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World's best Willie Mays card collection brings $1.2 million in Memory Lane sale

A Willie Mays card collection that was rated the best on the PSA Set Registry was sold by Memory Lane in individual lots for a total of $1.2 million.

Ranked as the best on the PSA Set Registry for 15 years, a comprehensive collection of rare and high-grade Willie Mays baseball cards sold for a combined $1.2 million in Memory Lane’s Spring catalog auction. The 282-card collection included more than 92% of all known Mays cards, with a weighted GPA of 8.07.

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The highest selling card in the “Mays Fan Club” collection was a 1961 Topps Dice Game test issue Mays graded PSA 6. One of only two known examples, the card sold for a whopping $85,200, one of the highest prices paid for any of the few cards from the set that have reached auction. The same card had sold in a January 2014 auction for just under $31,000.

Two dozen cards from the Mays collection sold for over $10,000 each. A 1953 Topps #244 rated 8.5 by PSA soared to $59,376, a record price for the grade. A PSA 9 1952 Bowman #218 sold for $51,600, a PSA 8 #305 rookie card netted $49,200, a PSA 10 1959 Topps #464 reached $33,988, a PSA 9 1962 Topps #300—one of the ten best on PSA’s Pop Report—netted $28,180, a PSA 10 1963 Fleer #5 sold for $26,660, a 1962 Topps Venezuelan #54 NL Home Run Leaders graded 8.5 sold for $23,188, and a 1967 Topps Fence Buster #423 went for $20,198.

In all, more than 1,000 lots were offered in the catalog, which featured vintage and modern sports cards and memorabilia. Sales totaled over $3.1 million.

“We’re very happy. We had an amazing auction with several record prices,” said Memory Lane’s J.P. Cohen. “The market really seems as strong as it’s ever been.”

The top-selling item was a 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams rookie card graded PSA 9. One of 12 at that level on PSA’s Pop Report (one higher), the card sold for $180,000.

A near set of 470 1909-1911 T206 cards, all graded, led a large section of pre-War card lots, selling for $79,200. T206 Ty Cobb cards remain hot with a Red Portrait Old Mill back graded PSA 8 selling for $75,600, and a Green Portrait Cobb rated PSA 6 bringing $36,580. Other T206 sales of note included a PSA 9 Red Kleinow at $18,224, and a Sherry “Magie” error card graded PSA 2 ($17,226).

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Other sales of century-old cards included a rare 1903 Breisch Williams Cy Young graded 5 ($66,000) and a 1915 Cracker Jack Eddie Collins rated PSA 8.5 ($12,712).

Dozens of high-grade and rare post-War cards were offered, topped by a 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie card. Graded PSA 8, it sold for $41,376. A 1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor rookie card graded PSA 9 also drew a crowd before selling for $38,976.

Memory Lane offered a PSA 4.5 example of one of the hobby’s rarest bubble gum era cards, the 1948-49 Leaf #8 Satchel Paige. Bidders chased it to the tune of $32,650. Mickey Mantle cards remained strong with a rare PSA 10 example of the relatively common 1968 Topps Game card rocketing to new heights at $11,943.

Even “common” cards from the early 1950s can sell for uncommon prices in high grade with PSA 9 versions of the 1952 Topps Eddie Pellagrini ($15,200) ’52 black back Jim Hegan ($9,612), and 1953 Topps Ted Kluszewski ($10,734) proof of that. Even a 1952 Topps Baseball 1-cent display box netted $4,554.

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The auction included some photos and autographs from early baseball icons including a Lou Gehrig signed government postcard ($5,011), a Connie Mack signed postcard ($5,570), and a George Grantham Bain photo of Babe Ruth from his early days with the Yankees ($6,669).

All prices include the buyer’s premium of 20 percent.

Memory Lane’s next auction is slated for this summer. Consignments are being accepted through June 15 with free five-day passes to the National Sports Collectors Convention available for consignments of $2,000 or more. For more information, visit