June 15, 2015

T206 Wagner Soars to $1.32 Million; 1916 Ruth Rookie Sets New Mark at $204,000.

REA Wagner

Countless Auction Records Shattered at REA!!!

Collectors of high-end baseball cards and memorabilia were understandably glued to Robert Edward Auctions as prices soared to astounding levels across the board during the record-setting April 25, 2015 auction. An incredible 121 lots sold for $10,000 or more. Four lots eclipsed the $100,000 mark, and the auction’s headline lot realized in excess of One Million Dollars! The total sales of $7.54 million defined the auction as one of the largest and most successful single-day baseball auctions in collecting history. REA president Robert Lifson comments, “These results speak for themselves: about the quality of the material offered, about the appreciation of the collecting world for how REA presents items and conducts auctions, about the well-deserved trust collectors have in REA, and about the strength of the market.”

Media attention surrounding the auction was at an all-time high, with the million-dollar T206 Honus Wagner garnering extensive interest far and wide. The card made appearances on ESPN and FOX Business Network, as well as several TV news programs in the New York and Pittsburgh metro areas. Major sports radio, including CBS New York, and print publications, including the New York Daily News, covered the auction. The record-setting sale captured worldwide attention, with headline stories on CNN, Yahoo!, CNBC, and ESPN, as well as Associated Press coverage in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in addition to international venues.

1909-1911 T206 Honus Wagner: One of the finest examples of the legendary T206 Honus Wagner card, graded PSA VG 3, led the auction and sold for $1,320,000, by far establishing a new record price for a Wagner card in this condition. The card had previously sold for $791,000 in 2008 and is now one of only a handful of baseball cards to ever sell for more than one million dollars in the history of collecting. Bidding opened at $100,000, and forty-two bids were placed by collectors from all around the world. “The interest in this card was tremendous,” said REA Consignment Director Brian Dwyer. “Bidders really appreciated the quality of the card, its great story, and the rare opportunity to own one of the most famous baseball cards in existence. We were honored to have had the privilege to include it among the items in our spring auction lineup.”

1910 T210 Old Mill Tobacco Collection: An extraordinary near-complete set of red-bordered T210 Old Mill cards, consisting of 610 out of 640 cards and offered in twelve different lots, combined to realize $243,600. The collection was highlighted by a stunning SGC VG 40 example of the key Joe Jackson card, one of fewer than twenty known to exist, which sold for $168,000, a world record price for this rarity in the assigned grade. The same card had appeared at auction only once before, originating from a freshly-discovered collection consigned to REA in 2006 by the family of the original owner, at which time it realized $116,000. The escalation in price illustrates the continuing great appreciation for one of card collecting’s rarest and most desirable cards. The collection also contained one of the highest-graded examples of Casey Stengel’s rare sixth series card (res. $5,000). Graded SGC EX 60, the card drew extremely spirited bidding before ending the night at $27,000. Cards from each of the eight series were offered in lots by series, with the two toughest series (seven and eight) split into two lots. “The T210 set has always been extremely highly regarded by advanced collectors due for its distinctive design, its scarcity compared to most other tobacco-card sets of the era, and its extremely striking photos that are unique to the set. The Joe Jackson card all alone would be a special highlight in any auction. It’s one of the best baseball cards in existence. But being offered along with almost all the other cards in the set made this a very special offering all the more appreciated by advanced collectors,” said REA president Robert Lifson.

More $100,000+ Highlights: A remarkable 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie card graded PSA EX-MT 6 was hotly contested, reaching an extraordinary record-setting final price of $204,000 against a book value of $95,000 for a Ruth card in this condition. The card was entirely new to the modern collecting world and came with a tremendous hobby-related history: It was purchased in the 1980s directly from legendary dealer Larry Fritsch, who at the time was breaking up a complete M101-4 set, selling them individually. The key Babe Ruth rookie card, which cost several thousand dollars at the time, was carefully saved for nearly thirty years by the collector and his family before the decision was made to offer it at auction. REA vintage card expert Dean Faragi noted that the card was particularly strong for its grade, which no doubt contributed to its extraordinary price.

“We’ve handled more than a dozen Sporting News Ruth cards over the years, and this example was by far the nicest one we’ve ever seen. The bidders definitely agreed that the technical grade didn’t tell the whole story, which is why it commanded such a premium. I predict we’ll see this card sell for a lot more someday. That said, the premium it realized is astounding. It’s one thing for a $100 card to sell for $200. It’s another thing for a $95,000 card to sell for $204,000. It’s a great card, and it was a great price. Our consignor was floored.” The hobby’s finest example of a 1933 Goudey Uncut “Triple Ruth” Sheet, featuring three Babe Ruth cards, a Lou Gehrig, and four additional Hall of Famers, lived up to its reputation, drawing tremendous interest from bidders captivated by its spectacular condition and exceptional display value. Opening at $50,000, when the dust settled it sold for $168,000, establishing a new record for any Goudey sheet ever! An extremely rare 1909-1911 T206 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb Back, one of only thirteen known and graded SGC GOOD 30, realized a stellar $132,000. The card originated from the historic find of five different Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back cards offered at REA in 1997, each of which realized $25,000 or less at the time.

Record Prices For Classics: Many of card collecting’s most iconic cards continue to trend upward, realizing record prices at REA. This auction featured five 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle cards, long considered the most famous postwar card ever produced, in a variety of different grades. A stunning example graded SGC EX/NM 80, which was last sold in REA’s Fall 2014 auction for a then-record price of $41,475 and consigned by the buyer to this auction, hammered down for an even more impressive record $54,000. The equivalent SMR value in the assigned grade was $35,000. “It’s rare to see items increase in price by such a large percentage so quickly, but it does seem to happen with some degree of regularity when dealing with the most universally recognized iconic cards” notes REA Consignment Director Brian Dwyer. Four lower-grade examples, ranging in grade from Authentic to PSA GOOD 2 with qualifier, combined to sell for $27,300, led by $10,200 for a stunning PSA FAIR 1.5 card, setting a new record for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in that modest grade. Mantle’s true rookie card, the 1951 Bowman #253, also delighted bidders when a SGC VG/EX+ 55 example, which was sold for $5,700 by REA last year and was consigned after the buyer upgraded, saw spirited action and ended the night at $7,800, also a new record for the grade and multiples of its modest $1,000 opening bid. A 1954 Topps #128 Hank Aaron rookie card graded PSA NM-MT 8 (res. $2,500; est. $5,000+) soared to an earth-shattering $21,600, nearly doubling the previous public auction sale. A stunning 1948 Bowman Basketball #69 George Mikan rookie card, considered “the king of basketball cards,” graded PSA NM-MT 8 (res. $2,500; est. $5,000/$10,000) established a new record by a large margin, ending at a remarkable $16,800.

The Pulse of The Market: Collectors, dealers, and market watchers look to REA’s annual spring event as the key barometer of the health of the market and the most important auction event of the year. According to REA president Robert Lifson, “The market was extremely strong across the board. The auction results were staggering and exceeded our highest expectations. Most important, they exceeded our consignors’ expectations. The great prices are the result of many factors including, of course, being given the very best material in the world to offer, taking great care in cataloguing all material, having the largest circulation, extensive research and authentication, the well-deserved confidence of buyers, and an emphasis on the integrity of the auction process. Altogether, it’s a very powerful combination. The bidders appreciate what we do. And this naturally attracts consignments.” By any measure, this was one of the most successful auctions in the history of collecting. “It was also the smoothest running auction in all respects, including collecting the money. As always at Robert Edward Auctions, there were no delays in collecting money and getting it into the hands of consignors. That’s another extremely strong area for REA. In fact, this year over half the consignors had their checks in the mail within one week. Even I’m not sure how we did that. But we did.” All consignors were paid in full, 100 cents on the dollar with no adjustments due to nonpaying bidders, and in record time. “That’s the standard we strive for and achieve at REA when it comes to paying consignors. Perfection. Consignors really appreciate getting paid quickly and they really appreciate getting
paid 100 cents on the dollar.”

REA Statistics: The stunning prices on all nineteenth and early twentieth century baseball cards and memorabilia totaled a staggering $7.54 million. The 1527 lots, offered on behalf of 238 different consignors, were won by an incredible 677 different bidders, illustrating the power of the marketing and auction process, and the breadth of bidder interest. Successful bidders included some of the nation’s most prestigious museums, universities, and corporate institutional collections, as well as representatives from numerous Major League teams. An incredible 18,973 bids were placed. All areas of the auction received a tremendous response and very strong prices. Nineteenth-century baseball items were unbelievable, as always, as were all early baseball cards, advertising and display pieces, graded cards, Babe Ruth items, autographs, memorabilia, non-sport cards and artwork. Thousands of bidders from all over the world participated. The average lot realized more than double the high-end estimate. An incredible 99% of the lots sold.

REA Wagner

Nineteenth-Century Baseball Card Rarities: An outstanding newly-discovered 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Team CDV (res. $5,000), found among old family papers in a Pennsylvania home, was extremely well received by bidders. The CDV possessed exceptional visual appeal, far stronger than many of the other known examples and far better than suggested
by its technical grade, and soared to an incredible final sales price of $27,000. Not bad for an old photo that the family didn’t realize they had! Another newly-discovered nineteenth-century rarity, a spectacular cabinet card featuring the 1879 Chicago White Stockings California Tour Team (res. $5,000) featuring Hall of Famer Cap Anson, tripled in price just during the extended bidding period, selling for an amazing $42,000.

An 1879 Worcester Grays team-composite cabinet (res. $300; est. $1,000+), originating from the personal collection of Cleveland News sports columnist and pioneer collector Charles W. Mears and consigned directly by his family, climbed to $7,200 in spirited bidding. A collection of twenty-one N172 Old Judge Hall of Famers in various conditions, highlighted by attractive examples of Cap Anson, Bid McPhee, and Ed Delehanty, was sold individually and realized a total of $50,280. A stunning N173 Old Judge Cabinet of Mickey Welch (res. $2,500) hammered for $12,000, while a rare 1887 N693 Kalamazoo Bats Philadelphia Team Card (res. $2,500) ended at $10,200. Two exceptionally rare 1888 N338-1 S. F. Hess California League cards, one of nineteenth-century card collecting’s most elusive sample cards, combined to sell for $13,800.

A graded complete set of eight 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions baseball players (res. $1,500; est. $3,000+) exceeded its book value of $5,900 and realized an impressive $10,800 after the dust settled. A near-complete set of 1895 N300 Mayo’s Cut Plug cards (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) sold for $24,000. A rarely-seen complete graded set of 1889 N526 Number 7 Cigars (res. $2,000) finished at $10,800. Scarce Hall of Famer sample cards also performed extremely well, with sales of an 1888 E223 G & B Chewing Gum Buck Ewing (res. $2,500) and Mickey Welch (res. $2,500) at $7,200 and $5,400, respectively; an 1889 N338-2 S. F. Hess Buck Ewing (res. $2,500) at $9,600; and an 1888 N403 Yum Yum Tobacco Mickey Welch (res. $2,000) at $7,800. “This was one of the strongest nineteenth-century card sections we’ve ever had. From outstanding team composites to rare sample cards to some of the game’s greatest Hall of Famers, this auction had it all,” said REA vintage card expert Dean Faragi. “The collectors really enjoyed the tremendous variety and the great opportunity to bid on these rarities.”

Vintage Card Prices STRONG At REA: REA is first and foremost a baseball card auction, so it is not surprising that the big money, as usual, was in the cards. A beautiful 1909-1911 T206 Eddie Plank graded SGC GOOD+ 35 (res. $10,000) hammered for $42,000, as did a stunning 1909 T204 Ramly Tobacco Walter Johnson graded SGC NM 84 (res. $10,000), submitted by REA for a consignor who purchased it (for a song!) in the early days of the hobby long before the introduction of professional grading. An impossibly rare 1921 Frederick Foto Babe Ruth, graded SGC GOOD 30 and one of only five known examples, also ended the night at $42,000. The same card had been purchased at auction by the consignor for $11,163 just four years prior. Another Ruth item, a 1916 M101-4 Sporting News rookie card graded SGC FAIR 20 (res. $5,000), illustrated that collector demand for this iconic card is extremely strong in all grades, selling for $36,000, while Ruth’s first card as a Yankee, the 1917-1920 M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn graded SGC VG 40 (res. $5,000), sold for $24,000. A rare 1912 E300 Plow’s Candy Ty Cobb PSA EX 5 (res. $10,000) also went to a new home for $36,000 as did one of the very few known examples of Lefty Grove’s true rookie card (res. $5,000) from the incredibly rare 1921 White’s Bakery Tip Top Bread set. A 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb (res. $5,000), graded SGC EX 60, sold for $19,200, while an exceptional 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson (res. $2,500), graded SGC VG/EX 50 but presenting far better, sold for $18,000 against an SMR value of $5,750. Two unique 1971 Topps All-Star Rookie Artist’s Proofs, featuring Larry Bowa and Bernie Carbo, the first examples from this legendary set to ever appear at auction, were cause for great excitement among serious Topps collectors, selling for many times their modest $500
starting bids, at $13,200 and $14,400, respectively. In addition to the record-setting sale price of the 1933 Goudey “Triple Ruth” uncut sheet, four other uncut sheets from the 1930s sold for $57,000.

Rare-back T206 cards continue to cement their place as one of the hottest segments of the market, with countless impressive prices turned in throughout this auction. Two Ty Cobb cards saw intense competition among bidders, with a PSA VG 3 Lenox Back Cobb (res. $2,500) ending at $27,000 and a SGC VG 40 Uzit Back Cobb (res. $2,500) selling for $19,200. A Sid Smith Brown Old Mill example (res. $1,000) sold for an extremely impressive $24,000. A Broad Leaf 460 Addie Joss (res. $1,000) sold for $16,800. A complete “back run” collection featuring all fifteen backs for Hall of Famer Vic Willis’ batting pose, including Brown Lenox, Drum, and Uzit, realized $22,860. A total of thirty-seven cards depicting common players, each sold individually and featuring a rare back such as Broad Leaf, Carolina Brights, Drum, Lenox, and Uzit, combined to sell for a staggering $75,720.

Additional Auction Highlights: Autographs: REA’s spring auction featured a tremendous selection of autographed items, including several significant rarities. An incredible 1950 Satchel Paige barnstorming contract, signed by Paige along with J. L. Wilkinson and Oscar Charleston, two of the scarcest of all Negro League Hall of Fame signatures, realized $22,800. A new discovery to the modern collecting world, this extremely significant contract was only recently found among old business documents by the family of Jules Trumper, cousin and former business partner of legendary
Negro League Philadelphia Stars owner and promoter Ed Gottlieb. An exceptional collection of 500 Home Run single-signed baseballs was presented in four lots and tallied an impressive $66,300, highlighted by individual examples of Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, and Jimmie Foxx, which sold for $22,800, $27,000, and $13,100, respectively. A particularly extraordinary Christy
Mathewson check (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) that was all the more special because it was accompanied by a letter from Mrs. Christy Mathewson, who personally sent the check as a gift to the consignor’s husband in 1956, sold for $19,200. An exceptional signed Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig barnstorming snapshot (res. $1,000; est. $2,500+) dating to 1931 and authenticated by PSA/DNA realized an astounding $13,200. Babe Ruth items continued to be especially popular among collectors, as a Ruth-signed 1934 All-America Baseball Team Certificate presented to Hall of Famer Vernon Gomez (res. $2,500; est. $5,000+) sold for $19,200, a 1929 autograph album page signed by Ruth and Lou Gehrig (res. $1,000) realized $10,800, and a pair of first-edition books authored and signed by Ruth combined to sell for $9,600. An extremely rare Vic
Willis handwritten note dating from 1942 and with impeccable provenance (res. $2,000) sold for $11,400. The short Vic Willis note originated from the collection of pioneer autograph collector Stephen Silagi, a very active collector in the 1940s, and was accompanied by various supporting provenance materials that were much appreciated by bidders. REA president Robert Lifson notes: “With memorabilia and autographs, time and time again, we see how well-documented provenance plays a role in delivering strong prices. It’s not always possible to have this kind of provenance, but when it’s there, it’s impossible not to notice how collectors respond.”

An extremely rare “Sliding” Billy Hamilton cut signature (res. $2,000), an ideal example grading “10″ on a scale of “1 to 10,” realized $9,000. A 1914 Brooklyn Robins team-signed baseball featuring Hall of Famers Wilbert Robinson, Casey Stengel, and Zach Wheat (res. $1,000) soared to $9,600. A 1970 Heinie Manush single-signed baseball (res. $1,000) realized $7,200. Signed cards continue to be one of the hottest segments of autograph collecting, with a collection of seven PSA/DNA authenticated 1933 and 1934 Goudey cards (res. $300), highlighted by Hall of Famers Chuck Klein, Lefty Grove, and Bill Terry, drawing incredible interest. After a battle involving thirty-six bids, the lot eventually ended the night selling at $8,400. A signed 1953 Topps Satchel Paige sold for fifteen times its modest $200 opening bid, realizing $3,000. Two extremely desirable signed postcards, a 1933 Mordecai Brown (res. $300) and a 1956 Al Simmons Artvue Hall of Fame Postcard (res. $1,000), each sold for $5,400. Aside from the notable baseball highlights, Muhammad Ali continued to prove he is not only one of the greatest of all-time but also one of the most popular of all-time as six lots featuring signed photos and gloves combined to realize $20,400.

Many other auction records were shattered for pre-1948 baseball cards, nineteenth-century baseball cards and memorabilia, non-sport cards, and Americana. Further information and complete auction results are available online at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com

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