Two of America’s most popular collecting categories – coins and sports memorabilia – will join forces for an 866-lot auction on Dec. 17 at Morphy’s.
“Certain types of collectibles never seem to lose favor,” said Dan Morphy, Morphy’s CEO. “Coins have been a favorite with collectors and investors for many generations, and important memorabilia from professional and collegiate sports just keep on setting new records at auction. We decided to put the two categories together for a holiday auction that many collectors could enjoy.”
The Dec. 17 auction starts with a collection of more than 320 lots of silver and gold coins, and currency. The centerpiece of the numismatic offering is an extremely rare Panama-Pacific International Exposition octagonal $50 gold coin that was struck in 1915. Graded MS65 (mint state) by PCGS, the coin is expected to make $120,000-$150,000.
There’s quite a story behind the Panama-Pacific coins, and it’s entwined in the lore of one of America’s greatest cities: San Francisco. Six years after the devastating earthquake of 1906, the “City by the Bay” was in dire need of an economic boost. It came in the form of the 1915 World’s Fair, also known as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Many cities had vied for the right to host the event, with New Orleans being one of the favored contenders. After an intense advertising and lobbying campaign, however, President Taft proclaimed earthquake-ravaged San Francisco as the official host city.
The fairgrounds and buildings took three years to construct, providing much-needed jobs for out-of-work San Franciscans. The project sparked a revitalization that changed San Francisco forever, putting it on the map as one of America’s greatest and most cultured cities.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition ran from Feb. 20 through Dec. 4, 1915, and to commemorate the fair, the United States Government authorized the San Francisco Mint to issue a $50 gold coin depicting Balboa on the obverse and an owl encircled by dolphins on verso.
“Very few of these coins were made, and an example graded this high – a ‘70’ is perfect and impossible to find – is very exciting to collectors. Today, it’s common for commemorative coins to be issued, but that wasn’t the case back then,” said Dr. John Morphy, head of Acquisitions & Appraisals for Morphy Auctions.
In total, more than a million dollars worth of gold and silver coins will be auctioned in Morphy’s Dec. 17 sale. Another rarity that’s expected to stir interest amongst bidders is a 2011 Chinese panda gold coin, one of only 300 made, which weighs one kilo (2.23 lbs.) and is valued at $130,000-$150,000.
The second half of the Dec. 17 session is devoted to sports memorabilia. There are early baseball and football buttons, pennants and some bobbing-head dolls, including Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente. Hartland collectors will find themselves spoiled for choice with the array of boxed figures that includes Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Don Drysdale, John Arnett and others. Some non-sport figures, such as cowboy and historical Hartlands in original boxes, will join their sports counterparts.
Sporting equipment is abundant and includes some great baseball gloves in scarce original boxes, plus autographed game-used and store-model baseball bats. One of the highlights of the sale is an unusual grouping of approximately 50 Mickey Mantle autographed items, some limited edition and most originating from Mickey Mantle’s girlfriend Greer Johnson, and Mantle’s personal attorney. The autographed Mantle items include framed prints, gloves, bats, balls and his personal golf jacket.
Boxing fans should get their bidding cards ready for a pair of autographed Muhammad Ali Everlast boxing trunks and autographed lace-up boxing shoes. These extremely desirable items were worn by the legendary Ali and donated to a public auction 30-plus years ago. The shoes are inscribed in blue pen: “From Muhammad Ali June 5-80 The Greatest Boxer of All Times.”
Sports-related ephemera will also make an appearance in the sale in the form of a personal collection of the historical publication The Sporting News. There are several hundred issues with cover dates ranging from the 1930s-80s.
Also crossing the auction block are baseball coins, tobacco cards and various-era baseball cards, including an extremely rare 1928 Harrington’s Ice Cream redemption card with the image of baseball player Earl Smith. Other standout cards feature Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. There are also some fine lots of graded and ungraded cards from the 1950s through present day. Also, a big selection of unopened wax boxes and cases include baseball, basketball and hockey cards.
Always-popular player-endorsed items include a Jackie Robinson doll in the original box and a very scarce circa-1930 Babe Ruth brass locker tag.
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