They may not have seemed the most likely sports fans, but a group of Baltimore nuns found themselves in the money recently as they sold a rare copy of the world's most valuable baseball card for $262,900 at Heritage's Signature® Sports Auction.
The Honus Wagner T206 card, one of only 60 known to exist, was left to the School Sisters of Notre Dame convent by the brother of one of its nuns earlier this year. A mint condition copy of this 'holy grail' of baseball cards sold in 2007 for a World Record $2.8m, and although the nuns' card was slightly tattered and creased it still broke its estimated price by some margin.
The nuns sold the card in order to fund various Christian charity projects, and so touched were the auctioneers Heritage by their story that they agreed to donate their 15% seller's commission to the good cause.
Heritage could afford to be generous, as the sale was full of superb pieces. Amongst the other stand-out items were two pieces with real historical significance, and as we predicted last month they were the stars of the sale.
Top of the list was the home jersey worn by Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig during his first MVP season for the New York Yankees. It sold for a staggering $717,000 and became the most expensive Yankees shirt of all time, breaking the record of $657,250 previously held by Babe Ruth's 1933 jersey.
The market for baseball collectibles has broken record after record in recent years, and on this evidence it shows no sign of slowing down.
Lou Gehrig's jersey and the 'Miracle On Ice' gold medal stole
the show at the Heritage auction
The other main item of interest was the first gold medal from the 1980 Miracle On Ice victory of the US Olympic hockey team ever to surface at public auction.
Chosen by the International Ice Hockey federation as the greatest story of the century, it saw an American team of amateur and college players defeat the Russian World Champions on their way to picking up the gold. The story has entered American sports folklore and the legendary status of the team was reflected in the $310,700 paid for the medal, more than tripling its estimate.
The record-breaking auction, held in Dallas, brought in a final sale total of $5.2m, with a large number of lots going way above their pre-sale estimates.
These figures prove that, despite the current economic climate, collectors are more than willing to invest serious money in the sports collectibles market and show no sign of stopping. After all, who knows where Honus Wagner will turn up next...
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