Peyton Manning and Brett Favre: The Brains and the Brawn of the NFL.

favre manningFirst off, Mile High Card Company is pleased to announce its Fall catalog auction, which kicks off on Monday, November 17th and concludes on Wednesday, December 3rd. As MHCC traditionally does with their year-ending event, this auction has been limited to 577 total lots packed with a broad array of higher-caliber, one-of-a-kind items that include a 1911 Addie Joss Benefit Game Original Panoramic Photograph, the only known 1915 Boston Red Sox Ornate Silk Pillowcase Featuring Tris Speaker, sweet-spot signed baseballs of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Roberto Clemente, and the finest known 1888 A35 Goodwin “Baseball Champions” Premium Round Album as well as spectacular GEM MINT PSA 10 rookie cards of 1957 Topps #24 Bill Mazeroski (1 of 1), 1965 Topps #16 Astros Rookies Joe Morgan (1 of 2), 1966 Topps #288 Dodgers Rookies Don Sutton (1 of 2), 1967 Topps #569 Rod Carew (1 of 1), 1951 Bowman #20 Tom Landry (1 of 2), 1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton and 1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana. MHCC is actively accepting consignments for our Spring auction; please call us at (303) 840-2784, write to us at or visit us online at if you have any items you are interested in consigning.

Last night, the Denver Broncos dismantled the San Diego Chargers 35-21. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning completed 25 of 35 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. While that performance would stand as a career day for many signal-callers, it’s routine for Manning, who has averaged 26 of 38 passing for 314 yards and three touchdowns over his 39 games in Denver. Five days ago, Manning threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in a win over the San Francisco 49ers, supplanting Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre as the all-time touchdown passing leader. While both quarterbacks will be remembered for being among the greatest in football history, their individual styles could not be more divergent:

Brett Favre: The Brawn

favreBrett Favre was a bad man! A grisly curmudgeon who mastered his craft in the heart of Dixie, the only thing stronger than the bazooka hanging from his right shoulder was the mean streak lingering in his mind. Yeah, Favre was a tough gunslinger who refused to accept losing and wanted to make you pay the price for being foolish enough to challenge him. Packing one of the strongest arms in NFL history, Farve believed a throw didn’t exist that he couldn’t make and brazenly fired laser-like passes through tight windows that no other QB could match. On those rare occasions when Farve came up short, it only fueled his desire to crush the next challenger. After 20 NFL seasons, the only loss on his resume was to undefeated father time, and he gave that battle a pretty good run for the money. Unable to accept that his best days were behind him, coming out of retirement several times, even the great Brett Farve eventually had to accept, at age 41, that the arm was no longer able to do what the head wanted. He still holds the NFL all-time record for passes attempted, passes completed and passing yards.

Peyton Manning: The Brains

peyton-manning.jpgManning? No, he’s no gunslinger. Peyton Manning is a time traveler … and he lives one second ahead of his opponent. His coded non-sequiturs and comical gyrations before each snap are the product of a painful reality … he knows things! Within that bulbous noggin is a library of football experience, instantly recalled at the mere sight of a defensive formation. Where Farve used brute force to overpower the opposition, Manning instantly calculates a weakness and exploits it. Manning never threw rifle passes, and four neck surgeries have left the 38 year old signal-caller with a very average arm. But while strength is no longer his friend, he’s discovered a more powerful ally … timing. Broncos fans often cringe as his floating passes wobble like a wounded bird, yet land safely in the hands of a teammate almost 70% of the time. Executing an offense that perfectly suits his skill set and wealth of knowledge, the Canton-bound leader has raised his performance to unprecedented levels. Perhaps it’s a fitting tribute to both men that Brett Favre’s all-time TD passing record was eclipsed by such an equally iconic passer as Peyton Manning.

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August Catalog Auction Highlights

Hello Hobby Enthusiasts,

Once again, it’s auction time! As of today, Wednesday July 23rd, the preview is available for viewing and bidding will begin tomorrow, closing on August 14th for Session I and August 15th for Session II. We’re extremely proud of this event, which is highlighted by PSA Set Registry highly ranked 1933 George C. Miller, 1948 Leaf football, 1948 Bowman football and 1948 Bowman baseball complete sets. Other amazing items of interest include a game-used Joe DiMaggio Yankees jersey, a rare T206 Eddie Plank, a 1986-87 Fleer basketball unopened wax box and a 1939 Baseball Hall of Fame First Day Cover signed by inductees Ruth, Cobb, Speaker, Johnson, Young and others. And that’s just a small sample because there are literally hundreds of complete sets from the 1950s on up, including many extremely scarce test issues. Along with DiMaggio, game-used jerseys of Joe Namath, Walter Payton, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Kelly, and Jerry Rice as well as vintage garments of Vern Stephens, Frank Crosetti and Forrest Gregg are available. This is sure to be an a tremendous event!

Afraid you might miss out because you’ll be in Cleveland attending the National Sports Collectors Convention? That’s not a problem, we’ll be there too! In fact, we’ll be exhibiting some of the outstanding items described above and a whole lot more. This year’s National promises to be a memorable event and the addition of Johnny Football and King James to “The Rock and Roll Capital of the World” will only add to the frenzy. Stop on by Booth 225 & 229, say hello to the Mile High crew and take a look! You can even pick up an auction catalog while you’re there. We will also be taking consignments for the Fall auction, determined to make it even more spectacular than this magnificent offering. As always, you can register and bid through our website ( or call (303) 840-2784. Hope to see you in Cleveland!

The 1948 Bowman Football Set – Turning A New Leaf!

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First off, we at MHCC hope everyone had a happy and safe July 4th weekend. We just put the finishing touches on our August auction, which promises to be one of our strongest in quite some time. A few weeks ago, we spotlighted the #4 PSA Set Registry ranked 1948 Leaf Football set that will be in the upcoming auction. Today we are pleased to add the #2 ranked 1948 Bowman Football set as well, making this event one of the most impressive gridiron representations that Mile High Card Company has ever had.

In 1948, rivals Bowman and Leaf entered the football card market with premier editions that could not have been any more diverse. The Leaf set was like going to a rager; chaotic, out of control and filled with wild color variations, misspelled names, and various other corrections that brought the 98-card basic set up to a ridiculous 145-card master set. It was as though Leaf just made up the rules as they went along, leaving collectors scrambling to figure out how to build a set while frequently discovering some new version of a previous released card. Bowman, on the other hand, was like attending a cotillion; structured, refined, offering a simple black and white pasteboard with sharp photography on the front and pertinent information on the back. There were no additional variations or corrections here. No sir, the ’48 Bowman set was professional all the way! Ironically, the “anything goes” approach that has made the 1948 Leaf Set more popular with today’s challenge-seeking collectors was the primary reason that led to Leaf’s demise after just two short years.

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Printed on three sheets of 36 cards each, the Bowman set was slightly larger than the Leaf set at 108, however the third and final sheet was short-printed and cards that are numbered as a multiple of three are sufficiently scarcer. Important short prints include the rookie cards of Johnny Lujack (#3), Charley Conerley (#12), Bulldog Turner (#36) and the final card of the set, Buford Ray (#108). Hall of Famers Steve Van Buren, Charlie Trippi, Sammy Baugh, Bob Waterfield, Alex Wojciechowicz, Pete Pihos, Bill Dudley, George McAfee, Bruce Smith and Sid Luckman also make their cardboard debut.

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The featured assemblage ranks #2 Current and All-Time on the PSA Set Registry. With a GPA of 8.421, this set is just one or two upgrades away from becoming the finest 1948 Bowman Football set ever registered with PSA as the top collection presently has an 8.44 rating. Every card in the set is graded PSA 8 or higher, with over 42% of the collection graded MINT. Key cards graded PSA 9 include #1 Tereshinski, 17 Trippi, 22 Baugh, 26 Waterfield and 61 Wojciechowicz, as well as “one and only” PSA 9 cards of #4, 5, 18, 38, 51, 70, 72, and 102. Card #11 and 97 (both PSA 8.5) are also “one of one” with none graded higher. In fact, 62 of the 108 cards are at the highest possible existing grade, leaving 46 potentials ways to upgrade this collection and take over the top spot on the PSA Set Registry. This collection is being offered as a complete set as well as each card offered individually, with the final sale going to whichever total (the set versus the sum of the individual lots) is higher.

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The 1948 Leaf Football Set – A Not Ready For Prime Time Classic!

48l1luckman8Thirteen years had passed since the 36-card National Chicle set had made its debut and the football card collecting world was still without a mainstream issue, in large part due to shortages of materials from World War II. But with the defeat of fascism safely in the rear view mirror and an economy that was fiercely recovering from a decades-long depression, Bowman and Leaf stepped forward in 1948 to compete for gridiron greatness. Bowman produced a straightforward, professional assemblage with sharp black and white photography and clean graphics. Meanwhile, Leaf’s set featured unrealistically colorized pasteboards fraught with spelling errors, centering flaws, color variations and short prints. In any other industry, Leaf’s effort would have run them out of business, but collectors’ inability to resist a challenge has made the 1948 Leaf football set one of the most popular sports cards issues ever produced. Mile High Card Company is proud to offer one of the finest collections ever assembled, ranked #3 on the PSA Set Registry with a GPA of 7.444.

Malevolence or Incompetence?

48l4walker8Designed to be a simple 98-card assemblage, the master set swells to a whopping 145 pasteboards when you consider all the variations. Correcting the obvious spelling errors is understandable, but most variations come from unexplained color changes in the background, the jersey number, the uniform color, or even the player’s name. Perhaps Leaf had difficulties with the equipment that affected their color mixing, though a more cynical theory is that Leaf intentionally created these variations to keep collectors buying their product in search of building a “complete set.” Not without precedent, Leaf’s policy of “skip-numbering” various other sets has been criticized as a way to exploit kids into spending their allowance, searching for cards that didn’t exist.

A Collector’s Dream … or is it a Nightmare?

48l34baugh8While highly-coveted for its amazing selection of Hall of Famers making their pasteboard debut, the trouble starts and ends with the first and last cards, typical for most issues but magnified by the soft cardboard and poor quality control of the ’48 Leaf series. Sid Luckman’s rookie card #1 is rarely seen in a grade higher than PSA 5 and card #98 of Al DiMarco is usually off-center, resulting in just five PSA 7 graded specimens and just one at PSA 8 with none graded higher. In fact, the large majority of the cards in the set are single-pop PSA 8s with only one out of every 200 on the PSA pop report listed at the elite status of PSA 9. With over 12,000 total submissions from the set, there has yet to be a single specimen to land a grade of GEM MINT.

Mile High Card Company Offers #3 PSA Set Registry Ranked 1948 Leaf Football Set in August 2014 Auction.

48l54bednarik6This is undeniably one of the finest complete football sets ever assembled, not just for the issue but for any football card set ever produced. Virtually every card in the collection is an extreme rarity in its respective grade that few collectors have had the opportunity to see, much less own. It begins with one of the most coveted specimens in the hobby; a PSA 8 example of Sid Luckman’s rookie card #1. One of just five with none graded higher, the PSA 8 Luckman is the cornerstone of the collection, but the amazing list of elite-grade Hall of Fame rookie cards seems almost endless: #3 Bulldog Turner PSA 8, 4 Doak Walker PSA 8 (none graded higher), 6 Bobby Layne PSA 7, 16 Pete Pihos PSA 8, 19 George McAfee PSA 8, 22 Steve Van Buren PSA 8 (one graded higher), 26 Bob Waterfield PSA 8, 29 Charlie Trippi PSA 7, 34 Sammy Baugh PSA 8, 36 Bill Dudley PSA 8, 37 George Conner PSA 8 (one graded higher), 52 Leo Nomellini PSA 7, and 54 Chuck Bednarik PSA 6. Al DiMarco’s card #98 closes out the collection at PSA 7, one of five with just one graded higher. In all, over half of the set (51 of 98) is graded PSA 8 and 14 of the cards are at the highest grade ever assessed by PSA. Quite simply, this is an incredibly special collection and one of the finest complete sets Mile High Card Company has had the honor of presenting.



1965 Topps Football: Not Your Average Joe

For the first time since buying out Bowman in 1956 and taking control of the baseball card market, the Topps Chewing Gum Company found itself struggling to hold off a competitor. After facing a mild challenge from Fleer in the football card market from 1960-1963, the Philadelphia Gum Company entered the fray by securing exclusive rights to the National Football League (NFL), leaving the floundering American Football League (AFL) as Topps’ only alternative. Competing against the likes of Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Paul Hornung and Bart Starr, the once invincible Topps Company had ironically become the “Bowman” of the football card market. But Topps would stumble upon a weapon of their own, and Philadelphia Gum would learn a painful lesson that indeed the neon lights are bright …. on Broadway!

A Star is Born

In the first round of the 1965 NFL draft, #12 overall, the St. Louis Cardinals selected University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath. On the same day, the AFL held their draft with the New York Jets selecting Namath #1 overall. With both teams making a pitch to secure his services, Namath shocked the football world by choosing the New York Jets, signing a contract for a record $437,000 and giving the American Football League its first true superstar. Namath’s magnetic personality and brash confidence were a perfect match for the New York stage and it wasn’t long before Namath was to Manhattan what Mickey Mantle was to the Bronx; a personality bigger than the game he represented. His flowing hair, his cocky attitude, and his aggressive style on the gridiron cast him in the role of antagonist to the NFL’s military crew-cut wearing Unitas. Namath became a symbol of the free-wheeling, offense first approach of the AFL, while Unitas was the face of the methodical, smash-mouth style of the NFL. As fate would have it, the two icons would meet in a showdown for a championship that would eventually unite the leagues and change the course of football forever!

Size Matters

Owning exclusive rights to the most anticipated rookie card since Jim Brown’s debut in 1958, Topps returned to the philosophy that eliminated Bowman in the baseball card market; bigger is better! With Namath slated at card #122 in the 176-card collection, the 1965 Topps set was enlarged to “tall-boy” status, each card in the set measuring approximately 2 1/2 x 4 11/16 inches. The larger pasteboards were given bright and colorful backdrops of various colors within a bone white frame, creating a collection as hubristic as the rookie quarterback who would soon become its centerpiece. Certainly no “one-trick pony,” the collection features rookie cards of Hall of Famers Willie Brown and Fred Belitnikoff as well as Canton inductees Buoniconti, Blanda, Bell, Buchanan, Dawson, Maynard, and Alworth. But Topps’ first gridiron attempt at such a magniloquent collection wasn’t without its faults; poor centering due to the unorthodox card size became the norm and print overspray from the wildly strong background colors was widespread. It’s also accepted that 132 of the 176 cards in the set, including Namath’s card, are short-printed though one could also argue that the other 44 cards are actually double-prints of a limited quantity collection. These problems, combined with the difficulty of keeping such odd-sized cards in pristine condition for almost 50 years, result in one of the most difficult post-war assemblages to build in high-grade of any sport.

1965 Topps Football Complete Set – #1 All Time Finest on PSA Set Registry

The featured set is the result of one of the most amazing achievements in sports card collecting. While ranked #1 Current and All-Time on the PSA Set Registry since 2008 with an astonishing 8.91 GPA, what’s even more impressive is that the highest possible set rating, requiring the very highest PSA grade for every card in the set, is at 8.937. Simply stated, there are only 7 cards in existence that can possibly improve this collection. Out of over 21,000 submissions to PSA, only 6 cards from the 1965 Topps set have ever graded PSA 10 GEM MINT and they’re all included in this set! The #2 ranked set sits nearly a half-point behind with a GPA of 8.42, not surprising since 37 of the cards (over 20% of the collection) are unique “one of one” specimens with none graded higher. This set is being presented two ways: in its entirety and each card offered individually, with the sale going to the higher total of the set versus the sum of the totals of the individual cards. Thus, interested parties have the opportunity to examine each card in the collection carefully, front and back, through our high resolution scans.

Hello Hobby Enthusiasts

Welcome to the Mile High Card Company blog, the first of what will be a weekly installment though we will cut in with updates on occasion as warranted. We’ve been thinking about doing regular updates like this for a while and finally went ahead and got it started. The sports card and memorabilia industry is perpetually evolving, and as a major auction house, we’re privy to a wide cross-section of ever-changing trends and interests. With this in mind, we’d like to take this opportunity to utilize our position within the hobby and provide our consignors and collectors with information to help keep you informed. We’ll discuss the production of upcoming auctions in real time by spotlighting exciting new items soon to be featured as well as pointing out various aspects of the auction process, including rules and strategies for success from both the consignor and bidder standpoint. We’ll delve into different cards, sets, collectibles and aspects of collecting, talk about what’s hot and why, and address many of the concerns and issues collectors have within the hobby.

To get things started, we’re happy to report that we’ve just finished the writing and proofreading for our Spring Auction, which opens for bidding on March 24th and closes April 10th. Brian is in the process of getting the layout for the catalog completed so that you’ll receive it before the auction commences. Two particular items that will provide plenty of spirited bidding are a 1952 Topps baseball master set that presently ranks #3 on the PSA Set Registry and the #1 ranked 1965 Topps football set. Each collection will be offered two ways: as a complete set and as individual cards, with the sale going to the higher total (the set as a whole vs. the aggregate total of the individual cards). The ’52 master set, besides the incredible specimens of Mantle (PSA 7), Pafko (PSA 8 black back), and Mathews (PSA 7.5), offers a wide array of difficult low-pop, low number black-backs and high-number series cards that are sure to shake up the PSA Set Registry rankings if sold individually.

The ’65 Topps football set might even be more impressive in that there are only six cards in existence that are capable of improving this set. The only six cards from the entire set ever graded PSA 10, out of over 21,000 submissions, are included, as is an incredible PSA 9 specimen of Joe Namath’s iconic rookie card.

Brian and Greg Rice will be taking consignments in Philadelphia this weekend, March 7-9, at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, King of Prussia. If you plan on attending, stop by the booth and let Brian know you saw this. Also, if you like really good BBQ, you’re gonna want to stop by Bridgeport Rib House, about 4 miles away from the show. It’s not much to look at from the outside (or even the inside for that matter) but man, do they know how to cook up some amazing barbeque! Trust me, if you’ve never been there, you’ll be blown away!

Well that’s it for now, but we’ll be getting back to you soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to us, we’re gonna be bringing you some really interesting stuff from the sports collectibles scene. Join us on Facebook and Twitter as well!