The above Mickey Mantle quote may seem extremely immodest and off-putting. But, in fact, it is just Mantle exhibiting his legendary sense of humor that is one of the many reasons fans, friends, and collectors love Mantle so much. The catalog description below puts the quote in context. This lot will appear in REA’s upcoming October auction, which we are working on every day. After we cataloged it, we decided to put it on the REA blog as the first of many auction lot previews (not so much because it is extraordinarily valuable; the auction will have hundreds of lots that will be more highly valued in monetary terms, but because we thought it was fun lot that Mantle fans and collectors would enjoy reading about).
1989 “500 Home Run Club” Photo - Signed By Mantle with Good-Humored Insult to Fellow 500 HR Club Members
Presented is definitely the most unusual 500 Home Run Club Mickey Mantle signed item we have ever seen, and one that is accompanied by an amusing story! Famous 1989 large-format photograph (20 x 16 inches) of the eleven then-living members of baseball’s elite 500 Home Run Club, inscribed and signed by Mickey Mantle, including a funny “off-color” remark. Mantle has inscribed the photo in the upper left corner: “I was the Greatest! The rest of these guys suck. Mick.” Both the text and signature grade “10.” Please note that the other apparent Mantle “full-name signature” which appears below is not actually a Mantle signature, but is very related to the story of the photo and is part of a notation written by Bill Hongach. Hongach was one of the promoters of the first ever 500 Home Run Club signing show, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1989. The concept of creating these signed photos for sale and arranging for their signing was one of his many contributions to the project. Five-hundred 20 x 16-inch prints were made of this image, which were later signed by all eleven members and eventually sold.
When the photos were signed, Bill Hongach naturally had to provide direction to the signers so that the photos would be signed properly. Mantle was one of the first signers, and Hongach used an extra (slightly damaged) photo that the printing company affixed to the top of the bound-and-sealed package of 500 prints ordered (so that the contents of the package were easily identified) to provide a guide for Mantle. In blue-Sharpie, Hongach wrote at the base of Mantle’s feet the notations “Sign Here - Mickey Mantle.” Sometime while Mantle was signing the 500 photographs as instructed, he also took the time to sign the extra photo with instructions as seen here, as a joke to make his good friend Bill Hongach laugh. It worked! And it has been saved as a special treasured keepsake ever since.
This piece has been consigned directly by Hongach, in whose possession it has been since the day of Mantle’s signing in 1989. Also included with the photo is a copy of Hongach’s book, The Dark Sides of Baseball (self published by Hongach in 2013), which details his life and career in the hobby, and provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes history of the first 500 Home Run Club show in 1989. The photo displays large chips in three of the four corners (upper right and left; lower right), a small abrasion along the base, and remnants of both tape and adhesive residue along the borders (resulting from it having been affixed to the top of the bound and sealed package of 500 photos). Technically in Good condition, but nearly all of the flaws are relegated to the corners and edges (most can be matted out), and the central image area presents as Excellent. LOA from James Spence/JSA.
T206 Wagner Soars to $1.32 Million; 1916 Ruth Rookie Sets New Mark at $204,000; Countless Auction Records Shattered at REA!!!
Collectors of high-end baseball cards and memorabilia were understandably glued to Robert Edward Auctions as prices soared to astounding levels across the board during the record-setting April 25, 2015 auction. An incredible 121 lots sold for $10,000 or more. Four lots eclipsed the $100,000 mark, and the auction’s headline lot realized in excess of One Million Dollars! The total sales of $7.54 million defined the auction as one of the largest and most successful single-day baseball auctions in collecting history. REA president Robert Lifson comments, “These results speak for themselves: about the quality of the material offered, about the appreciation of the collecting world for how REA presents items and conducts auctions, about the well-deserved trust collectors have in REA, and about the strength of the market.”
Media attention surrounding the auction was at an all-time high, with the million-dollar T206 Honus Wagner garnering extensive interest far and wide. The card made appearances on ESPN and FOX Business Network, as well as several TV news programs in the New York and Pittsburgh metro areas. Major sports radio, including CBS New York, and print publications, including the New York Daily News, covered the auction. The record-setting sale captured worldwide attention, with headline stories on CNN, Yahoo!, CNBC, and ESPN, as well as Associated Press coverage in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in addition to international venues.
1909-1911 T206 Honus Wagner: One of the finest examples of the legendary T206 Honus Wagner card, graded PSA VG 3, led the auction and sold for $1,320,000, by far establishing a new record price for a Wagner card in this condition. The card had previously sold for $791,000 in 2008 and is now one of only a handful of baseball cards to ever sell for more than one million dollars in the history of collecting. Bidding opened at $100,000, and forty-two bids were placed by collectors from all around the world. “The interest in this card was tremendous,” said REA Consignment Director Brian Dwyer. “Bidders really appreciated the quality of the card, its great story, and the rare opportunity to own one of the most famous baseball cards in existence. We were honored to have had the privilege to include it among the items in our spring auction lineup.”
1910 T210 Old Mill Tobacco Collection: An extraordinary near-complete set of red-bordered T210 Old Mill cards, consisting of 610 out of 640 cards and offered in twelve different lots, combined to realize $243,600. The collection was highlighted by a stunning SGC VG 40 example of the key Joe Jackson card, one of fewer than twenty known to exist, which sold for $168,000, a world record price for this rarity in the assigned grade. The same card had appeared at auction only once before, originating from a freshly-discovered collection consigned to REA in 2006 by the family of the original owner, at which time it realized $116,000. The escalation in price illustrates the continuing great appreciation for one of card collecting’s rarest and most desirable cards. The collection also contained one of the highest-graded examples of Casey Stengel’s rare sixth series card (res. $5,000). Graded SGC EX 60, the card drew extremely spirited bidding before ending the night at $27,000. Cards from each of the eight series were offered in lots by series, with the two toughest series (seven and eight) split into two lots. “The T210 set has always been extremely highly regarded by advanced collectors due for its distinctive design, its scarcity compared to most other tobacco-card sets of the era, and its extremely striking photos that are unique to the set. The Joe Jackson card all alone would be a special highlight in any auction. It’s one of the best baseball cards in existence. But being offered along with almost all the other cards in the set made this a very special offering all the more appreciated by advanced collectors,” said REA president Robert Lifson.
More $100,000+ Highlights: A remarkable 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie card graded PSA EX-MT 6 was hotly contested, reaching an extraordinary record-setting final price of $204,000 against a book value of $95,000 for a Ruth card in this condition. The card was entirely new to the modern collecting world and came with a tremendous hobby-related history: It was purchased in the 1980s directly from legendary dealer Larry Fritsch, who at the time was breaking up a complete M101-4 set, selling them individually. The key Babe Ruth rookie card, which cost several thousand dollars at the time, was carefully saved for nearly thirty years by the collector and his family before the decision was made to offer it at auction. REA vintage card expert Dean Faragi noted that the card was particularly strong for its grade, which no doubt contributed to its extraordinary price. “We’ve handled more than a dozen Sporting News Ruth cards over the years, and this example was by far the nicest one we’ve ever seen. The bidders definitely agreed that the technical grade didn’t tell the whole story, which is why it commanded such a premium. I predict we’ll see this card sell for a lot more someday. That said, the premium it realized is astounding. It’s one thing for a $100 card to sell for $200. It’s another thing for a $95,000 card to sell for $204,000. It’s a great card, and it was a great price. Our consignor was floored.” The hobby’s finest example of a 1933 Goudey Uncut “Triple Ruth” Sheet, featuring three Babe Ruth cards, a Lou Gehrig, and four additional Hall of Famers, lived up to its reputation, drawing tremendous interest from bidders captivated by its spectacular condition and exceptional display value. Opening at $50,000, when the dust settled it sold for $168,000, establishing a new record for any Goudey sheet ever! An extremely rare 1909-1911 T206 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb Back, one of only thirteen known and graded SGC GOOD 30, realized a stellar $132,000. The card originated from the historic find of five different Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back cards offered at REA in 1997, each of which realized $25,000 or less at the time.
Record Prices For Classics: Many of card collecting’s most iconic cards continue to trend upward, realizing record prices at REA. This auction featured five 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle cards, long considered the most famous postwar card ever produced, in a variety of different grades. A stunning example graded SGC EX/NM 80, which was last sold in REA’s Fall 2014 auction for a then-record price of $41,475 and consigned by the buyer to this auction, hammered down for an even more impressive record $54,000. The equivalent SMR value in the assigned grade was $35,000. “It’s rare to see items increase in price by such a large percentage so quickly, but it does seem to happen with some degree of regularity when dealing with the most universally recognized iconic cards” notes REA Consignment Director Brian Dwyer. Four lower-grade examples, ranging in grade from Authentic to PSA GOOD 2 with qualifier, combined to sell for $27,300, led by $10,200 for a stunning PSA FAIR 1.5 card, setting a new record for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in that modest grade. Mantle’s true rookie card, the 1951 Bowman #253, also delighted bidders when a SGC VG/EX+ 55 example, which was sold for $5,700 by REA last year and was consigned after the buyer upgraded, saw spirited action and ended the night at $7,800, also a new record for the grade and multiples of its modest $1,000 opening bid. A 1954 Topps #128 Hank Aaron rookie card graded PSA NM-MT 8 (res. $2,500; est. $5,000+) soared to an earth-shattering $21,600, nearly doubling the previous public auction sale. A stunning 1948 Bowman Basketball #69 George Mikan rookie card, considered “the king of basketball cards,” graded PSA NM-MT 8 (res. $2,500; est. $5,000/$10,000) established a new record by a large margin, ending at a remarkable $16,800.
The Pulse of The Market: Collectors, dealers, and market watchers look to REA’s annual spring event as the key barometer of the health of the market and the most important auction event of the year. According to REA president Robert Lifson, “The market was extremely strong across the board. The auction results were staggering and exceeded our highest expectations. Most important, they exceeded our consignors’ expectations. The great prices are the result of many factors including, of course, being given the very best material in the world to offer, taking great care in cataloguing all material, having the largest circulation, extensive research and authentication, the well-deserved confidence of buyers, and an emphasis on the integrity of the auction process. Altogether, it’s a very powerful combination. The bidders appreciate what we do. And this naturally attracts consignments.” By any measure, this was one of the most successful auctions in the history of collecting. “It was also the smoothest running auction in all respects, including collecting the money. As always at Robert Edward Auctions, there were no delays in collecting money and getting it into the hands of consignors. That’s another extremely strong area for REA. In fact, this year over half the consignors had their checks in the mail within one week. Even I’m not sure how we did that. But we did.” All consignors were paid in full, 100 cents on the dollar with no adjustments due to nonpaying bidders, and in record time. “That’s the standard we strive for and achieve at REA when it comes to paying consignors. Perfection. Consignors really appreciate getting paid quickly and they really appreciate getting paid 100 cents on the dollar.”
REA Statistics: The stunning prices on all nineteenth and early twentieth century baseball cards and memorabilia totaled a staggering $7.54 million. The 1527 lots, offered on behalf of 238 different consignors, were won by an incredible 677 different bidders, illustrating the power of the marketing and auction process, and the breadth of bidder interest. Successful bidders included some of the nation’s most prestigious museums, universities, and corporate institutional collections, as well as representatives from numerous Major League teams. An incredible 18,973 bids were placed. All areas of the auction received a tremendous response and very strong prices. Nineteenth-century baseball items were unbelievable, as always, as were all early baseball cards, advertising and display pieces, graded cards, Babe Ruth items, autographs, memorabilia, non-sport cards and artwork. Thousands of bidders from all over the world participated. The average lot realized more than double the high-end estimate. An incredible 99% of the lots sold.
Nineteenth-Century Baseball Card Rarities: An outstanding newly-discovered 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Team CDV (res. $5,000), found among old family papers in a Pennsylvania home, was extremely well received by bidders. The CDV possessed exceptional visual appeal, far stronger than many of the other known examples and far better than suggested by its technical grade, and soared to an incredible final sales price of $27,000. Not bad for an old photo that the family didn’t realize they had! Another newly-discovered nineteenth-century rarity, a spectacular cabinet card featuring the 1879 Chicago White Stockings California Tour Team (res. $5,000) featuring Hall of Famer Cap Anson, tripled in price just during the extended bidding period, selling for an amazing $42,000. An 1879 Worcester Grays team-composite cabinet (res. $300; est. $1,000+), originating from the personal collection of Cleveland News sports columnist and pioneer collector Charles W. Mears and consigned directly by his family, climbed to $7,200 in spirited bidding. A collection of twenty-one N172 Old Judge Hall of Famers in various conditions, highlighted by attractive examples of Cap Anson, Bid McPhee, and Ed Delehanty, was sold individually and realized a total of $50,280. A stunning N173 Old Judge Cabinet of Mickey Welch (res. $2,500) hammered for $12,000, while a rare 1887 N693 Kalamazoo Bats Philadelphia Team Card (res. $2,500) ended at $10,200. Two exceptionally rare 1888 N338-1 S. F. Hess California League cards, one of nineteenth-century card collecting’s most elusive sample cards, combined to sell for $13,800. A graded complete set of eight 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions baseball players (res. $1,500; est. $3,000+) exceeded its book value of $5,900 and realized an impressive $10,800 after the dust settled. A near-complete set of 1895 N300 Mayo’s Cut Plug cards (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) sold for $24,000. A rarely-seen complete graded set of 1889 N526 Number 7 Cigars (res. $2,000) finished at $10,800. Scarce Hall of Famer sample cards also performed extremely well, with sales of an 1888 E223 G & B Chewing Gum Buck Ewing (res. $2,500) and Mickey Welch (res. $2,500) at $7,200 and $5,400, respectively; an 1889 N338-2 S. F. Hess Buck Ewing (res. $2,500) at $9,600; and an 1888 N403 Yum Yum Tobacco Mickey Welch (res. $2,000) at $7,800. “This was one of the strongest nineteenth-century card sections we’ve ever had. From outstanding team composites to rare sample cards to some of the game’s greatest Hall of Famers, this auction had it all,” said REA vintage card expert Dean Faragi. “The collectors really enjoyed the tremendous variety and the great opportunity to bid on these rarities.”
Vintage Card Prices STRONG At REA: REA is first and foremost a baseball card auction, so it is not surprising that the big money, as usual, was in the cards. A beautiful 1909-1911 T206 Eddie Plank graded SGC GOOD+ 35 (res. $10,000) hammered for $42,000, as did a stunning 1909 T204 Ramly Tobacco Walter Johnson graded SGC NM 84 (res. $10,000), submitted by REA for a consignor who purchased it (for a song!) in the early days of the hobby long before the introduction of professional grading. An impossibly rare 1921 Frederick Foto Babe Ruth, graded SGC GOOD 30 and one of only five known examples, also ended the night at $42,000. The same card had been purchased at auction by the consignor for $11,163 just four years prior. Another Ruth item, a 1916 M101-4 Sporting News rookie card graded SGC FAIR 20 (res. $5,000), illustrated that collector demand for this iconic card is extremely strong in all grades, selling for $36,000, while Ruth’s first card as a Yankee, the 1917-1920 M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn graded SGC VG 40 (res. $5,000), sold for $24,000. A rare 1912 E300 Plow’s Candy Ty Cobb PSA EX 5 (res. $10,000) also went to a new home for $36,000 as did one of the very few known examples of Lefty Grove’s true rookie card (res. $5,000) from the incredibly rare 1921 White’s Bakery Tip Top Bread set. A 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb (res. $5,000), graded SGC EX 60, sold for $19,200, while an exceptional 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson (res. $2,500), graded SGC VG/EX 50 but presenting far better, sold for $18,000 against an SMR value of $5,750. Two unique 1971 Topps All-Star Rookie Artist’s Proofs, featuring Larry Bowa and Bernie Carbo, the first examples from this legendary set to ever appear at auction, were cause for great excitement among serious Topps collectors, selling for many times their modest $500 starting bids, at $13,200 and $14,400, respectively. In addition to the record-setting sale price of the 1933 Goudey “Triple Ruth” uncut sheet, four other uncut sheets from the 1930s sold for $57,000.
Rare-back T206 cards continue to cement their place as one of the hottest segments of the market, with countless impressive prices turned in throughout this auction. Two Ty Cobb cards saw intense competition among bidders, with a PSA VG 3 Lenox Back Cobb (res. $2,500) ending at $27,000 and a SGC VG 40 Uzit Back Cobb (res. $2,500) selling for $19,200. A Sid Smith Brown Old Mill example (res. $1,000) sold for an extremely impressive $24,000. A Broad Leaf 460 Addie Joss (res. $1,000) sold for $16,800. A complete “back run” collection featuring all fifteen backs for Hall of Famer Vic Willis’ batting pose, including Brown Lenox, Drum, and Uzit, realized $22,860. A total of thirty-seven cards depicting common players, each sold individually and featuring a rare back such as Broad Leaf, Carolina Brights, Drum, Lenox, and Uzit, combined to sell for a staggering $75,720.
Additional Vintage Card Highlights:
Complete sets were well represented throughout the auction, and, as always, collectors bid very aggressively for the right to take home these complete collections which are often the result of years of dedicated collecting. The #11 ranked PSA-graded master set of 1959 Topps (res. $10,000), with almost all cards graded NM-MT 8 or better, realized $45,000. The #3 ranked PSA-graded set of 1978 Topps baseball (res. $10,000), featuring an astounding 640 GEM MINT 10s, sold for $48,000, illustrating the enormous interest in the market for high-end sets from the 1970s. A complete SGC-graded 1941 Play Ball set (res. $10,000) sold for $33,000 as did a mixed-grade near-complete set of 1909-1911 T206 White Borders (res. $10,000), featuring 519 of 524 cards. A complete set of 1954 Topps (res. $5,000), with all 250 cards graded NM 7 by PSA, sold for $24,000, a significant premium to its SMR value of $18,090. The #4 ranked master set of 1911 T205 Gold Borders (res. $5,000), missing just four cards for completion, sold for $16,800. The #3 ranked set of 1921 E253 Oxford Confectionary (res. $2,500) sold for $14,400. A complete set of thirty 1911 E94 George Close Candy cards, entirely graded by SGC and presented in ten different lots, combined to realize an extraordinary $56,640, led by impressive sales of an SGC EX 60 Ty Cobb (res. $2,500) at $13,200 and a SGC VG/EX 50 Cy Young (res. $500) at $9,600. Three PSA-graded 1951 Topps sets, relics from the company’s first year producing mainstream baseball cards, combined to sell for $24,600 as collectors snapped up very attractive sets of Connie Mack All-Stars, Major League All-Stars, and a near-complete master set of Topps Teams. A newly-discovered set of ten 1915 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods Pins (res. $2,500) hammered for $19,200. This set, which had been saved by a family of Midwest antiques dealers for more than fifty years, was of great significance as it expanded the checklist of known pins in the set from eight to ten, with examples of Evers and Stallings confirmed for the first time. Ungraded sets also drew extremely strong collector interest, with a collection of fourteen baseball sets spanning the years 1962 to 1975 and saved by the original owner since the year of issue, combining to realize a staggering $132,600, led by $16,800 for a near-complete 1965 Topps set (res. $1,000; est. $2,500+), $15,600 for a complete 1963 Topps set (res. $1,500; est. $3,000+), and $14,400 for a complete 1964 Topps set (res. $500; est. $1,000/$2,000), all remarkably impressive prices for ungraded sets.
Unopened Material: Vintage unopened packs and boxes are a specialty at REA and as always delivered strong prices across the board. A 1971 Topps football second-series wax box with twenty-four unopened packs (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) was hotly contested and sold for $21,600. A 1972 Topps baseball third-series wax box set a new auction record hammering down at $13,100, while a 1975 Topps baseball wax box turned in an equally strong price of $11,400. A 1971 Topps third-series vending box (res. $2,000; est. $4,000+) realized $12,000, and a 1974 Topps baseball wax box (res. $2,000; est. $4,000+) with thirty-six packs sold for $8,400. A rare 1991 Topps Desert Shield unopened wax box (res. $1,000; est. $2,500+) ended at $6,000, as did a pristine 1976 Topps baseball wax box (res. $2,000; est. $4,000+) containing thirty-six packs. In total, the thirteen high-end wax and vending boxes, each authenticated and wrapped by world-renowned unopened-material expert Steve Hart, realized a combined $101,880.
Additional Auction Highlights:
Autographs: REA’s spring auction featured a tremendous selection of autographed items, including several significant rarities. An incredible 1950 Satchel Paige barnstorming contract, signed by Paige along with J. L. Wilkinson and Oscar Charleston, two of the scarcest of all Negro League Hall of Fame signatures, realized $22,800. A new discovery to the modern collecting world, this extremely significant contract was only recently found among old business documents by the family of Jules Trumper, cousin and former business partner of legendary Negro League Philadelphia Stars owner and promoter Ed Gottlieb. An exceptional collection of 500 Home Run single-signed baseballs was presented in four lots and tallied an impressive $66,300, highlighted by individual examples of Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, and Jimmie Foxx, which sold for $22,800, $27,000, and $13,100, respectively. A particularly extraordinary Christy Mathewson check (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) that was all the more special because it was accompanied by a letter from Mrs. Christy Mathewson, who personally sent the check as a gift to the consignor’s husband in 1956, sold for $19,200. An exceptional signed Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig barnstorming snapshot (res. $1,000; est. $2,500+) dating to 1931 and authenticated by PSA/DNA realized an astounding $13,200. Babe Ruth items continued to be especially popular among collectors, as a Ruth-signed 1934 All-America Baseball Team Certificate presented to Hall of Famer Vernon Gomez (res. $2,500; est. $5,000+) sold for $19,200, a 1929 autograph album page signed by Ruth and Lou Gehrig (res. $1,000) realized $10,800, and a pair of first-edition books authored and signed by Ruth combined to sell for $9,600. An extremely rare Vic Willis handwritten note dating from 1942 and with impeccable provenance (res. $2,000) sold for $11,400. The short Vic Willis note originated from the collection of pioneer autograph collector Stephen Silagi, a very active collector in the 1940s, and was accompanied by various supporting provenance materials that were much appreciated by bidders. REA president Robert Lifson notes: “With memorabilia and autographs, time and time again, we see how well-documented provenance plays a role in delivering strong prices. It’s not always possible to have this kind of provenance, but when it’s there, it’s impossible not to notice how collectors respond.” An extremely rare “Sliding” Billy Hamilton cut signature (res. $2,000), an ideal example grading “10” on a scale of “1 to 10,” realized $9,000. A 1914 Brooklyn Robins team-signed baseball featuring Hall of Famers Wilbert Robinson, Casey Stengel, and Zach Wheat (res. $1,000) soared to $9,600. A 1970 Heinie Manush single-signed baseball (res. $1,000) realized $7,200. Signed cards continue to be one of the hottest segments of autograph collecting, with a collection of seven PSA/DNA authenticated 1933 and 1934 Goudey cards (res. $300), highlighted by Hall of Famers Chuck Klein, Lefty Grove, and Bill Terry, drawing incredible interest. After a battle involving thirty-six bids, the lot eventually ended the night selling at $8,400. A signed 1953 Topps Satchel Paige sold for fifteen times its modest $200 opening bid, realizing $3,000. Two extremely desirable signed postcards, a 1933 Mordecai Brown (res. $300) and a 1956 Al Simmons Artvue Hall of Fame Postcard (res. $1,000), each sold for $5,400. Aside from the notable baseball highlights, Muhammad Ali continued to prove he is not only one of the greatest of all-time but also one of the most popular of all-time as six lots featuring signed photos and gloves combined to realize $20,400.
Player Contracts: Player contracts have long been a specialty at REA. Collectors again showed their tremendous interest in this popular area of collecting, responding with record-setting prices. A relatively recent, but remarkably significant, 1965 Satchel Paige Kansas City Athletics contract (res. $1,000) sold for a staggering $48,000. This was Paige’s final contract and made him the oldest player ever in professional baseball, “In our opinion, this was one of the most interesting contracts we have ever offered,” said REA memorabilia expert Tom D’Alonzo. “It was great to see collectors share our enthusiasm for this gem.” An extraordinary 1919 Frank Baker New York Yankees contract (res. $2,500), the first Baker contract ever sold at REA, realized $9,600, while a 1931 Pie Traynor Pittsburgh Pirates contract (res. $1,000), also signed by Hall of Famer Barney Dreyfuss in his capacity as owner, realized $9,000. Roy Campanella’s first contract in organized baseball, a 1946 Nashua Dodgers minor league document (res. $1,500), sold for $6,600. Four rare 1940s Puerto Rican League contracts belonging to Hall of Famers Buck Leonard, Willie Wells, Leon Day, and Larry Doby, combined to sell for $9,780. A 1919 Ross Youngs New York Giants contract (res. $1,000), which was consigned directly from the Youngs family, also resonated with bidders, receiving forty-four bids and ending the night at $33,000.
1958 Grammy Award for Tequila: John Reznikoff wins a Grammy! (Editor’s note: We couldn’t resist including this line about Mr. Reznikoff who, of course, was the winning bidder, not the original recipient of the award.) One of the most interesting and significant items ever to cross the auction block at REA, the original 1958 Grammy Award for “Best Rhythm and Blues Performance” presented for the iconic song Tequila was hammered down at $30,000. The award, treasured for the past fifty-seven years and personally consigned directly by The Champs band leader Dave Burgess, was presented to Mr. Burgess at the first-ever Grammy Award ceremony held in Hollywood in 1959. From this auspicious beginning, the Grammys, as we know them today, have become the biggest and most important celebration of the music industry and the Grammy award is universally recognized as the most prestigious honor of its artists. Over the years, Tequila has been featured in countless television shows, movies, and advertisements, and is instantly recognizable to generations of music lovers. The important award was, as noted, purchased by John Reznikoff, President of Connecticut-based University Archives, one of the world’s leading authorities on historically significant artifacts. Mr. Reznikoff cannot play any instrument or sing but is no stranger when it comes to winning iconic historic artifacts at REA (which is why we enjoy having a little fun at his expense). Reznikoff made national headlines in 2010 when he purchased the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee previously owned by President Barack Obama that was offered at REA on behalf of a consignor who had bought the car used when Obama was still Senator of Illinois. (The vehicle, which when auctioned was actually still being driven around Illinois by the consignor, who was using it as an everyday vehicle, realized eight times its used-car book value, more than enough to buy a new car!) The fact that the Tequila Grammy Award dates from the very first year of the award, and was issued to honor one of the most famous instrumentals in music history, distinguishes it as one of the most significant awards in music history, and one that would be equally at home in either the Smithsonian Institute or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Game-Used Jerseys and Bats: Collectors are often driven towards memorabilia issued to specific players, and REA’s selection of game-used jerseys was particularly well-received by bidders. An exceptional 1970 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves Game-Used Home Jersey graded MEARS A10 (res. $10,000; est. $20,000+) sold for $66,000. An impeccable 1979 Thurman Munson New York Yankees Game-Used Home Uniform (res. $25,000), complete with jersey and pants, representing one of the final uniforms ever worn by the popular Yankees captain before his untimely death, sold for $54,000. The uniform, which originated years prior directly from Munson’s widow, Diana, had the distinction of being one of only two surviving complete Munson uniforms known. A pristine 1971 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants Game-Used Home Jersey (res. $10,000), which originated from a former member of the Giants’ AAA affiliate who was assigned the jersey as a minor leaguer, hammered at $27,000. A 1970 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles Game-Used Road Jersey (res. $10,000) was also highly prized by bidders, and after a flurry of bidding ended the auction at an impressive $30,000. A highly-desirable 1950 Philadelphia Athletics Game-Used Home Jersey, a style used by the team for only one year, was consigned by the original purchaser from REA’s 2005 auction (where the jersey realized $4,930). The rare jersey nearly doubled in price during the last decade, going to the winner in 2015 for $9,000. Another single-year Philadelphia Athletics jersey (res. $300; est. $1,000+), this one from 1954 and belonging to pitcher Carl Scheib, realized $3,600, as did a 1989 Barry Bonds Pittsburgh Pirates Road Jersey (res. $500), complete with matching pants from the prior season. The auction also featured several pro-model baseball bats belonging to Hall of Famers, highlighted by a rare 1908-1911 Frank Chance bat (res. $5,000), accompanied by a PSA/DNA letter of authenticity, which sold for $13,200.
1899-1900 Brooklyn Dodgers Financial Record Book (Plus REWARD for missing pages 177-178!): A most extraordinary and unique 1899-1900 Brooklyn Dodgers Financial Record Book (res. $2,500), which provided a complete accounting of the team’s day-to-day financial operations at the turn of the century and was penned in the hand of owner Charles Ebbets and another team official, saw tremendous interest from historians, institutions and collectors, generating extremely spirited action. When the dust settled, the financial ledger realized $48,000. How this historic ledger book survived is in itself fascinating story. It was literally saved from the dumpster during the dismantling of Ebbets Field following the club’s move to Los Angeles in 1959. A friend of the consignor was part of the labor crew working at Ebbets Field at the time, and he asked his boss if he could take home any of the items that were being thrown in the trash. His boss said he could help himself, and this ledger was one of the items he thought looked interesting enough to save. A year or two later, the friend gave it to our consignor as a gift due to his great interest in baseball. This was back in the early 1960s, when the ledger (and almost all baseball memorabilia) had little monetary value. Our consignor’s interest in baseball and Brooklyn history was most sincere. He was the ideal caretaker for this extraordinary volume that captures the heart and soul of the Brooklyn Dodgers during an era from which so little exists that documents the inner workings of the Brooklyn Club or any other Major League franchise. This ledger book documents virtually everything!
While our consignor, former Bishop Ford High School board member, Robert Dunn of Brooklyn, was the only owner of the ledger since that time, unfortunately, it has not remained in his sole possession. In the mid-1990s, he loaned the ledger to a third party, allegedly for museum display purposes. In 1997, the third party represented the ledger (and other items belonging to our consignor) as his own, obtained funds using the items as collateral, and did not honor our consignor’s requests to have the ledger and other items returned. Ultimately, in 2005, our consignor had to retain an attorney to secure the return of the items, including the ledger, which were finally recovered in 2006. Unfortunately, it appears as though one leaf of the ledger book (pages numbered 177 and 178) was removed during the decade-long “loan” period, and those two pages are, we believe, the Brooklyn Dodgers financial ledger pages in Ebbets’ hand that surfaced in 2000 when they were offered as lot 1104 in Hunt Auctions’ February sale. We have no way of knowing who won the sheet in that auction, or where it is today, but our consignor has authorized Robert Edward Auctions to offer a $1,000 reward for the return of the missing sheet to reunite it with and complete the 1899-1900 ledger book. The reward stands indefinitely, and the page, if returned, will be sent to the winning bidder to be reunited with the rest of the ledger. So be on the lookout!
More Memorabilia Highlights:
Memorabilia takes many forms, and all were very well received at REA! Championship rings continued to be a popular attraction for collectors: A 1980 Kansas City Royals American League Championship ring presented to Ken Brett (res. $1,000), which had been offered for sale on eBay for $6,000 just six months earlier, soared to an astounding $33,000. A 2009 New York Yankees World Series ring (res. $5,000), issued to a front office staff employee (as opposed to a player) sold for $16,800. Two other Yankees World Series rings, one from 1949 and one from 1953 (issued to pitcher Bill Miller), combined to realize $15,600, while a 1955 Roger Craig Brooklyn Dodgers Championship wristwatch, issued to players as an additional gift from the team when they received their World Series rings, sold for $5,100. An extremely rare 1999 Augusta National Golf Club Green Jacket (res. $2,000), similar to the iconic jackets awarded to Masters Champions but instead issued to a club member, is now at home with a golf enthusiast who paid $16,800 for the privilege. Very few of these famous Green Jackets are permitted to leave the hallowed grounds of Augusta. A fascinating library of fourteen 1905-1921 National Commission Annual Reports (res. $2,000), once belonging to Chairman August Hermann, sold for $15,600. The volumes had been purchased by the extremely pleased consignor from another auction years earlier for just $3,980. “With extremely rare or unique items, values are hard to pin down,” notes REA president Robert Lifson. “This is just one of dozens of examples where it’s just impossible to predict true market value, which can change a great deal over the years, and only the auction process provides clarity.” It took more than peanuts to land the 1913 Barnum & Bailey “Famous Elephant Base-Ball Team” Circus Poster, featuring elephants playing the National Game. A longtime favorite among both baseball and circus collectors, and selling for $12,000, this was a particularly special example in that it was the only large-format example of this classic poster that REA has ever seen anywhere, let alone offered. “It may be a long time before we see another example,” comments Tom D’Alonzo. “In fact, this is a rare case where I don’t think we’ll ever see another in this larger size.” A rare 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers Usher Cap (res. $500), which was purchased by the consignor in the 1970s at a Brooklyn-area secondhand store for just $20, sold for an astounding $10,200. Fortunately he recognized what it was at the time and bought it, but not because he thought it was so valuable, but because it fit in his collection. Nothing could have prepared him for the enthusiasm of modern-day Brooklyn Dodgers collectors. A collection of six 1913 to 1920 World Series Press Pins, sold individually, combined to sell for $16,260. Other rare pinbacks, as always, sold at very strong levels, including two 1961 Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris classics: a rare “61 in ’61 or Bust” (res. $800) picturing both sluggers, which hammered at $3,600, and a pair of “I’m For Maris” and “I’m For Mantle” Stadium Pins (res. $1,000), which realized $4,800. A ticket and program to the 1923 Opening Game at Yankee Stadium, saved in the consignor’s family for decades, were sold individually and carried a combined reserve of $2,000. The souvenirs to the christening of “The House That Ruth Built” realized $13,500.
1934-1957 “Three Stooges” Poster Collection: The third and final installment of the finest and most advanced collection of original “Three Stooges” movie posters and lobby cards to ever come to auction was, as expected, a huge hit with collectors. All “Three Stooges” movie posters and lobby cards are extremely rare and have long been recognized as “blue chips” by advanced collectors in the movie poster world as well as among “Three Stooges” collectors. The offering of just a few lobby cards and posters is a rare collecting event. This auction featured 55 lots selling for a total of $251,580. Nine one-sheet posters, each featuring Larry, Moe, and Curly, alone sold for $126,600, paced by an amazing $51,000 for the 1934 Woman Haters poster (res. $10,000), possibly the only known surviving example from the first Stooges short made for Columbia Pictures. A collection of seventy-eight one-sheet posters, consisting of nearly every “Three Stooges” one-sheet poster issued featuring the team of Moe, Larry, and Shemp, hammered for $30,000 (res. $10,000). Fifty-four “Three Stooges” lobby cards sold for a total of $94,980, highlighted by $12,000 for a 1934 Punch Drunks lobby card (res. $2,000). Interesting note: this lobby card had the amazing provenance of having originated years ago directly from Moe Howard’s daughter. This entire collection of movie posters and lobby cards represented an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime collection that quite possibly will never be duplicated again.
Non-Sports Cards (1886-1969): While REA is primarily known for baseball cards and memorabilia, non-sport cards and card artwork from all eras have always also been an area of specialty. The results of the auction once again illustrate that the big money is not reserved only for baseball cards: Five original “Mars Attacks” artworks, each offered individually, tallied a combined $53,600. The #8 ranked 1962 Topps “Mars Attacks” set (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+), with all fifty-five cards graded NM-MT 8 by PSA and with an SMR value of $20,950, realized an impressive $27,000. The #1 ranked 1933-1934 National Chicle “Sky Birds” set (res. $5,000; est. $10,000+) hammered for $19,200. The #1 ranked 1960 Fleer “Spins & Needles” set (res. $1,000), which included forty-nine PSA GEM MINT 10s, realized $8,400. The #11 ranked 1959 Fleer “Three Stooges” complete set (res. $10,000) sold for $27,000. A rare complete set of 1930s R109 “Pirates Pictures” (res. $500; est. $1,000+), consisting of seventy-two cards and ranked second on the PSA Set Registry, soared to $6,000. A near-complete set of 1967 Wacky Packages Die-Cuts (res. $2,000; est. $4,000+), missing only three rarities for completion, sold for $11,400, while a PSA EX 5 example of the rare “Cracked Animals” card from the same series (res. $1,000) hammered for $3,000. An entirely graded 1888 N2 Allen & Ginter “American Indian Chiefs” set (res. $1,000; est. $2,000+) soared to $7,200. Four different 1962 Topps “Civil War News” original artworks, each offered individually, sold for a collective $17,100, while three different 1965 Topps “Battle” original artworks offered as their own lots realized a combined $10,200. Perhaps most amazingly, an ultra high-grade 1959 Fleer “Three Stooges” complete master set broken up and sold in a total of twenty-five different lots sold for an astonishing combined total of $91,680, led by a record-setting $16,800 for a PSA MINT 9 example of #2 Moe, a price that shattered the previous highest recorded public auction price by more than $10,000.
Many other auction records were shattered for pre-1948 baseball cards, nineteenth-century baseball cards and memorabilia, non-sport cards, and Americana. Further information and complete auction results are available online at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com
Copies of the 560-page full-color premium catalog are also still available free of charge. Go to www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com, click “Request a Catalog,” and fill in your name and address. Robert Edward Auctions is currently assembling its next sale. For further information contact: Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ, call (908)-226-9900, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Edward Auctions, LLC is one of the world’s leading specialty auction houses, devoted exclusively to the sale of rare baseball cards, memorabilia, and Americana. Robert Edward Auctions, LLC offers its clients an unparalleled tradition of integrity, knowledge and professionalism, along with unmatched financial security, millions of dollars in cash advances available at a moment’s notice, the highest catalog circulation in the industry, and the most extensive list of buyers in the collecting world.
REA on FOX Business Network’s “Opening Bell” with Charles Payne
REA on CBS Radio 880 with Jim Smith
REA on News 12 New Jersey
REA in the New York Daily News
REA in the Star Ledger
REA on Pittsburgh CBS station KDKA
1958 Grammy Award - Tequila - First Grammy Award Ever Issued! Plus Nomination Plaque and Rare Awards Dinner Menu!Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized
Robert Edward Auctions is extremely pleased to present an original Grammy Award for the song Tequila presented to Dave Burgess and The Champs. The award, which is offered as a late addition to the Spring Auction and appears as lot #1527 (click here to visit the auction) has been consigned directly by Dave Burgess. The complete auction description is below. The piece is attracting national media attention, including a New York Daily News article (available here) and an appearance on FOX Business Network (available here).
Grammy Award issued in 1959 to guitarist Dave Burgess, leader of the rock group The Champs, for the group’s iconic instrumental piece, Tequila. While all Grammy Awards are special and rarely seen at public auction, this particular award is historically all the more significant in that it represents the first Grammy Award ever issued! The Grammy, which is issued by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in recognition of outstanding achievement in the music industry, was first presented on May 4, 1959, at a ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills (the awards ceremony, as is standard, recognized the performances for the previous year). Over the years the annual Grammy Awards show has evolved into an institution as one of the most spectacular nights in music, and is seen by millions of viewers worldwide. During the first ceremony in 1959, awards were presented in twenty-eight different categories, with Tequila recognized in the category “Best Rhythm and Blues Performance.” To watch Tequila performed live on the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, click here.
The offered award, in addition to its significance as the first Grammy, is also notable for its remarkable provenance: It has been consigned directly by Dave Burgess and has been in his sole possession since 1959! It is also accompanied by the nomination plaque for Tequila and the exceedingly rare program from the first Grammy Award ceremony in 1959, both very substantial and significant items in their own right. (Normally an item of this magnitude would be prominently featured in our printed catalog, but the decision to offer it for sale only came to be days after the catalog had been printed). Ideally, Mr. Burgess has included a one-page signed letter of provenance for the Grammy Award, which reads in full:
To Whom it May Concern: I, Dave Burgess was the leader of the rock group known as, THE CHAMPS, best known for our worldwide number one recording of TEQUILA. In the year 1959, I was nominated and received the first Grammy Award ever presented at the first Grammy award show in Hollywood California. This Grammy has been in my personal collection under glass since that time. According to Sony, who now owns the master, Tequila is the number one instrumental of all time. The nomination plaque and the menu/program are also included. I have never heard of another menu/program still in existence. All of the above is absolutely true and I attest to that fact.
The origin of the instrumental Tequila, and its phenomenal rise to the top of the charts in 1958, is one of the most unlikely stories in music history. In 1957, Dave Burgess was working as a recording artist at Challenge Records (founded by Gene Autry), where he produced a number of singles, both under his given name and under the pseudonym Dave Dupree. He also served as a session guitarist for the company. One afternoon he was trying to come up with a piece to serve as the “B” side for a record he had previously recorded, titled Train to Nowhere, and asked a few of the other session players to help him, including saxophonist Daniel Flores and drummer Glen Alden. In no time at all, Flores (credited under the name Chuck Rio) came up with a latin-rock instrumental that they titled Tequila. Train to Nowhere was released by Challenge in January, 1958, and received little attention until a Cleveland DJ played the “B” side. Soon after, Tequila rose to the top of the US charts, spending five weeks at number one and finishing the year at number eight. With the success of Tequila, the musicians formed an official group called The Champs, which later included Seals and Croft as members. The Champs performed and recorded together for a number of years before disbanding in 1965. Although the group produced a few modest hits, including a follow-up to its hit single in 1960 titled Too Much Tequila, none ever surpassed the enormous success of Tequila, which is today one of the most iconic instrumentals ever recorded. Over the years, Tequila has been featured in countless television shows and movies, not to mention advertisements, and is instantly recognizable to generations of music lovers.
This is the first Grammy Award we have ever offered, and we have only seen a small number at auction over the years. (As one would expect, most performers are reluctant to part with such a prestigious award, and, as is also the case with Oscars, there have been numerous title issues and legal challenges by the Academy to the sale of more recently issued awards, issues which are not present here - at least none that we are aware of as we write this!) Most Grammy Awards are passed down to family members after the passing of the artist. In this case, not only is the award coming directly from the recipient, which is remarkable itself in that it has been cherished for the past 56 years, but we should also note that Mr. Burgess is selling the award only to put the proceeds to a very important and great use: to help with medical bills for a family member.) This Grammy, of course, is the earliest Grammy Award ever offered at public auction. The fact that this Grammy dates from the first year of the award, and was issued for one of the most famous instrumentals in music history, truly distinguishes it as one of the most significant awards in music history, and one that would be equally at home in either the Smithsonian Institute or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grammy Awards issued to notable performers or for famous songs have always been well received by collectors. In 2004, at Sotheby’s sale of the Johnny Cash estate, three different Grammy Awards presented to Cash sold for $187,200, $84,000, and $72,000, respectively, while in 2003, a Grammy awarded to Simon and Garfunkel for the song Mrs. Robinson, realized $50,528 at auction.
The Grammy Award (4.75 x 4.75 x 6.5 inches) features a representation of a vintage phonograph (complete with horn) resting upon a wood base. The affixed plaque reads “National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences - 1958 Presented to Dave Burgess & The Champs Tequila.” The base displays moderate wear, including a few tiny abrasions. The horn, which is a separate piece that screws into the phonograph, has a stripped and partially broken thread but remains attached as issued. The nomination plaque (8.5 x 10.5 inches) also displays moderate wear, with a few tiny surface marks. The large-format fold-over program/dinner menu (11 x 14.5 inches) features both the dinner selection for the evening, as well as all of the nominations in each of the twenty-eight categories. Burgess has inscribed the interior in blue ink (grading “10″), “All the best/Dave Burgess/’The Champs’.” The program displays a center fold, minor creases, and a few edge tears. Total: 3 items. Reserve $30,000. Estimate (open).
The following appears in the printed catalog introducing the T206 Vic Willis Collection of longtime friend and noted collector Jim Blumenthal:
One of the greatest things about collecting is that it unites people from all walks of life around a common interest and shared goals. These are people who you might not otherwise have any occasion to meet in life, but a shared interest can bring you together and form strong bonds that lead to longtime friendships. For us at REA, and countless others within the hobby, this was especially the case with collector Jim Blumenthal, who passed away in October 2014 at the age of 47 after a courageous battle with cancer.
Jim was a true renaissance man, in his personal and professional lives as well as in his collecting life. An accomplished academic, Jim was regarded as one of the world’s preeminent Buddhist scholars and taught at several institutions in Oregon in addition to traveling around the world to speak at conferences and events on the subject, as well as personally providing translation services for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A passionate Grateful Dead fan, Jim was known for amassing a vast music library spanning all sorts of genres. A dedicated card collector, Jim was immersed in projects ranging from the earliest days of baseball cards right through the 1970s, resulting in a remarkable world-class card collection and contributions to the hobby that will forever be remembered.
Jim was an active participant on several message boards, interacting with other collectors, sharing his cards, his knowledge, and his passion. He was always quicker to commend someone else on their accomplishments than he was to talk about his own, but when he did, he did so knowing that they would be best understood and appreciated by his fellow hobbyists. He was a fixture at the National Sports Collectors Convention, attending for several days each year and bringing with him the tremendous humor and good nature (along with some really great cards) that were his hallmark and appreciated by everyone he encountered. Jim was universally respected by his peers, possessing the highest understanding of our hobby. It was hard not to be immediately impressed by Jim, who though soft-spoken, spoke passionately and informatively about the cards and the hobby whenever given the chance. In his presence, it was hard not to be aware of how balanced he was, how spiritual he was, and what a tremendous positive force among us he represented. It was an honor to have him as an important part of our collecting community, and we were privileged to have him as a collector and more important, a friend.
Jim’s collection was vast and spanned many areas that individually would be challenging and impressive but together were remarkable and awesome. There were three distinct collecting projects that Jim worked on throughout his life that everyone particularly associated with him. The first project was the 1886 N167 Old Judge set, of great importance as the first series of baseball cards ever produced by Goodwin and Co., which would end up as the most important card manufacturer of the nineteenth century. The set consists of twelve cards, including six Hall of Famers, and had not been completed by a single collector in modern times (we can’t even be sure it was completed in 1886). This project was truly the collecting version of climbing Mount Everest! After many years and much research and tenacity, Jim was miraculously able to locate all the cards (a feat unto itself!) and complete the set, reuniting all twelve cards, a seemingly impossible quest. Jim published an exceptional look at the set in the Spring 2013 issue of Old Cardboard magazine. The second project was the colorful thirty-card 1910 E93 Standard Caramel set, considered by many to be among the most popular of the 1910-era caramel-card sets, which is loaded with Hall of Famers and stars. Beginning in the early 2000s, Jim set out to build the finest Standard Caramel set possible. This mission culminated in a set boasting an incredible 8.10 overall GPA (the next closest set is 6.16), thirteen consecutive years as the number-one set, and an induction of the set into the PSA Set Registry Hall of Fame in 2008. The third project was the legendary 1909-1911 T206 White Border set, which provided countless challenges and avenues for collecting. Jim tackled this set from all angles: as a set collector, as a key-card collector, and as a rare-back collector. His efforts yielded one of the finest T206 collections ever assembled. One of Jim’s favorite cards within the set was the batting pose of Hall of Famer Vic Willis, and Jim set out to collect this card with every available advertising back known. The card could be found with fifteen different advertisements on the reverse, a number that doesn’t seem all that daunting until one considers that it included advertisements for Drum, Uzit, and Lenox with brown printing, each of which ranks among the rarest backs in the entire set. Finding an example of these backs with any subject is extremely difficult, but finding an example of Vic Willis batting is borderline impossible. But Jim did the impossible, as he’d done many times before in other areas of his personal, professional, and collecting life, and completed this back run. We are honored to present this collection in the spring auction (Lots 277, 278, 279, 280, and 281) to document, for Jim and for everyone else, that the impossible is possible. Proceeds from the sale of this collection will be going to assist with charitable efforts close to the hearts of Jim, his family, and his work.
Spring Auction Preview Lot: Complete Set of 1915 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods Advertising Pins Discovered Including TWO NEW CHECKLIST ADDITIONS!!!Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized
1915 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods Advertising Pins Complete Set (10) with Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Two Previously Unknown Pins - The Only Complete Set!
Presented is one of the most extraordinary baseball pinback finds of all time: a newly-discovered complete set of ten advertising pinbacks issued in 1915 by Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods of Kansas City, Missouri. By any measure, Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins are one of the collecting world’s rarest and most desirable baseball pinbacks. Their rarity is legendary. The discovery of even a single sample would be remarkable, as fewer than fifty Schmelzer’s pins are even known to exist. Prior to this discovery, a find of ten different Schmelzer’s pins would have been thought to be impossible. Prior to this find, only eight different Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins were known to exist.
For many years, eight different subjects, each corresponding to a different baseball position, were known to exist in the Schmelzer’s set, and speculation among collectors and pinback enthusiasts has always been that a ninth pin existed to round out a complete baseball team. The ninth pin was always presumed to be “second base,” as that was the only position missing. But the identity of the ninth featured player was unknown. This remarkable find answers the 100-year-old mystery and identifies the ninth player position pin representing second base as Hall of Famer Johnny Evers! The tenth different pin? We had never before even contemplated the existence of a tenth pin. But it also exists and is included in the find: The previously unknown tenth pin in the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pin set is manager George Stallings!
Obviously, the ten pins offered here represent the only known complete set in existence.
This complete set of ten pins has a fascinating history. When we received the e-mail from a noncollector inquiring about the value of his ten different Schmelzer’s pins, we were naturally skeptical both because of the extreme rarity of Schmelzer’s pins (reproductions are known) and because we only knew of eight different subjects. We immediately asked for pictures, and after a short wait, we were stunned to see that not only were the pins real, but there really were ten different subjects! Significant pinback discoveries such as this, let alone from a set issued 100 years ago, are naturally few and far between. In response to our inquiry as to how he happened to have these great rarities, the consignor explained to us that his parents owned and operated an antique shop in Kansas from 1953 to 1963. They bought them at their Kansas City antique store. This made a lot of sense because Schmelzer’s was a Kansas City Sporting Goods store. Our consignor actually recalled seeing the pins among the family’s odds ‘n ends as early as 1960, and noted that they were saved because he liked them, and that they have remained safely in storage for the past 55 years. Careful storage and remarkable foresight (or luck) is responsible for this incredible offering today! This newly discovered set of ten pins is the second-largest find of Schmelzer’s pins ever (second only to REA’s find of twelve pins in 2006, which included only six different subjects).
In addition to their great rarity, Schmelzer’s are noted for being the first baseball pin set to combine photos of famous ballplayers with color lithographic artwork. Each pin in this striking set features a black-and-white portrait image of the player along with a full-color figure of a generic ballplayer to the left, representing a position, which is also noted above the portrait in red lettering. On the curl of the pin it is indicated, in tiny letters, that these pins were manufactured for Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods by The Whitehead & Hoag Company, the premier pinback-maker of the era. Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins have been revered by advanced collectors for both their rarity and design since the earliest days of organized collecting. They are also noted for the inclusion of several big names, including Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson, in the relatively small set. While these players were staples in many prewar card sets, and their cards can routinely sell for great sums, those cards pale in comparison in terms of rarity to the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins. Any short list of the era’s most desirable baseball pinbacks will include the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins of Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson (all of which, of course, are included in the offered set).
The ten subjects which comprise this complete set are: Ty Cobb (Right Field, Detroit Tigers), Charlie Deal (Third Base, St. Louis Terriers), Johnny Evers (Second Base, Chicago Cubs), Hank Gowdy (Catcher, Boston Braves), Danny Hoffman (Left Field, St. Louis Browns), Joe Jackson (Center Field, Cleveland Naps), Rabbit Maranville (Short Stop, Boston Braves), Christy Mathewson (Pitcher, New York Giants), Butch Schmidt (First Base, Boston Braves), and George Stallings (Manager).
While this set is extremely noteworthy for its completeness and uniqueness, it is an added benefit the ten pins display beautifully! They are not perfect (though Jackson is close), due to varying degrees of foxing, but are still exceptionally attractive. Each pin boasts a crisp image and bold colors. The original gloss is intact, and the celluloid surface of each pin is free of any distracting scratches or chips, as is commonly encountered with pinbacks. Light to moderate foxing is present along the edges of all of the pins, and on the fronts to varying extents. Ideally, the Joe Jackson pin (only the sixth-known example) has survived in the finest condition, with minimal foxing almost exclusively relegated to the curl (aside from some minimal perimeter spotting, foxing virtually not visible from the front). The front foxing is most serious on the following five pins: Cobb (only the fifth-known example), Gowdy, Hoffman, Mathewson, and Stallings. Foxing is present but much more modest and therefore of far lesser impact to the extremely impressive appearance of the remaining five pins: Evers, Deal, Maranville, Schmidt, and, as noted, Jackson. The original advertising back paper is complete and intact on the reverse of each pin, with bold black printing and light toning. The original pin is also complete and intact on all as well.
In our opinion (and we are big fans of pinbacks so maybe we are biased), a strong case can be made that the rarest baseball pinbacks are extremely undervalued and represent an extraordinary value compared to the rarest baseball cards. As baseball pinbacks continue to rise in prominence among the world’s most advanced collectors, it would not surprise us if the most desirable examples someday rival the values placed on similarly rare and desirable cards. That is not the case today, but we can’t help but think this may someday change, especially with reference to Joe Jackson.
The significance of the two previously unknown subjects (Evers and Stallings) can also not be overstated as, in addition to providing the answer to a century-old mystery, they represent the only known examples of each. This is a spectacular, unique, and most remarkable newly discovered complete set of one of celluloid collecting’s most desirable advertising pinback rarities. Total: 10 pins.
Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+++.
Exceedingly rare, newly discovered Cameo Pepsin Gum pin of Hall of Famer Sam Thompson of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is the first “Big Sam” Thompson Cameo Pepsin Gum pin we have ever seen (or heard of!) and it may represent the only known example, since it does not appear in any of the published checklists, including the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards. Incredibly, it was just recently discovered this year by a New England antiques dealer, who by chance found two Cameo Pepsin pins in an estate he purchased (the other, Tenney, also appears individually in the spring auction). This is the only issue to feature Thompson at the tail end of his career (he appears on several tobacco cards and cabinets years earlier as a member of the Detroit Wolverines). That fact, combined with this pin’s extremely rare (and possibly unique) status, make it a particularly exciting Cameo Pepsin Gum checklist addition. The pin is clean and crisp, with especially strong photo contrast and a clean surface. The reverse paper label is completely intact. Excellent condition overall. All Cameo Pepsins are rare (some naturally rarer than others), and when newly discovered collections surface, there is always the possibility of a previously unknown checklist addition, but this newly-discovered Hall of Famer is a particularly exciting checklist addition. Manufactured by Whitehead & Hoag. Diameter: 1.25 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
Provided below is a link to an extraordinary 2012 article on Cameo Pepsin Gum pins, including a then-current checklist, courtesy of The Sports Collectors Digest and written by Keith Olbermann:
Every T206 Wagner naturally has a great story, sharing the Wagner legend that is now part of classic American folklore, and every Wagner also has an additional story relating to its provenance. Collectors have always been fascinated with all aspects of the history of Wagners: how they were discovered, where they have been purchased, when, for how much, where they have been, how they have happened to survive. Sometimes there are more questions than answers, and sometimes a Wagner is special in ways that no other examples share.
Wagners that have great stories include “The Gretzky-McNall Wagner” (the most valuable and famous card in the world), “The All-Star Cafe Wagner” (when owned by Charlie Sheen, displayed at the All-Star Cafe in New York, famously stolen by employees and replaced with a color Xerox, later recovered by the FBI); “The Nun’s Wagner” (a very low-grade, trimmed, and shellacked T206 Wagner donated to an order of Roman Catholic Nuns, who were shocked to discover its great value; the $262,000 the sale of the card realized in 2010 was put to great use by the order). There is also “The Jumbo Wagner” (a T206 Wagner with very large borders), “The Burdick Wagner” (”Father of Card Collecting” Jefferson Burdick’s very own example, donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art), “The Halper Cooperstown Gift Wagner” (in the 1980s when famous collector Barry Halper learned that the Hall of Fame did not have a Wagner, he gave them his duplicate as a gift!); “The Diecut Wagner” (the background was completely cut away on this card, leaving only the portrait and bottom border; REA sold this card in 1997); “The Nagy Wagner” (a very strong example once owned by legendary pioneer collector Frank Nagy); “The Restored Wagner;” and even “The Restored and Unrestored Wagner.” We’re sure there are others that are deserving of special distinction and mean no disrespect by not naming them.
Robert Edward Auctions is extremely pleased to present “The Oceanside Wagner,” one of the finest examples of the legendary T206 Wagner in existence. This exceptional card was entirely unknown to the modern collecting world for nearly a century until it was discovered in the basement of an Oceanside, New York, home in 2008 alongside hundreds of other 1910-era tobacco cards. The entire collection of cards, carefully saved for generations in the family of the original owner, was presented as part of a New York-based estate auction, where the T206 Wagner naturally “stole the show,” realizing a then-record price of $791,000. At the time of the sale, the card was graded by SGC, but in the years since, the buyer opted to have it graded by PSA to match the balance of his impressive collection. (SGC was alerted to this fact and adjusted their population report accordingly so as to not double-count a card of this importance.) The offered card has the incredible distinction of being one of the few T206 Wagner examples to have such a short, but concrete, provenance and chain of custody. Many of the known examples have circulated within the hobby for decades and have changed hands several times. “The Oceanside Wagner” has had only two owners in its entire 106-year existence! This is a remarkable and desirable trait that few other T206 Wagners can claim. The new buyer will be only the third owner ever of this incredible card!
The Card: Graded VG 3 by PSA. This very attractive T206 Honus Wagner possesses virtually every quality highly desired by collectors. It has vibrant colors, a bright orange background, and a crisp, bold, and entirely flawless portrait. The card is well centered (very slightly to the right), and the corners show even wear, with only a single small crease present on the entire card, placed unobtrusively in the top right corner and barely breaking through to the reverse. The advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes printed on the reverse is perfectly centered and clean.
This is a particularly strong T206 Wagner that far exceeds the condition and visual appeal usually found with T206 Wagners. This is very easily seen just by looking at the card, but it is further confirmed when one evaluates the known T206 Wagner population as documented by the PSA and SGC population reports. The offered card is one of only four examples graded at this level by PSA with three additional VG examples graded by SGC. Only four examples grade higher (all by PSA): one NM-MT 8, one EX 5, one EX 5 (MC), and one VG-EX 4. By any measure, this is one of the highest-grade examples of the T206 Wagner in existence! Of the forty-six T206 Wagners listed on the combined PSA and SGC population reports (which may be a bit high as several examples have been crossed between the two companies over the years), twenty-three grade Poor or “Authentic,” one grades Fair, and eleven grade Good.
A grade of VG is exceptional for a T206 Wagner, and the visual appeal of the offered example places it at or near the top of the already exclusive company it keeps. This is a phenomenal-looking card in all respects that elicits a positive and awed response from everyone who sees it. The colors are noticeably brighter, fresher, and bolder than virtually every other T206 Wagner in existence. The image is perfect, and it shows just enough honest wear to give it character but not serve as a distraction in any way. Its provenance as an original-owner example introduced to the hobby in 2008, purchased by a collector (our consignor) at public auction, and kept in his sole possession until now, adds a nearly unparalleled documented history to this card that defines the next owner as only the third unique owner of this card in its history. Valuing Wagners is very subjective. That’s for the bidders to decide. History has shown that the T206 Wagner has always been a tremendous store of value, and has gradually climbed in price for decades, commanding ever-impressive sums in all grades. Higher-grade examples are few and far between. Whatever the auction result, whether it brings far more (as we believe it deserves to), or less, than its 2008 auction selling price, it is a great privilege and honor for us to be chosen to present this card, the finest example of the legendary T206 Wagner ever auctioned by Robert Edward Auctions, and one of the finest examples in existence of card collecting’s greatest treasure.
Reserve $100,000. Estimate (open).
Below is a preview April auction catalog description for a particularly interesting item that we think collectors will enjoy seeing and reading about!
Presented is an incredibly rare and desirable original one-cent 1951 Topps Blue Backs display box. This is, in our opinion, the most significant and simply extraordinary Topps display box known to exist. It is also very likely the rarest. This is the very first 1951 Topps Blue Backs display box that we have ever seen let alone had the privilege of offering! In addition, the box is accompanied by an extremely rare original 1951 Topps wrapper.
When we received an e-mail from an extremely advanced old-time collector alerting us to expect this display box as part of his consignment to this auction, we were extremely curious and anxious for his package to arrive. We had never before seen the box that he described, but we knew from his description that it would be special. We were not disappointed! Upon unwrapping the display box, we were immediately aware of its great rarity. We had never before even seen a 1951 Topps Blue Back counter display box. And we had never even heard of a surviving example. In addition to being awestruck by its rarity and design, we were also most fascinated with an ink stamp in the upper left corner that read “File Copy Please Return To Woody Gelman.” Woody Gelman, of course, was one of the most legendary pioneers of collecting and was also the head of the art department at Topps. This box was his personal copy! The remarkable provenance, in fact, explains how this incredible box even happened to survive. Woody Gelman thought to put aside a box in 1951!
Out of curiosity, we asked our consignor if he happened to recall how he came to acquire this box. Not only did he remember, but the answer made a great deal of sense. He purchased this display box in 1985 directly from Bob Foster, a very prominent dealer from Connecticut who specialized in the rarest wrappers and boxes. In the mid 1980s, Bob acquired an extremely impressive selection of box and wrapper rarities (that no doubt included this very box) directly from the family of Woody Gelman!
The box, which measures 8.5 x 4.75 x 2.25 inches, has survived in tremendous condition, a fact that is directly related to its time as Woody Gelman’s personal file copy. The bottom of the box displays adhesive residue and small areas of excess paper from removal from Gelman’s album (where it was stored flat). The box was been reassembled and glued shut at the top opening. The colors are bright and crisp, with a green, red, and yellow color scheme around the side and top panels surrounding various baseball scenes and advertising for “Baseball Trading Card Candy.” A small sticker on the top panel advertises the “New! Blue Back Series,” a reference to the Blue Back series cards produced by Topps in 1951 that this display box once housed.
The accompanying wrapper has been flattened to dimensions of 7 x 4.75 inches and presents as Excellent, with only a few breaks in the delicate wax surface visible under close inspection. It features the same design as the top panel of the Blue Back display box and encourages youngsters to collect the full deck of 52 baseball cards. This wrapper was not designed for the Blue Back box, but was used for packaging the Topps Major League All-Stars, Connie Mack All-Stars, and Teams cards issued in the same year, which were accompanied in packs by two-card panels of red backs (blue backs were issued later and may have also been packaged in panel form inside these wrappers, but we cannot be sure). While this wrapper may or may not have housed blue backs at one time, it is an exceptionally rare and important companion piece as a Topps relic from the same year (1951).
This is a tremendously rare and significant pairing of an original display box and wax wrapper from this monumental year in Topps and card-collecting history. The box (as well as the wrapper) would be extremely significant additions to any world-class collection of display boxes, advertising, or Topps-related collectibles. Total: 2 items (one display box and one wrapper). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
A few illustrations from additional 1951 Topps related lots in the auction that came with the box and wrapper (but are offered separately) appear below:
Half of All Three Stooges Titles 1934-1957 Are Represented in Historic Sale
Robert Edward Auctions will be offering the most extraordinary Three Stooges movie-poster collection to ever come to auction in the history of collecting in its April 25, 2015 auction. The most important highlight of the collection is what may be the only known one-sheet poster for the group’s first film for Columbia Pictures in 1934: Woman Haters. Is this the only example that exists of this historic poster? “We think it is. We can’t find another. But we can’t be positive,” says REA’s auction manager Tom D’Alonzo. “The only collectors who have even suggested to us that another exists all seemed to have one thing in common. They really want this one!” While the one-sheet from the Woman Haters is the prize of the collection, due to its enormous historical significance, many extreme rarities spanning the Stooges’ entire career are included. The offering is the final of three auctions that were required to present the collection. This is the largest selection of vintage Three Stooges posters to ever come to auction, and the best has been saved for last!
The Stooges produced 174 comedy shorts for Columbia between the years 1934 and 1956. This amazing offering features one-sheet posters for half of those films, eighty-seven different titles total, including nine rarities from the 1930s and early 1940s starring Curly: Woman Haters, Violent Is The Word for Curly, Termites of 1938, No Census No Feeling, An Ache In Every Stake, All The World’s A Stooge, Cactus Makes Perfect, Dizzy Detectives, and A Gem of a Jam. One of the most exciting lots in the auction will be the astounding collection of seventy-six different Three Stooges one-sheet movie posters, spanning the years 1947 to 1957. Incredibly, this collection of seventy-six posters features nearly every Three Stooges one-sheet poster ever issued featuring the team of Moe, Larry, and Shemp, with the exception of just three.
Lobby cards are equally represented in the sale, the most significant of which is the only known lobby card from the Stooges’ second short in 1934, Punch Drunks. In addition to its extreme rarity, the Punch Drunks lobby card comes with the special provenance of having been obtained by the consignor directly from Moe Howard’s daughter, Joan. Fifty-five different lobby cards are featured in the sale, including ten seldom-seen examples from the 1930s: Punch Drunks, Hoi Polloi, Slippery Silks, Whoops I’m An Indian (two different scene cards), Cash and Carry, The Sitters Downers, Grips, Grunts & Groans, Mutts To You, Healthy Wealthy and Dumb. This is an unprecedented offering of Three Stooges posters, all of which originate from the finest private collection of Three Stooges posters ever assembled. Online bidding starts approximately April 5th. For more information regarding the sale or to request a free catalog, please visit Robert Edward Auctions’ website at www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com or call 908-226-9900