Richard Merkin’s interest and appreciation of Cuba is well documented in the incredible collection of ephemera he assembled over the years. This included everything from photos of Cuban nightlife to items relating to Castro to an extensive collection of cigarette and candy issued cards. The main focus of the latter was baseball.
Markin assembled what York, Pa.-based Hake's Americana calls "the finest collection of such cards the hobby has ever seen". The company is currently offering some of these very elusive and highly sought after cards in a 3,000+ lot auction of sports and Americana.
The highlight of the baseball card portion of the auction is a rare 1910 Punch Cigarros Ty Cobb, graded SGC Authentic.
The Punch Cigarros cards were issued contemporary with a visit by the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia A's for a series of exhibition games in Cuba between Nov. 10 and Dec. 5, 1910. Unlike the previous year, this time Ty Cobb made the trip with other Tigers legends and was honored with this image.
Cards in the Punch set were originally issued with the photo pasted onto a cardboard backing. Only a very small percentage of cards from this set exist with the backing and all graded punch cards w/o backing are classified as "A" authentic. No examples of this Cobb card with backing are known to exist, and in fact, this is one of only two known examples at all of the Cobb card. The scarcity of this set in part is based on an album that was available only by turning in a full set of cards.
Minimum bid on the Cobb card is $5,000.
Other cards in the auction include: 1909 Cabanas trio, 1923-24 Billiken Cristobal Torriente, 1923-24 Nacionales Jose Mendez, 1924-25 Aguilitas Oscar Charleston, 1923-24 Tomas Gutierrez “Pop” Lloyd, as well as the album for that year.
The collection also includes a complete album for Cuba’s caribbean counterpart Puerto Rico, the 1950-51 Toleteros issue which includes the legendary Josh Gibson card.
Company officials say the current auction is the beginning of an ongoing auction of items from the Markin collection.
Participation is via their website with real time bidding or by using the full color 440 page catalog of 3,213 items available by calling 866-404-9800.
The baseball items can be found here.
Currently producing three auctions annually, Hake's presents artifacts of our material culture spanning over 200 years in 21 broad categories. Ted Hake, the founder, has also authored 17 price guides for collecting specialties included in each auction.