Love of the Game Auctions, a new Internet-based sports auction house catering to the passionate collector of memorabilia and cards run by Al Crisafulli, is preparing to launch its first auction, which will include the most treasured and valuable of all football cards: The 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski.
The auction closing date is Oct. 27, with bidding getting underway in early October. The auction will feature baseball and football memorabilia from the late 19th century to the early 1970s, highlighted by the exceptionally high-grade Nagurski card, graded PSA 7. The Nagurski achieved its notoriety because it is the first card of a well-known Hall of Famer and famous professional wrestler. It also comes from the scarce high number series of what is arguably football collecting’s most important prewar card set.
While the Nagurski has always been an extremely valuable card, its profile increased dramatically in 2006 when a MINT condition example sold for $240,000 in a highly-publicized private transaction. The same card sold five years later for $350,000, again in a private transaction. Sale prices of other Nagurski cards followed suit, with a NMT-MT copy nearly reaching $60,000 in 2006.
“We can’t imagine a higher-quality debut auction,” said Crisafulli. “The Nagurski is an outstanding card. Every item in the auction is special. It’s a small, curated selection of quality sports artifacts. Each lot is interesting in some way, either because of its scarcity, its quality or because it tells a story. We think we’ve built an auction that will appeal to baseball and football collectors of all types.”
In addition to the Nagurski, the inaugural Love of the Game auction features a grouping of nine D304 General Baking cards, highlighted by the key card in the difficult set: Ty Cobb. Graded PSA 3, the D304 Cobb is the key card from one of the hobby’s most rare and desirable vintage bakery issues.
Also featured in the auction is a beautiful, autographed 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig. “We’re especially thrilled about the Gehrig,” explained Crisafulli. “He’s got one of the most famous signatures in all of sports, and his ’33 Goudey card is instantly recognizable – a truly iconic card. Having an autographed copy blends the best of both worlds.”
Prewar baseball rarities abound in the auction, including:
• An 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bat card of Joseph Mulvey (graded SGC 50)
• An oversized studio photo of Hall of Fame pitcher Ed Walsh wearing his 1906 championship medallion
• An original Carl Horner cabinet photo of A.L. president E.S. Barnard
• An N173 Old Judge cabinet of Arlie Latham
• Two W600 Sporting Life cabinets of Hall of Famers
The hobby’s most widely collected prewar baseball set, T206, also has extensive representation in the auction. Hall of Famers, rare backs (including Drum, Lenox, Broadleaf, Hindu, a blank back and others), high-grade singles and lower-grade lots (both graded and ungraded) are featured.
High-grade football cards are one of the auction’s greatest strengths. In addition to the National Chicle Nagurski, the sale features a grouping of high-grade National Chicle football cards, including a run of high numbers, all grading PSA 7 or better. Also featured are:
• A grouping of high-grade cards from the 1948 Leaf Football set
• A host of high-grade postwar Hall of Famers, led by a rookie card of Roger Staubach graded PSA 9.
• A number of high-grade complete sets and starter lots.
The auction also features high-grade cards of some of baseball’s most beloved Hall of Famers, including Mickey Mantle, Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. Also represented will be some of the hobby’s most difficult card types, both prewar and postwar, including 1968 Topps 3-D, 1973 Topps Pin-Up, 1935 Rice Stix, 1934 Butterfinger, 1958 Bell Brand and more.
Crisafulli’s favorite item in the auction, however, isn’t a card at all. It’s an original news service photograph of ballplayers from a 1943 old-timer’s game at the Polo Grounds. “The game was organized by some reporters from the New York Journal-American,” Crisafulli explained. “It was a benefit to sell war bonds. At the end of the game, there was an exhibition of old-time ballplayers. Seven of the 12 Hall of Famers alive at the time were there, including Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, and more. Three of the guys that played went on to make the Hall of Fame later. Ruth hit a home run off Walter Johnson that day, and it was the last time Ruth ever hit a home run in a major league park. This photo documents a long-forgotten piece of baseball history.”
The auction also includes an assortment of memorabilia including items from the Pacific Coast League, the World Football League and bats, photographs, team-signed baseballs and vintage uncut sheets.
Love of the Game will be previewing items from its upcoming auction and accepting consignments for its next auction at The Philly Show in King of Prussia, Pa., from Sept. 28-30. Information about the company will be located at Booth 308, and the company will be offering commission discounts for new customers’ first consignments.
For more information on Love of the Game and how to become a consignor or register to bid for the October 2012 and future auctions, visit the company’s website at loveofthegameauctions.com.