SCP Auctions is wrapping up its most recent offering with a selection of all kinds of New York Yankees memorabilia. In browsing the listings of items available, one particular photograph stands out.
Lot No. 6 in the auction is for an autographed 8″ x 10″ Lou Gehrig photograph taken by the legendary Charles Conlon. That in and of itself would be notable, of course, and easily make the photograph a valuable one. But take a closer look at the picture below. Collectors of pre-war and vintage baseball cards will recognize the shot as it’s eerily similar to Gehrig’s two 1933 Goudey cards.
Now, as SCP’s description accurately points out, the picture is slightly different than the pose on his Goudey cards. The two images are definitely close but also very clearly a bit different. Side by side, here are one of Gehrig’s cards from the set next to the photograph up for bidding in SCP’s auction.
A closer look at the two shows some very minor differences. On the card, Gehrig’s bat is at a different angle as it is slightly more horizontal than in the photo. Gehrig’s face is also slightly facing a bit more to the front on the Goudey card and his left (back) leg is a bit more outstretched. Other than that, the images of the slugger are nearly identical.
As SCP notes, this Conlon photograph was probably taken within a frame or two of the actual photograph used to create the 1933 Goudey cards. But even though it is not the identical image, it’s a close enough picture that it would be desirable to many collectors – particularly those with an interest in Goudey cards or just pre-war cards in general. PSA has dated the blank-backed photograph to circa 1927.
Gehrig’s 1933 Goudey cards are among the most valuable in the entire set. Save for the shortprinted Nap Lajoie No. 106 card and the four Babe Ruth cards, Gehrig’s pair of cards are not far behind in terms of value. Even in decent lesser condition, the card typically starts around $1,000. Prices increase sharply with better mid-grade examples even topping $5,000.
As stated, Gehrig is featured twice in the release. The Hall of Famer is found on cards No. 92 and No. 160. While they are entirely different cards in the checklist, the pictures on the front of both are, inexplicably, exactly the same. Thus, the pose is well-known to collectors of the set. Even though that is somewhat unique, Goudey actually did the same to fellow Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx. Foxx, too, has two cards in the popular release that both used the same image.
In addition to its similarity to the iconic Goudey pose, Gehrig’s signature is also on the front of the photo. His autograph certainly adds to the prestige of the item. While the signature is personally inscribed to an unknown person named ‘Eddie,’ it is desirable because of its clarity. The full inscription on the photograph reads, “To Eddie, With Kindest Personal Regards, Cordially, Lou Gehrig.” The picture is signed boldly using a fountain pen.
The Gehrig photograph is not only extremely rare but is also noteworthy because it is in tremendous condition. SCP informally grades the picture as being in EX/EX-MT condition. Additionally, PSA/DNA has not only authenticated the autograph, but graded it PSA 8.
As expected, bidding has been intense thus far. The auction is not slated to end until Saturday night but it’s already a five-figure item. The $4,000 minimum bid on the unique item was quickly met and current bidding is now up over $16,000.
So, how high can the bidding go for the picture? Collectors will find out soon enough. But it is important to note that we have somewhat of a benchmark. A very similar Gehrig photo taken by Conlon that appears to be the exact pose used on his 1933 Goudey cards was recently auctioned. That picture was up for sale in 2017 and it ultimately sold for a staggering $60,000.
While that photograph looks like the one that would have been used to create Gehrig’s Goudey cards, it was not autographed. Where this one ends is yet to be determined.
The photograph is part of SCP’s auction of Yankees memorabilia called ‘The Pinstripe Dynasty Collection.” The auction includes a selection of unique Yankees memorabilia and autographs. Bidding began on June 5 and ends this Saturday, June 22.