Hand-picked images from a major sports photograph archive are being prepared for auction.
MEARS Auctions has been chosen to market the entire football contents of the 81-year old Chicago Sun Times photo collection recently purchased by Rogers Photo Archives.
A hand-picked selection of the best images from the purchase will be featured in MEARS’ upcoming Super Bowl Auction, scheduled to take place online January 19-28. Many of the photographs were taken by Sun-Times staff photographers over the course of several decades and are likely one-of-a-kind.
Rogers acquired the hard copies in return for assisting the newspaper with archiving digital copies of the photographs (Chicago Sun-Times 12/22).
Although the photos are quite historic in their own right, the origin of their lineage is also quite interesting. Originally established in 1844 as the Chicago Evening Journal, the paper changed its name in 1929 and became the Daily Illustrated Times. Considered progressive by period standards, the Times used a tabloid format, (still popular today), with lots of photographs. The paper was renamed when purchased in 1947 by department store heir Marshall Field III, who used the Times printing presses to distribute his Chicago Sun newspaper. The combined papers became known as the Chicago Sun-Times.
Collectors have observed the growing market and rising prices associated with vintage photography. The archives of the San Francisco Examiner and Detroit News have been auctioned, with great fanfare from hobbyists and investors.
"Hundreds of man hours have gone into the selection process while choosing images for our January Auction," explained Troy R. Kinunen, President of MEARS Auctions. "Although the collection contained over 35,000+ images, only the very best were selected for inclusion in our sale. This equaled to less than one-half percent of the total photo volume. Believe me, the quality of these football lots included in this sale have been unmatched in previous photo auctions. The remaining collection still has great images for the collectors, but the selected auction lots stand above as the emphasis was on clarity, contrast, color and toning, and overall high-eye appeal of each subject. For each player offered, the finest available photos were selected for this auction. For some players, such as George Gipp, there are no other surviving photos other than what is offered in this sale. I cannot stress how rare and historically important this collection of football images are."
The entire collection, all unpicked and intact as archived by the Sun-Times, will also be marketed by MEARS, which will sell the remaining inventory through various other sources, including the company’s eBay portal.
"It was clear to me that MEARS Auctions was my number one choice for marketing the football images," said Arkansas businessman John Rogers, head of Rogers Photo Archives. "Troy Kinunen and his firm has clearly been the industry leader in the evaluation and marketing of football memorabilia over the past several years."
Rogers also reported that MEARS will be in involved in the monumental task of digitally cataloging the football collection through its new research center in Milwaukee.
Regarding the lots selected for the January auction, besides the visual and artistic aspects, the content emphasis focused on Hall of Fame players, college and professional stars, Heisman candidates, specific colleges such as Notre Dame and Michigan, and unusual or interesting shots like one of a 13 year-old Bart Starr dressed in the local VFW football team uniform.
Registration for the auction is available on the MEARS website.