Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2021 Issue

Another Record Price and Two More News Items about Collectible Cards

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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

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> C.F. Payne, <i>Micawber—Imitating Norman Rockwell's "Triple self-portrait,"</i> acrylic, watercolor & colored pencil, 2002. Sold June 2021 for $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jane Russell, archive of letters written during a whaling voyage, 1840s. Sold July 2021 for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Guild of Women Binders, exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s <i>Henry VIII,</i> London, 1902. Sold July 2021 for $12,350.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Robert Frost, <i>Collected Poems,</i> author’s presentation copy, signed, with entirety of <i>Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening</i> inscribed, NY, 1930. Sold June 2021 for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> James Joyce, <i>Ulysses,</i> deluxe limited issue, signed, London, 1936. Sold June 2021 for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Mercator [family], <i>[World and Continents],</i> 5 double-page maps, Amsterdam, c. 1633. Sold June 2021 for $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Schlegel, <i>New York, Taken from Central Park,</i> hand-finished color-tinted lithograph, 1874. Sold June 2021 for $11,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolaus Copernicus, <i>De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium,</i> second edition, Basel, 1566. Sold April 2021 for $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Book of Hours, Use of Utrecht, illuminated manuscript, c. 1435-45. Sold April 2021 for $60,000.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Bible, English. The Holy Bible, Second Folio edition, the "Great She Bible", engraved More-Speed 1611 map of Canaan, Robert Barker, 1613-11. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Galilei (Galileo). <i>Opere,</i> 2 vol., first collected edition, Bologna, Heirs of Dozza for Carlo Manolessi, 1656-1655. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Venetian choirbook.- Single leaf from a 13th century Venetian antiphonal, with large decorated initial, manuscript on vellum, Venice, [c.1260]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Petrarca (Francesco). <i>Rerum vulrgarium fragmenta,</i> decorated manuscript on paper, Italy, [second half of the 15th century]. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> New York School of abstract expressionists.- Abbott (Mary Lee). [Sketch book of original artwork], [New York], 1945. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Contemporary colouring.- Nitzschewitz (Hermannus). <i>Novum beatae Mariaevirginis psalterium,</i> Zinna, Press of the Cistercian Monastery, 1493. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Shakespeare source book.- Montemayor (Jorge de). Diana of George of Montemayor: translated out of Spanish into English by Bartholomew Yong, first edition in English, B[ishop]., 1598. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Milton (John). Poems of Mr. John Milton, Both English and Latin, Compos'd at several times, first edition, state with "S" in "S. Pauls" in imprint, 1645. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Power and the Glory,</i> first edition, 1940. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Crowley (Aleister). View of the Tyrrhenian Sea, probably from the hill behind the abbey of Thelema, Cefalù, Sicily, charcoal, [1921]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, 1953. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> China.- Thomson (John). <i>Illustrations of China and Its People,</i> 4 vol., first edition, 96 photographic plates, 1873-74. £15,000 to £20,000.
  • <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Athanasius. <i>Illustrium Virorum Opuscula,</i> Paris, 1500. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> <i>The New Testament of Jesus Christ, Translated Faithfully into English,</i> Rheims, John Fogny, 1582. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Stith, William. <i>The First History of Virginia printed in America,</i> [Williamsburg, 1747]. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b><br>S. Bonaventure. <i>Commentarius in Secundum Librum Sententiarum Petri Lombardi,</i> Venice, 1477. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Juvenalis, Junii. <i>Satyrae,</i> with the commentary of Domitius Calderinus, Venice, 1475. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Horatius Flaccus, Quintus. <i>Opera.</i> Ed. with commentary of Christophorus Landinus, Florence, 1482. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Scotus, Duns. <i>Quaestiones in Quattuor Libros Sententiarum,</i> 1476-1477. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Polidori, John. <i>The Vampyre, A Tale,</i> Paris, 1819. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom's Cabin,</i> Vol. I and II, 1852, and a Later Edition, 1885. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Book of Hours, Illuminated Vellum, Calendar of Months, 15th century. $600 to $900.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> <i>Picturesque,</i> America, Europe, Palestine, and Russia, 1872-1885. $400 to $600.

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