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1964 Jimmy Brown Sports "Hall of Fame," Inc. Bust - Unique Prototype
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $1,762.50
Upon first glance, most sophisticated baseball collectors would quickly identify this piece as a 1963 baseball Hall of Fame bust produced by Sports “Hall of Fame,” Inc. (the official licensee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame). They would only be half right. Manufactured by the same firm, and featuring the exact same design as the company's previously issued baseball busts, the offered piece is a one-of-a-kind bust of Jim Brown that was created in 1964 as a prototype for the company’s planned football line of busts. Unfortunately, the company’s financial fortunes took a turn for the worse and the football line was never produced. The prototype appears to be a finished ready-to-market bust in all respects, but in fact was never put into production or marketed. A few other prototypes may have been produced but it is a virtual certainty that this is the only one that survived. In fact, it is unlikely that any collectors are even aware of its existence. The only time this piece was accessible to public viewing in the last forty-four years was during a short time in 1964 when it was on display at the company’s showroom in New York, where it served as a sample for prospective retailers. After it was officially decided that the football busts would not be produced, this Jim Brown bust was given to our consignor’s father, who was a national sales representative with Sports “Hall of Fame,” Inc. It has remained in his family’s sole possession since that time and is accompanied by a fascinating letter from him attesting to its provenance and detailing its history:
It was a long time ago but this is what I remember my dad telling me about Sports Hall of Fame, Inc. He was the manufacturer's representative for the company during its short existence. Two series of Baseball players were produced in the years of 1963 and 1964. The 2nd group included the 1962 inductees of the Baseball Hall of Fame which included Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson. The following induction years of 1963 and 1964 there were no new baseball HOF inductees and the company wanted to promote sales so it was decided that another category, football, would be added to the "Sports Hall of Fame" line. The most popular professional athlete of 1963 and 1964 was Jim Brown so his bust was designed. The only prototype sample ever known to exist was shown at the 200 Fifth Avenue showroom but it wasn't enough to keep the company afloat. The statue never went into production and the company folded in early 1965 after the February Toy Fair. If there were any other prototypes produced they were probably discarded long ago. A box was never produced. My dad kept the Jim Brown prototype as a souvenir of the company.Identical in design to the baseball busts produced by the company in 1963, this attractive piece features a white, plastic, bust-length image of Jim Brown mounted upon an imitation-wood plastic base. The label on the front of the base reads “Jimmy Brown – Fullback – Cleveland Browns” and pictures an image of the NFL logo below. The copyright at the bottom of the label, written in small type, reads “1964 Sports ‘Hall of Fame,’ Inc. An additional copyright is engraved on the back of the white bust that reads, “Jimmy Brown - Sports ‘Hall of Fame,’ Inc.” The earlier-produced baseball busts (images of only twenty players were ever issued, even though the original packaging promised “many more” to come) are scarce, but none can remotely compare in terms of rarity to this unique piece. This is the only example in existence and, as such, is one of the most significant football figural pieces that could possibly exist. The fact that the Jim Brown was chosen to be depicted also makes this one of the most extraordinary and fascinating Jim Brown or football items in the toy, endorsement, or display collectible worlds. The bust stands 6.25 inches in height and displays light handling wear. One side of the base displays a number of light scratches. Excellent condition overall. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,762.50
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