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1928 Harry Heilmann Lucky Strike Trolley Car Sign
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $2,666.25
Beautiful high-grade Lucky Strike trolley car advertising sign of Harry Heilmann, one of five signs issued in this classic series. Today, those Lucky Strike signs are universally regarded as among the most attractive and desirable baseball advertising display pieces ever produced. They are also among the very few baseball advertising display pieces dating from the 1920s which are in full color. Heilmann, who is identified in the advertisement as the "World's Leading Batter," is pictured in a batting pose. To the right of his image is his endorsement: "I smoke Luckies because they are the best." Harry Heilmann batted a league-high .398 in 1927, and is one of only a few batters ever to hit over .400 for a season (1923). He also led the American League in batting on four occasions, topping the .390 mark each time. Despite those accomplishments he may well be the most overlooked Hall of Famer in the game simply because of the years he played (1914-1932). Specifically, he arrived in the majors after the popular 1910 tobacco era and had retired by the time Goudey started issuing cards in 1933. It is interesting to note that 1928 was both the height of Lucky Strike's cigarette advertising blitz and the beginning of what is now an advertising staple: the celebrity endorsement. Lucky Strike launched the most aggressive tobacco advertising campaign ever seen in 1928 and, according to Allan M. Brandt in his authoritative work The Cigarette Century (Basic Books, New York, 2007), its campaign took full advantage "of the 'cult of personality' that emerged in the 1920s as a force in advertising." As a result, the American public was bombarded with testimonials by athletes, celebrities, entertainers, and socialites as to the benefits of smoking Lucky Strikes. In their choice of ballplayers, the company certainly recruited the cream of the crop, as all five players featured in their advertisements were later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Harry Heilmann, Lefty Grove, and Tony Lazzeri). In the late 1970s a hoard of about fifty "Lucky Strike" signs surfaced. Most top-grade examples found today, almost certainly including this very piece, originate from that single find. The sign (21 x 11 inches) displays a few small areas of light staining along the white border areas and a very tiny diagonal crease in the lower right corner. The colors remain flawlessly bright and the piece has an Excellent to Mint appearance. Mounted and framed to total dimensions of 29 x 19 inches. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000+. SOLD FOR $2,666.25
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