Memory Lane Inc. is becoming the premier auction house for vintage Babe Ruth cards and collectibles.
The Tustin, Calif. company, which sold three Ruth cards for more than $1 million in one auction last year, has one of the finest known SGC copies of Ruth’s 1916 M101-5 Blank Back rookie cards in its Winter Rarities Auction, which opens Jan. 29 and runs through Feb. 19.
The card, which carries an opening bid of $150,000, is graded SGC 5.5 and is one of only three Ruth rookies graded that high by SGC.
The lot marks the fourth consecutive Memory Lane auction featuring a Ruth rookie. An M101-4 Ruth rookie, graded PSA 6, sold for $1.5 million as part of the Thomas Newman Collection last July.
The auction features numerous other Ruth cards, autographs, photos and other memorabilia, including a rare mid-1920s arcade card — one of only six known to exist.
One of the most rare Ruth items is a 1927 Babe Comes Home Theatre banner recently discovered in the closet of an Illinois home. The 3-by-10-foot banner has been well preserved and in the same family since it was shipped to a local theater nearly 95 years ago.
The auction also features an 8-by-10 barnstorming photo of Ruth and Yankees teammate Lou Gehrig, autographed by both stars.
Autographed Ruth and Gehrig cards are also available in a collection of 229 1933 Goudey cards — just 11 short of a full set — collected more than 20 years ago by a New England collector. Many are one-of-a-kind cards or one of only a couple of signed copies known to exist.
Other rare vintage cards include a 1911 Sporting Life (M116) Christy Mathewson card graded PSA 8 that comes with the mailing envelope addressed to the original recipient of the sports publication’s promotion from 111 years ago. Other new finds include a 1913 Colgan’s Chips Tin Tops Jim Thorpe card, one of only two graded copies, and a lower grade Shoeless Joe Jackson 1909 American Caramel rookie card.
Other vintage cards expected to attract high prices include: 1951 Bowman and 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards; a PSA 9 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card; the highest graded copy of Stan Musial’s 1949 Bowman rookie; and a PSA 8 George Mikan rookie card from a high-grade 1948 Bowman Basketball set break.
The auction also includes a special collection of Roberto Clemente cards and memorabilia, including a Clemente-signed check and five 1955 Topps Clemente rookie cards.
Valuable rookie cards of several other sports legends are also available, including:
• A PSA 9 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card, graded PSA 8.
• A 1957 Bill Russell rookie card, graded SGC 7.5.
• A 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie, graded SGC 9.
• A 1961 Topps Juan Marichal rookie card, graded PSA 10.
• A 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, graded BGS 9.5.
• A 2003-04 Upper Deck SP Authentic LeBron James, graded BGS 9.5/10 and numbered 3/50.
• A Bowman Chrome X-Fractor LeBron James, graded BGS 10 and numbered 44/150.
• A 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket Autograph rookie card, graded PSA 7.
• A 2007-08 Topps Chrome Kevin Durant White Refractor rookie, graded PSA 10.
Among the unopened packs and boxes are Fleer Basketball, 1972-73 and 1980-81 Topps Basketball and 1974 Topps Football.