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Ringing in the New Year With Similar Results?

From the Black Swamp Find to a $4 million Babe Ruth jersey, sales for sports memorabilia never reached higher figures nor had as much mainstream media attention. Can the momentum last into 2013? There are some early indicators it most certainly can.

This will be a hard year to top for the sports memorabilia business and the hobby in general. There were some mega auctions that brought a lot of positive media attention and high prices, something that will be hard-pressed to match or beat in 2013.

In the past 12 months, we’ve seen the sale of a $4 million jersey (Babe Ruth), a “Black Swamp Find” of E98 cards that made it into every major media outlet in the U.S. (with sales still going on from the find), the sale of the fabled Drier Collection and the sale of artifacts from the collections of Ted Williams, Don Larsen, Ozzie Smith, Oscar Robertson, Evander Holyfield, Tommy John and a host of others.

No doubt, many of these items will become available again in time, but this will be done piece-by-piece and not en masse as with this year’s sales. Keep the catalogs from these events, for they truly are pieces of history.

But I don’t think the well will run dry any time soon – it just might not be as rich in nutrients as this year’s draw.

As noted in the past, finds like the “Black Swap” discovery will become less and less over time (and there are not many now), but I do believe you will see more athlete-driven collections come to the forefront in the years ahead. The players themselves (or descendants of the players in cases where the players are no longer living) have seen the values signed contracts, awards and personal artifacts have gotten at auction and know the time is here to liquidate if they are debating to do so.

Back-stepping just a bit from my statement that 2012 will stand high on the collecting history ladder, I should mention that 2013 will start off with a bang with the sale of the Mike Eruzione Collection by Heritage Auctions in February in a live event in New York.

You wouldn’t imagine a hockey jersey would even encroach into Babe Ruth territory, but when it comes to the jersey Eruzione wore during the game dubbed “Miracle on Ice,” all bets are off. The words “Miracle On Ice” are instantly recognized, and the impact of that game reverberated on multiple levels. The jersey is only 32 years old, but it’s expected to sell for millions.

The “Miracle On Ice” Collection will also include the hockey stick Eruzione used to score the winning goal against the Soviets, and the jersey worn in the gold medal game of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

And I’m sure there will be some new trend-setters in the trading card arena. A whole mess of PSA 10 rookie cards for stars from the 1950s to the present won’t come along, but there will be big-ticket singles and PSA Set Registry leaders that will become available. And those will always find deep-pocketed bidders. We’ll also marvel at what people will pay for the next rising star’s rookie cards, nodding to ourselves with the knowledge that the sale prices probably won’t hold up over time.

Finally, I have been getting a few questions regarding SCD’s Collectors Directory. In short, I plan to run the Collector Directory again by late January (Feb. 8 issue or thereabouts). If you would like to be included, have your listing updated or wish to be taken off the list, please let me know soon. You can e-mail me at the address below (with “Collector Directory” in the subject line, or by mail at SCD Collector Directory, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.