Mid 1490s The Joust Armour
The good souls of the clergy are offended by these deadly pleasures. Gradually regulations appear to provide some safety. In France the competitors are separated by a barrier that avoids the frontal shock of the two galloping horses. The shield is replaced by a reinforcement of the breastplate. The helmet is extended by a spectacular frog mouth that reduces the risk of penetration of the lance but almost completely obstructs the jouster's field of vision. The tips of the lances are bent and blunted.
Maximilian of Habsburg who will become Emperor Maximilian I is passionate about jousting. He likes to be nicknamed the Last of the Knights. Two styles are practiced. Gestech is the traditional European style. Scharfrennen is a German specialty which aims to unhorse the opponent.
The joust armour has its culmination during the reign of Maximilian, and especially on the occasion of the festivities of his third marriage in 1494. The equipment of the Gestech, named Stechzeug, is the heaviest armor of medieval times, because of the accumulation of security rules far beyond the flexibility needed for a war armour.
To ensure the success of his tournaments, Maximilian has the armour pieces prepared out of the responsibility of his guests. Several workshops in Southern Germany including Augsburg and Nuremberg specialize in one or the other equipment.
In the 1930s the Zeughaus, a museum linked to the Berlin arsenal, assembles a complete Stechzeug made up of original elements from the mid-1490s. Duplicating in the museum, it is sold in 1938. It is estimated £ 500K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 8.
1860 Rival Teams in Brooklyn
2019 SOLD for $ 180k including premium
After two rather experimental seasons, the first champion under the new rules is the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn. In the following year things already get complicated. The best players begin to mix salary and compensation. The Atlantics dominated by the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn are declared champions to avoid a riot from disappointed bettors.
A photo published in Brooklyn in carte-de-visite format on 6 x 10 cm cardboard shows a group of nine Atlantics in three ranks wearing their baseball uniform, assisted by two men in city outfits who are certainly the club's managers. One of the seated players holds a bat on his knees. Three copies are known.
One of the three was authenticated by SGC without grading, due to some shearing of the photographic paper associated with a poor condition of the cardboard. It had been kept by the brother of one of the players and had on the back a newspaper clipping that lists the nine regular players and their five substitutes of the 1859 season. It was sold for $ 180K by Heritage on July 30, 2015. It is illustrated in the pre sale release by Sports Collector Digest.
Another copy in a much better condition of contrast and cleanliness is graded VG3 by SGC. It is estimated $ 150K for sale by Heritage on April 18 online from Dallas, lot 51001. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The Excelsior of Brooklyn page in Wikipedia is illustrated by a picture of the nine players from that team. The original document linked by Wikipedia identifies each of them by his position, standing from left to right. The group includes the star player Jim Creighton who joined the Excelsiors in 1860. The format of the print is not published therein.
The photos of these teams were taken in a surrounding that seems identical : a studio whose bare wall is interrupted only once by a vertical line, with a carpet of similar patterns. It seems probable that they were both made in 1860 at the time of the match whose disputed decision was referred above.
1859-1860 Brooklyn Atlantics CDV
2015 sold for $ 180K by Heritage
2022 for sale on August 14 by REA
It had been kept by the brother of one of the players and has on the back a newspaper clipping that lists the nine regular players and their five substitutes of the 1859 season. It was sold for $ 180K by Heritage on July 30, 2015, lot 80009.
It was sold for $ 99K on August 14, 2022 by REA, lot 3.
Summer Auction Spotlight: Lot # 3: Extremely Rare and Significant 1859 Brooklyn Atlantics CDV - Direct Player Provenance! Bid Now: https://t.co/IEAolMz8hY@REAOnline @sgcgrading #thehobby #prewarbaseball #pre1900baseball #cardcollector #Auction #baseballcards #whodoyoucollect pic.twitter.com/At5E0SVn8r— RobertEdwardAuctions (@REAOnline) July 25, 2022
1868 The Medal of the New York Clipper
2019 sold for $ 90k including premium
In 1868 the Clipper awards medals to the best baseball players. This is the very first initiative of that kind for this sport.
At that date, everyone knows that amateurism is a lure, bypassed by all possible means. In the following year the professionalism will be admitted. Harry Wright, the son of an English-born professional cricketer, will create the first ever professional-only baseball team, the ephemeral Cincinnati Red Stockings.
The Clipper medal was only awarded in 1868. Two reasons may be suggested. Making the medals was certainly too expensive, and the champions were now motivated by the opportunity to openly get a salary.
On August 17 in Dallas, Heritage sells the Clipper Prize Medal awarded to George Wright, lot 56051 estimated $ 200K. It is entirely original except for a ribbon that joined the tie pin bearing the player's name to the main part of the jewel. It is accompanied by an autograph written by Wright when he presented this trophy to his grandson.
George Wright, who was Harry's younger brother, was considered as the best player of his time, unequaled as a defender. It is not clear if medals were also awarded to other players. Apparently the archives of the newspaper have not yet been analyzed on this point by the archeologists of baseball.
This is the earliest and most significant 19th century baseball award known, the 1868 Clipper Prize given to HOF pioneer George Wright. This award has been identified by baseball historians as the very first individual baseball player award ever createdhttps://t.co/Ocp7goyXUB pic.twitter.com/cvv2kDx748— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) August 8, 2019
1888 The King of Beaneaters
2012 SOLD 62 K$ before fees
In 1888, photography is no longer a novelty. Editions offer to the general public the views of all countries and all topics on albumen paper glued onto thick cardboard. In the USA, the most common format for that disclosure of knowledge is the "cabinet card", normalized to 4.5 x 6.5 inches (11.5 x 16.5 cm).
A manufacturer of cigarettes in New York, Goodwin and Company, exchanges photos of sport against purchasing proofs introduced in the packets of his two brands: Old Judge and Gypsy Queen. The initiative is interesting: the acquisition of photographs is no longer a separate purchase, and fans can start new cheap specialized collections.
The baseball player Michael Kelly became famous at the end of the 1886 season, when the Boston Beaneaters bought him to the Chicago White Stockings for $ 10,000, a then-record price attesting the rise in popularity of this sport. In Boston, the champion will first be nicknamed $ 10,000 Kelly and afterwards King Kelly.
On August 29 in Biddeford ME, Saco River sells a cabinet card of this mustachioed man for the Old Judge brand.Unlike most sports photos of that time, the champion is shown as a close-up portrait in street clothes. His name is identified by an incision in the negative: "Kelly, Capt / Boston."
This copy has remained in perfect contrast with artistic blur in the lower part. It illustrates the very interesting article shared by The Portland Press Herald.
In 1888, photography finally wins its popular dimension, accessible to all. Eastman releases Kodak during that year,and Goodwin is also among the first to use chromolithography, later to become the most suitable technique for mass promotional editions.
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house had indicated that this newly discovered copy was one one of only four known, and that another one was sold in a private sale in 2005 for $ 72K.
The result, $ 62K before fees, is consistent with such a history.
1894 the athletic exposition
Pierre de Coubertin was a young educational theorist. Inspired by the spectacular development of sports in Great Britain and in the United States, he imagines an international sporting event that will promote altogether the athletic effort and the peace. The next Parisian exposition will be both grand and popular. He will apply to integrate his project therein.
On January 30, 1894, Coubertin writes his ideas on paper. He considers a stadium similar as in Olympia flanked with specialized showrooms reminding the history of athletic sports since antiquity. Modern sports such as "vélocipédie" will be included.
He deliberately excludes the military sport trainings and the professionalism considered as a shameful shift. The demonstration shows will be in free access. Cafes and shops will be banned to prevent the atmosphere considered by him as depraved of the Rue du Caire in the 1889 exhibition. At this stage the inventor does not think about competitions.
This seminal document of modern Olympism in four pages on a single sheet is estimated $ 1M by Goldin Auctions, lot 3 in an online sale ending on October 29.
In June of the same year, Coubertin convenes in Paris a committee of 49 clubs representing 13 nations. The CIO (IOC) is created and the restoration of the Olympic Games is solemnly proclaimed. The first of them will take place in Athens in 1896. The reluctance of Paris is released in spring 1899 just in time for the Jeux Olympiques to be recognized as a major element of the 1900 exposition.
1896 Silver Medal for the Winner
2016 SOLD for $ 66K including premium
The ancient runners were rewarded with an olive wreath. In 1896 the winner of each event receives a silver medal, an olive branch and a diploma. The second has a copper medal, a laurel branch and a diploma.
Everything is done to honor the host country : the branches were picked on Mount Olympus and the silver medal shows on one side a head of Zeus along with a small winged Victory and on the other side a view of Acropolis and Parthenon. A silver medal of the 1896 Olympics is estimated $ 100K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on November 18, lot 53217.
The enthusiasm of the crowd culminates when a humble Greek water-carrier named Spyridon Louis wins the emblematic event of these games, which is also the very first marathon in sporting history. In addition to the official awards King George presents Louis with a silver cup and an old vase. The vase is immediately given to a museum. The cup was sold for £ 540K including premium by Christie's on April 18, 2012.
The next Olympic Games held in 1900 in Paris discontinued the award of medals. The winners got cups and trophies instead. The modern medal system including gold for the winner, silver for the second and bronze for the third appears for the first time in St. Louis in 1904. Until 1912 the medal of the winner is in bulk gold.
1897 Baseball Bat of Cap Anson
2016 SOLD for $ 430K by Christie's
Cap Anson played his last game in 1897. He gave in memory to one of his daughters his last bat and his uniform.
The uniform was later damaged and disappeared. The bat remained in his descent until 2005. It was sold for $ 287K by Heritage on August 5, 2010, for $ 430K by Christie's on October 19, 2016 and for $ 350K by Goldin on August 2, 2018, lot 3
This bat is extremely rare by its correlation with one of the best players of the nineteenth century, its heavy game use and its exceptional family provenance. It was graded GU 10 by PSA/DNA.
It is also a very early example of a Louisville Slugger by J. F. Hillerich and Son. The name had been deposed only three years before, after a few years of experience by the younger Hillerich in his new specialty. Before this industrial initiative which would considerably facilitate the standardization, the manufacture of the bats was left to the initiative of the players.
The mark inscribed in the wood and its position are specific to the year 1897, correlating perfectly the family tradition according to which it was the last professional bat of the champion.
This 36-inch bat was incised by Anson on 13.5 inches long by a pattern of about 145 notches for improving the grip. This refinement however did not save the end of Anson's career, fired from his own team for his incompetence after too long a tenure.
1900-1905 Bat of Honus Wagner
This 1900-05 Honus Wager game used bat is 40.4ozs of battle-scarred Dead Ball Era greatness. Come by booth # 824 at the @nsccshow to see it in person along with hundreds of other unbelievable relics from our upcoming auctionshttps://t.co/QE2n27qUkw pic.twitter.com/J6xQOQrJoA— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) August 1, 2019
1903 Americans vs Pirates
2020 SOLD for $ 247K including premium
This rivalry should not detract from the popularity of baseball, however. In 1903 the two leagues decide that the season will end with a confrontation between their respective winners of the season.
This new event takes the pompous name of World's Championship Games. From October 1 to 8, the Boston Americans of the American League meet the Pittsburg Pirates of the National League in eight games divided between the two fields. Pittsburg was at that time a preferred spelling for the city of Pittsburgh PA.
The first game takes place in Boston in front of 16,242 spectators. It is won by the visiting club on the score of 7 to 3. A Pirate scores the first home run in World Series history.
Two programs and a ticket issued for this very first game will be sold by Hunt in Louisville on November 14. The programs include of course many local advertising inserts.
Lot 357, estimated $ 250K, is a program printed in Pittsburgh. The center pages include blank score cards listing all players, with amidst them the two superchampions from that time, (Honus) Wagner and (Cy) Young. Its state of cleanliness is remarkable.
Lot 359, estimated $ 150K, is a program printed in Boston. The cover features the photo of McGreevy, a bar keeper who was the leader of the Boston team's fan club, above photos of one player from each team.
Lot 358, estimated $ 50K, is a nearly erased ticket authenticated by PSA.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Pittsburgh program SOLD for $ 247K
Boston program SOLD for $ 150K
Ticket SOLD for $ 47K
1904 christy mathewson the gentle pitcher
Coming back from World War with tuberculosis, Matty died prematurely in 1925 but he is not forgotten. He was in 1936 the fourth of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Hame and the only one who was then posthumously recognized. The glory of the three champions ahead of him in this inaugural vote is immense and indisputable : Ty Cobb followed by Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner tying.
Professional since 1900 with the New York Giants, the gentle Matty used to disperse his equipment at the end of season as gifts to family and friends. A bat used by him in 1905 has been faithfully preserved in the same family until 2013. Matty was not a batter and bats related to his career are extremely rare. It was sold for $ 220K including premium by Goldin on July 31, 2015.
On August 27 in Dallas, Heritage sells a game used jersey of Mathewson that had remained in the descent of one of his cousinsuntil 1992. The inscriptions were cleaned but remain partially legible. Along with the details of the garment, they allow to date it unquestionably to 1904. One of the earliest pictures in the Conlon archives supports this date.
An undershirt and a belt worn by the champion have locally discolored the garment which is otherwise in very good condition. The auction house considers that baseball jerseys used in game before 1920 are very scarce and this example comes from a champion who had been outstanding both socially and sportingly. It is offered with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80036.
1905 The Pitcher of the Giants
2015 SOLD for $ 220K including premium
In 1936 he was among the first five players to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the only one posthumously. He had been exposed to chemical weapons during the First World War and had died in 1925 aged 45.
His technique was much ahead of his time. A rotating effect which he named the fadeaway made the ball more difficult to counter. In October 1905, his team of the New York Giants won a landslide victory in the World Series, a then recent championship that opposed late in the season the winning teams of the two main Leagues.
The Giants are celebrating their deserved victory. Matty has his bat signed by his teammates and his manager. He did not used to keep for himself the memories of his games. When he went back home in Pennsylvania, he presented the bat to a friend. The prestigious piece of equipment remained in the same family until 2013.
This bat of Hillerich brand is graded GU10 by PSA/DNA and A10 by MEARS and the signatures have been authenticated. It can not be better. It is estimated $ 500K for sale by Goldin in Chicago on July 31, lot 40. Here is the links to the release posted byAuction Report and to the website of the auction house.
The catalog states that game used bats from that time are as rare as hen's teeth, and it is the only one known to be related to Christy Mathewson.
1909 American Caramel Joe Jackson
2016 SOLD for $ 670K by SCP
Joe is the son of a peasant from South Carolina. The family is poor. Joe appreciates that he is gifted for baseball and begins playing to win some money. He is so strong that he breaks the arm of a fellow by pitching a ball and his playmates will no longer dare to face him. He will become a hitter.
He was nicknamed Shoeless Joe before his debut in the Leagues when someone noticed that he was playing in his socks. He had taken off his shoes just on that day because of a painful blister. Added to the fact that he was illiterate, this idea of a barefoot champion certainly contributed to his immense popularity. He was one of the best two hitters of his time, almost equal to Ty Cobb.
During the 1908-1909 season, Joe played ten games in Major League with the Philadelphia Athletics and spent the rest of his time in the Minor League with a team in Greenville NC. Despite that sporadic activity at the highest level he is one of the hundred players chosen by American Caramel Co. for the baseball card series now codified E90 published in 1909.
Two of these cards are in exceptional condition for their age, graded NM-MT 8 by PSA. By comparison the population of the T206 Wagner printed in the same year includes only one card in the same grade. In both cases no further card graded by PSA exceeds 5.
One of the two E90 Jackson Phila NM-MT 8 was sold for $ 670K by SCP Auctions on August 20, 2016, lot 504. The printing is beautiful and it is perfectly clean with sharp corners and flawless edges.
Joe was prohibited from baseball in 1920 with seven other players in the Black Sox scandal for a fix in Major League. He is the only one among the eight indicted whose guilt was later questioned but his case had served as an example of bad practice and from all his glory he was only left with the shame.
1910 T206 PLANK
2018 SOLD for $ 690K by Heritage
Eddie Plank was a good Major League player, still recognized today as one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball history. His card is known to PSA in 72 copies, including 1 NM-MT8 and 3 NM7. The reason for this rarity is not known, maybe the breakage of its printing plate.
Gettysburg Eddie's T206 card shares with the fabled Honus Wagner both a maddening elusiveness and an apocryphal tale accounting for his rarity. This spectacular representation is one of just three reaching PSA NM 7, a rating exceeded just a single timehttps://t.co/zjImIIQKWQ pic.twitter.com/ZixUcR5Dx8— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) September 19, 2018
1910 A Dirty Box in the Attic
2012 SOLD 287 K$ including premium
In the attic of a house in Ohio, a family has just opened an old box that had belonged to the grandfather. No one had an interest to it for a hundred years. They found 700 baseball cards collected in 1910. Having never been manipulated, they are in the same condition as on the day of their purchase.
The series cataloged under reference E98 is nicely represented in this treasure. Although the brand is not identified, it is classified with the promotional cards for caramels and candies.
The full E98 list includes thirty cards with the lithographed photo of a player in front side, and on the back the names of those 30 athletes selected by the anonymous editor as the best baseball players of the time, including Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Christy Mathewson. Players are often shown in the heat of the moment.
The Ohio treasure includes 28 different players in the series E98, with a few additional copies lithographed with color variants.
Heritage has prepared two top lots for the sale of August 2 in Baltimore.
27 players are grouped in a lot estimated $ 400 K : almost all on red background, excepted Hans Wagner on green.The other lot, estimated $ 200K, is devoted to a single card, the red Wagner, in an extraordinary condition : gradedPSA Gem MT10.
Hans was then a nickname as usual as Honus for Wagner, also a great player, ranked second tying with Ruth in the first election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. He is also famous among collectors for his T206 card, an image which is very rare due to his disagreement for the use of his portrait in this series.
POST SALE COMMENT
These first two lots from the treasure had good results, especially when considering that this series is not one of the most prestigious.
The lot of 27 cards was sold $ 287K including premium, which makes a nice average of $ 10K per unit, and the perfect red Wagner was sold $ 240K including premium.
1911 Joe Jackson Model Bat
2014 SOLD for $ 960K by Heritage
He was nicknamed Shoeless Joe before his debut in the Leagues when someone noticed that he was playing in his socks. He had taken off his shoes just on that day because of a painful blister. Added to the fact that he was illiterate, this idea of a barefoot champion certainly contributed to his immense popularity. He was one of the best two hitters of his time, equal to Ty Cobb.
During the 1908-1909 season, Joe played ten games in Major League with the Philadelphia Athletics and spent the rest of his time in the Minor League. 1911 is his first full MLB season, with the Cleveland Naps. His rookie record of a .408 batting average has never been equaled.
For that unprecedented rookie feat, Joe was using Louisville Slugger bats by J.F. Hillerich and Son. The best players were invited to send their preferred bat back to the factory for serving as a master model for future orders. Such practice comes in the follow of their 1905 agreement with Honus Wagner to endorse a model of the Louisville Slugger, a commercial act unprecedented in sport history.
The model Hillerich bat of the rookie season of Joe Jackson has a sidewriting by the factory with the name of the player, the reference J13 of this specific model and the return date of June 1911. The Louisville Slugger trade mark is consistent with the 1905-1910 period. It is graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA, with many ball marks witnessing for a long time of service. Both facts make obvious that it was his preferred bat long before his MLB career.
This bat was sold for $ 960K by Heritage on February 22, 2014, lot 80003.
All Jackson bats known from PSA/DNA match the J13 template.
1911 The Goaltender of the Canadiens
2012 SOLD 116 K$ including premium
2019 SOLD for $ 56K including premium
The only copy in mint condition of the only rookie card of Georges Vezina, graded 96 Mint 9 by SGC, was sold for $ 116K including premium by Goodwin on October 4, 2012. It is estimated $ 80K for sale by Heritage online on December 5, lot 51732.
The champion could be considered as the 'Iron Horse' of ice hockey, playing 327 consecutive games for the Montreal Canadiens in NHA and then NHL from his first professional game in 1910 to his tragic collapse while in his goal in November 1925 in an advanced phase of tuberculosis.
He was posthumously one the original nine inductees in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I narrated this lot as follows in 2012.
There is not only baseball in North America. In Canada, ice hockey is a national sport. And same as for baseball, sport cards preserve the memory of the best players.
Georges Vezina was a perfect goalie to the team of the Canadiens de Montréal. Famous for his calm composure in this speedy and brutal sport, he was nicknamed the Cucumber of Chicoutimi, in reference to the district of the city of Saguenay where he had made his debut.
In 1911 in Canada the Imperial Tobacco company publishes 45 hockey cards 38 x 64 mm. The Vezina card is number 38 in the series.
1912 Honus Wagner Bat
2021 SOLD for $ 900K by Heritage
Under these conditions, the best hitters are sturdy and bulky men, which brings to glory Honus Wagner and then Babe Ruth. This is not enough : the bats must be as easy to handle as possible. They are long and heavy. The Louisville Slugger brand listens to the specific needs of the players and will soon dominate this market.
On February 27, 2021, Heritage sold for $ 900K a long and massive bat, 51.4 ounces over 35 inches, lot 80088. It retains traces of heavy use and was given the highest grade by PSA/DNA, GU 10. It bears the inscription PTS Wagner 1912. It had been made by a local Pittsburgh artisan who has not been identified.
This bat is matched with a period photo, also dated 1912, on which it is carried forward by Honus Wagner seated with dangling legs on a low wall. This photo illustrates a comment by pitcher Christy Mathewson that there is no weakness in Wagner. Photo matching is facilitated by the fact that this local equipment escapes the standardizations of the Louisville Slugger.
A baseball bat of such a weight is a kind of prehistoric club that can also be useful in policing. It is funny that Wagner gave it to a Pittsburgh police officer.
"I don't make speeches. I just let my bat speak for me in the summertime." -Honus Wagner— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) February 17, 2021
No Wagner bat that speaks more loudly today than this one, one of only six in the PSA/DNA database and the only example bearing the ironclad provenance of a photomatchhttps://t.co/QndzmVWwL5 pic.twitter.com/cZmSbe7eYt
1913 Study for the Olympic Flag
2020 SOLD for € 235K by Cannes Enchères
Coubertin knows the power of symbols. The motto Citius-Altius-Fortius, in which Latin is chosen as the neutral language, had been coined from the early development of the project.
In 1913 the very recent demonstration of universality acquired in Stockholm prompted the creation of a flag. Coubertin observes that the national flags on the five continents only use six colors : blue, black, red, yellow, green and white. He conceives a figure of five interlocking circles in two rows on a white background. The similarity to the chain of the founding states of the USA is a coincidence due to the strength of such a symbol of union.
Coubertin made the first drawing, which was supplied to Le Bon Marché for the production of more than 300 flags. The original is lost. The new flag was immediately raised in promotional events but war broke out and its first Olympic use awaited the Antwerp games in 1920.
An autograph copy has just surfaced. This 21 x 27 cm drawing in graphite and gouache is signed by Coubertin with a courtesy which does not name the dedicatee. This piece had been offered by Coubertin in 1913 to one of his sponsors in Lausanne, where he transferred the IOC headquarters in 1915. This one of a kind document was sold for € 235K by Cannes Enchères on July 26, 2020.
1914 Ruth the Pitcher
2013 SOLD 450 K$ including premium
On July 11, 1914, Babe Ruth played his first Major League game. Goldin Auctions marks the centennial of this event through an auction dedicated primarily to the champion, on July 12 in Baltimore.
A baseball card listed in this sale is exactly one hundred years old. It was made in Baltimore in 1914 before July 11. This copy graded PSA1 recognizable by its wear defects has already been discussed in this column in 2013. It was sold for $ 450K including premium by Robert Edward on May 18, 2013.
Here is my article from last year including its link to the announcement made at that time by AuctionPublicity :
Today, would there be any chance for a rookie in a minor baseball league to have his picture published? Possibly no. In 1914, the bulimia for images was so high that an image from the early days of Babe Ruth in baseball has been published.
George Ruth is 19 years old. He has not even reached his majority when the manager of the Baltimore Orioles appreciates his skills and offers him a first contract. His amused fellows nicknamed him Jack Dunn's Baby. From then and forever he will be the Babe.
Dunn was certainly a good businessman, because less than five months later he transferred George to a major club. During this very short period, the local publisher Baltimore News had time to publish a baseball card of "Ruth, pitcher". This is a rudimentary monochrome print available in two variants, red or blue.
A copy of the red version, in poor condition, the lowest in the PSA grading scale, was sold for $ 152K at auction in 2009. This specimen is illustrated in the release shared by AuctionPublicity.
Then everything will go very fast in the career of Babe Ruth and his iconography quickly becomes more common. For example, a baseball card from 1916, when Babe Ruth played for Boston, graded PSA 5, was sold for $ 90K including premium by Memory Lane in December 2012.
1915 Cracker Jack Cobb
2019 SOLD for $ 500K by Heritage
Each subject is either a Ball Player or a Manager. The front side indicates the name of the player often without his first name, along with the city of his club and its league, American, National or Federal. The back includes a very short biography and tells how these cards are distributed.
In that first year the cards are inserted free of charge into the brand's popcorn boxes, one per package. They are very rare in excellent condition : many of them have been soiled either by a packaging without care or by contact with the candy.
The Cracker Jack series of 1915 brings several improvements including a greater thickness. The number of subjects is increased to 176, with very few changes in the original 144 numbers. A notable exception is number 88 for which a commonplace image of pitcher Christy Mathewson is replaced by his nice portrait.
The free availability in popcorn boxes is unchanged, but collectors can now acquire the entire series or an album by sending coupons. The new head to tail position of front and back makes it very easy to identify the 1915 cards.
The top champions are Joe Jackson and (Ty) Cobb, each one brandishing his bat. Cobb's severe gaze remarkably reflects his reputation as an unfriendly and even brawling character.
PSA has certified Mint 9 two 1915 Jackson cards and three 1915 Cobb cards, with no auction history for these Jackson. A Cobb was sold for $ 430K by Heritage on June 29, 2017. The other Mint 9 PSA Cobb was sold for $ 500K by Heritage on April 18, 2019, lot 51270. No Cobb or Jackson from the previous year is graded Mint.
A 1915 Jackson graded NM-MT 8 by PSA was sold for $ 213K on August 6, 2022 by Mile High Card, lot 1.
1915, 1920 and 1934 game used bats of babe ruth
2017 all unsold
Ruth made his Major League debut in July 1914. The bat with a Spalding logo coming as lot 80001 is from his rookie period. With 37.5 oz only, this lightweight bat precedes the bespoke equipment made for Ruth by Hillerich and Bradsby throughout his later career. It is graded PSA/DNA GU9 with a heavy game use that may match Ruth's 1915 season with the Boston Red Sox.
The 40.2 oz bat at lot 80002 is from a model produced by Hillerich and Bradsby from 1918 to 1920 which is Ruth's transition period from the Sox to the Yankees. It is autographed by Ruth to a collector on the barrel and inscribed 1920 by him. This perfect Game Used bat graded PSA/DNA GU 10 and MEARS A10 displays many hits of balls grouped on a very small surface demonstrating the highly skilled gesture of Babe Ruth.
The Hillerich and Bradsby bat at lot 80021 matches with one of the very last home runs recorded by the champion with the Yankees, in 1934. It is signed by Ruth, Gehrig and most of the team. It also has a perfect grade but only with a light to moderate use.
In a hobby that values achievement most, and rookie vintage next, this 1915 #BabeRuth game used rookie bat is in a class of its own. Attributed to the first 50 games of the Bambino’s career it’s likely his first HRs came off its battle scarred barrelhttps://t.co/EHRYQCLaZY pic.twitter.com/gAiDkAc8W6— Heritage Sports (@Heritage_Sport) December 5, 2017
1916-1917 Honus Wagner Bat
2019 SOLD for $ 440K by Goldin
Honus Wagner began his MLB career in 1897 in Louisville, the city where Hillerich was making the Louisville Slugger, a trademark deposed in 1894. This company was careful to the needs expressed by the players and the bats of the top champions went to be custom designed. Some documents are surviving.
In September 1905 Wagner had an agreement with J. F. Hillerich & Son to endorse a model of the Louisville Slugger. Such a commercial act, unprecedented in the history of sports, demonstrates the attention paid by the champion to derivatives. Four years later, the withdrawal of his image from the 'T206' series of baseball cards is certainly due to his financial request.
A bat from the very last phase of Wagner's career was sold for $ 440K by Goldin on August 1, 2019, lot 4. It is graded GU 8.5 by PSA/DNA. Its inscription Louisville Slugger - 125 - Hillerich & Bradsby Co provides a terminus post quem in 1916 when the name of the company had been changed. 125 has been from 1915 the brand's global reference for professional bats, superseding the previous number 40.
This bat also carries the mark of J Hans Wagner, meaning at that time that it has the custom features suited to Honus Wagner. This Wagner bat has a terminus ante quem in 1917 when he retired as a player.
1920 Babe Ruth R2 bat
2021 SOLD for $ 870K by Heritage
The first agreement between Babe Ruth and H and B happened in 1918 when the young champion was playing for the Red Sox. His model bat identified by an R2 mark was sold for $ 540K by Heritage on October 2, 2009, lot 82067.
Its characteristics are 36 inches and 39 ounces. It is authenticated by PSA/DNA and by Mears and graded A10*. The asterisk is rewarding the historical character of that piece of equipment.
R2 bats were made for Ruth until 1926. A game used bat of Babe Ruth has some features brought by the player to facilitate its handling such as added scratches or rings. His phenomenal hitting precision results in a grouping of ball impacts on the lumber.A game used R2 bat of Babe Ruth was sold for $ 870K by Heritage on August 21, 2021, lot 80064. It had passed at Goldin on July 12, 2014, lot 72, and at Heritage on December 10, 2017, lot 80002.
It is autographed by Ruth to a friend on the barrel and inscribed 1920 by him. The friend, a former manager of a club in minor league, was arguably the earliest collector of game used bats.
Considering that the R2 was custom designed by Hillerich and Bradsby in 1918, this 40.2 ounces bat comes within Ruth's transition period from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees which is also the transition period from Dead Ball to Live Ball.
This perfect Game Used bat graded PSA/DNA GU 10 and MEARS A10 displays many hits of balls grouped on a very small surface demonstrating the highly skilled gesture of Babe Ruth.
Another R2 is consistent with a July 1920 transaction between Ruth and H and B, a few months after he signed with the Yankees. It was sold for $ 410K by Heritage on August 19, 2017, lot 80039.
1920 The Best Bats of the Babe
2017 SOLD for $ 410K including premium
The Louisville Slugger brand deposed by Hillerich and Bradsby (H and B) in 1894 dominates this market. This manufacturer was careful to the needs expressed by the players and the bats of the champions were custom made. Some documents are surviving.
Moreover a game used bat of Babe Ruth has some features brought by the player to facilitate its handling such as added scratches or rings. The phenomenal precision of Babe Ruth results in a grouping of the marks of ball impacts on the lumber.
Encouraged in this practice by the manufacturer, the players returned to the factory their favorite bat to serve as a model for the next orders. These exceptional bats were kept by the manufacturer.
The first agreement between Ruth and H and B happened in 1918 when the young champion was playing for the Red Sox. His model bat identified by an R2 mark was sold for $ 540K including premium by Heritage on October 2, 2009. Its characteristics are 36 inches and 39 ounces. It is authenticated by PSA/DNA and by Mears and graded A10*. The asterisk similar as a + is rewarding the historical character of that piece of equipment.
On August 19 in Dallas with extended bidding, Heritage sells a bat currently at 36.75 inches and 42.4 ounces, consistent with a July 1920 transaction between Ruth and H and B. This bat also retains other characteristics of Babe Ruth's playing practices in that glorious first year with the New York Yankees. It is estimated $ 400K, lot 80039.
This bat which has been intensively game used is graded GU10 by PSA/DNA. It was also returned to Louisville as a model. It is authenticated as the Babe Ruth's bat displayed by H and B in the 1940s alongside the Louisville Sluggers of other champions in a traveling exhibition. The label used by H and B in this marketing operation has been removed but its shade remains visible in the lumber.
1921 Babe Ruth Bat
2020 SOLD for $ 930K by Heritage
In 1920 which was his first season with the New York Yankees, Ruth had already overtaken his record before the improvement of the ball which opened the Live ball era. He ended that season with 54 homers. 1921 is even better, with 59 homers. The bat associated with his 59th home run was sold for $ 720K including premium by Heritage on February 21, 2015.
Ruth's 52nd 1921 homer is therefore not breaking a record. It was scored on September 7 at the Polo Grounds in New York against his former team, the Boston Red Socks. Ruth had used a heavy Hillerich and Bradsby bat.
What follows is typical of the champion's deep but very personal wit, self-confident enough for not being overwhelmed in the details.
He did not inscribe this bat but kept it for a few months as a memory of this home run. In Cincinnati in January 1922, an amateur player is rewarded as the best hitter in his category. A ceremony is organized at the local Keith's Theatre, belonging to a chain of vaudeville theaters. Babe Ruth gives his bat.
It is supported by a typed and signed letter, dated January 10, on a letterhead from the Hotel Ansonia in New York where Ruth frequently resided. The letter is addressed to Keith's local manager, Ned Hastings, without mentioning the young award winner. It attests to its use for the 52nd home run of 1921 with a humorous comment : "It served me well in baseball and I hope it will also serve you as well in vaudeville".
The risk of confusion is lifted by a press clipping from the Cincinnati Enquirer, published the day after the award ceremony during which Hastings and Ruth together presented this specific bat to the young player with speeches and handshakes. Interestingly Ruth is already addressed in the newspaper with his new mocking nickname of Sultan of Swat. The younger champion is the "Little Babe".
The bat accompanied by the two period documents referred above was sold for $ 930K by Heritage on May 8, 2020, lot 57057. It is graded GU 10 by PSA/DNA.
In 1921 #BabeRuth slammed the door on the Dead Ball Era forever crushing 59 home runs, and this bat was in his hands as he did it. The Bambino used this battered 35.8in, 43oz warclub to belt his 52nd homer of that legendary seasonhttps://t.co/WmOFk078r3 pic.twitter.com/HnFpHnN2g2— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) April 30, 2020
1923 SNOW ON THE BALL YARD
In 1923, the biggest event in the history of baseball is being prepared : the construction of a new stadium for the Yankees. On February 14, despite 10 cm of snow on the ground, Hunt and Ruth are testing the new field that the Babe kindly called the Ball Yard.
Of course, Babe Ruth took a bat. With no other public than the journalists, he made his first home run hit for that new place. In this Valentine's Day, the first visit of the champion to the field of his future exploits was perfectly successful.
A construction worker picked up the ball that Babe Ruth signed and dated. 'Ball Yard' being meaningless, he located it more appropriately as the New Yankee Field. From its grand opening on April 18, 1923 the prestigious yard became the Yankee Stadium.
This ball bearing the mark of the powerful bat blow was acquired directly from the worker more than forty years ago by Joel Platt, a prominent collector of sports memorabilia who is the founder and chairman of the Sports Immortals Museum in Boca Raton.
It is consigned by Platt in the sale organized by Goldin Auctions in Baltimore on July 12 to celebrate the centennial of Babe Ruth's professional debut. It is illustrated on the article shared by Auction Report.
1924 Yankees Contract with Lou Gehrig
2017 SOLD for $ 480K by Heritage
From that first phase his records are sensational. As early as 1920 he attracted attention by scoring in front of 10,000 spectators one of the most prestigious and rarest points of baseball, a grand slam whose he will be the best specialist throughout his long career.
Lou was born in New York City. His skills very logically appealed the leaders of the New York Yankees with whom he plays his first match in Major League on June 15, 1923.
At that time the star player of the Yankees is Babe Ruth, strong enough to grab a weekly salary of $ 1,000 in 1922. An original copy of that contract was sold for $ 550K by Goldin in 2016.
The president of the club, Jacob Ruppert, who accepted the exorbitant conditions of Ruth, is definitely a competent manager. On August 30, 1924 Gehrig signs his first contract with the Yankees for a monthly salary of $ 800, well below Ruth's salary but nevertheless quite attractive for a rookie. An original copy of this document signed by Gehrig, Ruppert and two other officials was sold for $ 480K by Heritage on August 19, 2017, lot 80093.
Lou proved himself. From 1 June 1925 he played 2,130 consecutive games with the Yankees. This stunning record will be surpassed in 1995 by Cal Ripken Jr of the Baltimore Orioles and will never be approached by any other player in Major League.
1924 Trophies for Young Batters
In the same year Christy Walsh invents two lucrative jobs. He manages a syndicate of ghost writers who prepare texts to be endorsed by baseball personalities and approach the top players including Babe Ruth for becoming their business agent.
We must encourage young people to be reconciled with baseball. Following an initiative of the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Walsh and Ruth decide in 1923 that for three consecutive seasons the bat of the first home run of the champion will be inscribed and signed by him and given to the winner of a baseball contest organized for Californian students.
In 1923 Ruth scores his first homer on April 18 during the inauguration of the Yankee Stadium. It was impossible to imagine a more prestigious event. The bat used for this feat is awarded on June 7 by the newspaper to a young player named Victor Orsatti. It was sold on December 13, 2004 by Sotheby's for $ 1.26M including premium, a huge price for a sports memorabilia at that time.
In 1924 Ruth records his first homer on April 20 in Washington DC. This spectacular feat was performed on a fastball thrown by the best pitcher of all time, Walter Johnson nicknamed The Big Train, who was twelve years later one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The bat is awarded as promised to the winner of the Californian contest, Phil Grossman. Stolen in 1989 from his nephew by a fake expert, it resurfaced in 2017. This bat graded GU10 by PSA/DNA is estimated $ 2M for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 23, lot 80058. It previously passed with a much higher opening bid at MEARS Auctions on December 1, 2018.
1925 THE LAKE OSCAWANA BASEBALL BAT
2011 SOLD 114 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
On 30 December 2010 MEARS sold at $ 113K including premium a baseball bat used by Ty Cobb in 1925, identifiedby the name of Lake Oscawana Cobb Bat. This prestigious game bat is now available again from SCP Auctions, an auction house based in California which, like MEARS, operates on the web. The auction ends on April 30.
As in December, the news was communicated on Twitter by the excellent specialized website Auction Report.
The December sale had given me the opportunity to remind some important results concerning baseball bats. I republish this article as a whole here below:
If you wish to designate the best baseball player of all time, your choice today would certainly be Babe Ruth. The batwith which he played on the opening day of the Yankee Stadium in New York (April 18, 1923) was sold for $ 1.26 million including premium by Sotheby's in December 2004.
Bats of the greatest players are specially designed to suit their style of play. It was the case of another bat of BabeRuth, used in 1918, which I had discussed here when it was sold by Heritage on October 2, 2009, $ 537K includingpremium.
In 1936, during the inaugural meeting of the future Baseball Hall of Fame, this group of specialists selected the top five players. Ruth was among the winners, of course, but the first place was awarded to Ty Cobb, who was retired since 1928.
On December 30 (2010), MEARS Auctions, which operates online from Milwaukee, sells a bat that was used by Ty Cobbin 1925. The evidence of this provenance is much detailed in the catalog, first by stating that the bat has the exact dimensions of those used by the champion, and secondly that Cobb signed it and gave it to the grandfather of the current owner on the occasion of an especially enjoyable touristic trip.
As discussed above, these sport instruments can achieve high prices. Cap Anson was a champion of the late nineteenth century. His name no longer has the same response as those of major players from the next century, yet one of his bats was sold for $ 287K including premium by Heritage on August 5, 2010.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 114K including premium, is consistent with the price recorded four months earlier.
1926-1927 Kren's Special Bat
2023 unsold by Heritage
Using the Kren's Special trade mark, their hand-turned bats in northern white oak were of top quality. In the mid 1920s their finish was far superior to the Louisville Slugger that dominated that market.
Top players including Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth tried their hands on the Kren in addition to the Louisville. Lou Gehrig also did it, arguably in the follow of his teammate Ruth.
A heavy Kren bat 36 inches in length and currently weighing 43.1 ounces made ca 1926-1927 is marked L. GEHRIG and signed with a black fountain pen by that player. The signature has been authenticated by the best available scientific methods. Graded a perfect GU 10 by PSA/DNA, it is estimated $ 800K for sale by Heritage on February 25, 2023, lot 80070.
1927 Babe Ruth Bat
2018 SOLD for $ 660K by Heritage
In 1927 the New York Yankees are unbeatable. The six Yankees hitters receive the collective nickname Murderers Row. Fans and magazines follow with passion the home runs by Ruth and Gehrig.
At the end of August, Gehrig is leading with 45 home runs, one ahead of Ruth. Throughout September Ruth is unleashed. He targets to do better than his teammate and to break his own MLB record of 59 home runs in a single season set in the previous year. Ruth succeeds. He scores his 60th and last home run of the 1927 season on September 30.
Sport collectors appreciate the equipment used in a great feat. Photo matching generally authenticates the jerseys. For the bats it is more difficult. The provenance makes it possible to identify the best hypothesis.
In 1927 Babe Ruth bought two identical bats from Hillerich and Bradsby, 35 3/8 inches and 38.8 oz. One of them is rated Game Used 10 by PSA/DNA with many game impacts and an inscription to Joe E. Brown, another Yankee player who stopped after a sport accident to become a full time actor, including movies from 1928.
The other bat was presented to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a baseball writer who had allegedly received it from Miller Huggins, the Yankees' manager. This provenance is quite plausible but this bat is not inscribed.
Considering the exultation of Babe Ruth after his new record, it seems unlikely that he gave the bat of this 60th home run without inscribing. The Brown specimen is thus the best candidate for the piece of equipment which was used in that feat. It was sold for $ 660K by Heritage on May 17, 2018, lot 50316. Please watch the video shared by the auction house including sequences in period.
1927 Relics from Babe Ruth
2012 SOLD 390 K$ including premium
From the perspective of auction results, Babe Ruth dominates the sports world at such a level that he becomes a specific theme of collection.
In December 2004, Sotheby's sold the bat used by the champion on the opening day of the Yankee Stadium in 1923. The result, $ 1.26 million including premium, seemed extraordinary at the time.
Interest in the memories of Babe Ruth has always remained strong. For example, on October 2, 2009, Heritage sold $537K including premium a bat used in 1918.
The climax was reached on May 19, 2012, when SCP Auctions sold at auction to a competitor for $ 4.4 million including premium a jersey worn by Babe Ruth in 1920, shortly after his transfer to the Yankees team.
The sale of Heritage in Baltimore on August 2 will improve the Babe Ruth reliquary.
The bat was used by him in 1927, the year when, thanks to the Babe, the Yankees firmly established their dominance in American baseball. Its estimate, $ 200K, is already exceeded. Here is the link to the catalog.
Signed balls are also sought. Considered like multiples, they are graded according to their condition. Graded PSA / DNA Mint +9.5, an undated ball is considered the finest example signed by Babe Ruth only, and the autograph is perfect. It is estimated $ 300K. Here is the link to the catalog.
And do not forget the cap from 1932, estimated $ 300K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST 2012 SALE COMMENT
Good results for the ball and for the bat: $ 390K each, including premium.
The cap was far too expensive. Unsold.
The cap is now recorded on Heritage website as having been sold for $ 200K including premium.
It was sold by Goldin Auctions for $ 261K including premium on August 8, 2015, lot 32.
1927 Wide World Photo of Ruth and Gehrig
2021 SOLD for $ 390K by Heritage
Babe Ruth is the Sultan of Swat, meaning that his hittings are worthy of a monarch. Yet he finds in his own team a young challenger as talented as him : Lou Gehrig. The Yankees are invincible, but this friendly internal rivalry makes the 1927 season arguably the most exciting in baseball history.
Fans manage to count the home runs. At the end of August, Gehrig leads with 45 homers. In September, Ruth is unleashed. In the middle of the month, it becomes clear that his performance will be unbeatable. He makes on September 30 his 60th homer of the season, a remarkable record which will last until 1961, thirteen years after his death.
The journalists are there. On September 15, the Wide World Photos, photo news service of the New York Times at that time, takes a picture of Gehrig congratulating Ruth. Both players are in baseball uniforms. Ruth is holding a bat.
On February 27, 2021, Heritage sold for $ 390K as lot 80079 a signed 20 x 25 cm print of this photo. The two signatures, inscribed by the players without superfluous comment on the image of their pants, are graded Auto 9 by PSA/DNA.
A typed paper was pasted on the back to provide the information necessary for publication. It explains why this moment is historic : "The King Still Reigns. New York : Lou 'Buster' Gehrig, pretender to the home-run crown, congratulates 'Babe' Ruth, who retained his title of 'Sultan of Swat' by outdistancing his younger rival in making round-trip hits ".
Buster was then a nickname attributed to Gehrig, after the error of a hard of hearing columnist who had believed that Ruth was so calling his young teammate. Ruth liked to use that name again to make fun of the incompetence of the journalists.
There's always a chance for controversy when declaring anything the "finest known" but we'll go out on that limb with this #BabeRuth & #LouGehrig signed photo. The photo is from the glorious 1927 season and both inscription-free autographs are PSA Mint 9s!https://t.co/N03mgKKjmt pic.twitter.com/2sYR7ZE1FS— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) January 23, 2021
1930 A Great Deal of Money
2017 SOLD for $ 384K including premium
2018 SOLD for $ 244K including premium
An original signed copy of the 1930-1931 contract between Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees was sold for $ 384K including premium by Heritage in Dallas on February 25, 2017, lot 80062. The same lot that also includes a news photo of the act of signature by Ruppert and Ruth is now estimated $ 400K for sale by the same auction house online on August 18, lot 80038.
I narrated it as follows in 2017.
The New York Yankees have raised baseball to an unprecedented level of popularity. This achievement is the work of Jacob Ruppert, co-owner of the club from 1915 to 1923 and sole owner until his death in 1939. During his period the Yankees acquired the three most emblematic players of the inter-war period, Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio, and built the monumental Yankee Stadium for 58,000 seated spectators.
Ruppert, the heir of a successful brewery business, had an enormous investment power that he used wisely. His personal fortune inherited from his father in 1915 was $ 6.3M. His own estate in 1939 had grown to $ 40M. With his partner he spent in 1922 and 1923 more than $ 3M for the ground and the construction of the Stadium, before he purchased for $ 1.5M all the shares of his co-owner.
On a sporting level, the Yankees manager was Miller Huggins. The successes of Babe Ruth brought the player to a growing indiscipline that Huggins had managed to curb. It was not by chance that the contract signed in 1922 for 52,000 dollars per year was accompanied by a commitment from Ruth to drink less and to go to bed early. An original copy of the 1922 contract was sold for $ 550K including premium by Goldin on April 30, 2016.
The contracts were renegotiated at regular intervals. In January 1930 the club offered to the player a salary of 70,000 dollars for one year followed after a first reject by a second proposal at 75,000 dollars per year for two years. Ruth refuses also this second offer which corresponds to the annual salary of President Hoover. He asks for 85,000 dollars per year over three years, boasting that such a contract duration is shorter than the presidential term.
The contract between the Yankees and Ruth was finally signed on March 10, 1930 for 80,000 dollars per year over two years. Both sides were winners. With this small concession the Yankees got from the bulky Ruth that he renounced to succeed Huggins who had suddenly died a few months earlier.
This figure of 80,000 dollars per year over two years is the highest salary earned by Babe Ruth throughout his career and at that time an absolute record for a professional athlete. This record will be exceeded by the money received by DiMaggio in 1949 including bonuses.
1931 Autograph Hunt in Chicago
2013 SOLD 62 K$ including premium
By necessity, this column discusses a suite of austere and serious lots. I am pleased today to introduce a funny piece: a baseball signed by two highly distinguished Americans, Babe Ruth and Al Capone.
1931 is the key final year of Scarface's career. Threatened by the tax authorities, he would try to protect himself by exhibiting the power of his social position. He devotes to social events, and even opens soup kitchens in this period of intense economic crisis.
Al Capone is an avid baseball fan. He cannot miss the visit to Chicago of the fabulous New York Yankees.
He is also an amateur of autographs. A photo published by Life Magazine is starring him in the stadium, having a ball signed by a prominent baseball player apparently delighted with this meeting.
The ball with the dual autograph is an initiative of a Yankees player. He first got the mark from the gangster, and submits it afterwards to the champion who complacently adds his famous signature, strong, simple and easy to read, which might seem to a graphologist as more authoritarian than the signature of the most powerful man in Chicago.
Logically, this piece managed by an intermediary does not imply that Ruth and Capone did actually meet, although such an event is far from being improbable.
$ 200K are expected from this ball, to be sold online on January 31 by Mile High Card Company, an auction house that operates from Colorado. Here is the link to the article shared by Auction Report.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was ambitious for a ball that was more the memory of a historical atmosphere than of a sporting feat. The result, $ 62K including premium, is certainly the fair price for this cool lot.
1932 The Kings of Caramel
2019 SOLD for $ 430K including premium
This series announces 32 pictures which are for 27 baseball players, 3 boxers and 2 golfers. It has been distributed locally and is rare. The last of the series, Babe Ruth, is the most common, probably because the fame of the super-champion encouraged the young candy eaters to keep his image.
The back of the cards has an offer to send a ball or a glove to any fan who will send back to the office one or three complete sets, which will be returned with the gift.
We may question how the US Caramel was doing to prevent a set to be sent again to them. It is very simple and absolutely dishonest : the number 16 recorded by PSA as an elusive Charles Lindstrom is doubtful and has certainly never been available in a box of caramel.
In the following year Goudey will do the same with his chewing gum by secretly omitting the number 106. The discovery of the trickery will lead Goudey to fill this gap by the late edition of their Nap Lajoie card.
In an online sale from Dallas that ends on April 18, Heritage is separating a complete set of the 31 real US Caramel cards. 27 of them have the highest grade recorded by PSA for their card number. Here is the filtered link to this group.
The Babe Ruth card listed as lot 51351 is graded Mint 9 by PSA with only one other copy at this level and none above. Estimated $ 200K, it already exceeded this value 14 days before closing.
This craze for 1930s cards is new to the hobby. On January 24, 2019 Heritage's special sale of the top PSA-graded set of the 1933 Goudey baseball cards fetched $ 3.65M for 240 cards, led by $ 580K including premium for Gehrig and $ 530K including premium for Ruth, both in Mint 9 condition.
RESULTS of top lots including premium:
Babe Ruth card SOLD for $ 430K
Bobby Jones card SOLD for $ 78K
Ty Cobb card SOLD for $ 72K
1936 Silver Medal of Luz Long
2022 SOLD for $ 490K by SCP
His next event was the long jump, on October 4. Owens was the holder of the world record at 8.13 m. The German blond haired blue eyed athlete Luz Long was holding the European record at 7.82 m. The two had never met before.
The preliminary round happened in the morning. Owens fouled his first two trials and qualified in the third and last trial. In the afternoon, Owens won the finals with a jump at 8.06 m while Long was second at 7.87 m.
Long was a good guy. He was the first to congratulate Owens and they walked arm in arm in the stadium despite the racist atmosphere of the Games. A friendship was born between these two athletes of opposite races who then maintained a correspondence.
Long was killed while serving in the Wehrmacht during the second world war. In 1951, Owens travelled to Germany where he met Long's son. In 1964 this friendship generated the story told by Owens that Luz Long had advised him to jump from a spot several inches behind the take-off board before his successful final trial of the qualification round.
The highly emotional Olympic silver medal of Luz Long was sold for $ 490K by SCP on October 15, 2022, lot 1. It is perfectly illustrating Coubertin's encouragement that the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
1936 THE TRIBUTE OF CAL RIPKEN JR TO LOU GEHRIG
When Babe Ruth retired in 1935, Lou Gehrig, his long time teammate in the New York Yankees, was already exceeding his performance.
Nicknamed the Iron Horse for his regularity, Gehrig recorded the amazing figure of 2,130 consecutive games, only stopped when he was suffering from the sclerosis now described as "Lou Gehrig's disease".
For Lou, 1936 is a year of glory. I introduce today two different bats (one of them already sold) from a series of seven made for him from 1936 to 1938 by Hillerich and Bradsby in Louisville KY.
On August 2, 2013, Legendary Auctions sold for $ 292K including premium a bat graded 8.5 by PSA / DNA that has the rare feature of an autograph inscription and signature by Gehrig.
The other bat is listed by Goldin Auctions in an online sale that will close on November 2. It is graded GU9 (game used) by PSA / DNA .
This bat is in ash, the highly dense wood that was the specialty of Hillerich and Bradsby. The champion who handles it in the video below is not anyone : Cal Ripken Jr. was the first player to break the record of endurance of Lou Gehrig.
I invite you to play this video shared by Goldin Auctions on YouTube.
1936 the perfect swing of sam snead
As skilled in short and long games, Sam had especially managed the perfect swing gesture combining strength, flexibility and accuracy. Along with Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth, Bob Beamon or Cassius Clay, he could have been one of those legendary champions who have forever changed the technique of their sport, but unfortunately he never won the US Open.
Heritage is dispersing the memories of Sam Snead. At the first sale on August 1, 2013, the 1946 British Open trophy was sold for $ 263K including premium.
The club used by Sam Snead from 1936 to 1953 is for sale onSeptember 25 in Dallas, lot 80001. Throughout this long period when he won over one hundred tournaments, Sam Snead had systematically used this piece of equipment.
I invite you to play the video shared by Heritage for introducing the first sale, where you can admire the beauty and especially the repetition of the perfect swing by this great champion.
1937 Football in Colleges
2018 SOLD for $ 310K including premium
The main difference is that College Football players do not have the right to receive financial rewards. They demonstrate their skills for strategy and leadership, set an example through their hard work and integrity, and many of them stop sport once they graduate.
Non-financial awards highlight these future elites of sport and of the nation. The most prestigious is the annual Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded for the first time in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy and which changed its name in the following year in tribute to a recently deceased coach. Voters are mostly chosen among sports journalists.
The third Heisman Memorial trophy was awarded in 1937 to a Yale University player named Clint Frank. Very effective on offense as on safety despite a severe myopia, he was not disturbed by frequent injuries. He was in the same year the very first winner of a similar prize, the Maxwell award. Graduate in economics, he did not manage to make a career in sport.
The Heisman trophy is a 34 cm high bronze weighing 11.3 Kg showing a football player in action. The 1936 statuette awarded to Larry Kelley, another Yale player, was sold for $ 330K by Leland's in December 1999.
Clint Frank's Heisman trophy was sold for $ 310K by Heritage on October 18, 2018, lot 50773. and for $ 230K by Goldin on December 18, 2022, lot 6.
1937 BOBBY JONES WAS GREEN
2011 SOLD 310 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Bobby Jones is one of those exceptional sportsmen who have both dominated their sport and conclusivelydemonstrated an outstanding fair play.
The golf champion stopped competing in 1930. An engineer by training, he then devoted to the establishment of the best golf course in the world, in Augusta GA. It is in this venue that the prestigious Masters Tournament is played annually since 1934.
Taking up an idea already used by an English club, the Augusta National Golf Club founded by Jones and Roberts decided in 1937 that the tournament officials will be recognized in a brightly colored blazer.
Thus was created the Green Jacket, the garment that became over the years a golf legend by itself. It is now awarded to the winner of the Masters, with a strict usage protocol which prohibits the proud owner to wear it outside the club facilities.
The prototype of the Green Jacket was awarded to Jones, and bears his civil initials (TRJ). This monument in the history of golf is estimated $ 100K, to sell on August 4 in Rosemont IL by Heritage Auctions. As usual, the catalog page is shared on the web by the auction house.
POST SALE COMMENT
Golf is not the most popular sport at auction, and the estimate was conservative. It has been widely exceeded: $ 260K before fees, 310K including premium.
1939 Baseball signed by the Hall of Fame Inductees
2018 SOLD for $ 620K by SCP
The first five laureates were elected in 1936. They included the late Christy Mathewson.
A ceremony of induction was made at the opening of the hall in 1939. The population of the inductees was then 26, including some players and executives from early times.
Elected in 1939, Lou Gehrig was too sick to attend. The ceremony was attended by the 11 other living players, including four from the first group of five : Cobb, Johnson, Ruth and Wagner.
A young player had a baseball signed by all these eleven champions. He kept this treasure pristine in a fur-lined glove in a safe-deposit box. This ball certified by PSA/DNA was sold for $ 620K by SCP on August 11, 2018.
1949 The Commitment of Jackie Robinson
2017 SOLD for $ 276K by Robert Edward
2018 SOLD for $ 192K including premium
Engaged in the US army during the war, Jackie Robinson meets Joe Louis. He forces his admission into a school for White officers. In 1944, following the path opened by boxing champions Joe Louis and Ray Sugar Robinson, he refuses the segregation in a military bus.
Once released from the army Jackie Robinson chooses baseball. He stirs the attention of club managers : the Major League is banned for the Blacks but this young guy is too skilled to play in the minor leagues. It was to a White, Branch Rickey, to force the fate.
Rickey is manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in Major League and of the Montreal Royals in a minor league. He summons Robinson and explains to him that he will be the object of the vociferous hatred of the Whites. Robinson remembers the deserved glory of his friend Joe Louis. He accepts.
Their plan is applied in two phases. Robinson's signing with the Royals on October 23, 1945 goes unnoticed. His signature with the Dodgers on April 11, 1947 is like a bomb. The copies given to Jackie of these two signed documents will be sold as a single lot sale by Goldin in New York on February 27. 10% of the sale price will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Seth Kaller, expert in historical documents, defined for this set the price that was retained by the insurance companies : 36 million dollars.
Please watch the video shared on May 1, 2017 by Darren Rovell on ESPN, including interesting interviews with owner and experts.
Only one other contract signed by Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers is available to collectors. Established in 1949, it was sold for $ 276K by Robert Edward on April 24, 2017. It is estimated $ 200K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 24, lot 80070.
In 1955 Rosa Parks entered the legend of race relations when she refused to give way to a white man in an Alabama bus.
Goldin (1945-1947) : UNSOLD
Heritage (1949) : SOLD for $ 192K including premium
1950 Photo Matching for Di Maggio
2019 SOLD for $ 230K including premium
When matching refers to a significant event in the career of one of the greatest champions, the prices of jerseys are very high : $ 4.4M by SCP for Babe Ruth on May 19, 2012, $ 2.05M by Heritage for Jackie Robinson on November 19, 2017, $ 1.32M by Heritage for Mickey Mantle on August 18, 2018. These results include the premium.
In June 2018 SCP sold in a private sale a recently surfaced jersey worn by Lou Gehrig in 1937. It was matched with two games including a homer game. The price was announced as very high but not revealed.
Joe DiMaggio was a champion of the same highest caliber. He made his whole career with the New York Yankees, after Ruth and Gehrig and before Mantle. In 1949 he was the first baseball player to win $ 100,000 in a single season. Bored of baseball after several injuries, he retired after the 1951 season. He was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe in 1954.
On October 18, 2018 a jersey worn by DiMaggio passed at Heritage. Photo matched only once in 1947, it does not appear in the following games. It had been estimated $ 400K.
In an online auction ending on February 1, Lelands sells as lot 304 a uniform worn by DiMaggio, graded A8 by MEARS. The jersey is photo matched with no less than six games between April 1950 and March 1951 including two homer games, and the pants are matched with the last of those six games.
1951 Jackie Robinson Home Jersey
In all original condition, it is graded A8 by MEARS. This cream colored flannel piece of uniform bears the Rawlings St. Louis manufacturer tag. The name of the player is stitched on a tag.
1952 The Mantle Boom
2016 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
The 1952 Topps is the first modern series of baseball cards, with a striking iconography on front side and relevant information on the back of the card. The end of this series, from the number 311 showing Mantle, is rare due to its late printing date that did dot match the sporting season. The total population validated by PSA was 1225 units in December 2015.
Born in the same year as James Dean, Mickey Mantle joined the team of the New York Yankees in the previous year and appeared as the successor to Joe DiMaggio who had just retired. His career will meet such promises.
Collectors are struggling to find the best possible card. In a previous post, I had retrieved that three Topps 1952-311 had been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. To my knowledge, the last offering of one of them at auction happened in June 2001. The result recorded by Superior Sports Auction, $ 275K, was astonishing in its time.
Interest is growing and prices are soaring, particularly for cards graded Near Mint - Mint 8 by PSA. I had discussed two of them in July 2015, sold for $ 380K including premium by Heritage and $ 400K including premium by Goldin. Such a rating is already outdated. Another 1952-311 NM-MT 8 was sold for $ 486K by PWCC Auctions on eBay in November 2015, soon exceeded by another unit that sold for $ 525K including premium at Heritage on December 10.
The grading by PSA is not sufficient to compare these examples in terms of visual effect and centering. Heritage announced that the 1952-311 NM-MT 8 for sale by them in New York on February 20 is the best that they ever encountered in its grade. It is estimated $ 400K, lot 80015.
1952 Baseball Cards with the Bubble Gum
2017 SOLD for $ 410K including premium
Before that auction feat other examples had been discussed in this column. One of them graded NM-MT 8 by PSA and also described as perfectly centered was sold for $ 400K including premium by Goldin on July 31, 2015, lot 52.
This card is now offered as lot 80676 with a guide value of $ 500K by Heritage in Dallas in an online auction whose extended bidding phase starts on November 16.
Its 2015 sale had been an opportunity to narrate the 1952 Topps Mantle cards as follows :
The bubble gum brands recuperated the traditional business of tobacco manufacturers to edit sports cards. After war Gum Inc. from then known as Bowman is the leader in this market. His rival Topps will however win the game from its first year of card production in 1952.
The Topps cards are innovative by their enlarged size 7 x 9.5 cm, the detailed information on the back about the player's records, the careful or smiling but always powerful attitude of the champion, and beautiful colors.
Mickey Mantle played his first Major League game with the New York Yankees in April 1951. He will make his entire career in this prestigious team. Aged 20, he has promising qualities that will make him one of the best post war baseball players. His ambidextrous hits are remarkable : he holds the bat in the right hand against left-handed pitchers and switches to left hand against right-handers.
The first baseball card of Mickey Mantle is the number 253 of the 1951 Bowman series, but it is the number 311 of the 1952 Topps set which will become the most prestigious in the hobby of post war baseball cards.
311 is the lowest number in the second part of this Topps edition but it has no reason to be rarer than the higher numbers. PSA has graded more than 1000 copies. The picture is especially appealing with the dynamic behavior of the player and the sunlight on the face protected by the cap. Copies in excellent condition have brilliant colors that make it one of the masterpieces of the genre.
1952 Say Hey Willie
2016 SOLD for $ 380K including premium
Willie's career in Major League Baseball begins in 1951 after four years in the Negro Leagues and extends up to 1973. He is at 20 in 1951 the Rookie of the Year in the National League. More passionate about the game than by his teammates and competitors, he pretended not reminding their names and hailed everybody by the formula 'Say Hey Man'. He got as early as 1951 the nickname Say Hey Kid that will never leave him.
1952 is the year of the great modernization of the Topps cards. Willie Mays is honored for his rookie year at number 261. Collectors now consider that cards in perfect condition are very rare throughout the series although only the highest numbers including Mickey Mantle's 311 have been the subject to a mass destruction due to an editing delay.
A 1952-261 card graded Mint 9 by PSA was sold for $ 480K including premium by Heritage in May 2016. Another one in same condition is offered by the same auction house on August 27 in Dallas, lot 80010. Its guide value at $ 400K is in line with the above result. Only one 1952-261 was graded higher.
Topps changes every year the player's picture on the front and updates the summary of his career on the back. Willie is not forgotten in 1953 while his professional career is interrupted by military service. The reverse of the card includes also a Quiz unrelated to Willie : "Which player was tagged with the nickname The Iron Horse ?". The answer which you certainly know is to read by turning the card upside down.
Only one copy of Willie's 1953-244 card has ever been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. This perfect card of an outstanding young player is at lot 80012 in the same sale as above with a guide value of $ 800K.
1952 : SOLD for $ 380K including premium
1953 : unsold
1954 Henry of the Braves
2016 SOLD for $ 320K including premium
Despite the famous breakthrough of Jackie Robinson in Major League in 1947, the beginnings of this quiet athlete born in Alabama are marred by racism and segregation. Playing as outfielder, his results in Negro League in 1952 and 1953 with the Indianapolis Clowns are already exceptional.
Henry enters the Major League in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves. Topps publishes his rookie card under number 128, with a highly effective portrait. He is a good guy. The back of the card reinforces this feature by showing the player presenting to his friends his Minor League trophy watches. It may be noted from this example that Topps remains impartial with respect to racial issues.
1954-128 is not uncommon in mint condition and for this reason auction prices have not yet reached the culmination deserved from the subsequent glory of this rookie. PSA recorded 2 cards in Gem Mint 10 condition and no fewer than 22 cards in Mint 9 condition. Prices are however rising, following the trend of the rest of the market.
One of the two PSA 10 cards was sold for $ 360K by SCP Auctions in May 2012.
Two PSA 9 have already been sold in 2016 : $ 192K including premium by Mile High Card Company on January 22 and $ 360K including premium by Heritage on August 28. The card sold seven months ago remained well below the price guide currently suggested by PSA. It comes back unsurprisingly in the online sale by Goldin Auctions ending on October 1, lot 28.
Another card in grade 9 was sold for $ 650K including premium by Heritage on February 27, 2021, lot 80022.
1955 The Glove of Jackie Robinson
2013 SOLD 370 K$ including premium
The action of Jackie Robinson must be equally remembered in social history and in sport history.
Since 1887, no Black is allowed to participate in a game of the Major League Baseball, an untouchable and symbolic fortress of segregation. The racial barrier will be broken by the extreme audacity of the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey.
Rickey knows that the role of the manager is to recruit the best players. In 1945, he decides to take into account the skill rather than the color of the skin. He understands that his first Black player will have to stoically withstand abuse and aggression along many years.
Jackie Robinson is not a boxer, but he knows Joe Louis very well. The fact that a Black is a world champion is accepted in boxing. Jackie appreciates the incongruity of the situation in baseball and the extent of the challenge proposed by Rickey. He accepts. The success of Robinson is one of the events that led to the complete abolition of segregation in the United States.
Steiner sells the glove used by Robinson in 1955 and 1956 until his very last game. This glove of Rawlings brand, very worn, is an opportunity to honor the outstanding sportsmanship that made the popularity of Robinson in his difficult career.
The online sale will end on June 2. The reserve price has already been reached with a bid in excess of $ 300K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The outstanding equipment from the sporting career of Jackie Robinson are rare on the market. The glove was sold for $ 370K including premium.
1956 Number 8
2010 SOLD 565 K$ including premium
If he's right, comic books are not the only sector of the U.S. market that is likely to jump in a spiral of rising prices for exceptional lots. Exactly! Today news bring us the jerseys of baseball players.
On February 16, I discussed the forthcoming sale of a jersey from number 7 of the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle, estimated $ 100K.
Five days later, a jersey number 8 was in turn announced in a press release by Grey Flannel, for auction sale on the web on April 14 with a starting price of $ 50K. As I had explained, the Yankees honored their great players by removing their number. The number 8 was therefore that of Yogi Berra.
The auction house considered being able to demonstrate, based on period photographs, that this garment was worn by Berra at the most memorable feat of his career (a "perfect" game) in 1956.
It is well appreciated that the main specialty of Grey Flannel is selling jerseys of baseball players. But will the market accept the demonstration?
The answer came today, shared by Auction Report: Two weeks before the closing of the sale, the bid is already at 240 K $. How far will it go up?
POST SALE COMMENT
All categories of the market can generate outstanding prices. The jersey number 8 was sold for 565 K $ including premium.
1956 The Year of the Triple Crown
2017 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
Aged 25, The Mick has progressed steadily since his debut in Major League five years earlier. His feats do not cease to feed the chronicle. Already in 1953 he had hit a ball so hard that it flew out of the stadium. He may become the best baseball player of all time.
His 1956 Topps card is highly popular with the young collectors. Prepared during the season, it does not yet refer to the awards of the year. The front side is the juxtaposition of two photos : a portrait with big smile of the outfielder of the Yankees and a gesture of victory in front of the tribune.
The verso is very interesting because it expresses the enthusiasm of the editor for the capacities of the player. Topps got emboldened. The backs of the 1952 cards listed facts and figures with austerity. Afterward they added quiz with their answers and tiny humorous drawings.
Three drawings cover the central part of the back of The Mick's 1956 Topps. On the left, a spectator uses a telescope to follow the ball. On the right, the player runs so fast that his shadow fails to follow him. In the center a mob hurries.
The card was edited on two types of cardboard, gray back and white back. White is more rare. Five copies were graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA including only one white. None of them had recently been offered at auction according to PSA data.
A Mickey Mantle 1956 gray back Topps Gem Mint 10 will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on May 11 with extended bidding, lot 80520 announced with a $ 350K guide value. By comparison, the highest price recorded on the same item in lower grades is $ 48K including premium on two different copies in November 2016 and February 2017, both by Heritage.
1958 Brown of the Browns
2017 SOLD for $ 336K including premium
His rookie card was published by Topps in 1958. Jim Brown is in full run, demonstrating his exceptional power. His jersey bears the number 32 which was withdrawn by his club when he retired.
Curiously, despite a remarkable feat of 237 yards run in one game in 1957, the text on the back of the card appears a posteriori too soft for this young player who will be one of the best of all time. Topps, perhaps not well informed, attributes to him the first name Jimmy, a diminutive whose use is not confirmed by his page in Wikipedia.
Five copies of his 1958 Topps are ranked Mint 9 by PSA with none higher. One of them was sold for $ 360K including premium by Heritage in November 2016. Another one comes for sale by Heritage in Dallas with a guide value at $ 300K, lot 80100. The sale takes place on February 25 with a close out in the following day after an extended bidding phase.
Last year's Heritage catalog referred to Jimmy Brown's 1958 Topps as the most significant post-war rookie football card. PSA gives no example at auction of the Topps 1965 rookie card Mint 9 of Joe Namath whose population is four with none higher.
1960 Gold on Ice
2016 SOLD for $ 50K including premium
In both cases, the Americans appeared as outsiders against the Soviets and also against the Canadians. In 1960 in Squaw Valley, they were also handicapped by quarrels between players. The brothers Bill and Roger Christian were able to give a consistency to this team which won all of its seven matches of that competition.
In 1980 in Lake Placid, the Americans are young and inexperienced but extremely combative. Their last but one match of the competition, won against the Soviets, will be highlighted in sports history as the Miracle on Ice. Two days later, their victory against Finland brings the gold medal to the USA.
Bill's son, Dave Christian, is one of the winners of 1980 and the author of a decisive action at the end of the first period of the Miracle on Ice.
Father and son are selling their gold medals at the auction organized by Heritage in New York on 20 February.
The remarkable feat of Squaw Valley, ironically nicknamed the Forgotten Miracle, does not have the prestige of the Miracle on Ice achieved in a time of heavy political tension between USA and USSR. Dave's medal is announced with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80074. Bill's medal is announced with a guide value of $ 50K, lot 80070.
1960 (Bill) : SOLD for $ 50K including premium
1980 (Dave) : unsold
1962 Give the Ball to Wilt Chamberlain
2019 SOLD for $ 215K including premium
On December 8 Wilt scored 78 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, breaking the record of points scored in a single NBA game set in the previous year by Elgin Baylor. Observers feel that Wilt "the Dipper" can do even better with his 2.16 m and his 25 years.
On March 2, 1962 in Hershey near Philadelphia, the Warriors receive the New York Knicks. The match promises to be banal. The arena is half empty and the press dit not condescend to attend. Wilt appears in top fitness. At halftime his teammate Guy Rodgers says : "Let's get the ball to Dip. Lets's see how many he can get". Excited by the speaker, the crowd chants "Give it to Wilt".
In this match without overtime, Wilt Chamberlain scores exactly 100 points, the last of them 46 seconds before the end on the pass from a teammate who had given up an easy point for that purpose. This is the greatest feat in the history of the NBA. Even today no one else has approached such a result in a single game. Kobe Bryant will score 81 points on January 22, 2006.
The Hershey match is won by the Warriors on the epic score of 169-147. Few memories survived but part of the game court was cut into small pieces offered to fans for the 50th year of the event in 2012.
On February 11, 2012, Grey Flannel sold for $ 108K including premium an official scorecard bearing the autograph signature of the champion.
In an online sale ending on April 27, SCP Auctions sells as lot 355 another scorecard, prepared by the "statistician" of the Warriors. This document clearly identifies the 100 points scored by the champion, whose recording largely encroaches over the line scheduled for Rodgers. This document also is signed by Wilt Chamberlain.
1963 Topps Rookies
2016 SOLD for $ 720K by Heritage
The example of the rookie card of Wayne Gretzky in ice hockey is instructive. This card was published with the same front side with a reverse in English by Topps and bilingual by O-Pee-Chee in the same year (1979). The difference may seem insignificant but it is not. The only bilingual example graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA was sold for $ 465K by Goldin on August 4, 2016. Two Topps are known in the same grade. One of them was sold for $ 200K by Memory Lane 16 days later, on August 20, 2016.
At such a level of scarcity in perfection, it is nevertheless also required that the player is famous.
In the 1960s, Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan are young baseball champions. At that time Topps is editing some cards specially assigned to rookie stars by gathering several players. For Rose in 1963 and Ryan in 1968, only one piece has been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. Both cards were listed by Heritage on August 27, 2016, each one with an estimate of $ 400K, lot 80022 for Rose and lot 80026 for Ryan.
The aesthetic quality of the card is obviously a minor concern in the hobby. The four heads with caps from 1963 provide no sporting information and the two 1968 players are waiting for an unidentified action. The other fellows beside these two stars do not generate any comment in the Heritage catalog.
The 1963 with Rose was sold for $ 720K and the 1968 with Ryan for $ 610K.
1966 Topps Card of Bobby Orr
2021 SOLD for $ 276K by Heritage
He is discovered at the age of 13 in 1961 by the Boston Bruins who then prepare his future career while respecting his school time in his native Ontario. In 1964, long before he could play in NHL, he already has the highest salary in the history of his sport.
The 18th birthday of Bobby is awaited by all fans of ice hockey. He plays for the first time in NHL on October 19, 1966 and scores his first NHL goal three days later. Remaining a defenceman throughout his career, he accumulates much success with the Bruins until 1976.
In 1966 also, Topps attempts an innovation in its hockey cards : an English-only version specifically marketing the United States and known as the 1966 Topps USA Test. This series of 66 cards printed in a limited quantity is a subset of the bilingual series of 132 cards, with numbers that rarely match together.
The rookie card of Bobby Orr, edited before his debut in NHL, is numbered 35 in both lists. A single 1966 USA Test - 35 is graded Mint 9 by PSA. It was sold by Lelands for $ 204K on February 1, 2019, lot 1. According to PSA website, only one Bobby Orr card was graded at the same level in the bilingual series. No rookie card of this player exceeds this grade.
From other certification companies, a bilingual graded Pristine 10 by BVG, which is the highest possible grade, was sold for $ 276K by Heritage on February 28, 2021, lot 80064.
1968 Nolan Ryan and a Teammate
2020 SOLD for $ 615K including premium
Today's collectors favor the rookies whose careers have been the most prestigious. Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan have something in common : only one of their Topps rookie cards has been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA.
In 1963 Rose was in the company of three other players. The four portraits are as flying heads, each in a circle. His card was sold for $ 720K including premium by Heritage on August 27, 2016.
In 1968 the rookie card # 177 brought together two New York Mets pitchers, Jerry Koosman on the left and Nolan Ryan on the right. Ryan is rightly announced on the reverse as one of the most promising new Major League players.
This Gem Mint card was sold for $ 610K including premium by Heritage in the same 2016 sale as above, lot 80026. It is listed as lot 2 in the online sale by Goldin closing on August 22.
1968 The 10 Second Mark
2017 SOLD for $ 33.4K
The two Olympic gold medals won by Jim Hines were listed by SCP Auctions in their online sale that closed on November 4, 2017. The 4 x 100 m medal was sold for $ 33.4K as lot 698. The 100 m medal passed as lot 699. It is listed again by the same auction house as lot 474 in the online sale that ends on March 24.
I narrated it as follows in 2017 :
The victory of Jim Hines in the 100 meter dash at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is a milestone in the history of athletics.
It occurred within a transition period between manual and electronic timing. The importance of measuring time with an accuracy lower than one tenth of a second no longer made it possible to rely on a manual process whatever the skill and the training of the referee. The measurement will become fully automatic in 1977.
On June 20, 1968 in Sacramento, the 100 meter of the US national championships is won by Hines. Manually timed in 9.9 seconds , he is then considered as the first athlete to break the 10 second mark but the electronic timing used in redundancy displays a higher value at 10.03 seconds.
In October at the Olympic Games, Hines brilliantly confirms that he is the best, with 9.95 seconds between the sound of the gun and the photo of his crossing of the finish line. His time under 10 seconds is now undeniable and moreover his competitors follow far behind, at 10.04 seconds for the silver medal and 10.07 seconds for the bronze medal. He won another gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay.
The altitude of Mexico City is conducive to record breaking. Bob Beamon's long jump at the same Games will remain legendary forever. Undoubtedly considering that he has reached a limit, Hines stops track and fields immediately after his return and begins a short lived professional career in American football.
His world record was overcome in 1983 by Calvin Smith.
100 m medal also UNSOLD in 2018
1969 Bill Russell Jersey
2021 SOLD for $ 1.12M by Hunt
Bill Russell is the son of an African-American who had desired to promote the education of black children. Bill is uncompromising and stubborn. He does not smile to his fans, refuses to grant autographs, rejects the journalists and skips the ceremonies. He is nevertheless fair play with his friends including his top rival Wilt Chamberlain. He cultivates his own rage before entering a game and his playing style is intense and speedy. By his sporting record he is the best defense player in NBA history.
Russell is promoted in 1966 as coach of the Boston Celtics, becoming the first African-American coach in North American professional sports. His NBA championship win in 1968 is his tenth as a player and his first as a player-coach.
1968-1969 starts slowly. The champion is physically tired, politically angry and desires to divorce from his wife. The Celtics nevertheless find their place in the playoffs and then in the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics and the Lakers are tying 3-3 before the decisive seventh game of the finals, scheduled to happen in Los Angeles. At that point the owner of the Lakers announces the future win of his team. On May 5, 1969, in a rage, Russell leads the Celtics to a victory by 108-106, which is his eleventh NBA championship.
A crowd welcomes the come back to Boston of the winning team. Russell is absent. Nobody in the club knew of his decision that the 1969 finals would be his last game as an NBA player and as a Celtics coach.
Consigned by himself, the Celtics jersey of his record setting eleventh win was sold for $ 1.12M by Hunt on December 10, 2021, lot 60. This piece of uniform was also photo-matched with the 1969 NBA Eastern playoffs.
1969 Reminding Lew Alcindor
2016 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
From his college career, a team that employs Lew becomes a winner. He adds to his towering height, 2.18 m, an impeccable technique, extending an arm for the shot while outstretching the other arm to counter the defenders. He deserves a reputation of invincibility but suffered the hard game of his competitors jealous of his easiness and success.
Lew signs his first NBA contract in 1969 with the Milwaukee Bucks whose performance in the previous season had been particularly poor. Lew leads the Bucks to victory. He is elected Rookie of the Year in the NBA for the 1969-1970 season and Most Valuable Player for no less than six of the ten next seasons.
Topps publishes in 1969 the rookie card of Lew Alcindor including on the reverse a comment that is already extremely positive : "Lew came to the NBA with the most impressive set of credentials in history".
This 1969-25 card is a headache for collectors. The player is shown in an oval on a white background that is conducive to reveal stains and wear. Only one perfect copy is known, graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. This exceptional example is listed by Heritage in Dallas on August 27 with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80077.
1969 The Rings of Abdul-Jabbar
2020 SOLD for $ 156K including premium
The career of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar extends over three college years with the NCAA, from 1967 to 1969, then for twenty years as a professional with the NBA, from 1969 to 1989. It is exemplary. He is a three-time NCAA Champion with his university's UCLA Bruins club. He is an NBA Champion in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks and in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
An African-American activist, Abdul-Jabbar is forever a role model for young people, a basketball player who overcame difficulties and succeeded in his career and post-career. He created the Skyhook Foundation to give new impetus to schoolboys in poverty by offering them a week-long stay in a camp in the midst of the forest.
Abdul-Jabbar knows that his achievement is part of the history of sports. He is a collector on a wide variety of topics. He decided to put all his basketball memories at the disposal of collectors. The auction includes 146 lots. It is organized by Goldin Auctions online, ending on October 27. Proceeds from the sale will go primarily to the Skyhook Foundation.
The catalog includes three prestigious championship rings.
Lot 53 is a non-nominating NCAA ring rewarding the Bruins for three consecutive victories in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Lot 63 is the 1971 NBA Ring awarded to L. Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks. Lew Alcindor was the birth name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used by him until he made public his conversion to Islam in 1971.
Lot 76 is the 1982 NBA Team Work Championship ring awarded to Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers.
2018 RESULTS :
1971 NBA ring SOLD for $ 153K including premium
Lots 53 and 76 unsold
The 1967-1969 NCAA ring was sold for $ 156K including premium by Heritage on August 29, 2020, lot 80100.
1969 The Last Jersey of Mickey Mantle
2011 SOLD 48 K$ including premium
On April 23, 2010, Heritage sold in Dallas a game worn jersey of Mickey Mantle. The estimate was announced at $100K, but the realized price, $ 48K including premium, did not respond to this expectation.
This lot will certainly score better at its next presentation in the same auction room during the sale of 10 and 11 November. Here is the link to the catalog page.
Last year, I announced this garment as follows:
The New York Yankees baseball team honors their greatest players by giving them a uniform number which is not returned to the circuit after their retirement. So Babe Ruth had the number 3.
In its sale in Dallas, Heritage Auction Galleries is selling the latest jersey number 7 of the Yankees. It was worn by Mickey Mantle, the star player of the 1960s. He used it for the last time in 1969 as an instructor for a youth training camp, and gave it to a young player who did not understand the importance of the gift and forgot.
This Spalding jersey is size 44 on a scale that usually goes up to 46. Indeed, the measurements of Mantle were not exceptional (85 Kg, 1.80 m). His speed and strength made him one of the most admired baseball players of all time.
POST SALE COMMENT
Among the baseball uniforms presented in the press release before sale, Ty Cobb's got the highest result, $ 360K including premium. It was the star lot of the sale.
I discussed Mickey Mantle jersey here above because I had already analyzed this lot in the past.Remarkably, it had exactly the same price as in April 2010: $ 48K including premium.
1970 The Cup of King Pelé
2016 SOLD for £ 395K including premium
It was customary that sports competitions are accompanied by a trophy. A gold plated silver sculpture showing Nike, the winged goddess of Victory, is prepared for the first World Cup of soccer in 1930. The competition is held every fourth year and the trophy is transferred each time to the country of the new winning team.
The statue later takes the name of Jules Rimet Trophy from the chairman of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) who held this position from 1921 to 1954. To create an additional interest in his idea, Rimet had proposed that the first country who would win three times the World Cup will retain the trophy.
Brazil wins the World Cup in 1958 in Sweden, in 1962 in Chile and in 1970 in Mexico. Only one player participated in the three victories : Pelé. Aged 18 at the time of the first Brazilian success, he remains to this day the youngest player to have scored a goal in World Cup. His physical flexibility and absolute control of the sport undoubtedly makes him the best soccer football player of all time. FIFA gave him such a recognition in 1999.
In 1970, a great initiative was required to formally reward such a deserving player. FIFA and Mexico made realized especially for Pelé a replica version of the Jules Rimet Trophy.
In June 2016 Julien's disperses the memorabilia kept by Pelé in his career. The trophy was sold for £ 390K including premium, lot 1010. Please watch the video shared by Julien's. The champion discusses this lot while expressing his pride and warmly thanking the players of his team who had contributed to these three memorable achievements.
It is now estimated $ 650K in an online sale by Sotheby's and Goldin, closing on December 7, lot 21.
1970 The Defenseman of the Bruins
2021 SOLD for $ 175K before fees
A master in the counterattack, Bobby Orr was the top scorer of the 1969-1970 season. This was the first time in NHL history that a defenseman has achieved this feat. He accumulated no less than five individual trophies in that season.
The 1970-1971 season would have been perfect if the Bruins had not been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup. Bobby Orr's performance reaches new heights, with over 100 assists.
In the 1971-1972 season, the Bruins win the Stanley Cup again, as in 1969-1970.
Bobby Orr is also the highest paid player. In August 1971, his five-year renewal with the Bruins was the first contract to exceed $ 1 million in NHL history.
A road jersey used by Bobby Orr during the 1970-1971 season will be sold by Classic Auctions in an online sale ending on February 23, lot 424. It has a considerable game wear out with period repairs, is photo-matched and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity signed by the player. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
A home jersey from the 1971-1972 season, also with intense game wear and photo-matched, was sold for $ 147K including premium by Heritage on December 13, 2020.
1971 Muhammad Ali Robe from Frazier I
2022 SOLD for $ 350K by Heritage
In 1971 Ali prepares his grand come back for the heavyweight title of which he had been deposed in 1967 after his refusal to join the armed forces. He will fight the defending champion Joe Frazier on March 8 at Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile the audio-visual has made its great revolution : the color television, still in infancy in 1965, is omnipresent in 1971. Ali wants to stay The Greatest. Four days before the event, he reveals to the New York Times that his robe will be red and white, like a king.
This telegenic robe was the lot 80111 of the 2019 sale. Matching the shorts, it is made in red velvet enhanced with white satin for the trimmings and the inscription of his name. Inseparable from the images of this match which is aptly described as the Fight of the Century, it becomes a symbol of the first professional defeat of Muhammad Ali. The champion will never wear red again.
It was sold for $ 350K by Heritage on July 23, 2022, lot 53212.
Lot 80110, of the 2019 sale, estimated $ 150K, was the white robe worn by the champion in his match against Sonny Liston in Lewiston on May 25, 1965. For the first time Cassius Clay sports on a ring his new name Muhammad Ali, inscribed in red letters on the back of his garment.
1971 The Fight of the Century vs Frazier
2016 SOLD for $ 590K by Goldin
Both pairs later came back at auction. The 1964 pair was sold for $ 840K by Heritage on February 22, 2014.
The 1971 pair was sold for $ 390K on July 31, 2014, also by Heritage, lot 80075 and for $ 590K by Goldin on August 4, 2016, lot 41. Although they were only used in that full fifteen round bout they are both highly worn including stains from perspiration.
This heavyweight boxing world championship held on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden between Ali and Frazier was opposing two champions undefeated in their professional career. Moreover both had won most of their fights by knockout.
The official return of Muhammad Ali, previously stripped of his title for political reasons, passionated his supporters and his opponents. He had proclaimed that he was the greatest, and it was true. In 1964, he had humbled Liston who did not represent his ideal of the black man. With Frazier, he managed a similar escalation of provocation.
Joe Frazier is also one of the top champions of all time. On 8 March 1971, his endurance through the fifteen rounds proved far superior to Ali's and his victory was unquestionable. The fight of the century was very hard. Ali's wound at the cheek was severe and Frazier was so exhausted that he had to be hospitalized.
The remake between both champions in Manila on October 1, 1975 will have the same dramatic intensity.
1971 THE TRUNKS OF GLORY
2011 SOLD 173 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
This was the fight of the century, between two boxers claiming the title of world heavyweight champion. Muhammad Ali had been stripped of his title in 1967 after taking a stand against the Vietnam War. Facing the superchampion, JoeFrazier was an outsider. Yet he was recognized by both official organizations, WBA and WBC.
On March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden, the match of the century is even more exciting than expected. Frazierdominated, and his victory at the end of the regular fifteen rounds is unquestionable. But it is a Pyrrhic victory. After the game, the confirmed champion, exhausted, is incoherent and has to be hospitalized. Ali is badly wounded in the cheek.
In October, on the web from California, SCP Auctions will sell the velvet trunks worn by Ali in that memorable event.This lot is shown in the email shared by the auction house.
The match of 1st October 1975 in Manila had a comparable intensity. After the fourteenth round, Frazier's coach,seeing his condition becoming critical, forced him to leave. Ali, winner, however had to be hospitalized because of his fatigue. He finally went to admit that his opponent was also a great champion.
POST SALE COMMENT
In this sale of sports memorabilia, basketball won. Seven championship rings of Julius "Dr. J" Ervingfrom the player's personal collection totaled $ 1.7 million including premium, highest at $ 460K.
Baseball also obtained a good result: $ 403K including premium for a bat used by Lou Gehrig.
I had not reference in boxing, but the price obtained for the trunks of Muhammad Ali, $ 173K including premium, seems excellent.
1972 Track and Moon
The gold medal of the barefoot runner Abebe Bikila at the Rome Olympics marathon in 1960 temporarily contradicts this trend. Yet four years later for his second Olympic victory, he wears Japanese shoes.
In 1964 in Oregon, a track athlete and his coach found a business for importing and selling running shoes of another Japanese brand. When the Japanese supplier changes its export strategy, they decide to create their own product line. In 1971 they found Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory.
Both founders are drawing attention to their new brand through innovation. In 1972 the Nike Moon Shoe is specially prepared for the US Olympic trials. The rubber sole is a pattern imitating the waffle, ensuring without spikes a better grip on the ground and leaving behind it a footprint vaguely reminiscent of the human footsteps on the Moon.
The first series of Moon Shoes is limited to twelve pairs assembled by hand. It is this model that triggers the gigantic success of Nike. One of them, probably the only one left unworn, was sold for $ 440K including premium by Sotheby's on July 23, 2019 over a lower estimate of $ 110K, lot 18.
Another pair will be sold by Goldin in an online sale that ends on December 7, lot 7. It is the only pair in the first series to have an additional padding of the sole. It is in excellent condition and the original laces are intact.
1973 the Racquet of Equality
2017 SOLD for $ 125k including premium
After 1962 the number one world women's title has rarely escaped Margaret Smith Court and Billie Jean Moffitt King. Their positions are opposite : Court is openly homophobic and King is a feminist activist who will be in 1981 the first sportswoman to publicly declare her homosexuality.
The first event gives right to Riggs : in May 1973 in a general indifference he beats Mrs Court on the ruthless score 6-3, 6-1.
Mrs King, who had not previously felt concerned by that challenge, is now unleashed. She wants to beat Riggs to promote the very recent Congressional amendment that ensures equal federal budgets for boys and girls in colleges. She even inflates the social stake : if she loses to Riggs, the equality of the sexes will recede by half a century.
On September 20, 1973 in Houston the match between Riggs and King is a big show attended by 30,000 spectators in the stadium and watched by 50 millions in broadcast. The passion of the woman supported her triumph : 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. For her action of a high consequence for the motivation of the girls and for the equality of the homosexuals, Mrs King receives in 2009 the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One of the two racquets used by Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs is estimated $ 100K for sale by Bonhams in New York on December 6, lot 1068. The whereabouts of the other racquet are unknown.
1975 Muhammad Ali Prayer Cap
2022 sold for $ 76K
The preparation was highly publicized, including the theater located in Quezon City being temporarily renamed the Philippine Coliseum. Ali did not stop to emit psychological attacks against Frazier, saying that the fight would be "a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila."
The event, on October 1, 1975, will forever be known as the Thrilla in Manila. In terms of sport, it was one of the most dramatic events in boxing history. After the fourteenth round, Frazier's coach, seeing his condition becoming critical, forced him to leave despite a desperate "I want him, boss". Ali, winner, however had to be hospitalized because of his fatigue. He finally went to admit that his opponent was also a great champion.
In 1964 Cassius Clay's membership to the Nation of Islam also known as the Black Muslims had been publicized by Malcolm X who had him renamed Muhammad Ali altogether meaning The Greatest and worthy of praise. Moving afterward from a then dissident Malcolm X to Elijah Muhammad, Ali was feeling of himself as a champion against the white establishment and the Vietnam draft.
Six days before the Thrilla, Ali had made a publicized visit to a mosque in Manila during a preach. He wore a gorgeous prayer cap in black velvet with his Muslim name embroidered on both sides in large gold block letters. Sponsor and maker of the cap are not identified.
This kufi complete in near mint condition passed at Heritage on July 23, 2022, lot 53301. It is photo-matched by Resolution Photomatching with a period image of Ali speaking in a microphone. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
It was sold for $ 76K by Sotheby's on September 15, 2022, lot 3 .
1976-1988 Olympic Medals of Greg Louganis
2023 unsold by Bonhams
A US athlete of Samoan and Swedish descent, Greg Louganis renewed the interest of the audiences in diving.
At the age of 16 Louganis won the silver medal of the 10 m platform event of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal, behind Dibiasi. In 1980 the US boycott of the Moscow games did not enable him to compete.
In 1982 he became the first diver in a world championship to get a perfect score of 10 from all seven judges.
At the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics he won the gold in both men's events, the 3 metre springboard and the 10 metre platform.
His 1988 performance was memorable. On September 19 he was injured at the ninth of the 11 preliminary rounds when his head dramatically hit the springboard after a reverse 2½ pike. Refusing anesthesia, he completed the preliminaries with four stitches in the head in a waterproof patch and won the final the day after. He won the 10 m one week later. In 1983 he had witnessed a similar accident that killed a Soviet diver.
Louganis had not disclosed his HIV diagnosis at the Seoul games. He made his gay coming out in 1994 and later championed the civil liberties of the LGBT community and of people with HIV/AIDS.
On September 14, 2023, Bonhams auctions the Olympic collection of personal artefacts consigned by Greg Louganis for the benefit of an HIV/AIDS service organisation.
The 1976 silver medal is estimated $ 200K, lot 4.
The 1984 3 m springboard gold medal is estimated $ 600K, lot 9.
The 1988 10 m platform gold medal is estimated $ 800K, lot 15.
The other two medals, including the famous 1988 springboard, are not included in the sale.
1985 Pete Rose bat
2021 SOLD for $ 860K by Heritage
The Mizuno bat used by Rose for the 4,191 is inscribed by the player with a reference to this tying achievement. Interestingly, while targeting the record, the bat model had been referred PR4192 by the manufacturer.
This bat is graded GU 10 by PSA/DNA. The letter of authentication adds a comment that it had possibly been corked. It is 34 inches in length and weighs 31.7 ounces. Corking is not authorized by the MLB rules.
The Cobb figure has been reduced to 4,189 in 2019. The Rose 4,190 had been scored in the same game as the 4,191, and the bat inscribed with the 4,191 may now been considered as the record setting equipment.
The Rose bat was sold for $ 860K from a lower estimate of $ 100K by Heritage on August 21, 2021, lot 80069.
January-February 1985 Air Jordan 1
2021 SOLD for $ 615K by Heritage
A game worn Air Jordan 1 pair marked 850102 TYPS was sold for $ 615K by Heritage on August 21, 2021, lot 80103. TY is the code for the factory in South Korea, PS stands for Player Sample and the six digits are a date code identifying the period January-February 1985. The difference between the PS and the retail version is a lower collar height, at Jordan's request for his comfort.
In 1991 Jordan, who had presented this pair with signed ankles to his teammate Gene Banks, retrieves it in the hands of the broadcaster Rick Lozano. This event is recorded by a TV camera while he signs both shoes on the toe box including a "1st pair" notation by which he recognizes it as a first format Air Jordan. Please watch the video shared by Heritage, including the TV sequence.
On May 17, 2020, Sotheby's sold for $ 560K a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 Player Sample (PS) shoes in the colors of the Bulls manufactured from February to April 1985 (date code 0204 TYPS), lot 1.
MJ wore that pair in all games until October 1985 when his career was temporarily interrupted by a broken foot.
2020 SOLD for $ 615K by Christie's
Jordan is only 1.98 m tall but he scores many points with his aggressive strategy and spectacular leaps. The quality of the shoes must be perfect, and Nike will even use a logo showing the champion in extension during a jump.
The demonstration of Trieste is successful : he scores 30 points, with his spectacular flexibility. One of his leaps is hampered by the proximity of the defenders. Michael jumps so high that he passes the basket and throws the ball into the glass backboard which crumbles into small pieces.
Always seeking to appeal customers by remembering memorable actions, Nike-Jordan released in 2015 a limited edition Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Shattered Backboard with the colors of Trieste. This type of series is announced in advance, the price is reasonable, and it is the rush of collectors on the first day of availability that justifies the operation in terms of marketing.
The pair of sneakers used by Jordan in Trieste was signed and presented by him to the captain of the home team. A tiny shard of glass remained embedded in the sole of the left shoe, authenticating the pair's use during this remarkably failed dunk. Such an identification is exceptional since photo-matching is not suitable for differentiating the sneakers.
This original pair has become desirable due to the commemorative edition. It was sold for $ 615K by Christie's on August 13, 2020, lot 3.
1985 From Air Ship to Air Jordan
2020 SOLD for $ 62.5K including premium
Jordan made his highly regarded NBA debut in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls. On August 13, Christie's in partnership with Stadium Goods sells an Air Ship MJ PE (Michael Jordan Player Exclusive) pair, meaning that this model is not available to other customers.
The red and white matches the official rules according to which the shoes must have the colors of the club and not be individualized by the players. This pair which was game used by Jordan in November and December 1984 is estimated $ 350K, lot 1.
The Air Jordan 1 model, released on November 17, 1984, met with disapproval in the NBA with its unauthorized three-color setup, adding black to red and white.
On August 22, Goldin sells as lot 4 an Air Jordan 1 pair marked 850102 TYPS. TY is the code for the factory in South Korea, PS stands for Player Sample and the six digits are a date code identifying the period January-February 1985.
In 1991 Jordan, who had given this pair to his teammate Gene Banks, retrieves it in the hands of the broadcaster Rick Lozano. He recognizes not only its authenticity but also its historical importance by signing it for Lozano with the comment "1st pair". Please watch the video shared by Goldin, including Jordan's signing act for Lozano.
The NBA has given in and the shoe model can develop its successful career. Here are now two pairs 850204 TYPS. The difference between the PS and the retail version is a lower collar height, at Jordan's request for his comfort. They are also matching Jordan's measurements, size 13 for the left foot and 13.5 for the right foot.
One of them, regularly used in matches by Jordan until October 1985, was sold for $ 560K including premium by Sotheby's on May 17, 2020. A pair with same date code for sale by Christie's on August 13 was a spare that has not been used. It is estimated $ 55K, lot 2.
Goldin : unsold
Christie's : Lot 1 unsold. Lot 2 SOLD for $ 62.5K including premium.
1985 the all time hit champion
The record of the number of hits seemed unbeatable. Pete Rose is the first to approach it. Mizuno prepares successively three special bats for the champion, each one to accompany a significant total.
The first bat is referenced R3631 when Rose manages to exceed the 3630 hits in National League by Stan Musial, retired since 1963. The second is named PR4000 : in April 1984 with the Montreal Expos, Rose is the second player in history to reach the prestigious threshold of 4000 hits.
Immediately after this feat, Rose returns to the club of his MLB debut, the Cincinnati Reds, both as a player and as a manager. In this glorious phase when he is approaching Ty Cobb's record, Rose no longer resists his passion for gambling.
Mizuno's third special bat is the PR4192. Rose uses it on September 11, 1985 to beat the all time record of the number of hits. He signs and dates it with a silver marker. Graded at the highest level, GU 10, by PSA/DNA, this bat is estimated $ 600K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 23, lot 80062.
Mizuno made a fourth bat for Rose, with reference ATHL (All Time Hit Leader). The champion ended his MLB player career in August 1986 with 4256 hits and an average of 0.303. He was banned for life from baseball in 1989 because of his bets on games in his last period with the Reds. He has not been rehabilitated. He is with Shoeless Joe Jackson the greatest champion remaining ineligible at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1986 One Man Basketball
2020 SOLD for $ 480K including premium
The supporters are happy : 1986-87 will be remembered as the best season of his prodigious career. He joins Wilt Chamberlain with over 3,000 points scored in a single season. His average is 37 points per game and he scores 40 points or more for 9 consecutive games. It was during the same season that he also became the best defender of all time, with 200 steals and 100 blocks.
On April 16, 1987, for the last home game, the champion of the Chicago Bulls scores 61 points. Five days later, a friend receives in the mail Jordan's still damp and smelly home jersey and shorts. This uniform is estimated $ 300K for sale online by Heritage on October 3, lot 53324.
The jersey is not a critical equipment for a basketball player, unlike shoes. Players do not use more than two home jerseys for the entire season.
The photo-matching cannot be complete for that time because the photographs were less numerous than today. The use of this jersey has been certified by the experts at Resolution Photomatching for five games from November 4, 1986 to March 29, 1987 and the shorts for two games, November 4 and 8, 1986. Many other use cases are likely.
In 1984 Sports Illustrated had dedicated a cover to Jordan with the title A Star is born. On November 17, 1986, the magazine glorified Jordan with the title One-Man Gang. The cover photo had been taken on November 4 during the first of the photo-matched games of the uniform to be sold.
1986 Soccer ball of the Hand of God
2023 unsold by Goldin
This Adidas ball has been photo-matched by Resolution Photomatching and by Sports Investors Authentication. Its reserve ball had not been used.
1989 Pete Rose banished from Major League
2016 SOLD for $ 86K including premium
It had been offered in November 2012 by Goldin as lot 1 but was not sold. A highest bid at $ 255K including premium was reported by ESPN (Darren Rovell). It went also unsold in an online auction by Heritage in May 2014, lot 81923.
It is now available in an online auction closing on April 23 by SCP Auctions, lot 563.
I copy below my 2012 post :
Ethics of sport is a difficult matter that raises passions. The greatest champions may fall, whatever their record on the field.
Pete Rose was one of the best players in baseball, for sure one of the most complete athletes in that sport which he practiced from 1963 to 1986 as a player and from 1984 as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1989, the scandal is coming. Rose had never hidden his addiction to horse racing gambling. He would have also be tempted to bet on baseball, including on his own team, which is of course unacceptable.
The Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bart Giamatti, must act. He managed a compromise that will not prevent the shock to the public but stopped the tarnishing of his sport. Rose is banished from baseball, and in exchange the investigation is suspended.
The four page document recording the acceptance of the pact by Rose is signed by the player, by Giamatti and by Giamatti's deputy on August 23, 1989. The piece for sale was the copy kept by the fallen champion.
Eight days later, Giamatti died of a heart attack. Much later, figures are advanced concerning the money gambled by Rose on baseball around 1987. They were considerable.
1997 Precious Metal Gem
2020 SOLD for $ 920K by Heritage
Regarding the illusion of luxury, the impetus was given in 1997 by the very ephemeral brand Metal Universe, publisher of the Basketball Precious Metal Gems series for the seasons 1997-98 and 1998-99 and Championship Basketball in 1997-98 . Ten years later Upper Deck attempted to re-establish the brand.
The first two Precious Metal Gems editions featured 123 players each, with a photo in action on the front and a portrait on the back. The front was printed on a sheet of metal. The edition was serialized from 1 to 10 with an image on an "emerald" green background and from 11 to 100 with a red background.
This construction generated a weakness, with wear on the edges of the metal affecting a large proportion of the cards. PSA does not grade these damaged cards, even when the image remains intact. However, this company checks the authenticity.
The population of ten Michael Jordan 1997 Precious Metal Gem Green cards attracts much desire. Two of them were graded EX-MT + 6.5 by PSA and one EX-MT 6.
Two cards rated Authentic by PSA were sold on eBay, # 1 in 2015 and # 6 in 2019. Their prices, exceptional in their time, can be forgotten following the craze of 2020 for all the artefacts relating to Jordan .
On December 10, 2020, Heritage sold at lot 58088 for $ 920K from a lower estimate of $ 500K the card # 9, guaranteed Authentic (but not identified as Altered) by PSA.
1997 Last Dance Home Jersey
2023 SOLD for $ 700K by Sotheby's
This Nike size 50 plus 4 inches with the number 23 of the Bulls has been heavily worn. It was the usual practice of Jordan to switch frequently his jersey during a game. This one had been used in eight matches in December 1997 and January 1998 at home in Chicago.
It has been photo-matched to all of them by MeiGray, including with a photo featuring Michael standing side by side with the 19 year old Kobe Bryant of the Lakers. Each of them scored more than 30 points in that game.
1998 The Long Rush of Ricky Williams
2019 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
His 1998 season was exceptional. He accumulated 2,327 rushing yards during that single year. This brought his combined performance of four years with the Longhorns to 6,592 rushing yards, breaking the record of the NCAA, the federation of university football. In the same year he scored 6 touchdowns in a single match.
After these feats, Williams became a professional. Playing from 1999 to 2011 in the NFL, he accumulated 10,009 rushing yards despite long-term suspensions that overshadowed two seasons.
His 1998 season is rewarded with the Heisman Memorial Trophy, the most prestigious US amateur sport award designed to encourage a promising student highlighted by the football. The winner receives a bronze showing a player in action, weighing 16.8 Kg including its base.
Ricky Williams sold his bronze to a collector in private sale in 2014. The trophy is now estimated $ 500K for sale by Heritage online from Dallas on October 17, lot 53001.
This lot is not only outstanding by the champion's performance. Since 1999 the new trophies can no longer be sold by their laureates. The organizing club thus follows the example of the Oscars of cinema since 1950.
Heisman bronzes are attracting an increasing interest at auction. Here are two other examples from the 1980s and 1990s. The 1987 trophy presented to Tim Brown was sold for $ 430K including premium by Goldin on December 8, 2018. The 1994 trophy presented to Rashaan Salaam was sold for $ 400K including premium by SCP on January 20, 2018.
2003 The Rookie Patch of LeBron James
2020 SOLD for $ 264K including premium
Their high-end concept Exquisite Collection starts with basketball in the 2003-04 season. For $ 500, the collector buys a box that contains three packs of five cards each. The purchase is blind : it is not possible to know the list of views before unsealing the packaging.
This 2003-04 series consists of 42 cards of veterans and 36 cards of rookies from the NBA. Each pack includes a rookie card, titled Exquisite Rookie Patch. The rookie card has been prepared in 99 serialized copies and includes the player's photo, a patch from his jersey and his autograph signature. The back is a certificate of authenticity of the autograph signature and of the jersey.
Luckily for collectors, this 2003-04 season is also the rookie year of LeBron James, already famous for his precociousness and who will become one of the best basketball players of all time.
An unopened box, the contents of which were therefore unknown during the sale, was sold for $ 66K including premium by Heritage in July 2018.
A Rookie Patch of LeBron James, graded by Beckett NM/MT+ 8.5 for the card and 10 for the autograph, was sold for $ 264K including premium by Goldin in October 2019. Another copy is listed by Heritage in an online sale which ends on February 22, lot 50022. It is graded Mint 9 for the card and 10 for the autograph, also by Beckett. On these two examples the centering, subgraded 9.5, is almost perfect.
2005 New Glory for the Logoman
2021 SOLD for $ 1.3M including premium
Collectors now favor the 1 of 1's, as well as the logoman patch. The One of One 2013-14 rookie card Panini National Treasures Horizontal of Giannis Antetokounmpo, with logoman patch and autograph signature, graded Mint 9 by BGS, was sold for $ 1.85M including premium by Goldin on September 20, 2020.
The market continues to evolve. The lot 6 in the Goldin online sale closing on March 6 is a 1 of 1 2004-05 Upper Deck Ultimate Signatures Logos with a Logoman game used patch from LeBron James, copyrighted in 2005. It is not a rookie card. PSA/DNA has guaranteed its authenticity without grading it, which means that it has a major flaw (this case has become frequent due to the increased complexity of the make).
One year ago, such a piece could only interest a few specialist collectors. Two weeks before the auction, the bid is $ 850K. Beckett and PSA/DNA are also grading the autographs. The cards have generally been carefully signed in a dedicated place, and that grading does not seem to be discriminating.
2006 Autographed Rookie Card of Michael Jordan
2022 SOLD for $ 1M by Christie's
UDA (Upper Deck Authenticated) is a trademark of UD (Upper Deck) based on a patented authentication process. They made a special operation with the 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie cards.
23 high grade cards were selected by UDA and fitted with a hologram on the back to prevent the counterfeiting. They made them signed by Jordan and put them at random in boxes. A congratulation card signed by Upper Deck with the same numerical code as the hologram guarantees that it is a new release of an original card with the addition of the signature apposed under control from UD.
14 from the 23 cards are known to have been pulled by lucky collectors. The 21/23 is the second highest graded by BGS, 8.5 NM-MT+ with an autograph graded 9 by Beckett. It was sold for $ 1M by Christie's on June 14, 2022, lot 6. It was sold for $ 264K by Heritage on August 19, 2023, lot 80051.
2007 Barry Bonds 756th home run ball
2007 SOLD for $ 750K by SCP
The record for a career had been 755, by Hank Aaron in 1976. Barry Bonds equals and then exceeds it in August 2007. He scores his 762nd on September 5.
On September 8 his team, the San Francisco Giants, announce that they do not re-sign Bonds for the new season. The champion, aged 43, does not formally retire at that time but no other team will hire him as a player. On November 15 he is indicted for perjury for a 2003 testimony about his alleged use of steroids.
The tie and record setting baseballs of Bonds' 755th and 756th homers, listed in the same auction by SCP despite different provenances, were sold respectively for $ 187K and $ 750K on September 15, 2007.
The ball from Bonds's 762nd homer was sold for $ 380K by SCP on April 12, 2008. At that time there was still some doubt about the player's ability to continue his career and thus score further homers. This ball was sold for $ 276K by Goldin on May 11, 2019. The catalogue offered an option that the ball is signed and inscribed by Barry Bonds. It has been made. The autograph refers to the 762nd HR and the date of the feat, 9-5-07. The signed ball passed at SCP on August 28, 2020.
Bonds was not elected at the Baseball Hall of Fame although he always stated that he had not used doping substancese.
(1965)-2008 the defining moment of neil leifer
The rematch for the world heavyweight boxing championship between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston takes place on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston. Leifer gets a press credential but he is very young and must leave the best seats to his competitors.
The match ends suddenly in the middle of the first round. Liston falls to the canvas as a result of a terrible blow from Ali that no one has actually seen. This situation is not impossible because of the rapidity of the movements in close combat but Ali himself is surprised. Liston is on the ground. Ali yells : "Get up and fight, sucker !".
Liston remains on the ground for two seconds too long. Ali has won. The suspicion of Liston's abandonment by cheating will never be lifted. The pressure from some influence groups related to his bad life was assumed but not demonstrated. Fortunately Ali is a great champion who deserved to retain his title and his reputation is not tarnished.
The photo taken by Leifer at Lewiston is perfect : he captured the moment of most intense tension of Ali's scream when his mouth was wide open. The champion seen full frontal is overpowered in an aerated surrounding that provides a dramatic dimension. Ali turns his back on the other photographers and we see between his legs the face of Leifer's rival, Herb Scharfman.
Leifer follows Ali throughout the champion's career. He makes a dye-transfer print 50 x 60 cm from his Lewiston's photo and frames it in a 64 x 92 cm format with other documents that include a dedication by Ali : "Thank you for such a great picture". Indeed this photo is the best proof of the honesty of Ali in the decisive match. One of the documents is dated 2008 which is probably also the date of the dye-transfer and of the mounting.
This photo is for sale by Guernsey's in New York on December 3, lot 1221 here linked on the bidding platform LiveAuctioneers.
2009 Red Refractor for Mike Trout
2020 SOLD for $ 920K including premium
The enthusiasm of collectors for this range of products is very recent. As with the old cards, the rookie seasons of the top players in their major leagues are especially sought after. A LeBron James rookie patch edited by the Upper Deck Company for the 2003-2004 NBA season was sold for $ 264K including premium by Goldin in October 2019.
In 1993 Topps introduced the Refractor, which is a protected designation of the brand. The player's photo is framed by a colored chrome strip. The rainbow is reached by a collector when he has the whole set of colors of the same card. Only five units of a specific model have a Red Refractor. They are serialized from 1/5 to 5/5.
They don't even wait for a promising champion to start his professional career. In 2009 the baseball player Mike Trout, 18, had just been selected as a Drafted prospect by the Los Angeles Angels. His card has been published by Topps in the Bowman Chrome series.
The Trout rookie Red Refractor card 5/5 is in near perfect condition, graded Gem Mint 9.5 by BGS (Beckett Grading) and 10 for the autograph signature, also by Beckett. It is for sale by Goldin as lot 218 in an online sale which should have been closed on May 17 but has been paused for an Internet server problem.
Mike Trout stayed with the Angels. In 2019, he signed for twelve years the most expensive contract in the history of US sport, $ 426M.
2013 Panini One Of One of Anthony Davis
2021 SOLD for $ 1.02M including premium by Goldin
narrated post sale
A One Of One copy of his Panini National Treasures rookie card graded Mint 9 by BGS was sold for $ 1.02M including premium by Goldin on January 30, 2021, lot 3.
The editor, assured of the bright future of the young man, has taken remarkable care in the composition of this unique card. The jersey patch is the NBA Logoman, complete and perfectly straight. The player added his number 23 under his signature.
The back side records his performances in the 2012-13 season with the Hornets and the copyright is dated 2013.
2016 Autographed Floor Panel by Kobe Bryant
2020 SOLD for $ 630K by Heritage
After several injuries, Bryant announced in November 2015 that he would retire at the end of the season. The results of his team seem to prove him right. The last game, which will take place in the Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 13, 2016 against Utah Jazz, is seen as an event : Mamba is very popular.
Kobe Bryant's last match is a wonderful sporting achievement. Utah starts the last quarter with a 9-point lead, which they push to 14 points. Kobe wants the Lakers to win that game. He succeeds with a score of 101-96 including 60 points by him.
Kobe takes the microphone for a little speech to applause, which he concludes by saying "Mamba Out". The Staples Center had inscribed the floor with an 8 and a 24 in white paint surrounded by purple, which the champion comes to sign. The 24 is kept by the Lakers and the 8 by Bryant.
Kobe and his second daughter die on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash. The 8 of his latest NBA feat, consisting of four hardwood panel 120 x 240 cm each, was sold for $ 630K by Heritage on October 3, 2020, lot 53363. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. 10% of the proceeds from this lot were donated to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
2017 Panini Cards of Patrick Mahomes
2021 SOLD for $ 860K including premium by Goldin
narrated post sale
Currently 25 years old, Patrick is breaking NFL records in terms of passing yards. On July 20, 2020, his contract renewal with the Chiefs is an all-time record for American sport. Its ten-year forecast total is $ 503M including a guarantee of $ 140M.
For his NFL rookie year in 2017, Patrick Mahomes had been attributed a card in no less than 37 Panini series, differentiated by variants of images and by the combination of three options : serialization, signature, patch of jersey or helmet.
On January 30-31, 2021, Goldin offered in sets vs singles a complete collection of the 37 Panini rookie cards of Patrick Mahomes. The most prestigious, from the version in 99 serial numbers of the National Treasures series, exceeded the highest bid for the group. It was sold for $ 400K including premium, lot 409.
The National Treasures were themselves divided by Panini into five very close variants, serialized up to 99, 25, 15, 10 and 5 respectively. In the same sale as above, the card 1/5 of the 'black' variant, graded Mint 9 by BGS, was sold for $ 860K including premium, lot 18. The signature is perfect and the jersey patch includes part of the logo of the AFC, one of the two associations that make up the NFL.
2020 A Moment with LeBron James
2021 SOLD for $ 390K including premium
Less than a year after the launch, the moments begin to arrive in the secondary market. In Series 1, one of the most interesting pieces with an exemplary movement and emotional charge is a dunk executed by LeBron James on February 6, 2020. On that day, the Los Angeles Lakers received the Houston Rockets. The visitors won by 121-111.
Kobe Bryant had spent his entire career with the Lakers. Two years after Kobe's retirement, LeBron James joined this club. The February 2020 game was played at Staples Center, the Lakers' regular venue, the day before Mamba and Mambacita's private funeral.
Everything goes in full speed in basketball. The moment edited by Top Shot lasts thirteen seconds. Within just one second, LeBron receives the ball, runs in long strides towards the opposing post, jumps and scores. The video is completed with a slow motion on the dunk, a half length portrait of the player in another action and the display of the final score.
The regulars at the Staples are categorical. Nineteen years earlier, on the same side of the court, Kobe achieved an identical two-handed dunk from behind, which is a pinnacle of basketball's aesthetic. The 2020 feat appears as a tribute from LeBron to Mamba.
This moment was edited in 59 units in the From the Top set and in 1000 units in the Base set. The number 3/59 is estimated $ 350K for sale online by Heritage on April 15, lot 57438. The 824/1000 was sold for $ 62K including premium by Heritage on March 18, 2021.