Sotheby’s and SCP Auctions parlayed their unique collaborative relationship with rare collectibles and pristine cards into a $3.5 million live auction in New York City on Dec. 10, a sale highlighted by the $228,000 winning bid for the plaster cast used to create the Heisman Trophy.
The cast was consigned directly from the family of the artist, Frank Eliscu, who completed it at the age of 23 in 1935.
Lee Dunbar, director of Sotheby’s collectibles department, said. “This is the first time there were two Heisman winners in one day. The Heisman is the most recognizable trophy in sports and I think the spirited bidding reflected the esteem in which this trophy is held.”
David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions, added, “We were proud to have offered this important sports sculpture the same day that the 2005 Heisman trophy was presented.”
Despite less-than-ideal weather, there was a good turnout for the live sale, and though some high-profile items didn’t sell, Kohler remained upbeat about the auction. “The Joe DiMaggio rookie jersey didn’t hit an announced reserve after reaching above $400,000 in the bidding,” Kohler noted. “We’ll probably sell it private now,” he added, noting that several of the lots that didn’t sell in the Dec. 10 auction have already been sold in the days following the close.
That list includes Mickey Mantle’s 1961 players contract ($60,000), Ted Williams’ 1948 home jersey ($48,000) and Jake Pitler’s 1955 Dodgers World Series ring ($30,000), and Kohler said several other sales were still pending.
“We ran a great auction,” Kohler pointed out, adding that it was difficult to pinpoint why some big-ticket items like the DiMaggio jersey and Joe Jackson’s Black Betsy bat didn’t sell. “The room was packed, and quite a few records were set, and there was more Internet bidding than ever before as people were getting used to the format.”
Kohler also explained that live auctions face different constraints than traditional phone and Internet sales. “In other Internet and telephone sales, you don’t always know if something is sold or not,” Kohler noted. “In a live auction like ours, everything is an open book.”
The card section was headlined by a rare grouping of (8) autographed 1871-72 Boston Red Stocking Cabinet cards from Warren Studios, including Al Spalding and Harry Wright, that sold for $120,000 to a West Coast collector, twice the high estimate. A collection of (48) early autographed HOF postcards, brought $72,000.
Within a cache of 1903-04 E-107 Breisch Williams cards was a Type-1 Honus Wagner SGC 40, which commanded $96,000, selling to a bidder in the room for many times over its high estimate. Also from this series was a Type-1 group of 25 (SGC 40), which sold for $48,000 to a bidder over the Internet.
Other notable card sales included: a 1911 T205 Gold Border Hoblitzell “No Stats” PSA 6, which sold for $33,000; a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 7 that brought $42,000; and a 1953 Topps Mantle PSA 8 that sold for $9,000.
A number of the game-used bats commanded strong prices, including a circa 1917-21 Babe Ruth H&B Model 125 “Dash-Dot-Dash” bat that sold for $102,000, a circa 1966 Mickey Mantle H&B bat, which brought $48,000, and Harmon Killebrew’s 1970 All-Star Game bat , game used, that sold for $16,800.
- 1952 World Champion New York Yankees team-signed ball – $12,600
- Jackie Robinson handwritten letter – $19,200
- Ty Cobb single-signed ball, PSA-graded 9, with related handwritten postcard – $39,000
- 1905 World Series program at New York – $14,400
- Original, unrestored Polo Grounds double figural seat – $10,800
- Honus Wagner full-sized decal bat, circa 1910 – $10,200
- Original, unrestored Mutoscope machine with 1938 Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling fight reel – $33,000
- Muhammad Ali fight-worn robe from the March 24, 1975 Chuck Wepner fight – $30,000
- 1924 Boston Bruins (first American NHL franchise) sweater worn by Redding – $19,200
- 1966 Super Bowl I Champion Packers team-signed football with Lombardi – $11,400
- Ruth 1930 New York Yankees signed player’s contract – $84,000
- 1931 Babe Ruth handwritten letter and accompanying snapshot – $27,000
- Bronze memorial plaque that marked the birthplace of Lou Gehrig – $21,600
- Gehrig handwritten letter – $21,600
- 1907 World Series program, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs – $20,400
For more information, go to the websites at: www.sothebys.com or www.scpauctions.com.