Mint 1986 Fleer basketball card set tallies $216,000

Summer Sports Card

1986 Fleer Basketball Cards & Stickers complete, all graded PSA Gem Mint 10. Sold for $216,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions’ two-day Summer Sports Card event, which wrapped July 31, was, to borrow a phrase, hotter than a firecracker. By the time the final buzzer sounded, 1,971 bidders pushed the auction’s tally past the $9.4 million mark. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.

“Last weekend’s sale checks in as our largest Summer Sports Card event to date,” said Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions. “And we are very excited to be launching our Summer Platinum Night event on the heels of this amazing result, as the August event includes hundreds of incredibly significant, museum-worthy pieces. The strength of the sports market in the midst of a global pandemic speaks to the stability of the market, with vintage trading cards leading the charge.”

The National Basketball Association’s return to the hardwood just happened to coincide with the first night of Heritage Auctions’ Summer Sports Card event. And right on time, the 1986 -87 Fleer Basketball Cards & Stickers Complete Set – all graded PSA Gem Mint 10 – realized $216,000 Thursday night. No doubt, Michael Jordan’s two cards in that set helped push that set past its estimate. All by itself, an unopened box of 1986-87 Fleer Basketball cards, containing 36 unopened packs, sold for $90,000.

Summer Sports Card

1986-87 Fleer Basketball wax box with 36 unopened packs. Sold for $90,000. Heritage Auctions image

Three of the Summer Sports Card event’s biggest hits were offerings from the gorgeous 1933 Sports Kings set, manufactured by the Goudey Gum Co. and considered something of a risk at the time since multisports sets had long fallen out of favor. This bubblegum-scented set is more or less the wellspring of the modern sports card artistry and industry, and only a handful of cards of the caliber sold over the weekend are known to exist.

Summer Sports Card

1933 Sport Kings Jim Thorpe #6 PSA Mint 9. Sold for $138,000. Heritage Auctions image

Look no further than the Jim Thorpe card from that collection, which was graded PSA Mint 9 and sold for $138,000; there’s Thorpe’s majestic image hovering over a scrum of footballers. Ty Cobb’s Sports King Card, likewise graded PSA Mint 9, sold for only slightly less at $132,000. That’s the same amount realized for Babe Ruth’s Sports King Card, graded PSA NM-MT+ 8.5.

Summer Sports Card

1933 Sport Kings Babe Ruth #2 PSA NM-MT+ 8.5. Sold for $132,000. Heritage Auctions image

A Red Grange PSA Mint 9 – the highest grade ever awarded this card – sold for $81,000. And a Knute Rockne Sports Kings also graded Mint 9 realized $63,000.

Another big score from the Summer Sports Card event was an unopened box of 1979 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards, which sold for $108,000. No telling how many Wayne Gretzky rookie cards might be in there. Just one of Gretzky’s O-Pee-Chee rookie cards – graded PSA Mint 9, with only two higher known to exist – sold for half that, at $54,000.

Summer Sports Card

1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky #18 PSA Mint 9. Sold for $54,000. Heritage Auctions image

Not surprisingly, one of the oldest collections in the auction proved one of the most valuable: the T201 Mecca Double Folder baseball cards made in 1911. This collection of 50, which sold for $94,800, holds the very top “Current Finest” spot on the PSA Set Registry, an extraordinary achievement given the fragile paper stock and unique design that gave each card a “flip top” revealing a second player beneath.


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