January 7, 2014 — Denver-based Auction firm Small Traditions LLC recently concluded its Inaugural Premium Holiday Auction on Saturday January 4th, and the results were nothing short of breath-taking, with record-setting prices realized for any cards produced after 1969 and graded PSA 9 Mint and PSA 7 NM. In addition to dozens of other staggering sales, a PSA 9 Mint 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold #100 Derek Jeter Rookie Card, one of just thirty copies in existence, sold for a staggering $13,479, making it one of the most expensive PSA 9 Mint-graded baseball cards in the hobby, and a 1980 WBTV Charlotte O’s #16 Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Card fetched a record $12,307.
According to vintagecardprices.com, only a handful of post-1950s baseball cards have ever realized higher prices in the grade of PSA 9 Mint than the rare Mirror Gold Derek Jeter, including the famous trio from the condition sensitive 1962 Topps set — Roger Maris at about $27,000, Sandy Koufax at about $15,000 (but once for as high as $66,000) and Mickey Mantle at $17,500 — plus a record-setting 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie Card at $14,044, a record-setting 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie Card at $15,986, and finally the infamous 1969 Topps Mickey White Name Variation, a Pop 4 in PSA 9 condition, which has fetched between $13,500 and $17,000 the few times it has surfaced over the last decade. That’s some pretty high-class company for baseball’s newest member of the elite 3,000-hit club.
As for the record-breaking PSA 7 NM 1980 WBTV Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card, we have to go back to Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps high-number to find a more expensive card in the grade. One of the most famous baseball cards ever produced, a PSA 7 NM 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle runs anywhere between $26,000 and $42,000, with the highest prices paid for nicely centered copies. And before the The Mick’s iconic ’52 Topps card, we have to go all the back to the 1930s to a find a more expensive PSA 7 NM, with the scarce 1933 Goudey #106 Nap Lajoie card realizing about $35,000. Of course, Babe Ruth is also featured in the classic 1933 Goudey set, on four different cards in fact, but only two of those famous four Ruths command higher price tags than the 1980 WBTV Charlotte O’s Ripken RC in PSA 7 NM condition, including the 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth yellow back, which runs anywhere from $14,000 to $26,000, and the 1933 Goudey #149 Babe Ruth red back, which costs about $13,000. The other two Ruths, the #144 full body pose and #181 green back, average about $8,500 and $6,800 in PSA 7 NM condition, respectively. And so baseball’s “Iron Man” continues to set records.
In addition to these historical sales, a number of other significant hobby masterpieces also realized strong final prices in Small Traditions’ Inaugural Premium Holiday Auction. A 1979 Topps #18 Wayne Gretzky Blank Back Rookie Card graded BVG 9.5 Gem Mint led the pack at $12,983, while a BVG 9 Mint example of The Great One’s O-Pee-Chee rookie realized a near record at $5,275. The only 1968 Topps #5 NL Home Run Leaders card graded PSA 10 Gem Mint realized $3,810, while a 1983 O-Pee-Chee #83 Ryne Sandberg brought $1,290, and a pair of Bo Jackson 1987 McDag Auburn Tigers Greats cards fetched $2,931. One of the hobby’s finest 1984 Topps #63 John Elway RCs graded BGS 10 Pristine sold for $6,154, and a 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan RC shattered recent eBay sales figures for the card with a final price tag of $4,982. With its extremely detailed descriptions and high-resolution scans, that seemed to be the theme of Small Traditions’ most recent monthly auction, with strong prices and happy consignors across the board. Returning to Jeter and Ripken, a 1992 Little Sun Derek Jeter Autograph RC graded PSA 10 Gem Mint brought in $6,447, and a 1982 Fleer Test Cal Ripken Jr. RC graded PSA Authentic sold for $2,580, both records for public sales (a PSA 10 1992 Little Sun Jeter Autograph sold privately last summer for a whopping $15,000).
Top Sales from Small Traditions Inaugural December Premium Holiday Auction:
- 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold #100 Derek Jeter RC PSA 9 Mint $13,479
- 1980 WBTV Charlotte O’s #16 Cal Ripken Jr. RC PSA 7 NM $12,307
- 1979 Topps #18 Wayne Gretzky Blank Back RC BGS 9.5 Gem Mint $12,893
- 1992 Little Sun High School Autographs Derek Jeter RC PSA 10 $6,447
- 1984 Topps #63 John Elway RC BGS 10 Pristine $6,154
- 1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky RC BGS 9 Mint $5,275
- 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan RC BGS 9.5 Gem Mint $4,982
- 1996 Topps Chrome Refractors #138 Kobe Bryant RC BGS 9.5 $4,982
- 1968 Topps #5 NL Home Run Leaders PSA 10 Gem Mint $3,810
- 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 4 VG-EX $3,224
- 1996 Leaf Signature Extended Century Marks Derek Jeter PSA 10 $2,814
- 1986 Fleer Stickers #8 Michael Jordan RC PSA 10 Gem Mint $2,697
- 1997 Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractors Derek Jeter Auto PSA 10 $2,697
- 2009 Bowman Sterling Gold Refs Mike Trout Auto RC BGS 10 $2,697
- 1982 Fleer Test Issue Cal Ripken Jr. RC PSA Authentic $2,580
- 1986 Topps #161 Jerry Rice RC BGS 9.5 Gem Mint $2,462
- 1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose RC PSA 8 NM-MT $2,228
Free Grading with PSA and BGS on Items Valued Over $100
Unique within the industry, Small Traditions also offers free grading with PSA and BGS on cards valued above $100 and free authentication with PSA/DNA and JSA on autographs valued above $200. Most of the items in its Inaugural Premium Holiday Auction, in fact, were graded by Small Traditions at no cost to its consignors. The company is currently seeking consignments for its January, February and March Monthly Masterpieces Plus Auctions, and it will be returning to its exclusive 100-Lot Premium Auction format in April to mark the beginning of the 2014 MLB season. Please call 303.832.1975 or write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.