Record Auction Prices Realized for PSA-Certified Original Photos4 min read


Last August, smack dab in the middle of the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, PSA introduced a product line of “jumbo holders,” a new encapsulation service designed for oversized items such as signed and unsigned original photos as well as documents including hand-written letters. The outer dimensions of each holder are exactly the same: 9.73” wide by 13.21” high by 0.322” thick. The insert sizes, however, vary depending upon the item that is being encapsulated, and include the following sizes: 8.5” x 11” as well as 8.5” x 10.5,” 7.5” x 9.5” and 6.25” x 8.25.” The service generally costs $30 per photo encapsulation.

Since the release of the oversized holders we’ve noticed an influx of PSA-authenticated and encapsulated “Type I” photos hitting the auction circuit. For the record, a Type I photo is a 1st generation photograph, developed from the original negative, during the period (within approximately two years) of when the picture was taken. And according to recent auction prices realized (APR), the PSA-certification of these photos has only helped to catapult their values in record numbers.


Case in point: Joseph Jefferson Jackson, a.k.a. “Shoeless Joe” Jackson. The outstanding outfielder who posted a career .356 batting average over 13 MLB seasons, is best remembered for the fallout stemming from the infamous Chicago “Black Sox” World Series scandal of 1919 that eventually banished him from baseball. Despite the harsh consequences of his participation in the scandal, Jackson’s memorabilia continues to be sought after by collectors everywhere. In March, an online event hosted by REA (Robert Edward Auction) featured a particular lot (#2178) that captured Jackson in his early days of playing professional ball. The Type I, PSA-authenticated photograph of Jackson by renowned New York-based baseball photographer Charles Conlon in 1913 sold for a whopping $66,000, doubling the price of its earlier sale at auction in 2012! The photo measures six inches wide by eight inches high and even displays Conlon’s handwritten pencil notation, “Joe Jackson – Cleveland”, on the reverse. Of note is the fact that Jackson is shown wearing a Cleveland Naps road uniform, a style that was worn by the team only during the 1913 and ’14 seasons, a pair of campaigns that saw Jackson bat .373 and .338, respectively. Almost a haunting image of the left-handed batter, the prized keepsake is now protected forever inside its newly christened PSA jumbo holder, complete with its new PSA LightHouse™ label on top.


Another example of a notable APR surrounding yet another PSA-authentiicated Type I photo occurred in February with a picture of the famed “Iron Horse,” Lou Gehrig, during a Spring Training game in 1924 when he was still swatting home runs for the Eastern League’s Hartford Senators. Taken a year before his consecutive games streak began in the Bronx, the photo shows the blurry bat speed of Gehrig swinging through at the plate. He would hit a sizzling .369 that minor league season for Hartford including a total of 37 round-trippers. Measuring 8.75 inches high by 6.5 inches wide, the photo bears stamping on the reverse that reads “COPYRIGHT BY UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD, N.Y.” The online auction, hosted by Heritage Auctions, generated a total of 16 bids for the photo and culminated with a final realized price of $21,600, which meant that the new, encapsulated PSA-authenticated Type I photo sold for four times more than its previous auction sale price just three years earlier!


Even a Type III photo authenticated by PSA earned newfound love during a recent auction once it found its way inside one of the company’s impressive jumbo holders. This photo of Willie Mays, taken in 1951, is encapsulated and certified by PSA as a Type III photo because it was made from a duplicate negative. PSA defines Type III as a second-generation photograph, developed from a duplicate negative or wire transmission, during the period (within approximately two years) of when the picture was taken. Interestingly, the featured photo was used in the production of Mays’ 1952 Topps #261 card. Of note is the fact that the intertwined orange “NY” logo – representing the New York Giants – on Mays’ cap has been airbrushed out for reasons unknown, although the logo does indeed appear on his first Topps trading card. Measuring eight inches wide by 10 inches tall, the photo fetched $10,800 in REA’s recent March auction. According to industry insiders, this represents a record price for a Type III, post WWII photo. Just another fine example demonstrating the power of PSA’s photo authentication services.

Posted by Terry Melia

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

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