grade rarity, the 1950 Bowman Mel Parnell in PSA 8 grade, sold for $10,795. Other sales from the era included: 1948 Leaf Babe Ruth (PSA 8) $8,383; 1949 Bowman Jackie Mayo (PSA 9) $6,141; 1949 Bowman Frank McCormick (PSA 9) $5,076; 1949 Bowman Eddie Waitkus (PSA 9) $4,097; 1953 Topps Gil McDougald (PSA 8.5) $3,078 and a 1951 Bowman Joe Page (PSA 8.5) $2,238.

A 1933 Goudey PSA 9 Lafayette Thompson card brought $13,902. Not far behind was a ’33 Goudey Adam Comorosky (PSA 9) that sold for $7,260. Other prewar card highlights included a 1913 National Game Ty Cobb (PSA 10) $7,376 and a 1915 Cracker Jack Zach Wheat (PSA 8) $7,364. A pair of 1941 Play Ball cards also drew plenty of interest. A PSA 8.5 Whit Wyatt sold for $3,078, while a Luke Hamlin, also graded 8.5, went for $2,798.

There was, however, ample proof that cards need not be ancient to attract an audience.

The world's finest 1978 Topps baseball set, including 537 PSA 10s, ranked #1 of all-time on the PSA registry, sold for $24,929.

The number of bids and realized prices weren’t confined to one era or specialty. Memory Lane offered lots ranging from rare vintage hockey cards to modern-era memorabilia. Leading the hockey parade were two completely graded Parkhurst hockey sets. The #1-ranked 1954 set sold for $21,992, while a graded 1961 Parkie set brought $8,175.

Among the many lots of memorabilia sold was a 1936 Monte Pearson World Series ring. The ring brought a final price of $31,979.

A 1973 Hank Aaron signed road jersey graded A10 by MEARS, sold for $24,342 while an official American League baseball signed by Babe Ruth is headed to the happy winning bidder at a price of $23,167.

Other eclectic pieces ranged from a 1943 Green Bay Packers team signed photo including Curly Lambeau and 29 others ($7,183), to a signed Mickey Mantle Mitchell & Ness flannel jersey ($4,014), to a 1930s Luke Appling glove ($3,466), to a Carlo Gambino signed, framed cancelled check with photo ($3,386).

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Complete results for the 2008 Hot Summer Classic Rarities Auction can be found on the Memory Lane website.

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