It’s that time of year again. While there are a number of sports auctions taking place at any given time with many high-dollar lots, there is an annual auction that everyone keeps tabs on – Robert Edward Auctions (REA).
The catalogs for this year’s sale have shipped. Bidding begins today (April 15) and will end May 7. Total sales for the event are expected to exceed $5 million.
“We try to make it a special event for everyone, to bring back the fun of collecting, and at the same time to give collectors and historians valuable reference material, and hopefully some great reading with the catalog,” said REA President Robert Lifson. “We feel our auction has a special place in the field. We’re trying to do more than just have an auction. We’re trying to create a positive event that is historic, that makes collecting fun, promotes a love of history and that everyone can be a part of, as a bidder, consignor or just as an observer.
“This year, maybe more than ever before, we’ve been a magnet for new finds. Every time we turned around, an exciting item or previously unknown card collection seemed to turn up and find us. We’ve got an incredible lineup. A T206 Wagner. Lou Gehrig’s bat. A document signed by Joe Jackson. These are just a few of the big money items. Not everything is a fortune, but we’ve got more than 1,700 lots, and maybe it’s just that we happen to like all the items we accepted for auction, but it seems like every one is a highlight.”
Some of the highlights are listed below. Everything can be seen online at www.robertedwardauctions.com.
Lou Gehrig bat and jersey
REA is offering Lou Gehrig’s 1938 New York Yankees jersey, dating from his last full season. The Yankees were World Champions in 1938, and it is very possible that Gehrig wore this jersey in his final World Series game. No more than a half-dozen game-used Gehrig jerseys are believed to exist today, one of which resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The jersey carries a reserve of $50,000 and is expected to sell for in excess of $100,000.
Gehrig’s circa 1927 bat is also in the sale. This bat was a personal gift presented by Gehrig to his next-door neighbor in New Rochelle, N.Y. The bat has a reserve of $25,000 and is expected to sell for more than $50,000.
T206 Honus Wagner
Included in the auction is a restored example of the most highly sought-after and valuable baseball card in the world – the T206 Honus Wagner, with a reserve of $25,000. This example can be traced back in the hobby more than 40 years. “Every T206 Wagner is different and valuing them is very subjective,” Lifson said. “This is obviously an extremely low level, but whether it receives 100 bids, or if it receives only one bid at $25,000, it will be sold. REA estimates that only approximately 50 T206 Honus Wagner cards are known to exist.
This sale will include virtually every one of the baseball card collecting world’s most revered “Holy Grails.” In addition to the Wagner, the sale includes another one of the greatest treasures of all tobacco cards, the 1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson (reserve $25,000) featuring Jackson in the minor leagues long before stardom and the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
The T206 Eddie Plank, another of card collecting’s most famous rarities, is represented in this auction with not one, but two examples – one graded VG-EX ($10,000 reserve) and one trimmed.
In addition, also featured is one of the finest examples in the world of the famous 1933 No. 106 Nap Lajoie, graded PSA 8. Alos look for a newly-discovered 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel Joe Jackson in Excellent condition.
19th century baseball memorabilia
This auction has some of the most remarkable items in this important area to ever come to auction. Among them is an extraordinary 1859 Trophy Ball commemorating a game between the Unions and the Excelsiors, the earliest Unions trophy ball known.
There also is an extraordinary example of the 1867 Base Ball Polka Sheet Music, one of the rarest and most highly prized of all baseball sheet musics. The lineup includes examples of the 1859 Base Ball Player’s Pocket Companion and 1868 Chadwick’s American Game of Base Ball, each universally recognized as among the most important and rare of all early baseball volumes.
Other rarities include an 1866 Washington and Brooklyn Team Cabinet Photo with Henry Chadwick and several important items related to the 1869 Reds, baseball’s first professional team: 19th century baseball bat attributed to George Wright in 1869 and two 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team cards, one a newly-discovered CDV style example and the other a larger trade card style example with advertising for Peck & Snyder on reverse.
Prewar card rarities
Among the many highlights in this category are several remarkable original-owner collections, including the George Hall Collection that features a complete set of all six M110 Sporting Life cabinet cards personally saved by Hall in 1911 and consigned on the 100th anniversary of the set by his family in this auction.
There is an incredible original-owner collection of 1915 Cracker Jacks, including a near-set (154 cards) that have also been saved in the family of the original owner since 1915.
A collection of N173 Old Judge cabinet cards, seven rare 1911 T208 Cullivan’s Fireside Tobacco cards, a 1914 Boston Garter Christy Mathewson and three 1909 T204 Ramly Tobacco Square Frame cards, including Jesse Burkett (graded VG-EX by SGC) are all from newly discovered original-owner collections and are new to the modern collecting world.
Complete sets of many of the most classic prewar card issues include 1906 Fan Craze, two T3 Turkey Red complete sets, T205 Gold Borders, T206 White Borders and a complete set of 1911-14 D304 Brunners Bread, No. 2 SGC Set Registry.
There are plenty more in this category, with a full list online. But here are a few more nuggets: Six 1887 New York Kalamazoo Bats tobacco cards, including four Mets players two Hall of Famers in Jim O’Rourke and Roger Connor; an 1876 Hartford Dark Blues CDV with Candy Cummings; a rare 1887 N690-1 Kalamazoo Bats Philadelphia BBC Team Cabinet with Harry Wright, the first example Kalamazoo Bats Cabinet Team Card REA has ever offered; and an 1889 N526 Number 7 Cigar Complete PSA-Graded Set (15 cards).
The Louisiana Find
“The Louisiana Find” is one of the most exciting vintage card finds in in recent memory. Even though there are only 94 cards, the collection had to be offered in 25 lots to do them justice.
The collection includes 30 T215-1 Red Cross, four T215-2 Red Cross, 11 T213-2 Coupon, three E105 Mello Mints and 46 T207, among them eight with Red Cross backs. The eight T207 Red Cross backs, which are highlighted by T207 tobacco card rarity Lowdermilk, make this an especially historic find, as previous to this find, a total of only five T207 Red Cross examples were known to exist.
Several examples of the classic 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (among them an incredible gem that is believed to have originated from Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen’s historic 1952 Topps find in the 1980s, are in the auction, along with a 1952 Topps complete set of all 407 cards including Mantle graded PSA 5.
Speaking of The Mick, the sale features a 1954 Stahl-Meyer Franks Mantle graded PSA 7, the highest graded sample.
Featured is a remarkable selection of PSA-graded complete sets. Among them are an 1889-90 E. R. Williams Base Ball Game Playing Cards (52 cards, No. 1 on PSA Registry; 1948-49 Leaf Gum, presented in several lots and highlighted by the iconic 1949 Leaf No. 8 Satchel Paige rookie card at PSA 7; 1940 R335 Play Ball, No. 2 PSA set registry; 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders, No. 3 PSA Registry; 1956 Topps, No. 12 PSA Set Registry; 1968 Topps, No. 3 PSA Registry; and 1954 Red Heart, No. 12 PSA Set Registry.
1933 and 1934 Goudey uncut sheets
This auction includes six uncut sheets of Goudey Gum baseball cards, four dating from 1933 and two dating from 1934. Included is a Canadian Goudey sheet of the famous “Triple Ruth Sheet,” which features 24 cards including three Babe Ruths and one Lou Gehrig. A 1933 Goudey sheet contains the No. 181 Ruth. Each of the two 1934 Goudey sheets include Gehrig.
This auction presents gaem-used bats from Ruth, Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, Mel Ott, Tris Speaker, Hank Greenberg, Mantle, Duke Snider, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Rogers Hornsby, Pee Wee Reese and Yogi Berra, among others. Modern stars include Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, along with the famous 1906 “Banana Bat” belonging to Billy Sullivan, possibly the only surviving banana bat.
1951 Mays game-used uniform
To complement Gehrig’s 1938 New York Yankees jersey is Mays’ 1951 Minneapolis Millers jersey. This jersey is the earliest known Mays professional jersey in existence and is photo-matched to Mays. Mays can be seen wearing this very jersey in numerous photographs taken during his tenure with the Millers in the spring of 1951.
Also included in the sale is a 1970 Pete Rose Cincinnati Reds game-used home uniform and a 1963 Harmon Killebrew Minnesota Twins game-used road jersey.
In addition to autographed items from all eras, and signed letters from legends such as Babe Ruth and Cap Anson, the auction also presents particularly rare and noteworthy single-signed Hall of Fame balls, including Jimmie Foxx, Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Harry Hooper and Thurman Munson, in addition to spectacular high-grade examples of Ruth and Gehrig.
The highlight of all autographed items in the auction is the Joe Jackson signed document, dated in the spring of 1916. The document looks like a check but is actually a voucher that records a mortgage payment made directly on Jackson’s behalf by the Chicago White Sox. Despite legends to the contrary, Jackson could sign his name – but only with great effort and by copying his wife’s script, as he was illiterate. He tried his best not to call attention to the fact he couldn’t read or write, so Jackson hardly ever signed anything. When he did, it was only because he had to. Even signing a contract or a receipt for receiving payment was very rare for him, hence the incredible rarity of Jackson signatures today.
“Authentic Joe Jackson signatures are virtually nonexistent,” Lifson said. “A real Joe Jackson signature in the world of autographs is a lot like the T206 Honus Wagner in the world of baseball cards. Only rarer. Examples just don’t show up. It’s one of the ultimate collecting icons. Joe Jackson is the most valuable of all baseball signatures.”
The Jackson signed document is one of approximately five such vouchers that were purchased more than 20 years ago directly from Jackson’s sister, Gertrude.
An astounding collection of 40 different signed original baseball player contracts of Hall of Famers spanning nine decades is by far the largest and most substantial collection of Hall of Fame baseball contracts to ever be offered at public auction. Included among the numerous highlights is a 1902 Christy Mathewson contract and an 1892 James O’Rourke contract that is believed to be the earliest Hall of Famer contract in private hands and was once part of “Hot Dog King” Harry M. Stevens’ personal collection.
Also included is the earliest-known Dizzy Dean contract (1930), a 1962 Clemente contract, Bill Dickey’s 1929 rookie contract, a 1930 Cool Papa Bell Cuban-League contract and Whitey Ford’s 1950 rookie contract.
Important baseball memorabilia
A 1919 Cincinnati Reds World Series championship pin, one of only several examples known and the forerunner of the World Series ring, has been consigned to REA directly by the family of Jake Daubert, the star Cincinnati first baseman. A Championship pin was presented to each member of the Reds in honor of being World Champions. No one could take away their title, but when the scandal broke shortly after the series, the respect accorded the 1919 World’s Champions was without question diminished, giving this 1919 World Championship award both an extraordinary historical significance and a unique irony.
The 1914 “Miracle Braves” World Series ring of Hall of Famer Johnny Evers is another highlight. It is only the second 1914 World Series ring to ever surface and has been consigned to auction directly by the Evers family.
Other extraordinary memorabilia items includ: the actual glove that Bill Wambsganss used to make the first and only unassisted triple play in World Series history in 1920; a remarkable selection of items from the Dick Hoblitzell estate including Hoblitzell’s circa 1913 Cincinnati Reds team sweater, one of the earliest known Major League team sweaters to ever come to auction; a circa 1932 Herbert Hoover single-signed ball; the actual ball that Harry S. Truman used to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the 1950 season, signed by President Truman; and one of the most finest collections of early World Series press pins to ever come to auction.
Boxing, football and basketball
Sports other than baseball are also represented by a nice selection of high quality items, including a 1948 Leaf Boxing No. 50 Rocky Graziano graded PSA 5; 1911 T9 Turkey Red Boxing Cabinets complete set (26, No. 5 PSA Set Registry); an exceptional Mint example of the classic NBA “50 Greatest Players” signed lithograph; 1960s Cassius Clay signed and worn training gloves; 1955 Topps All-American Football near-complete master set, No 2 PSA Registry; 1951 Topps Ringside Boxing complete set, No. 5 PSA Set Registry; and 1971 Topps Football complete set, No. 1 on the PSA Set Registry.
Jimmy Rubino Michael Jordan Collection
Thirty-three lots from the personal collection of famed Philadelphia restaurateur Jimmy Rubino, known far and wide as the world’s greatest collector of Michael Jordan memorabilia, are in the auction. Rubino has spent much of his past 25 years in pursuit of rare and unusual Jordan items.
Many of his collecting coups are featured in this auction, including the actual net from Jordan’s game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA tournament that gave Dean Smith his first National Championship at North Carolina, the earliest-known Jordan signed baseball, a Jordan handwritten love letter from high school, Jordan signed credit cards and even an original Jordan signed artwork.
A strong selection of non-sport cards and related items are yet another highlight section of the sale. Thousands of non-sport cards dating from the 1880s to the 1960s are included. Perhaps most important among them are the 1940 R145 Gum Inc. Superman high-number uncut sheet (No. 49-72) and 1940 R83 Gum Inc. Lone Ranger uncut sheet (No. 25-48) that surfaced directly from a Gum Inc. employee in the 1970s and have not seen the light of day since.
Another nonsport highlight is an incredible 1959 Fleer The Three Stooges complete master set, which lands at No. 3 on the PSA Set Registry.
Non-sport card original artwork
A selection of original artwork used to produce cards include 1966 Topps “Batman” (Norm Saunders) and 1951 Bowman “Jets, Rockets, Spacemen” (an incredible 12 different examples), among others.
Any Mars Attacks original artwork is a prize in the non-sport collecting world. The 1962 Topps Mars Attacks original artwork for card No. 22 “Burning Cattle,” No. 7 “Destroying Bridge” and No. 34 “Terror in the Railroad” are included in the sale. Each is an iconic painting by Saunders.
For further information on this sale, contact Robert Edward Auctions, P.O. Box 7256, Watchung, NJ 07069. Call (908) 226-9900 or visit www.robertedwardauctions.com.