Auction preview: What we're watching

Whether it's Indiana Jones, Derek Jeter or the Tune Squad, here's what we're looking at this week in the auction world

Cover Image for Auction preview: What we're watching
Ford signed the card in 2008, the same year "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was released (Credit: Heritage Auctions)

Welcome to cllct's weekly auction preview.

Every Monday, we'll be highlighting sales from the weekend and giving our analysis. Comments are from cllct experts Darren Rovell and Will Stern.

1993 Upper Deck SP Foil #279 Derek Jeter Rookie PSA 10

Will Stern: Jeter’s top rookie card is notorious for its condition-sensitive all foil fronts, a double-edged sword that elevated the aesthetics but made the card easy prey to surface scratches other ‘dings’. But of course, that’s what makes this card a true modern grail. According to gemrate, 48,035 copies have been graded by PSA, BGS, SGC, and CGC combined. Just 0.6% received a Gem Mint grade. PSA’s census is even stingier, with a mere 21 PSA 10 examples out of 24,629 total graded. Considering the rarity of this card in PSA 10 condition, it’s unsurprising to see it’s been 17 months since the last copy appeared at public auction, selling for $204,000 at Goldin. At its peak, the card reached $600,000 in August 2022. The big storyline I’m keeping an eye on is the venue. Dating back to 2013, CardLadder shows all comparable sales occurred at PWCC, Goldin, eBay, or Heritage. Will the specialty focus of REA help the card — perhaps finding success with their largely vintage-focused customer base — or will the smaller audience and marketing machine fail to bring out the big money?

Circa 1913 Joe Jackson Original Charles Conlon Photograph PSA/DNA Type I

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson Type 1 photo
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson Type 1 photo

Darren Rovell: I don't know about Type 1's. It's like turn of the century baseball and everything else. This photo isn't even that good!

Stern: The market for Type 1 photos is extraordinarily opaque at the moment. We see clear indications of interest from multiple auction houses ramping up their Type 1 sales, but it feels as though the entire market is buoyed by a handful of stand-outs, selling for high-end card prices, while the vast majority have a hard time gaining traction. I blame this on a lack of a population report, as well as general community education. All that being said, this “Shoeless” Joe Jackson comes from Charles Conlon, the famed baseball photographer whose images routinely appear atop the heap in Type 1 auctions. The mystique, tragedy, and talent of Jackson, the rarity of all his associated memorabilia, plus the knowledge that this photo sold for $32,588 (before any hype), gives me some confidence that this could provide another big Type 1 sale, despite disappointing results in most of the market.

Circa 1920 Babe Ruth Single-Signed Baseball PSA/DNA NM/MT+ 8.5 with MINT 9 Signature

Rovell: It’s mind-blowing how much Babe Ruth signed. I know he’s the “Bambino” but I’m blown away by the amount of people that still want to collect his signature despite the population.

Stern: Do Ruth-signed baseballs come up for auction on a near-weekly basis? Yes. Do I find myself transfixed every time? Also, yes. This ball features Ruth’s early-career “Babe” signature, which he phased out in the late ‘20s.

2008 Topps Indiana Jones Masterpieces - Autograph - Harrison Ford 1/7 - BGS 9.5 / Auto 10

Two extraordinarily rare non-sports cards close at Heritage tonight, both from the 2008 Topps Indiana Jones Masterpieces set. Featuring autographs from Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg respectively, each card is numbered to just seven. Odds of pulling them from a pack? 0.014%. These are so rare to see at auction alone, let alone together, it will be a good measure of the market for movie card collectors. Both sit slightly above $5,000 at the time of writing.

Rovell: This is not that exciting to me. Harrison ford is a $500 auto. What makes this a $5000+ card. Make it make sense!

Stern: Totally disagree. This isn’t a Harrison Ford auto, it’s an Indiana Jones auto! And it’s from an incredible set with cards featuring autographs from George Lucas and Spielberg as well.

Michael Jordan Signed Space Jam The Tune Squad LE Animation Cell

Photo of the Tune Squad from "Space Jam" (Credit: Goldin Auctions)
Photo of the Tune Squad from "Space Jam" (Credit: Goldin Auctions)

Rovell: Yeah, the numbering makes you say, NOT ORIGINAL. Original is 1/1.

Stern: I love animation cels as a category, but I’ve got to say: Goldin needs to be more forthcoming with a lot description like this. Yes, I realize it is not an original cel as it is numbered to 750, but how many people will glance at it and think it’s as good as it gets?

Tony Bennett | Martin Luther King, J. typed letter signed on Selma march

Julien’s begins their two-day sale of Tony Bennett’s estate this evening. Among the hundreds of lots, one remarkable piece stands out: A letter written to Bennett from Martin Luther King Jr. thanking him for his support after showing up to speak at a rally in Montgomery after the march from Selma. The current bid sits at $40,000 with a full day left.

Rovell: Martin Luther King Jr. is still way undervalued and I don't understand it. If his normal signatures go for $6,000, this is at least 15 times that in my mind.

Stern: Truly one of those pieces that stops you dead in your tracks. MLK writing what amounts to a thank you letter to Bennett for his support and participation at Selma. The warmth displayed in the letter — "P.S. It was really good seeing you / in Montgomery! S.C.L.C. could / not make it without friends like you / and neither could I. I hope / our paths will cross again soon." — is simply something you rarely see in a letter like this. Add in the mention of Belafonte, it’s an incredible time capsule bridging the civil rights movement, music, celebrity, and the importance of solidarity.