Rare Mikan Type 1 Photo Sells at Auction

Image was used for Lakers’ legend’s 1948 Bowman card

Date: Jun 14, 2024
Author: Michael Salfino
Topics: 1948 Bowman George Mikan, basketball, George Mikan, Lakers, Michael Salfino, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Lakers, NBA, News
Length: 285 Words
Reading Time: ~2 Minutes

While moms were throwing away the vintage sports cards of their sons that are so valuable today, card companies were tossing most of the original photographs used to produce them. They needed the filing cabinet space.

The vintage photo sports market is hot right now, according to Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions. But scarcity has made the sub-genre of photos used on vintage rookie sports cards “the best performing of the lot.”

On Thursday, one of the most iconic rookie images on a sports card was sold through Heritage Auctions. The Type 1 photo that was used for Minneapolis Lakers star George Mikan’s 1948 Bowman rookie card sold for $8,700. A Type 1 photo is a first-generation photograph, developed from the original negative, within approximately two years of when the photo was taken. 

According to Ivy, “the population of this image is somewhere in the double digits. … It’s important to remember that at that time and for quite some time after, these photographs had little to no value.”

The 1948 Bowman Mikan card is one of the most valuable in the basketball space, selling for five figures in mid-grade. The last sale of a 1948 Mikan card in the same “authentic” PSA condition as the photo sold for $4,922, according to PSA.

The 6-foot-10 Mikan was basketball’s first superstar and blocked so many shots at center that the goaltending rule was created to help stop him. He won six titles and was voted the greatest player in the league’s first half century by The Associated Press.


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