Auction Action: The September PWCC Premier Auction

With sports cards having begun a recovery from the depths reached in the early stages of summer, fractional investors will be watching this fall's auction results with great interest to determine if that recovery can continue. One such auction, the PWCC Premier, closed this past weekend, and in many cases, the results suggest that the recovery remains intact. We saw many instances of sale prices hurdling mid and late summer outcomes, even if they still fall well short of spring peaks.

However, the results also raise the question: have fractional values recovered too quickly?

In our analysis of the sales below, we've grouped results as follows:

  • Encouraging Signals - results that clearly reflect favorably on comparable fractional assets
  • Warning Signs - results that clearly reflect negatively on comparable fractional assets
  • Mixed Messages - results that reflect favorably on one marketplace's asset but unfavorably on another's
  • The Field - remaining results that either aren't notably or significantly in conflict with a fractional asset's valuation or are otherwise inconclusive

The number of warning signs is noticeably, disproportionately high relative to those results that highlight opportunity. Of course, each of these sales is just one, lone data point that speaks mainly to short term movement. So, where possible, we've also explored how each card is trending to view their trajectories in a broader context that might inform decision-making beyond the short term.

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Encouraging Signals

2003 Topps Chrome Refractor LeBron James

Image: PWCC

PWCC (BGS 10 Pristine): $150,000

Rally (BGS 10 Pristine): $101,250 (8/26/21)

Otis (PSA 10): $84,451.5

Anybody in fractional or the hobby is aware of the plight of LeBron cards in the late spring and early summer, but perhaps this is a sign that things are continuing to trend in a better direction. This card last sold at an auction house with Goldin back in May for $135,300, which of course was down considerably from results attained just months earlier. The Rally card last traded in late August, when it was down slightly. We have seen BGS 10 Lebron Chrome Refractors trade at 1.25-1.5x PSA 10s.

1953 Topps Jackie Robinson

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8): $40,800

Collectable (PSA 8): $32,000

The 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson maintains its steady upward trajectory, continuing to recover from lower levels in the late spring. This card last sold for $32,400 at Robert Edward Auctions in August, just as Collectable was launching their card at a $32,000 valuation. That card will trade on October 18th with a strong comp on record more than 25% higher.

Warning Signs

2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady Rookie Auto 35/100

Image: PWCC

PWCC  (BGS 8.5 Auto 10): $1,590,000

Collectable (BGS 8.5 Auto 10): $2,150,000 Trading November

 

Collectable’s card, which features lower Centering, Surface, and Edges grades but a higher Corners grade, fully funded this past weekend at a valuation well in excess of the result from PWCC, which boasts a 10 Centering grade and is held back by an 8 grade for Corners. The result is down from a $1.68mm result for another 8.5 at Goldin in late April and from $2.25mm for an 8.5 wit ha 9 auto grade at Lelands in early April. It is in line, however, with a May sale from Heritage.

1984 Topps John Elway

Image: PWCC

PWCC (BGS 10 Pristine): $18,000

Collectable (2x PSA 10): $26,775

Recent months have not been particularly kind to Elway rookies either. This result is down from spring prices closer to $30k. It has not been uncommon to see this card graded BGS 10 sell for a little over 2x a PSA 10, which would deliver an inferred PSA 10 value higher than recent sale prices. For example, a PSA 10 sold at Goldin in August for $5,842.50, and many results have landed in a similar range. Oddly, the Collectable basket is up over 40% in the last month despite those soft comps.

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $264,000

Collectable (PSA 10): $390,000

 

The disparity in value here forces this result into the Warning Sign section, but as we know, PSA 10 Fleer Jordans are far from created equal and the volatility of outcomes is evidence. Without the distinction of a PWCC-S eye appeal grade, this result pales in comparison to PWCC’s $840k July record, and it also trails their $408k August sale. The mid-to-high $200k range has not been unchartered territory for cards of similarly middling eye-appeal in recent months. The Collectable card remains in the neighborhood of that August sale, and it’s been relatively flat over the last month. It does appear to be of a higher caliber than the example sold with PWCC this month.

1969 Topps Lew Alcindor

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8): $34,800

Rally (PSA 8): $50,375

Another card showing signs of stabilization despite sitting at less than 50% of peak levels. PWCC last sold an 8 in late June for $33,433, and Goldin has early and late August sales of $33,600 and $31,980 respectively. So, this sale breaks that descent. Rally’s card is up 83% since its November IPO and was essentially flat in its last trading session at the end of August, despite a difficult string of comps.

1951 Bowman Willie Mays

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 7): $48,000

Collectable (PSA 7): $87,615

This card now trades at roughly half of levels attained back in March, and unlike some others, it has continued to skid lower through summer. This result at PWCC is lower than PWCC’s last sale, $66,000 in May, and just shy of an August sale at Goldin for $50,400. The Collectable card is down 11.5% since IPO in April, having begun trading about two months ago.

1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $52,800

Rally (PSA 10): $87,500

While Super Mario the video game character has been on fire in the alt world, sales of the hockey legend’s key card have been severely challenged for months. In one way, this sale is a relief, as a PSA 10 brought in just $15,000 at Heritage in late August…yikes. While this sale serves to confirm that result was largely an outlier, it still falls short of PWCC’s July sale for $60,000. Both that July card and this one were rated in the top 30% on eye appeal by PWCC. The Rally card launched back in April and has yet to trade.

2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Factory Sealed Booster Box

Image: PWCC

PWCC: $24,000

Rally: $45,000

This result comes in light versus Goldin’s $29,520 sale from this weekend, with both significantly below Spring 2021 peaks. The box was initially offered in mid April, when a $45,000 valuation was not unreasonable, but as with the rest of the market, those levels quickly became unattainable and have not yet recovered.

 

1999 Pokémon Fossil 1st Edition Booster Box Sealed

Image: PWCC

PWCC: $10,800

Rally: $17,220

While the Fossil Box routinely garnered results in the ballpark of the current valuation on Rally in the early stages of 2021, it’s been quite some time since it has tested those levels. PWCC sold two boxes inl ate July for $10,800 and $12,100 respectively, and this result is of course even with the former. The Fossil Box is down 18% since its January IPO, but actually gained 14% in its most recent late July trading window. Huh.

 

1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition Factory Sealed Booster Box

Image: PWCC

PWCC: $12,000

Rally: $27,600

This result doesn’t represent an outlier, despite the large gap to the valuation on Rally. The $12,000 sale is in-line with a Goldin sale for $12,300 in late August and is a decline from PWCC’s June sale for $14,700. Goldin also sold a box this past weekend for $13,530, and two boxes for $23,370. The Jungle Box, though down 20% since IPO, was flat in its most recent July trading window, as fractional Pokémon assets continue to show greater resistance than their comparable auction sales.

2002-03 Panini Mega Craques Cristiano Ronaldo

Image: PWCC

PWCC (BGS 9): $14,400

Otis (BGS 9.5): $118,360

 

This sale of a BGS 9 actually very narrowly trails two July PSA 8 sales, one of which was on PWCC, so suffice it to say, not a particularly strong result here. We have previously seen this card in a BGS 9.5 command 2.5-3x a BGS 9 at auction, though overlapping sales have been limited in recent years. The Otis card IPO’d back in February and is up an incredible 450% since, including a gain of over 30% in the last month as CR7 returned to Old Trafford.  

Mixed Messages

2000 SP Authentic Tom Brady

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $114,000

Collectable (PSA 10): $164,415

Otis (PSA 10): $105,576

Rally (BGS 10 Pristine): $325,000 (funded)

The chasm between the valuations of this card on Collectable and Otis is quite large, and this particular result from PWCC nods closer to the Otis valuation that that of Collectable. However, it is an improvement on PWCC’s last July sale of a PSA 10 for $96,000, as the return of football season brings the immortal and still improving GOAT into renewed focus. Rally’s Pristine 10 launched and was fully funded earlier this month, though PWCC most recently sold a BGS 10 for $240,000 in August.

1981 Topps Joe Montana

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $57,600

Rally (PSA 10): $70,000

Otis (PSA 10)): $43,440

Collectable (PSA 10): $65,975

Another asset represented by all three platforms, and in the same grade on each. The result here represents a step in the right direction, as a recent August Goldin sale brought in only $44k. The last PWCC sale was in May for $60,000. The Rally card launched in late March, while both the Collectable and Otis cards are down in the low-to-mid single digits over the last month.

2004 Panini Mega Cracks Lionel Messi

Image: PWCC

PWCC (BGS 9): $24,000

Collectable (PSA 9): $62,436

Otis (BGS 9.5): $63,625.6

Rally (BGS 9.5): $46,800

Another card with unanimous representation, though none of the fractional cards share the exact grade sold at PWCC. This sale of a BGS 9 comes in at half the value of PWCC’s sale of a PSA 9 last month. We’ve seen similar multiples in the past, typically quite close to 2x with some flexibility in either direction. We’ve also seen BGS 9.5s garner 2.5-3x the value of a BGS 9. The card on Collectable is down 20% since IPO, though up close to 10% over the last month. The Rally card was down 13% in its last session in early August, though it remains up slightly from its December 2020 IPO value. Finally, the example on Otis is up nearly 90% since its February IPO, despite dipping 6% over the last month.

The Field

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

Image: PWCC

PWCC (SGC 7): $336,000

Rally (SGC 7): $340,000

The result at PWCC comes in roughly in-line with the Rally valuation, which was recently buoyed by a staggering 49% increase in late August. While this outcome is down significantly from PWCC’s last sale of an SGC 7 in March for $550,000, it only slightly trails their July sale of a PSA 7 for $350,000.

1953 Topps Mickey Mantle

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8.5): $240,000

Collectable (PSA 8): $98,000

The 8.5 that sold with PWCC this month is just one of four in existence, so comps are few and far between. However, for cards of this era, we’ve seen the half point garner in the neighborhood of 3x more or less in either direction. A PSA 8 last traded in May for $96k. The Collectable card was funded in mid-August and is set to begin trading October 14th.

1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson

Image: PWCC

PWCC (SGC 8): $186,000

Rally (PSA 8): $318,750

An SGC 8 Jackie Robinson rookie sold in early April with Goldin for $288,000. Like many cards, of course, there has been a precipitous drop since, which sees PWCC’s SGC 8 close over $100k lower. SGC-graded copies of this card have traded at a considerable discount to their PSA counterparts in the past – for example, in April at Goldin, a PSA 7 traded at only a 17% discount to the SGC 8 sale. The last sale of a PSA 8 was at Heritage in late August for $372,000. Rally's card traded down 15% in its most recent July window.

1955 Topps Sandy Koufax

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8.5): $156,000

Collectable (PSA 9): $472,625

 

It’s always eye-opening to zoom out and consider just how far things have moved in a year. PWCC sold a PSA 8.5 back in September of 2020 for $35k. Just twelve months later, results are almost 5x that. There are just seventeen 8.5s in the PSA population so auctions don’t come along particularly often. In the past, we have seen PSA 9s trade at roughly 2.5-3x the value of an 8.5.

1968 Topps Nolan Ryan

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8.5): $28,800

Rally (PSA 9): $65,000

As is often the case with half point grades on vintage cards, there have not been a plethora of recent sales. However, previous sales data suggests that PSA 9s have typically garnered 2.5-3x more on the basis of that extra half point. This card was initially offered by Rally in March and traded down 7% in its first trading window in July.

2009 Bowman Chrome Xfractor Mike Trout

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $78,000

Rally (BGS 9.5): $56,000

This card, with a print run of 225, has a total PSA and BGS population of 207 - not a lot left to be slabbed! We have seen PSA 10s trade 1.5-1.75x higher than BGS 9.5s. PSA 10s carry a population of 19, while there are 105 9.5s in the Beckett population.

1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $78,000

Rally (PSA 10): $80,000

 

Rally’s Jordan sticker was offered in late July and fully funded at an $80,000 valuation. This result comes in just shy of that level and just shy of PWCC’s last $81k sale in July. While the sticker saw numerous six figure sales in the earlier parts of 2021, it has since more consistently embraced these levels, much as the 86 Fleer Jordan card has consolidated.

1981 Topps Magic Johnson

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $22,800

Otis (PSA 10): $26,070

This result is actually on the stronger side for recent sales of this card. Goldin sold one in August for $16,800. The Otis card launched at $47,400 in March of this year, when the market was near its peak, and it’s down 35% since, though the valuation still lingers above recent comps.

 

1981 Topps Larry Bird

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $25,200

Rally (PSA 10): $30,000

Magic’s longtime rival, Larry Bird, also saw his first standalone card generate a relatively strong result at PWCC. The last sale of this card was in July at Heritage for $22,800. The Bird card launched on Rally in mid-August at a $30k valuation and has yet to begin trading.

1980 Topps Scoring Leaders Larry Bird & Magic Johnson Rookie

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 9): $31,200

Rally (PSA 9): $30,000

PWCC ranked the card that they sold a PWCC-E, meaning it ranks in the top 15% of the population on eye appeal. That may help to explain why this result ranks above many recent results, including an early August sale and a late August sale at Goldin for $26,400 and $24,000 respectively. Still, a continued recovery and significant move upward is welcome news for a card that skidded from levels nearing six figures in early 2021 to under $20,000 just months later. Rally’s card launched August 11th at a value of $30,000.

2018 Panini Prizm Blue Prizms Luka Doncic

Image: PWCC

PWCC (BGS 9.5): $38,400

Collectable (PSA 10): $57,188

This sale at PWCC is roughly in line with both a late June and early April Goldin sale of a BGS 9.5 for $39,600. A PSA 10 has not sold since June, when it went for nearly $56k, though the lack of movement on a BGS 9.5 since then suggests there may be some stability for 10s as well. The Collectable card is down 5% since its March IPO, though shares have recovered over 15% in the last month.

1965 Topps Joe Namath

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 8): $144,000

Rally (PSA 8.5): $225,000

 

It’s important to note that this card carried the distinction of a PWCC-S rating, meaning they grade it in the top 5% of cards on eye appeal. That helps to explain how this result so handily hurdles the August sale of an 8 at Heritage for $78,000. In the past, we’ve seen PSA 8.5s trade at roughly 2-2.25x the value of a PSA 8. However, given the eye appeal, that multiple would not hold unless you believed the Rally example, not yet launched at a $225,000, is of a similarly high caliber (top 5%), which seems unlikely.

1999 Pokémon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard

Image: PWCC

PWCC (PSA 10): $252,000

Rally (PSA 10): $245,000

 

The PWCC result comes in effectively in-line with the Rally valuation, which fell 30% during an early July trading window. It trails a $270,600 result at Goldin that also closed this weekend, and is down considerably from PWCC’s last sale in April for nearly $350k. 

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