Tag Archives: Michael Jordan collection

Records Fall In Small Traditions Exclusive 100-Lot Summer 2015 Premium Auction

Denver, CO – Small Traditions’ recently concluded Summer 2015 Premium Auction established several new records on file at VintageCardPrices.com for a number of iconic Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and Mike Trout cards. To bidders and other followers of Small Traditions, which now number over 20,000 on the company’s Facebook page, this came as no surprise, as the auction featured selections from the legendary DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase Collection. For nearly two decades, the DrPSA collection has been known to contain several of the single finest Michael Jordan Fleer cards in existence, and the prices did not disappoint.

21320a_lgA PSA 10 Gem Mint example of the iconic 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie card led the way with a final price of $19,586, the highest price ever paid for a PSA 10 example of the Chicago legend’s rookie card since VintageCardPrices.com began aggregating eBay and other auction¬† prices in 2006. While Small Traditions would like to claim the auction listing as the highest price ever realized for the card, Dr. Stephen Hlis (AKA, DrPSA) has reported several PSA 10 sales that he personally conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s in excess of $33,000, a clear indication of the iconic card’s renewed potential.

As with Dr. Hlis, Small Traditions owner Dave Thorn expressed satisfaction with the strong results, but stated his belief that the card could easily have cleared $20,000. “Not all PSA 10s are the same,” he commented. “Some show fuzzy edges or marginally imperfect centering, and those have been averaging between $16,000 and $18,000 over the last six months. Also, a handful of the half dozen BGS 10 Pristine copies in existence have sold for over $100,000, and this copy was every bit as nice as those, so from our perspective, the winning bidder, a well-known collector within the hobby, scored a relative bargain.” With a strong upward trend in prices realized for the hobby’s very best cards, both Thorn and the high bidder indicated their predictions that the 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie card could easily top $20,000 to even $25,000 by year’s end.

21350b_lgThat’s a lot of money for a basketball card from the 1980s, but most collectors are well aware of Fleer’s limited print run, with estimates ranging from as low as 60,000 to as high as 125,000 copies of each 1986 card produced. All of those cards are well known to be condition sensitive, and the Jordan card, being so popular, has yielded just 220 total examples in the PSA 10 Gem Mint grade in nearly 20 years of professional third-party card grading. From an investor’s viewpoint, it’s an ideal item to stockpile. It might take a few decades, but the card will eventually be a six-figure item at some point in the future.

Some other noteworthy sales from the DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase Collection, almost all of which established new sales records, included the following:

  • 1988 Fleer Stickers #7 Michael Jordan PSA 10 Gem Mint — $13,611 RECORD
  • 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan RC BGS 9.5 Gem Mint — $10,802 RECORD
  • 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan RC PSA 9 Mint — $4,036
  • 1986 Fleer Stickers #8 Michael Jordan RC PSA 10 Gem Mint — $5,460
  • 1987 Fleer #59 Michael Jordan PSA 10 Gem Mint — $3,086 RECORD
  • 1987 Fleer Stickers #2 Michael Jordan PSA 10 Gem Mint — $4,511 RECORD
  • 1988 Fleer #17 Michael Jordan BGS 9.5 Gem Mint — $772

21351d1_lgIn addition to these impressive prices for Michael Jordan cards, several of the following items from Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and Mike Trout also approached and topped existing sales records:

  • 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 4 VG-EX — $5,342
  • 1952 Star Cal Decal #70G Mickey Mantle PSA Authentic — $5,460 RECORD
  • 1993 Classic Best Greensboro Hornets #1 Derek Jeter BGS 10 — $1,899
  • 1996 Select Certified Blue #100 Derek Jeter RC — $2,671 RECORD
  • 2011 Bowman Sterling Purple #22 Mike Trout RC — $1,365 RECORD
  • 2011 Finest Red Refractors Autograph #84 Mike Trout RC — $2,137 RECORD

Grade & Consign For Free with Small Traditions

With massive support from the collector community, Small Traditions LLC has been conducting its Monthly Masterpieces Plus (MM+) auctions since 2012, offering a 0% consignment rate to its customers on consignments numbering up to 100 pieces, as an alternative to selling on eBay and through other higher-priced auction services. The company also offers a collection management service through which it will liquidate entire collections for a reasonable fee ranging from 10-20%. Finally, the company’s most popular program, its Cost-Free Grading initiative, allows consignors to submit raw (or ungraded) cards for review by the Small Traditions staff, who then use their expertise to help consignors determine whether their cards are worth the time and expense of professional grading with PSA, SGC and/or BGS, the hobby’s leading third-party grading and authentication firms. Small Traditions pays for all shipping, insurance, grading and listing costs up front, and it only charges its customers their discounted grading fees after the eventual sale of their items.

In addition to these compelling consignment programs, every fourth month’s auction at Small Traditions features the company’s trademark Exclusive 100-Lot Premium Auction, in which all lots are valued at a minimum of approximately $1,000, and each receives an engaging and scholarly description composed by the academics on the Small Traditions staff, two of whom are in fact college professors. Small Traditions owner Dave Thorn has taught composition, literature and creative writing at Union County College in New Jersey and Red Rock Community College in Colorado, and Dan McHale teaches history at the State University of New York.

Consign Now To The Following 2015-16 STs Auctions:

  • September MM+36 — Graded Cards Considered by Thursday 9/17 Hurry!
  • October MM+37 — Raw & Graded Cards & Memorabilia by 10/20
  • November 100-Lot Holiday Premium — $1,000+ Rookies & Icons by 11/17
  • January MM+39 — Raw & Graded Cards & Memorabilia by 1/19
  • February MM+40 — Raw & Graded Cards & Memorabilia by 2/16
  • March MM+41 — Raw & Graded Cards & Memorabilia by 3/15

Please visit the company’s auction pages and its consignment portal for more information, or call 303.832.1975 or write info@smalltraditions.com for more information today.

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Boasting MJ’s Best, The DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase Heads Back To Auction At Small Traditions Starting Wed. 8/19 & Ending Sat. 8/29

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The DrPSA ’86 Fleer Jordan #57, possibly the finest Jordan rookie card in existence, is back up for auction after 15 years in hiding

August 6th, 2015 – Auction Open Aug. 19th to 29th

Denver, CO – If you think that sports memorabilia and collectibles are hot commodities right now, then you’ve probably forgotten all about the 1990s, and who could blame you? It was in the 90s that personal computers and email became part of our daily lives, followed of course by the massive growth of the Internet, the dotcom boom, and the ensuing redistribution of trillions of dollars to businesses around the world, both real and imaginary. Indeed, by the late 90s, perhaps the only things keeping up with the unprecedented growth in dotcom stocks were the equally unprecedented growth in bicep sizes of Major League Baseball players and, in the same Herculean ways, prices paid for Michael Jordan basketball cards.

We’re talking about the Silicon-coated late 1990s here, folks, years before many readers were even born. It’s late in the summer of 1998, and while Slammin’ Sammy battles Big Mac for home run heroism on Professional Sports Authenticatorthe field, inflated bottom lines and cheap muscle mass reach deeply into the furthest corners of American popular culture. Previously for the most part innocent, even the baseball card and collectibles communities witness a massive proliferation in forged autographs, counterfeit memorabilia, and fake and altered cards and other material.

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Tougher than it looks, this 86 Fleer Jordan Sticker RC is 1 of only 79 copies ever graded PSA 10

Enter PSA. Under the umbrella of its Nasdaq-traded parent company, Collectors Universe (CLT), and following the 1985 lead of its sister company PCGS, or Profressional Coin Grading Service, Professional Sports Authenticator was founded in 1991 as the world’s first, third-party grading and authentication service for collectible trading cards. In 1998, the Newport Beach-based grading firm then expanded its service to also include autograph authentication under its PSA/DNA label, specifically, as the company’s constantly improving website states, “in response to widespread counterfeiting, forgery and piracy of autographed collectibles.” Two decades later and both PSA and PSA/DNA are the undisputed leaders in their respective fields, growing their expertise to include the “slabbing” and authentication of wax packs, tickets, baseballs, gloves, bats, photos, rings, awards, and even trophies.

Simultaneously working his way through the early years of sports card grading and authentication was a young optometry student by the name of Stephen Hlis. Veterans of the hobby might better remember Stephen by his nickname, DrPSA. After buying his first Michael Jordan rookie card with $300 of his student loan money in the early 90s, Hlis was hooked. Determined to find the finest Michael Jordan cards in existence, he set out across the country, attending card shows big and small, where he would characteristically employ his optometry equipment to measure the centering, first and foremost, on any decent Jordan encountered — on both sides — and then the corners, edges, surfaces… A pioneer in his own right, his quest was perfection.

21322b_lgBy the early 2000s, Hlis had amassed a legendary Michael Jordan collection. His goal had been to own the finest possible examples of each of Mike’s regular 1980s Fleer cards, all 12 of them. Condition was everything, and so when he learned about PSA and the concept of third-party card grading, he started submitting the special cards he himself identified as high-grade. Constantly seeking to upgrade each and every one of those 12 regularly issued Fleer Jordan cards from 1986 through 1989, Hlis (and the rest of the card world) soon learned that some of those iconic Jordans would prove to be far more difficult to find in perfect condition than others. On the rare occasions that he did find a higher-grade copy than he already owned, however, he’d proudly place it into what he soon dubbed his “Fleer Showcase,” the creme de la creme of his graded card collection, and he’d then sell or trade the inferior copies to finance his Jordan insert efforts or to feed his growing Carl Yastrzemski appetite.

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Hlis paid $40,000 for the first ’87 Fleer MJ Sticker PSA 10 in 2000

When someone offered $115,000 for the collection in 1999, DrPSA reluctantly decided it was time to tell his wife what he’d been doing with his optometry equipment after hours. Although she was upset to have been uninformed, MrsPSA encouraged the young doctor, who had just opened his own optometry practice, to keep his cards. Happy she did, Hlis made a website for the collection, and he continued to add to it, paying a record $40,000 for the first 1987 Fleer Sticker to surface in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition in early 2000. Like we said at the start, if you think that sports cards are hot now, then you’re forgetting the years preceding the dotcom and sports card crashes of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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Hlis paid $22,500 for the first ’88 Fleer MJ Sticker PSA 10 in 2000

Case in point, when Hlis ultimately decided to sell his collection the following year, it fetched an astounding sum of $475,000, on eBay of all places, a record for basketball cards. Payment for the entire collection was split in two parts, with $250,000 paid up front for the inserts and non-traditional cards, and the $225,000 balance to be paid for the Fleer Showcase. The sale can still be verified to this day with surviving bank records, showing the first $250,000 payment, but when the dotcom bubble soon burst, precipitating an even steeper crash in the sports card market, DrPSA was stuck with his Showcase, albeit with a quarter million dollars in toe.

21312d_lgFinally making its way back to market for the first time in nearly 15 years is the DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase Collection, which consists of all regularly issued 1980s Michael Jordan Fleer cards, all graded PSA 10 Gem Mint, except for the regular ’88 and ’89 cards which are in BGS holders. Because he was truly a freak — and we say that with all due respect and admiration — the DrPSA Fleer Showcase collection also contains another extremely high-grade 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie card. To be complete, Hlis insisted that his collection also contain the finest BGS-graded 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie card that he could locate through his obsessive searching for the ever-more-perfect Jordan, which at the time meant this incredibly high-grade BGS 9.5 Gem Mint 21321d_lgspecimen pictured here, boasting Pristine 10 subgrades for both its perfect centering and perfect corners. On top of this, the DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase Collection contains yet a third high-grade 1986 Fleer #57 rookie card, chosen to represent the very upper limit of the Mint 9 grade from PSA, that is, a card that looks Gem Mint on first inspection but later reveals a few microscopic imperfections inconsistent with the top grade.

All 15 cards are currently available in Buy-It-Now listings with the option to make offers in the Small Traditions web store and on eBay, where we are previewing them for the first two weeks of August, in accordance with our consignor’s wishes. Any cards that have not sold by August 19th will then be listed with no reserve in our Third Annual Exclusive 100-Lot Summer Premium Auction, featuring The Supermen of The Hobby: Superman, Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter and Mike Trout. In addition to some incredible items featuring these other hobby icons, the complete DrPSA Michael Jordan Fleer Showcase will be available in one lot, and the individual cards will also be listed in individual lots, with the cards selling via whichever format delivers the highest aggregate price for our consignor.

Additional reading:  Please click here to read an article about Dr. Hlis and his Michael Jordan collection, published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Visit the auction August 18th to the 29th: http://smalltraditions.com/catalog.aspx

Limited Consignments Considered at 0% by Aug 17th

To make private offers, or to consign additional Jordan, Mantle, Jeter, Trout, or Superman items, please write info@smalltraditions.com or call 303.832.1975.