A newly-discovered 1944 Who’s Who in Baseball autograph page bearing the rare signature of baseball legend Josh Gibson and several other notables went on the auction block Monday in Huggins & Scott’s first auction of 2015. Discovered inside a trunk inside a Washington, D.C. row house by surviving relatives of a man who recently passed away, the 5-7/8 x 9” page is signed in black-ink steel tip fountain pen by Gibson, Jud Wilson, a very young Roy Campanella and others. The remainder of the book is also being sold in the auction.
Huggins and Scott officials believe the autographs were collected at a game between the Homestead Grays and Baltimore Elite Giants. The Grays split their home games between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. at the time and there is a “Washington Grays” notation written on the page.
One of baseball’s most tragic figures, Gibson’s signature has become increasingly valuable in the marketplace. In 2006, an autographed photo postcard sold for $80,000 and in 2009, a 1941 contract brought nearly $100,000. Gibson had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1943, declined surgery and continued to play despite severe headaches until passing away in 1947 just as Jackie Robinson was breaking baseball’s color barrier.
The page is also signed by several other Negro League figures, headlined by Wilson (d.1963) who is perhaps the most elusive twentieth century Hall of Fame autograph, with a photo postcard selling in the same 2006 auction for $32,000. Represented as well is Gibson’s battery mate, fellow Hall of Famer Ray Brown (d.1965), a dominating pitcher whose talents were mentioned in the same breath as those of Paige and Feller. Rounding out the Grays are Vic Harris (d.1978) and Robert Gaston (d. 2000), while Campanella is accompanied by Baltimore Elite Giants teammate George Scales (d.1976). Umpire Ducky Kemp—a former player himself who was reputed to be one of just three salaried Negro League umps during the early 1940s—also signed.
The auction includes thousands of pre-World War II era baseball cards, highlighted by an E90-1 Joe Jackson (PSA Authentic-trimmed), a 1912 Real Photo Postcard of Native American legend Louis Sockalexis (SGC 60), N28 Tim Keefe (SGC 84), a collection of graded N172 Old Judge cards, T206s featuring rare backs, complete and near sets from 1933 and 1934 Goudey, 1934-36 Diamond Stars, 1941 Play Ball and more.
The post-war offerings include a large number of singles, complete and near sets from 1948 to present. Highlights include a near master set of 1948-49 Leaf , a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle RC PSA 2 (mc) and Jackie Robinson PSA 6.5, virtually every set from 1950 to 1973, sold by year andnumerous “shoe box” collections.
This auction has a large number of Babe Ruth signed items including a single-signed game-used baseball, attributed to his twelfth homerun of 60 in 1927. A 1932-33 Ruth single-signed ball; a rare Eddie Collins single-signed ball; a high-grade 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team-signed ball; a group of different single-signed baseballs from AL MVP winners from 1937-2013; a collection of over 1,100 signed index cards from numerous turn-of-the-century players and a single-collector’s autographed 1974 Topps baseball card partial set of 433 different signed cards with 26 Hall of Famers.
The late Danny Frisella’s 1969 New York Mets World Series player’s ring headlines several pieces of championship jewelry in the sale. Others include Joe McDonald’s 1982 St. Louis Cardinals General Manager’s World Series ring; a 1970 Baltimore Orioles World Series ring given to Stadium Ops Manager, Harry “Bud” Trageser; All-Star Game rings from Paul Molitor and Carney Lansford; a 1951 New York Yankees salesman’s sample ring and others.
There are several vintage advertising displays and vending machines from the 1920s to the 1960s; a newly discovered 3D Boston Red Sox pennant with wooden bat; vintage publications and tickets from the turn-of-the-century to modern day and more.
There is a complete run of football sets and near sets from 1951-1990; the first Goal Line Art “Gold” Set with all 223 issued cards signed numbered to 100; two pieces from noted sports artist Adam Port featuring Ray Lewis; Brian Leetch and Joey Mullen game-used hockey sweaters, a scarce George Mikan Bread Label SGC and others.
The auction can be viewed and a full-color catalog downloaded at HugginsandScott.com, where there is a section of auction lots that are not found in the printed catalog that arrived in mailboxes late last week.