BURR RIDGE, Illinois: An octogenarian's collection of rare baseball cards fetched $1.6 million in a suburban Chicago auction, officials said.
Lionel Carter, 89, of Evanston, Illinois, began his collection as a 15-year-old when he eschewed a nickel candy bar for a pack of 1932 Delong cards. His stash of pristine cards ballooned to 50,000 strong with an estimated value of $3 million and became one of the most renowned collections in the United States.
"We don't say this lightly — he's considered one of the pioneers of the hobby," said Doug Allen, president of Mastro Auctions, which sold the collection in a three-week auction that ended Saturday.
Carter's mint condition Mickey Mantle rookie card sold for $165,000, three times more than similar cards have commanded. A set of 1938 Goudy Gum cards sold for $280,000 five times more than similar sets.
"I think people are paying more because it was owned by Lionel Carter," Allen said.
At least 5,500 cards were sold in this auction, and the rest will be sold at other auctions during the year, officials said.
Carter opted to sell his collection out of concern for his safety. Thieves broke into his house just north of Chicago last October and stole cards, although most were safely recovered by police.
"It was very sad," he said. "I didn't want to see them go. To me, it was part of my life. A big part of my life."