Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2021 Issue

Another Record Price and Two More News Items about Collectible Cards

You can buy a piece of this record-setting card (Collectable photo).

We have been writing lately about record prices for baseball and other sports cards seemingly ad nauseam. You may wonder why we do this on a rare books site, besides the fact they are constantly hitting new record prices. Actually, we also cover other types of paper documents besides books, such as manuscripts, maps, and broadsides. What else is a baseball card? It is a single page paper document, like the Declaration of Independence, only the top baseball cards now bring more money.

 

We are back this month with more such stories, except this time “good news” comes in threes. The first is apparently yet again a record high price. Earlier this year, a new record was established for a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card which sold for $5.2 million. We say “apparently” as this latest record was not a public sale. Nor do we know the exact price paid. According to the Collectable website, “This asset was recently purchased by a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous for an undisclosed sum; however, sources have confirmed it represents the most expensive purchase in sports card history, surpassing the $5.2M sums recently paid for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 9 and a LeBron James rookie card.”

 

We believe this claim is likely true. The card in question was a 1914 rookie card for Babe Ruth, not a major league rookie card, but a minor league one. Ruth first appeared with the Baltimore Orioles, then of the International League. Only 10 of these are known to have survived. It would not be surprising that a pre-major league rookie Ruth card would surpass a later Mickey Mantle major league rookie card. Naturally enough, Ruth is depicted as a pitcher, as he was for his first few seasons before becoming the greatest slugger ever known.

 

That takes us to part two of this story. Collectable is a recently formed business which was created to sell partial interests in collectibles. It's sort of like offering shares in a very large company. For a less than enormous sum of money, you can own a very tiny interest in that firm. Here, you can buy such an interest in sports cards, and this 1914 Babe Ruth is one of them. You can own a share for just $3. The website says that the owner is retaining a 99% ownership in this card which is valued at $5,940,000. This means they have valued the card at $6 million (we do not know whether this represents the price paid for it). If you are wondering, $3 represents a .00005% interest in the card.

 

There are many more cards available from Collectable for which you can purchase fractional shares, such as Lebron James, Willie Mays, Luca Doncic, Derek Jeter and many more. They also conduct a secondary market so you can sell your .00005% interest in the Ruth card in case you tire of being an owner of something you will never touch yourself (it is being held in a Baltimore museum). Most people are likely buying this in hopes of making a profit on it rather than pride of ownership. Time will tell.

 

The final item of news is that Major League baseball is now getting into the NFT collectible card field. We wrote about non-fungible tokens recently. An NFT is a marker that identifies a digital image, otherwise easily copied, as being a unique one. It is a way of identifying an artwork, first digital edition, or now, digital baseball card, as the first or one of a kind. This may have sounded silly until an NFT identified item of original digital art by Beeple sold for $69.3 million. It is a joke no more. NBA TopShot, another recently launched NFT firm, has sold NFT video clips for as much as $200,000. It's no wonder Major League Baseball wants a piece of the action.

 

With Candy Digital its partner, MLB will shortly begin selling NFTs. The first, which will go on sale July 4, will be a Lou Gehrig NFT, to honor his “Luckiest Man” speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. Gehrig, obviously, is not participating in this, but MLB says it is starting this way to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as “Lou Gehrig's Disease.” It took his life two years later.

 

This all seems crazy to those of us who grew up collecting five-cent packs of baseball cards. No one is going to flip a $6 million baseball card, and no one can flip an NFT baseball card. Is this some sort of insanity, a bubble, or is this the future? Are multimillion dollar cards and NFTs another Mississippi Company or Dutch tulips, or are they the next Manhattan Island, purchased for $24 worth of beads? I don't know, but for now I'm holding onto my money.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.

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