As anticipated, the highest graded examples of one of the scarcest and most renowned cards in the hobby, the 1950-51 Toleteros Josh Gibson card, set a new standard for both Negro League and Josh Gibson memorabilia by selling for an astounding $69,263 in the June 2005 Lelands.com auction. In all, the more than 2,000 lots of sports and Americana generated $4.52 million in sales.
Fewer than a dozen cards are known to exist of the only vintage card to feature the player known in his day as “The Black Babe Ruth.” Graded by Sportcard Guarantee Corporation (SGC 88), this was far and away the highest graded Toleteros Gibson example in existence.
A card of this notoriety is not without its share of controversy. Produced three years after Josh Gibson’s death, some in the sports memorabilia industry believed the card to be of his son, Joshua Gibson Jr., who played for the Homestead Grays in 1949. Lelands.com finally put this myth to rest once and for all, by discovering a Puerto Rican scorecard with the heading Baseball de Puerto Rico (Jan. 7, 1940) with an identical image of the elder Gibson on its cover as on the 1950-51 Toleteros card. A bound collection of programs from 1939-40, including the Gibson cover, sold for $3,554.
The Gibson card was the headline item in an auction that offered more than 75 rare Negro League and Latin baseball items including: a Gibson Budeweiser advertising photo, possibly the first-ever endorsement from a black athlete – $3,910; 1949-50 Toleteros cards of Hilton Smith (SGC 86, $10,408) and Leon Day (SGC 80, $8381; 1948-49 Toleteros album with all 162 cards – $10,408; a 1939 Martin Dihigo signed contract – $12,902); a 1946 Roy Campanella San Juan contract ($5,037); and a stunning 1939 Satchel Page signed Negro League postcard – $6,365.
When 65-year-old Bill Moore told Lelands.com officials the story of how he came to be the owner of Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World” baseball, the company found him a credible person but did not have the proper documentation to authenticate the baseball. Moore convinced Lelands.com to put the ball in the auction with his story and just a $5,000 reserve and let collectors decide. “From the results of the auction, it appears that several collectors also deem Mr. Moore credible,” said Lelands.com CEO Josh Evans. In a flurry of bidding on the final day, the lot dubbed “The Bobby Thomson Baseball???” sold for $47,824.
Some of the other autographed baseball highlights include: President Franklin D. Roosevelt – $32,664; a 1932 Yankees team-signed – $20,282; single-signed Ruth – $8,924; 1955 Dodgers team-signed – $9906; and MLB Commissioner Happy Chandler’s personal Cobb and Speaker signed ball – $10,407.
The auction also offered a treasure trove of Roberto Clemente artifacts from both the USA and his Puerto Rican homeland. Highlights included: a 1970 game-worn Pirates cap ($14,372.37)); 1971 signed and dated autographed baseball 9/10 ($5514.17); and a glove used during the 1960 season ($8695); and a photograph inscribed on the day he got his 3000th hit VG ($5399). “World Series” Championship Medals, Pins and Rings.
Although a lot of Boston baseball items have been sold in the past year, nothing compares to the Boston (Americans) 1903 World Championship solid gold crest-style medal from Buck Freeman, their best player ($35,250). The only other medal known to exist from the first World Series resides in Cooperstown. Two other important early Word Series awards included the diamond and gold pin presented to the members of the 1917 World Champion Chicago White Sox from a conspirator in the Black Sox Scandal, Claude “Lefty” Williams ($18,923) and a 1927 Yankees World Championship ring ($21,326).
From the nearly 75 boxing lots, some of the highlights included: Sugar Ray Robinson’s Ring Magazine championship belt ($54,737); fight-worn items such as Joe Louis trunks ($20,282); Rocky Marciano trunks ($7109); Joe Frazier’s fight-worn gloves from the “Thrilla in Manilla ($24,531); Emil Griffith gloves used in the Benny “Kid” Parent fight ($14,372); and Cassius Clay “Next Heavyweight Champion” inscribed gloves ($12,271).
Some of the other prominent items included: an early 1970s Franco Harris game-worn Steelers jersey ($26,995) and helmet ($10,798); a 1951 Joe DiMaggio game-used bat ($28,435); Pee Wee Reese’s 1953 World Series ring ($27,657); Johnny Bench’s 389th home run retirement night game-worn jersey ($16,762); a 1959 Mantle All-Star game-used bat ($20,282); a 1975 Eddie Giacomin game-worn Rangers jersey ($18,890); a rare Bill Bradley game-worn Knicks jersey ($13,853); a late 1920s Harry Oliver game-worn Bruins jersey ($20,779); Earl Seibert’s 1939 Babe Siebert Memorial All-Star Game sweater and leggings ($20,816); two unopened 20-box cases of 1980-81 Topps Basketball cards featuring the dual rookie card of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird ($24,531).
Like all Lelands.com auctions, graded cards were a big part of the auction, with hundreds of lots offering thousands of the most pristine and collectible cards in the hobby.
Highlights included: Ty Cobb L1 Leather, near-mint ($35,930); Rube Marquard L1 Leather ($7002); 1939 Play Ball Joe DiMaggio SGC 96 ($9462); 1963 Topps Mantle PSA 10 ($20,282); and a near-complete 1961 Topps Baseball set graded PSA 8 ($20,816).
Some of the highlights from the Americana auction, which closed on June 23, included: a section of the Dealey Plaza white picket fence bought by online casino GoldenPalace.com ($32,664); (10) items including jewelry and clothing obtained from Ginger Alden, the last love of Elvis Presley’s life ($84,487), including a rare custom-made leather jacket with photo documentation ($40,564); Napoleon-signed Rifle of Honor document ($3,156); Elvis Presley autographed photo ($5,816); Paul McCartney signed caricature that he drew of guitarist Carlos Alomar ($4113); Beatles Book Monthly No. 3 signed by the Fab Four ($6,869) and a napkin signed by all four Beatles ($3,048); a spectacular Chester Kelly autograph album from the 1870-80s featuring more than 175 signatures from the likes of P.T. Barnum, Grover Cleveland, Jefferson Davis and Mark Twain ($9,142); a rare Geronimo signature ($3,352); a Led Zeppelin signed album ($3,245); Jimmy Hendrix signed love note ($2,969); a 1935 Walt Disney signed letter to Zez Confey ($3,687); and a Charles Darwin Origins of the Species letter with sheep cloning content ($3,688).
In the past decade, Lelands.com has brought to auction hundreds of Kennedy-related artifacts but none may be as historically significant as the Dealey Plaza white picket fence. Incredibly, this sectioned white picket fence from Dealey Plaza, though a critical component in endless conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination, was not dismantled or replaced until Jan. 11, 2000, meaning that for more than 36 years it remained in place and intact, looming over the infamous grassy knoll.
The winning bid by GoldenPalace.com adds to the company’s impressive collection of auction purchases including Pope Benedict XVI’s car; a grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary; the famed Beckham soccer ball; and many others.
“For all that time, this fence stood as a reminder of one of the darkest days in history,” explained Josh Evans, founder of Lelands.com. “While it seems only logical that such a landmark would have been transported to the Smithsonian, perhaps its power to spark debate about the official government explanation of the assassination rendered it unfit for such commemoration. Rather, the powers that be – still holding to the Warren Commission’s conclusion about a lone gunman – chose to let the fence simply rot away.”
For more information about results, consignments or future auctions, go to wwwlelands.com.