Graded Sports Illustrated: Rare 9.9 Up for Auction

The world of collectibles has a new star rising, and it comes in the form of graded magazines, particularly coveted issues of Sports Illustrated. Certified Collectibles Group (CGC), a pioneer of magazine grading for the past 15 years, has examined over 28,000 editions of the iconic sports magazine, reflecting a surge in interest for these preserved slices of sporting history.

In the annals of magazine collectibles, a notable record was set at $126,000 for a 9.8 graded newsstand copy of the December 10, 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring basketball legend Michael Jordan in his debut for the Chicago Bulls. This issue, bearing the title “A Star is Born,” is just one of over 2,000 SI copies rated at 9.8.

But as the tides of time shift, a new potential milestone looms on the horizon of magazine grading. CGC recently bestowed a perfect 9.9 grade upon a December 2022 edition of Sports Illustrated spotlighting soccer sensation Kylian Mbappé just before the 2022 World Cup. This remarkable grade was assigned to a copy submitted by a collector from the Midwest, marking the first ever SI issue to attain a flawless 9.9 rating. The magazine is currently being auctioned through Goldin, drawing significant interest as it stands as a sigularly outstanding piece in the emerging collection of graded magazines. Recognizing the burgeoning appeal of graded magazines, Goldin has carved out a unique category specifically for these graded literary pieces.

Delving deeper into the allure of these graded magazines, Goldin’s Director of Vintage Memorabilia and Photography points out that the fascination extends beyond sports enthusiasts, resonating with photography aficionados as well. With numerous iconic covers of Sports Illustrated graced by contributions from renowned photographers through the years, these graded magazines represent not just sports history but also artistic snapshot captured in time.

The focused auction not only showcases the exceptional 9.9 graded SI magazine featuring Mbappé, but also offers a range of other notable sports memorabilia including a 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle card graded at 8.5, a rare 1956 Floyd Patterson card rated at 9.0, a 1989 SI for Kids edition highlighting Michael Jordan graded at 9.6, and a signed Muhammad Ali cover from 1967, adding layers of diversity to the auction.

While a majority of graded magazines find their way to eager buyers through online platforms like eBay, which boasts over 6,000 listings of such items, significant sales are also witnessed at specialized auctions. For instance, a CGC 9.6 graded issue featuring soccer legend Pele from 1975 commanded an impressive $25,000 in March 2023, while a Mike Tyson cover graded at 9.0 from 1986 fetched over $11,000 in a notable auction last year. It’s worth mentioning that four of the top six highest-selling graded Sports Illustrated issues on eBay since last year prominently featured the basketball phenomenon, Michael Jordan, reinforcing the enduring allure of the sporting legend within the collectibles market.

The surge of interest in graded magazines, particularly showcased through the auction of the rare 9.9 Sports Illustrated issue featuring Kylian Mbappé, reflects the eclectic tastes of collectors and the expanding landscape of sports memorabilia as a viable investment avenue. The allure of these graded magazines not only captures moments in sports history but also encapsulates the evolving narrative of collectibles in the digital age.


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