Robert Edward Auctions don’t come around that often, but they’re usually worth the wait. The company’s 2008 catalog is coming to a (hopefully re-enforced) mailbox near you, jammed with vintage baseball cards, rare sports autographs and pretty much anything else you can think of.
The T206 Wagner and the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card are the two most valuable baseball cards in the world. Both are included in REA’s highly anticipated spring auction. But beyond the headliners are thousands of other pieces of baseball memorabilia the company will auction beginning next month.
The catalog consists of 650 pages and 1600 lots. Total sales for the event are expected to exceed $5 million.
“This is an unbelievable auction,” says REA president Robert Lifson. “We always try to tone down expectations and over deliver, but really, there’s just no other way for us to describe the material assembled for this auction. It’s incredible. There are so many highlights, I don’t even know where to begin. The collectors with the really historically significant items to sell and non-collectors with extremely important new discoveries have gone out of their way to wait for our auction to sell. We take this as a great compliment and an honor."
The Robert Edward Auctions catalogs will ship on April 9. The first copy off the presses will be presented to The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, for their library, as is the longstanding tradition. The final date of bidding is May 3. Bidding starts April 12 by fax, phone, or the Internet via the REA website.
"We’re an all-consignment auction," Lifson said. "We are really at the mercy of what turns up and becomes available from consignors. This fact makes how this sale came together even more incredible. This may be our best auction ever.”
The newly-discovered T206 Honus Wagner is one of the great card collecting finds in the auction. This card was the highlight of the recently discovered "Beckett T206" Find. All 546 cards have been graded by Beckett Grading Services and the entire collection will be offered in the auction.
Robert Edward Auctions was chosen by Beckett Select and the consignor to present the T206 Wagner and the entire "Beckett T206" find in this REA auction. The Wagner is a low-grade example but a T206 Wagner is extremely valuable in any condition. It has a minimum bid of $50,000 and is expected to sell for in excess of $100,000.
The 1914 Ruth card features the Babe as an unknown minor league rookie straight out of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Only eleven 1914 Baltimore Ruths are known to date, including the one owned by the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. This newly-discovered card was saved as a keepsake by a non-collecting family in Baltimore.
The last 1914 Baltimore News Ruth card offered to the collecting world at auction was graded PSA 2 GD and sold for $200,000 at Robert Edward Auctions in 2007. The reserve is $10,000, but Lifson believes the card will sell for a record price.
19th century items are always an important part of REA auctions and this edition dates back to the 1840s. Highlights in the sale include the finest known example of the preeminent baseball advertising poster of the nineteenth century: the "Anson-Ewing Beer Poster."
The poster, issued in 1899, is one of the most legendary icons in both the historic baseball and classic American advertising poster collecting worlds. The multicolor stone lithograph poster was issued in 1889 to promote Guinness Brewery’s "Finest Pale Ale" and "Extra Foreign Stout," both of which were sold under the company’s "E. & J. Burke" label. The poster represents the first documented paid endorsement of a product of any kind by baseball players.
“We have always hoped to someday have the opportunity to present an example of this poster at auction,” commented REA president Robert Lifson, “but had no idea it would take 37 years of waiting.” The poster appears on the cover of the REA catalog. The reserve price is $50,000.
Additional major nineteenth-century items in the auction include: the recently discovered 1862 New York Knickerbockers Reunion Team Photograph, which pictures an All-Star team of the key members of the team who played from 1845-1850.
The Knickerbockers are universally regarded as the most important and first formal organized baseball club with documented rules. For some of these important early baseball pioneers, this is the only photographic image known. Lifson considers it to be one of the most important baseball photographs in existence, and it is one of only three photographs known that can lay claim in any way to being a team photo of the Knickerbockers.
The photograph was discovered in the former home of Walter T. Avery, one of the original Knickerbockers who is in the photo, and who played in the very first baseball game on June 19, 1846 at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken. (Reserve $10,000).
REA is also offering the finest silver trophy baseball to ever come to auction. In the early days of the game, silver trophy balls were the ultimate prize that a club could win. The 1865 Silver Trophy Ball was presented to the legendary Boss Tweed, owner of the very prominent Mutual Base Ball Club, in honor of their victory over the Active Base Ball Club on September 21, 1865. Today, silver trophy balls are virtually nonexistent. Even the Baseball Hall of Fame does not have a silver trophy ball dating from the 1860s (estimate $10,000+; reserve $5,000).
Lifson promised that the upcoming sale has the finest and greatest selection of Babe Ruth memorabilia presented by the company since the Barry Halper Collection. (REA oversaw the sale of the legendary Halper Collection in 1999, which realized over $26 million.)
Included is one of the finest Ruth bats in existence. The 1921 H&B model is the only documented Babe Ruth bat known that can actually be placed directly in Babe Ruth’s hands with certainty by virtue of sidewriting. It is graded a perfect "A10" by MEARS and also graded a perfect "GU10" by PSA/DNA (reserve $25,000).
Other Ruth highlights include: 1938 Babe Ruth Brooklyn Dodgers Cap (Ex-Halper Collection), est. $10,000+, res. $5,000); a high grade Babe Ruth single-signed Baseball (est. $10,000/$20,000, res. $5,000); 1915 Boston Red Sox World Champions Team-Signed Baseball Including Ruth and dating from his rookie season (est $10,000+, res. $5,000).
The Babe was known to enjoy good times and good humor. Both come to life in the form of the Babe’s old spittoon, which is included in the REA auction–and it’s autographed. Possibly presented by Ruth as a joke, it was a gift from Ruth to his longtime business associate Joe Bihler.
Vintage Babe Ruth baseball cards always draw a crowd, but throw in the words ‘extraordinarily rare’ and you have the newly-discovered 1933 R306 Butter Cream Confectionery card. One of card collecting’s most interesting and legendary rarities, it is believed that only one other example exists. The R306 Ruth will likely sell well beyond the $10,000 reserve.
The auction includes an array of rare nineteenth-century baseball cards including examples issued by Kalamazoo Bats, Yum-Yum Tobacco, as well as many rare nineteenth-century baseball cabinet cards; Cracker Jack baseball cards issued in 1914 and 1915; literally thousands of 1910-era baseball tobacco cards, one the largest selections to ever be offered at auction; 1887 Old Judge baseball cards issued by Goodwin & Co.; complete Topps and Bowman sets from virtually every year including two complete sets of 1952 Topps with the rare high-numbers.
Also included is a selection of PSA-graded complete sets of the card collecting world’s most classic issues: The highlight of these is one of the finest T206 White Border sets ever assembled, ninth highest-graded T206 set on the PSA registry, a total of 520 cards with a grade point average of 5.11, offered as a single lot, including twenty-eight PSA NM 7, 163 PSA EX-MT 6, 239 PSA EX 5, eighty-two PSA VG-EX 4. (est. $100,000+, res. $50,000). The auction also includes complete PSA-graded sets of both the 1914 and 1915 E145 Cracker Jacks. The 1914 E145 Cracker Jack #144 Series, in particular, is an extremely rare set. It is the only completely PSA-graded set ever assembled and registered (est. $20,000/$40,000+, res. $10,000).
Other PSA-graded sets include: 1934 Goudey Gum Complete Near-Complete Set (89 of 96 cards): #7 PSA Registry Set with an average grade of 7.12 (est. $30,000, reserve $15,000); 1954 Topps PSA-Graded Complete Set: #14 PSA Set Registry (includes 117 NM-MT 8s and 133 NM 7s, 7.42 GPA) est. $15,000+, res. $7,500; 1955 Bowman PSA-Graded Complete Set: #7 PSA Set Registry (182 cards in this set have been graded NM-MT 8 and 138 cards are graded NM 7, GPA 7.53), est. $15,000+, res. $7,500; 1955 Topps Complete PSA-Graded Set (fifty-three cards graded NM 7s, 119 EX-MT 6s, and thirty-four EX 5s, for an average grade of 6.04), est. $5,000+; 1956 Topps PSA-Graded Complete PSA NM-MT 8 Set: #15 PSA Set Registry (Set of 340 Plus Checklists), all of the 342 cards in this complete set (#’s 1-340 plus two checklists) have been graded NM-MT 8 by PSA (est. $10,000/$20,000+, res. $5,000); 1957 Topps PSA-Graded Complete Set (407): #16 PSA Set Registry (404 Cards PSA 8 NM-MT, 3 Cards PSA 9 MINT), est. $30,000+, res. $15,000.
The presentation of the Peter Maczak Collection is yet another exceptionally strong highlight offering of the auction. The collection is presented in thirty-nine lots, including an extraordinary 1939 Lou Gehrig Handwritten Letter Discussing His Illness (res. $10,000) and the finest 1927 New York Yankees team-signed Ball that REA has ever offered (est. $10,000/$20,000, res. $5,000). The Maszak Collection is presented in a special section in the catalog.
The auction includes new discoveries and rarities in all areas and from all eras, including: a selection pre-1900 baseball cards and memorabilia; display pieces; original art; rare pinbacks; autographs; graded cards; tobacco cards; caramel cards; regionals; 1930s gum cards; bats, uniforms, and other equipment, in addition to cards of note from all eras.
Among the many noteworthy individual graded cards of interest are: T206 Ty Cobb With Ty Cobb Back, one of the rarest and most legendary of all T206 cards (res. $10,000); 1913 Voskamp’s Coffee Honus Wagner SGC VG 40 (Reserve $5,000), 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats Tom McLaughlin, Mets, only one known (res. $5,000); 1887 N172 Old Judge John Ward – PSA MINT 9 (est. 10, 000/$20,000; reserve $5,000); 1933 R319 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth PSA NM-MT 8 (est. $10,000/$15,000, res. $5,000); 1950-1951 Toleteros Joshua Gibson SGC EX 60 (est. 5,000+); a complete high-grade set of all six 1911 M110 Sporting Life Cabinets including Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Frank Chance, and Nap Lajoie, each offered individually; 1910 T210 Old Mill Tobacco Casey Stengel Graded VG-EX 4 by PSA (est. $10,000+, res. $5,000+); 1909-1911 E90-1 American Caramel Joe Jackson (est. $10,000+, res. $5,000); 1915 E145 Cracker Jack #30 Ty Cobb PSA NM 7(res. $5,000); 1911 T3 Turkey Red #9 Ty Cobb PSA EX 5 (est. $10,000/$15,000; res. $5,000); 1915 M101-5 Sporting News #151 Babe Ruth Rookie PSA NM 7 (res. $10,000), 1916 M101-5 Sporting News #176 Jim Thorpe Graded NM-MT 8 (OC) by PSA (est. $5,000+, res. $2,500); 1912 T215 Pirate Cigarettes sample card of Doolan (est. $5,000+, res. $2,500); and 1904 Allegheny Card Co. Christy Mathewson Graded EX-MT 6 by PSA (res. $2,500).
The finest complete set of Mayo’s Cut Plug Tobacco cards to ever be assembled will be offered individually. Issued over a two-year period from 1894 to 1895, Mayo’s Cut Plug Tobacco cards are one of the nineteenth-century’s most significant issues. It is by far the finest graded set ever assembled. Of the forty-eight cards in the set, twenty-five of them are the highest-ever graded examples. The average grade for all cards in the set exceeds Excellent. Another highly significant group of rare cards offered are sixty-six different E107 1903 Breisch-Williams cards, the largest selection of these rarities to ever be presented at auction individually.
The auction also presents: an historic new find of three high-grade New York Player Kalamzoo Bats, including Hall of Famer John Ward, one of only two known (res. $25,000); an astounding new find of thirty-six 1909 and 1910 Clement Bros. Bread cards including Addie Joss and several previously unknown cards to the set; a 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle SGC EX/NM 80 (est. $10,000/$15,000, res. $5,000); 1952 Topps Complete Set (est. $10,000/$20,000; res. $5,000); 1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folders Near-Complete Set (est. $10,000/$20,000; res. $5,000); 1933 R319 Goudey Complete Set of 239 (est. $10,000/$20,000; res. $5,000); 1911 T205 Gold Border Complete Set of 208 plus 4 variations 239 (est. $10,000/$20,000; res. $5,000); and 1914 WG4 Polo Grounds Complete Boxed Set of 54 cards (est. $10,000/$20,000; res. $5,000).
Baseball memorabilia collectors should appreciate a group of game-worn uniforms including a 1972 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves signed home jersey, one of the finest Aaron jerseys in existence and graded A9 by MEARS (est. $10,000+); 1953 Stan Musial St. Louis Cardinals Signed Game-Used Road Jersey (est. $10,000/$20,000); 1927 Wilcy Moore New York Yankees Complete Game-Used Road Uniform (Jersey, Pants, and Hat) Ex-Halper (est. $10,000/$20,000); 1974 Tom Seaver New York Mets Game-Used Home Jersey New York Mets home jersey, graded a perfect A10 by MEARS (res. $2,500), and many rare jersey styles from the 1930s through the 1960s.
The auction also presents one of the finest selections of game-used bats to ever come to auction, including three Babe Ruth bats, four incredible Stan Musial bats all from the same collection (three from the 1950s and one a special model for the 1960 All-Star Game), Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Al Kaline, Bob Gibson, Yogi Berra, Pie Traynor, Al Simmons, Hack Wilson, Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Richie Ashburn, Rogers Hornsby, Duke Snider, Honus Wagner Pro-Model Coaches Bat (Wagner Family provenance), Jimmie Foxx, Goose Goslin, and Sam Crawford. Dozens of additional pro-model bats are featured, including a circa 1887 “Detroit" Baseball Bat (from the estate of 19th century star Deacon White) that is the earliest known factory-stamped major league bat known to exist (res. $2,500).
Rare sports autographs can be found within the catalog pages including the most comprehensive selection of Hall of Fame autographs Robert Edward Auctions has ever offered.
One historic highlight is one of the most significant Negro League items in existence: Josh Gibson’s 1932 Homestead Grays playing contract, signed by both Gibson and team owner Cum Posey Jr. (res. $5,000, est. open). Gibson broke this very contract and left the Grays to join the Pittsburgh Crawfords early in 1932 when Crawfords owner (and top numbers racketeer) Gus Greenlee raided the Grays roster, signing both Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston for more money.
Other signed baseball memorabilia items include William Hulbert and Eddie Plank; a 1927 New York Yankees Near-Complete Signature Collection (23 out of 25 players); 1939 Hall of Fame Induction Signature Display with Ruth, Young, Wagner, and Johnson; checks from Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Tony Lazzeri, Honus Wagner, and extreme rarity Joe Kelley; Near-Complete Signed Yellow Hall of Fame Postcard Collection (142/147 Possible, est. $10,000, res. $5,000); the most comprehensive collection of Black-and-White Hall of Fame signed postcards REA has ever offered, including many extreme rarities. Additional signed items include literally hundreds of single-signed Hall of Fame balls, and many items signed by Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Cap Anson, and Cy Young.
Additional significant historic memorabilia of all types is included: 1912 Boston Garter Advertising Display Sign with Eddie Collins and Hal Chase (est. $10,000/$15,000); a very important newly-discovered circa 1914 Chicago Americans Giants Panoramic Photo Including Rube Foster, "Pop" Lloyd, and Pete Hill (est. $5,000, res. $2,500); a new find of thirty-four 1898 Cameo Pepsin Gum baseball pins which was recently discovered in a New Jersey family estate, including Cap Anson, Connie Mack, and seven new checklist additions; and what may be the very finest 1894 Zimmer’s Base Ball Game known to exist, a recent and remarkable new discovery to the collecting world that made it into the auction at the last minute (est. $10,000/$20,000).
Baseball is not the only sport represented in the sale, however. REA is handling a Michael Jordan 1984-1985 Chicago Bulls game-used rookie home uniform (graded MEARS A10, reserve $10,000); 1959-1960 Jim Taylor Green Bay Packers signed game-used jersey (graded MEARS A10, est. $10,000+, res. $5,000); 1973-1974 Oscar Robertson Milwaukee Bucks Game-Used Road Jersey – Final NBA Season (Graded MEARS A10, est. $20,000+, res. $5,000/$10,000); 1962-1965 Jim Brown Cleveland Browns Signed Game-Used Home Jersey (graded MEARS A10, est. $20,000+, res. $10,000); 1964-1966 Willie Wood Green Bay Packers Game-Used Home Jersey (graded MEARS A10, est. $5,000+, res. $2,500); 1945-1947 Ken Keuper Green Bay Packers Game-Used Home Jersey – Earliest Known Example (graded MEARS A9.5, est. $5,000+, res. $2,500); 1946-1947 Philadelphia Warriors BBA Champions Team-Signed Basketball, on display for many years at Framo’s bar in Philadelphia (res. $2,500).
One of the most important non-baseball sport item is a 1960s Muhammad Ali eighteen-page handwritten draft for his autobiography regarding his conversion to Islam, that may be the single most important Ali manuscript in private hands (reserve $10,000). The original painting by master illustrator Bernie Fuchs of Arnold Palmer that appeared on the cover of the June 15, 1964 issue of Sports Illustrated will also be available (est. $5,000+, res. $2,500).
The auction also includes a selection of Pop Culture and Americana related items.