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Heritage Auctions 2023 Winter Sports Card Auction Preview

Heritage Auctions 2023 Winter Sports Card Auction Preview
January 25, 2023
Bradley Calleja

In 2022, Heritage Auctions realized $12.3 million at their Winter Sports Auction as they sold 14 different items for more than $100,000 and moved two vintage baseball cards for at least $500,000. One year later, the auction house is looking to build upon a record-filled year with a strong sale to kick-off 2023.

This edition of the winter sports sale features more than 1,880 lots with baseball representing 56% of all sports. Another dominating theme in this event is the presence of sealed wax and boxes. Last year, 10.9% of all lots in the winter sports auction were boxes and cases of cards. This year, that total is up above 12.3% and more than a dozen boxes could sell for at least $50,000.

Lots to Watch

Lot #50379: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 (1985 Rosen Find) SGC NM-MT 8

The auction house that sold a $12.6 million 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle returns with another high-grade Mantle once owned by Alan “Mr.Mint” Rosen. This SGC 8 is one of just four of comparable grade with only nine examples across SGC and PSA's pop reports that are graded higher. Similar to the SGC 9.5 that sold for a record-breaking price in August, this SGC 8 is recently graded and showcases perfect coloration and crisp corners. It's been nearly seven years since the last recorded sale for a like-graded example, which occurred at Heritage and closed for $274,850. Heading into the final 48-hours of the auction, the Mantle has reached $504,000 and could become the first seven-figure Mantle sold in 2023.

Lot #51688: 1959 Topps Football (First Series) Vending Box

Heritage is the current record-holder for football boxes after selling sealed wax from the 1956 Topps edition for $186,000 in the first quarter of 2022. This beat-up but historic box of 1959 Topps Football cards has already reached six-figures and could be poised to challenge to record with two days remaining in the event. The lineup of players featured in the '59 set includes Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Frank Gifford, Bart Starr, and Bobby Lane among other post-war NFL legends. While the second series produced by Topps has made frequent appearances at auction over the last few years, this first series set is incredibly rare and bidders have taken notice. At the time of publication, the first series vending set has reached $117,000 and is positioned to become the first six-figure football box to sell in the new year.

Lot #58368: 1987 Fleer Basketball Case with 12 Wax Boxes

At its peak, PSA 10 copies of Michael Jordan's second-year Fleer card reached above $50,000 at auction. In recent months, gem mint copies have since receded below $20,000 and the valuations for sealed boxes have also fallen more than 50% from previous highs. One contributing factor to the drop in prices, beyond the overall downturn in the card market, was a surge in auction volume across 2021-22. With volume for individual cards and boxes reaching a fever pitch, cases have maintained more stable pricing, likely due to their rarity compared to solo offerings. For those reader who are new entrants to the hobby, these unopened cases once transacted on sites like eBay for less than $50,000 less than three years ago. Today, the case at Heritage has already priced above $70,000 and is expected to push above $100,000 before the auction closes.

Lot #50727: 1956 Topps Baseball PSA-Graded Complete Set

It's a set that will impress any vintage card collector or general card collector for that matter. Each of the 340 cards included in the set are graded PSA 8 and features baseball icons like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and Roberto Clemente. To date, the most expensive 1956 set ever sold by Heritage was for $108,000 in August. That set carried a PSA rating of 8.07 and also included the two checklists featured in the Topps production. This latest set on Heritage currently sits at $99,000 heading into the final hours of the auction.

All Images via Heritage Auctions

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