The sportscard hobby has many legendary items that make up its history. Two of the most hallowed – and valuable – are the T206 Honus Wagner and the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card.
Both of these cards will be in the upcoming Robert Edward Auctions spring auction. Bidding starts April 12 and will end May 3.
“This is an unbelievable auction,” said Ron Lifson, president of Robert Edward Auctions. “We always try to tone down expectations and over deliver, but really, there’s no other way for us to describe the material assembled for this auction. It’s incredible.”
When asked about highlights for the upcoming sale, Lifson said he doesn’t even know where to begin.
“The collectors with the really historically significant items to sell, and non-collectors with extremely important new discoveries, they have gone out of their way to wait for our auction to sell,” Lifson said. “All of our auctions are special, and that our No. 1 goal always, but as this one has come together, we are amazed. This may be our best auction ever.”
Conducting just one auction a year, Robert Edward Auctions puts together one of the most comprehensive and valuable auctions of the year – total sales for this year’s event is expected to top $5 million.
The T206 find
The T206 Wagner will join 545 of its brothers in what has been dubbed the “Beckett T206” find in the sale. According to Robert Edward, these cards were saved by the owner’s grandfather and were stored in the attic for decades. After scouring the house for items to sell, the owner came across the forgotten cards and solicited Beckett Grading Services for grading purposes. Beckett Select Auctions then chose Robert Edward to sell this special collection.
The Wagner card is in low-grade condition, but it is expected to sell for more than $100,000.
19th-century baseball delights
The other featured attraction is the Baltimore News Ruth rookie, graded VG 40 by SGC. Only 11 of these cards are known to exist, and the reserve for this example starts at $10,000.
Another amazing piece is a 19th-century baseball advertising poster, called the “Anson-Ewing Beer Poster.” This stone lithograph poster was issued in 1889 in promotion of Guinness Brewery’s Finest Pale Ale and Extra Foreign Stout. This piece represents the first documented paid endorsement of a product of any kind by baseball players.
“We have always hoped to someday have the opportunity to present an example of this poster at auction, but had no idea it would take 37 years of waiting,” Lifson said. “There was no question we had found our catalog cover piece. A cover piece doesn’t get any better than this.”
The reserve is set at $50,000, with a record price expected when the final bidding takes place.
One more 19th-century highlight includes an 1862 New York Knickerbockers reunion team photograph picturing an all-star team of key members who played for the team from 1845-50. This is one of only three photographs known that can lay claim to being a team photo of the Knickerbockers.
Also on the block is an 1865 Silver Trophy presented to Boss Tweed, owner of the Mutual Base Ball Club in honor of the team’s victory over the Active Base Ball Club on Sept. 21, 1865. The Silver Trophy was the ultimate prize a club could win. It’s estimated to sell for more than $10,000.
Babe Ruth items
Lifson said the upcoming sale will feature the greatest collection of Babe Ruth memorabilia since the Barry Halper Collection. Among the top attractions is a 1921 H&B model bat that can be placed in the Sultan of Swat’s hands thanks to sidewriting. The bat is graded an A10 by MEARS and a GU10 by PSA/DNA, carrying a reserve price of $25,000.
Other top Ruth items in the sale include a 1938 Ruth Brooklyn Dodgers cap from the Halper Collection, Ruth single-signed ball, 1915 Boston Red Sox World Champions team-signed baseball with Ruth from his rookie season and a chewing tobacco spittoon autographed by the legendary slugger.
One last Ruth gem is a 1933 R306 Butter Cream Confectionery of Babe Ruth. It’s guessed that only one other example of this card exists.
A Robert Edward auction isn’t complete without a huge selection of PSA-graded complete sets, and this assortment will not disappoint.
Among the sets being offered are a T206 White Border set consisting of 520 cards with a grade-point average of 5.11; 1914 and 1915 E145 Cracker Jacks; 1934 Goudey Gum complete, near-complete set; 1954 Topps complete set; 1955 Bowman complete set; 1957 Topps complete set; 1969 Topps Super complete set; and many others, including a 1972 Topps complete set.
Peter Maczak Collection and more
This highly-regarded collection will be represented with 39 lots in the sale, including a 1939 Lou Gehrig handwritten letter discussing his illness and a 1927 New York Yankees team-signed ball. Both of these are expected to sell for tens of thousands of dollars each.
Graded cards will be a special category in the sale. Those expected to attract the most interest are a T206 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back; 1913 Voskamp’s Coffee Honus Wagner, SGC VG 40; 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats Tom McLaughlin, Mets; 1887 N172 Old Judge John Ward, PSA Mint 9; 1950-51 Toleteros Joshua Gibson, SGC EX 60; 1910 Old Mill Tobacco Casey Stengel, PSA 4; 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel Joe Jackson and a 1915 E145 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb, PSA NM 7.
Along those lines, a complete set of Mayo’s Cut Plug tobacco cards will be offered individually in the sale. Of the 48 cards in the set, 25 of them are the highest-ever graded examples, with the average grade exceeding Excellent.
New finds in the sale include three high-grade New York Player Kalamazoo Bats, 36 Clement Bros. bread cards from 1909 and 1910 and a 1914 WG4 Polo Grounds complete boxed set of 54 cards.
Uniforms and game-used bats
But it’s not all about cards in the Robert Edward sale. Collectors will want to check out an awesome selection of baseball uniforms. The top lot in this category is a 1972 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves signed, game-used example graded A9 by MEARS.
Other noteworthy articles are a 1953 Stan Musial St. Louis Cardinals signed, game-used road jersey; 1927 Wilcy Moore New York Yankees complete, game-used road uniform; 1974 Tom Seaver New York Mets game-used home jersey (graded A10 by MEARS); and many rare jersey styles from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Speaking of game-used items, the auction will also feature a fine selection of game-used bats. In the lineup are three Ruth bats, four Musial bats and examples from Roberto Clemente, Al Simmons, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Sam Crawford and Bob Gibson, along with dozens of pro-model bats.
To keep the amazement coming, this sale will also feature the most comprehensive selection of Hall of Fame autographs Robert Edward Auctions has offered to date.
The spotlight items is Josh Gibson’s 1932 Homestead Grays playing contract, signed by both Gibson and team owner Cum Posey Jr. Gibson would later break this contract and join the Pittsburgh Crawfords in early 1932.
Robert Edward will also offer signed items from most of the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, including William Hulbert and Eddie Plank. A 1939 Hall of Fame Induction Signature Display with Ruth, Young, Wagner and Johnson will also be available, along with a near-complete set of signed Yellow Hall of Fame postcard collection (142/147).
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The items mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg for the Robert Edward auction. The 650-page, full-color catalog will ship April 9. To learn more about this sale, call (908) 226-9900. A preview is also available on the company’s website at www.robertedward