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Heritage Auctions Hits $1 Billion Milestone in Sports Memorabilia

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Twenty years ago, Heritage Auctions embarked on an ambitious journey into the sports memorabilia world, a significant pivot for a company previously known for its expertise in other collectibles. With a compact team in a modest office, the company ventured into unknown territory, according to Mike Provenzale, the Production Manager.

The launch was at the Long Beach Expo in September 2004, where Heritage's first sports memorabilia auction significantly exceeded expectations, bringing in nearly $2 million. A highlight was the auction of a 1963 Mickey Mantle game jersey, which sold for $143,400, signifying the auction's success and setting the stage for future achievements.

In a recent announcement, Heritage revealed that its cumulative sales in the sports memorabilia category have surpassed the $1 billion mark, fueled by a landmark $26 million Winter auction. This event featured the sale of a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey case for $3.72 million, a testament to the company's growth and influence in the market.

Heritage's entry into sports memorabilia was spearheaded by Chris Ivy, Steve Ivy's son, in 2003. The inaugural auction not only featured the notable Mantle jersey but also an uncut sheet of 1933 Goudey baseball cards, including Babe Ruth, which sold for $131,450. Co-Founder Jim Halperin reflected on the auction as possibly the most successful debut in the field, far exceeding initial projections.

The momentum continued with a second major auction in May 2005, consisting of 602 lots and generating over $2 million. Over the years, Heritage has continually set new records, such as the $12.6 million sale of an SGC 9.5 graded Mantle’s 1952 Topps card, the highest-ever for a sports collectible.

From its inception, with annual sales just over $200 million, to last year's company-wide record of $1.76 billion in sales across all categories, Heritage Auctions has solidified its legacy in the sports memorabilia market. Among its landmark sales is a 1958 Mantle jersey that fetched $4.68 million, underscoring the vibrant market and Heritage's pivotal role in enriching the collections of sports enthusiasts worldwide.

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