Tonight, Heritage Auctions closes the first night of their Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction. We preview what lots we're following and what are some trends you should keep your eyes on.
Trends to Watch
The Uptick in Tickets
As the ticket market has continued to develop, my colleague Dylan publishes an incredibly insightful piece of recurring content that ranks the top 10 ticket sales and gives a brief state of the market. This Heritage Auction is going to keep Dylan busy. It looks like he is already aware of the influence this auction will have on the market.
The headline ticket is a 1984 Michael Jordan debut (more on that one in the next section) but it is the depth and diversity of this auction that is the biggest storyline. Prior to this auction, Heritage has sold one sports ticket for more than $100,000. That was a ticket from Tom Brady’s first career touchdown which struck a hammer price of $144,000 in November. After this auction closes, the top two ticket sales of all time will have occurred at Heritage, and the auction house will have a claim to at least two, but possibly three more six-figure sales. There is a 1947 Jackie Robinson Debut Stub that has already reached $312,000 with buyer’s premium and eyes will be on a 1996 Tiger Woods Professional Debut ticket which could close in on $100K by the final hammer.
One additional ticket worth following is the 1939 Lou Gehrig Day Stub that is graded PSA 2. Currently, on the list of the top ticket sales, there is a Gehrig stub that was sold by Heritage in 2014 for $95,600. That stub is the only known example that is signed by Gehrig and if the PSA 2 example can push towards that 2014 price, that would be another bullish sign for the overall market.
How many will there be? Everything from documents and cards, plus jerseys and sneakers, are all on the table to break through $1 million at this event. There are already a few offerings that have exceeded the seven-figure ceiling such as a Jackie Robinson Questionnaire and a Mickey Mantle jersey. Some other lots that could push towards one million are the 1986 Fleer Basketball Complete Set, which is already priced at $630,000, and a 2018 Panini National Treasures Luka Doncic RPA which has a $725,000 reserve. This auction also has a pair of 1986 Michael Jordan Game Worn and photo-matched Air Jordan 1 Sneakers that could also price above $1 million.
There is no question this event is filled with six-figure items, but as the sports collectibles and memorabilia markets continue to expand, how many seven-figure sales this auction delivers is an important factor to follow.
Lots to Watch
“To open door for Negroes in organized ball”. That was Jackie Robinson’s response to a 1946 American Baseball Bureau questionnaire that asked about his ambition in baseball. This is the first time Jackie pens a statement that shows his intent to break the color barrier in America’s game. This piece combines American history with sports memorabilia in a way that few pieces can. The estimate for the questionnaire is over $1 million and the document has already cleared seven figures and sits at a $1.68 million with buyer’s premium heading into the final hours of the event.
How much has the sports memorabilia market grown in the last year? This Mickey Mantle jersey will give collectors and investors a state of the market this weekend as this iconic piece of history makes its third appearance at Heritage in less than five years. In February 2017, the jersey sold for $486,000 and then struck a hammer price of $850,000 in August 2020. The inscribed Mantle jersey has already reached $855,000 heading into live bidding. The jersey is photo matched to Mantle’s final game as a New York Yankee in addition to the 1968 MLB All-Star Game and his 534th and 535th home runs.
As previously mentioned, the list of top ticket sales will see plenty of changes after this weekend. No change is quite as impactful though as this 1984 Michael Jordan Debut Full Ticket which already sits at a record price for the asset class. The ticket is the only full example known to exist and could push over $500,000 before the hammer drops.
Yes, there is more than sports cards and memorabilia at this auction, and the non-sports items are just as intriguing. This flight cap was worn by Earhart during his historic trip across the Atlantic Ocean. The journey made her the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean and is a period of 20 hours and 40 minutes that will forever live in history books. This incredible one-of-one artifact is photo-matched and has a current price of $150,000.
The unofficial face of collectible sports cards makes another appearance at Heritage as the auction house will sell a PSA 8 graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. This iconic card has experienced volatility over the last year but the last two public sales have been the two highest sales of all time, with prices breaking above $2 million in July and October. Heritage actually sold this exact card one year ago, on February 27, 2021, for $885,000. This furthers the importance of this Mantle sale as it will give collectors and investors a direct year-over-year comparison when reviewing price changes of one of baseball's flagship pieces of cardboard.
When we said this auction was loaded with unique pieces of memorabilia, we were not kidding. Usually, when we see the name ‘Honus Wagner’ make headlines at an auction, it’s a T206 card. In this instance though, it is a 1939 wristwatch that was presented to Mr. Wagner at the 1939 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Not only does this watch carry value due to the player it was gifted to, but it is also from the grand opening of the baseball Hall of Fame. Wagner was the first infielder inducted into Cooperstown and was part of the first class to ever earn a spot among baseball immortality. Based on its history and provenance, the watch could strike a six-figure hammer price.
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