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1896 Yellow Kid Complete Pinback Set (154)
Starting Bid - $4,000.00, Sold For - $6,517.50
Extraordinary complete collection of Yellow Kid pinbacks, comprised of numbers 1-94 in the first issued set, and numbers 101-160 in the second issued set. This is the first complete set of these colorful and highly prized tobacco premium pinbacks we have ever offered. This particular set was originally offered at public auction in 1998. Our consignor was the purchaser of the set at that sale and the collection has remained in his sole possession since that time. The very existence of these pins is due to a fortuitous set of circumstances. The Yellow Kid first came to life in the form that we know him in 1895, when cartoonist Richard Outcault featured him as the lead character in his Hogan's Alley comic strip. The Yellow Kid quickly gained in popularity and the strip soon became one of the first Sunday supplement comic strips in the United States. At about that exact time, the company of Whitehead & Hoag developed a new process to manufacture celluloid pins. The confluence of those two events quickly led to the Yellow Kid appearing on a set of promotional pins issued by High Admiral Cigarettes. The set was originally conceived to be 100 in number, but interest ultimately waned and production ended at pin number ninety-four. That first set featured the Kid making a pun or commenting on everyday life in his usual manner, with his thoughts and words written on his shirt. Soon after production on the first set ceased, the company decided to issue a second set. This time the Kid was pictured holding a flag of a particular nation, with his comments reflecting a comical take on the respective country. In this second incarnation, however, the company decided to limit the set to sixty, with the pins numbered 101-160. As most collectors are aware, within the first set, the high numbers (#50-94) are exceptionally rare, with numbers 90 through 94 near impossible to find. In addition to their scarcity, these pins are often found in low grade. The offered set is not only complete, but noteworthy for its remarkable state of preservation. Approximately twenty-five percent of the pins display either light crazing or cracks to the surface (#32, 38, 41, 42, 47, 50, 52, 53, 56, 70, 71, 75, 78, 82, 84, 88, 90, 92, 105, 106, 107 [poor], 108, 114, 124, 127, 129, 130, 135, 138, 139, 144, 152, 157, and 158); otherwise the majority of the pins grade Ex-Mt or better, and remain in far finer condition than is normally found for this issue. When these pins were offered in 1998 they were touted by the auction house as the finest assemblage known. Only five or six complete sets are known to have ever been assembled in the history of collecting, so this assessment, which at the time we believe was made without the benefit of comparing to the few other known sets, by definition could not have been too far off, even if not accurate. In over forty years of specializing in pinbacks, Ted Hake, the universally recognized "King of Pin-Back Buttons," has auctioned just three sets of Yellow Kid pins (perhaps better described as two sets, as one was the same set twice), with the last set (which we believe was the finest set in existence) by chance offered quite recently (in November 2012) and selling for $22,264. This is an extremely rare, virtually once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain what is universally regarded as the most important and celebrated nonsport pinback set ever issued. Each pin has been arranged numerically upon a black linen mount, which in turn has been beautifully framed to total dimensions of 21 x 31 inches. This set (which has been hanging on the wall of our consignor since 1998) looks gorgeous framed and is ideal for display. Reserve $4,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $6,517.50
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