The National Sports Collectors Convention was huge for 2016, and it stands as proof that the industry is in great shape. The big take away, though, is that while collectors expect that vintage items, especially the ones that have impressed us before, will always do well, one of the great indicators of how healthy the market is when we see newer items come to the table and sell for well above estimates.
Case in point, the Wayne Gretzky 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card. His TRUE rookie card. It’s not that a Gretzky rookie card hasn’t been a familiar sighting for sports collectors. It’s that this one is PERFECT. This is the only known Gem Mint 10, making it more than just rare. It’s not like there weren’t plenty of these in production, and we also haven’t had decades upon decades for them to bear the marks of time – assuming time doesn’t just swallow some cards whole. This is a modern card. “Modern” and “rare” aren’t often adjectives that are paired together.
At The National, the perfect Gretzky rookie card sold for $465,000. That’s about five times the previous record. This is huge for the sports memorabilia industry and for hockey.
Another example that we took to NSCC: Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 playoff game-used and signed home jersey. It was worn May 3,1998 during Michael Jordan’s final season playing for the Chicago Bulls. This is the only MeiGray Group photo-matched playoff Jordan jersey to come up for sale, and while it was surely going to bring in a great price, estimated at about $100,000, at The National, it sold for $171,500. Modern history is making a statement.
We all expect to see great and consistent numbers from proven vintage items, even Joe Frazier’s jock strap because, hey, it’s Joe Frazier! When vintage collectibles do surprise collectors, it’s usually in a good way (like the 1953 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card). When modern collectibles exceed even the expectations of experts, it’s great confirmation that sports memorabilia as an investment, an industry, is going strong. It’s thriving.
Maybe we’re sentimental, but it seems like the desire to own a slice of history is something incredibly human. To capture time and invest in something with great promise at the same time. How else can you possess the past and the future at the same time?