Hunt Auctions is busy during a public appraisal of sports memorabilia kicking off it's annual Louisville Slugger auction weekend.
They came with plastic shopping bags and canvas bags. Cardboard boxes and ziploc bags. Briefcases and binders. Manila envelopes. Some hoped to go home empty-handed. Others were just curious. The contents of that packaging would reveal themselves once inside the Louisville Slugger Museum. Hunt Auctions was handing out appraisals and there were plenty of potential consignors anxious to find out what their items would bear in the marketplace.
"It's fun," President David Hunt told Sports Collectors Daily during a short break. "We do this at every one of our events. It's amazing the stuff that's still out there. Whether they sell it or not, it's just good to know what they have."
Hunt Auctions is hosting it's third annual auction at the Slugger Museum tonight and Saturday but the company comes to town early to offer it's appraisal services; sort of a mini Antiques Roadshow. Hunt and authenticator Dave Bushing saw a fairly steady stream of walk-ins during two beautiful Kentucky fall days both Wednesday and Thursday. Even for a city that isn't on professional sports' main street, there seems to be no shortage of memorabilia.
While some of it isn't of the caliber that would fit into an auction like those conducted by Hunt, there were plenty of surprises. For every stamped baseball or wooden softball bat, there were jewels that have sat in storage for years. One older gentleman came with mid-1950s Cleveland Indians autographed baseballs. Bushing examined them for several minutes, pinning the year down to two or three and quickly determined they were indeed real, not some manufactured souvenir. He offered an estimate of their value, but the man had no desire to sell at the moment.
Another older couple showed up with a case full of pre-War gems from both the baseball card and memorabilia realms. Out of the small pocket of a briefcase came Goudey cards of Ruth and Gehrig. A 1941 Play Ball Ted Williams,.a Sandy Koufax rookie and others, all in reasonably good shape. Lying flat in the case were several attractive 1919 Reds items including two programs from the World Series against the Black Sox.
A photo of George Gipp appeared to be vintage, but it's autograph stamped. The man who owned it claimed a relative had gone to school and known of the late and legendary Notre Dame star.
Wednesday had already brought several pieces Hunt was able to add to the auction. Three mini Louisville Slugger decal bats dating from the early part of the century--all in exceptional shape including a Honus Wagner. Indeed, one appeared so untouched by the years that it appeared it could have come out of the gift shop that morning. But there was no doubt about it's authenticity, especially considering the location. "They should bring about $1,000 to $3,000 each because they're so clean," Hunt predicted.
There was a large, old baseball-themed pinball machine, a 1939 World Series pennant and other items that would bolster the 1,000+ roster of pieces set to be sold beginning Friday night.