Auction Prices Realized: The Power of PSA Grading

 

Last week, a much-anticipated online auction of the 1933 Goudey Baseball set, graded “Current Finest” on the PSA Set Registry, came to a close. Each one of the 240 cards up for bid comprised its own lot with many of the biggest names in baseball history represented: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx and Nap Lajoie, to name just a few. When the online bidding concluded at Heritage Auctions, a total of 3,927 bids were posted with the top 10 selling cards (all PSA graded) alone fetching more than $2.3 million. It was a remarkable event led by the sale of two highly coveted PSA Mint 9-graded cards – Lou Gehrig #160 and Babe Ruth #144 – that combined for more than $1.1 million. Kind of ironic when one recalls that this set was released when America was in the throes of the Great Depression and the nation’s unemployment rate soared as high as 25%.

Aside from the expected windfalls stemming from the legendary player names, several outstanding results were recorded of lesser-known players from yesteryear whose cards were all authenticated, graded and encapsulated by PSA. This entry will pinpoint three such cards that demonstrate the impact of PSA grading coupled with low population reports. If you purchased the following three cards ungraded, on the high-end of hobby price guides, you might have paid upwards of $2,525. If you then submitted the cards for grading to PSA and ultimately put them up for auction, you might very well have brought in as much as $98,400. See below for some eye-popping examples.

Lot # 50184 – Charley Berry #184 (PSA Mint 9) = $38,400

Berry was a well-traveled catcher who played for three different teams during his 11-year MLB career: the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. He averaged playing in just 64 games a season and hit only 23 home runs, but his 1933 Goudey #184 still sold for an astounding $38,400! A quick glance at the latest edition of the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards reveals that Berry’s ungraded card, in nearly perfect condition, would cost around $175. But once that card is authenticated, graded and encapsulated by PSA, and its condition is deemed outstanding and its population report is found to be extremely low, its value can skyrocket. In this case, the Berry card that sold is the only one of its kind ever graded in PSA Mint 9 condition: Population One, None Higher.

Lot # 50006 – Jimmy Dykes #6, Age 36 (PSA Mint 9) = $33,600

Between 1918 and 1939, Dykes devoted 22 years of his life to playing professional baseball. He was a platooning infielder who played all three bags and recorded a lifetime fielding percentage of .952. At the plate, he batted a respectable .280. Last week the man’s 1933 Goudey #6 card (Age is 36 in Bio) sold for a jaw-dropping $33,600. Comparing prices inside the same Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards, it shows that the Dykes’ card, again in nearly perfect condition, would cost approximately $350 ungraded. That same card, once it goes through the process of PSA authentication, grading and encapsulation, could easily appreciate ten-fold. In this case, thanks to the fact that it’s the only one of its kind to earn the PSA Mint 9 grade, the card multiplied by nearly a century mark: Population One, None Higher.

Lot # 50002 – Dazzy Vance #2 (PSA NM-MT 8) = $26,400

Vance was a right-handed pitcher who played for 16 seasons in the big leagues between 1915 and 1935. He recorded a pair of 20-win seasons (28 and 22) in 1924 and ’25, respectively, for the then-Brooklyn Robins, and was even named the National League MVP following the latter campaign. A 1955 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, his 1933 Goudey #2 sold for $26,400 last week. Price ranges found inside the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards show that his ungraded Goudey card could cost upwards of $2,000 on the high-end. But once the card is authenticated, graded and encapsulated by PSA, and its condition deemed remarkable and its population report is found to be low, its value can easily multiply at auction. In this case, the Vance card that sold five days ago is one of only 12 in existence that have earned PSA Near Mint-Mint 8 status with no other examples grading higher: Population 12, None Higher.

Posted by Terry Melia

Terry Melia is a hobby veteran who has served in various PR and marketing roles for industry movers and shakers including The Upper Deck Company and SCP Auctions and is currently working as PSA's Public Relations Specialist.

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