Six Items Top $100,000 in REA Fall Auction

An autographed Babe Ruth baseball leads the way, selling for $144,000

REA’s fall auction ended Sunday night with lots of high-dollar items. These auctions are the type that people follow, even if they aren’t invested in any bids themselves.

The big-ticket item was a nearly perfect looking baseball that was autographed by Babe Ruth that sold for $144,000. But that item had plenty of company at the top as six items sold for more than $100,000.

Four of those were pre-war items and the Babe owned the top three slots. The second-highest item was a 1917 Boston Store Ruth (SGC 40) that sold for $132,000. The Boston Store cards are a rare trade issue and the fact that this was a second-year card of Ruth increased the value.

Right behind that was a signed 1933 Ruth Goudey, which earned $132,000. That card tied with a PSA 6 Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card as well as an unopened 1958 Topps football box.

Rounding out the $100,000 items was the famous Ty Cobb-backed card that REA advertised back in July.

That card was the latest discovery of a Cobb-backed tobacco issue and was expected to bring big money, which it did in selling for $108,000. But interestingly, it’s also probably a little less than expected. According to PSA, a PSA 1.5 sold for nearly twice that in 2016 and in 2014, a PSA 1 sold for $154,050.

So what’s the deal? Two things are probably at play here.

First, this was a pretty low-grade PSA 1 with a clean back, but lots of surface issues on the front. The eye appeal wasn’t great and it’s just another example of not all PSA 1s being alike. Some PSA 1s look incredible and others, like this one, look very much like a 1. Eye appeal these days is all the rage as collectors are happy to pay a premium for low-graded cards that look great.

The other thing at work here, obviously, is that the Cobb is a slightly less rare card these days. A recent find of eight of them by a family and a subsequent find of this one auctioned here took the known population to 24, according to Forbes. In other words, about 40% of the total population of the card was discovered in just the past two years. That’s kind of crazy when you think about it.

Now, 24 is still an incredibly low number. And, as a point of comparison, it’s still much rarer than the famous Honus Wagner T206 card. But it’s a number that has increased nonetheless very recently and will probably give some pause to wonder if more finds are just around the corner. Still, because of the condition of the card, it’s also difficult to say that this could be a bellwether for future sales.

Regardless of that price, though, a very strong showing for many cards in the auction.

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