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1904 Honus Wagner "Our Protection Against Loss" Pin - Newly Discovered Example
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $3,525
Presented is one of the greatest and most elusive rarities in all of celluloid pinback collecting: The 1904 "Our Protection Against Loss" Honus Wagner pinback, complete with its original paper back! We were very surprised to find this pinback in The Ron Menchine Collection. Prior to this find, we had been able to confirm the existence of only three other examples. This pin is particularly well known, despite its incredibly rarity, as its existence has long been documented in various books, including the most highly regarded pinback collecting books published by collector, author, and auction legend Ted Hake. Years ago we asked Ted about the illustration of this pin in his books and he told us that even he did not actually have this particular pin, and in fact that he had never come across one personally. That image had been borrowed from a longtime collector (who still has it to this day). At the time of our inquiry (decades ago), the plate example from the Hake books was the only example known. The exact meaning of the pin was then unknown, and at the time it was thought that perhaps it was a campaign pin of some kind, as Wagner did run for sheriff in 1925, and a rare pinback button was issued for that campaign. But this pin looked considerably older than 1925, and it was unknown if perhaps he ran for office in earlier years as well. Exactly what the pin was, and when it was issued, was not resolved until the early 1980s, when a newly discovered example turned up in the National Convention auction. That pin, which sold for an incredible $3,300 (then a record for a baseball pinback), had an advertising back paper on the reverse that identified the issuer as a Pittsburgh insurance company by the name of Commercial Oldest Accident Company. The "Our Protection Against Loss" Honus Wagner pin was an insurance company advertising pin! Comparing the portrait image of Wagner with the image which appears on the rare 1904 Pittsburgh Leader celluloid schedule (an example of which REA offered as Lot 873 in May 2007: http://www.robertedwardauctions.com/auction/2007/873.html) dates the "Our Protection Against Loss" pin to exactly 1904, which is the era we would have guessed on our own based on its appearance and construction even without this confirmation. A third example of this pin, which was newly discovered at the time, surfaced in 2008 and appeared as Lot 1296 and realized $4,406. The offered example is only the fourth "Our Protection Against Loss" Wagner pin that we have ever seen or heard of. This is one of our all-time favorite pinbacks. Ideally, this example also features the original paper back that advertises for the Commercial Oldest Accident Company of Pennsylvania, and was apparently personally given out, as also noted on the backpaper, by Pittsburg office manager H. H. Von Schlick (803 Penn Bldg). There are small flaws (wear and foxing) to the backpaper insert but the backpaper is complete and intact. The actual pin component on the reverse is missing (this is easily replaced); the pinback is otherwise in outstanding Excellent condition, and a worthy highlight addition to any world-class Honus Wagner or baseball-pinback collection. Diameter: 1.25 inches. From The Ron Menchine Collection. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $3,525
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