Some of the hobby's most popular vintage sports cards, baseball card collections more than 100 years old and seldom seen pieces of sports memorabilia help lead off the hobby's next major auction.
A 1935 Silver Certificate autographed by Babe Ruth, a rare 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski (graded EX 5 by PSA), an original Arthur K. Miller painting of Hall of Fame legend Nap Lajoie, and a rare 1889 Hartley Studios cabinet photograph of new Hall of Fame inductee Hank O’Day are also among the individual headliners as Love of the Game Auctions opens bidding on its Winter 2013 sale.
The internet-based auction, which has just opened, contains a selection of 25 1910-11 T3 baseball cabinet cards that are part of a large collection of Turkey Red cabinets consigned to Love of the Game. The cards, many of which are among the highest-graded copies available, include the highest graded example of Hall of Famer Addie Joss (graded EX+ 5.5 by PSA), a lovely Christy Mathewson (graded VG/EX+ 4.5 by PSA), and an extraordinary Tris Speaker.
“The Speaker was the most difficult item in the auction to describe,” explained Crisafulli. “It’s got all its original color and gloss, beautiful corners, all the attributes of a truly special card. Yet it’s got a lower technical grade, due to a few light wrinkles that are probably not even the result of wear. It’s quite possibly the nicest T3 of any player I’ve ever seen, despite the grade.”
The auction also marks the sale of the Rudy Strejc Collection, an original owner collection of tobacco cards from the dawn of the 20th Century. Strejc, who was raised in Portland, Oregon and traveled the country as a union pipefitter and steamfitter, assembled a large assortment of tobacco-era baseball and non-sport cards, as well as Pacific Coast candy and bakery cards.
“This is a collection of a boy who loved his cards. He wasn’t a hobby pioneer or someone who worked to keep things in mint condition. Simply put, Mr. Strejc’s cards are well loved. He was a true collector, like most of us. He accumulated his cards as they came out, starting when he was a kid, and kept them for his entire life.” The collection includes a large grouping of 1910 E98 cards, multiple cards from the 1910 D310 Pacific Coast Biscuit and 1911 Zeenut sets, several hundred cards from the T212 Obak issues, and the hobby’s first catalogued example of a T206 Josh Devore card with an Old Mill back. It also includes a host of boxing and non-sports cards. The collection has been broken into more than 80 lots, many pedigreed by SGC.
“It really is an amazing collection that reflects just how passionate Rudy was about cards,” explained Harvey Steele, a relative of Strejc who consigned the collection. “I wanted to be sure that the auction house I chose would ‘get’ this and give the collection the attention it deserves. Love of the Game’s smaller-auction format and Al’s genuine interest and enthusiasm about the history behind these cards and their collector made it the obvious choice.
Also featured in the auction is a large group of higher-grade football cards from the 1935 National Chicle set. Undoubtedly one of the most popular and important football sets ever manufactured, the set contains first-year cards of virtually every key subject in the set. The cards, consigned by a collector with a keen eye for quality, include a large assortment of the set’s difficult-to-locate high number series, some of football hobbyists’ most desirable cards.
The auction includes significant selections of material from two of baseball’s most treasured players, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson. Selections featuring Wagner include a host of real photo postcards featuring Wagner at various stages in his career, a very scarce 1908 PC800 Vignette postcard, a rare 1905 Advance Brand Base Ball Envelope featuring a woodcut image of Wagner at bat, and a panoramic postcard of the 1909 Pirates championship team.
A wide assortment of Mathewson cards includes his 1908 E102, 1909 E95, 1909-11 T206, 1910-11 T3 Turkey Red Cabinet, and 1910 M116 Sporting Life.
- A 1909 E90-1 American Caramel “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, considered by most to be Jackson’s true “rookie card”
- One of the highest-grade examples of a 1911 T5 Pinkerton cabinet photo in the hobby, of Jack Guilligan
- An uncut sheet of incredibly rare 1909 German art stamps, featuring Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, and more
- A a scarce T215-1 Red Cross Rube Marquard
- A 1936 National Chicle R312 Pastels complete set, including the rookie card of Joe DiMaggio
- A host of extremely scarce Topps test issues and proofs from the 1960s and 70s
- A bcomplete set of 1960 Bell Brand Dodgers, one of the hobby’s most beloved regional issues
- A 1991 Topps Desert Shield complete set
The legendary T206 issue is well represented in the Winter sale as well, featuring several significant pieces, including:
- A collector-grade example of the Ray Demmitt St. Louis variation, one of the most scarce cards in the set
- An assortment of extremely high-grade, low-population cards, including several examples of cards in the highest-available grade
- Key cards with scarce backs, including Carolina Brights, Brown Hindu, American Beauty 460, Cycle 460, and more
- A collector-grade specimen of the Bill Dahlen Brooklyn variation
- Attractive examples of a variety of Hall of Famers
Football cards and memorabilia also receive significant representation. Among the key items featured are:
- An ultra high-grade 1972 Topps Roger Staubach rookie card, graded MINT 9 by PSA
- A 1987 NFL Game Day Hall of Fame program, signed by an astounding 46 players and coaches, most members of The Immortal Roll
- Complete sets of 1951 Topps Magic and 1961 Nu-Card football cards.
Finally, the auction includes an assortment of historically significant baseball memorabilia. Among the items included are an 1886 H804-8A Sporting Life trade card featuring the schedule of the Akron Acorns, one of the teams at the center of the battle to segregate baseball in the late 1800s and create the “color barrier” finally broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947.
Bidding for Love of the Game’s Winter 2013 auction will remain open until February 2. For more information on Love of the Game and how to become a consignor or bidder, visit the company’s website at loveofthegameauctions.com.