Christie’s doesn’t conduct regular sports-related auctions anymore but the well-known New York auction company will offer what it calls “one of the most important and comprehensive collections of baseball memorabilia and photography ever offered at auction” next month.
“The Golden Age of Baseball, Selections from the National Pastime Museum” will be a two-day event October 19-20 in New York.
The sale will be conducted in two parts, consisting of 485 lots that have been part of a private collection displayed on the National Pastime Museum website. Game-used bats, letters, contracts, memorabilia and a collection of vintage baseball photography will be among the items offered. A Joe Jackson Professional Model Bat, estimated at $500,000-$700,000 will be among the headliners.
News of the auction is catching some by surprise and the Museum’s stuff took to social media Thursday to explain the decision:
“The National Pastime Museum was created in part to share our wonderful privately owned collection of baseball artifacts. Our mission has been to educate the public about the history of baseball and the people who influenced the game by using a collection of baseball artifacts, artworks, literature, photographs, memorabilia, and articles in a fun and creative way. The website has allowed only a portion of the collection to be shared and so it has been decided that the collection should be auctioned off so that others might have an opportunity to own a part of baseball history. The National Pastime Museum will continue its mission by presenting articles, chats, artwork, and images of many of the artifacts and photos from the original collection to fulfill our mission to educate the public about the history of baseball.”
Game bats from Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson will also be offered along with letters and contracts from Jackson, Ty Cobb and Cy Young. A rare signed photo of 19th century legend Mike King Kelly is accompanied by an ornate testimonial dinner program.
Rare, original photos of Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and numerous legendary players and teams will be among those offered on the second day of the sale.
The collection is notable for some of the greatest artifacts extant relating to the Negro Leagues and its most celebrated stars such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Oscar Charleston. Another feature of the collection is the significant amount of items and photographs detailing the history of Cuban baseball, including Cuban Cigarrillos cards and items signed by Martin DiHigo.
Other rare highlights of the auction include the ball that ended the 1909 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers (estimate: $10,000-$15,000), and an 1898 contract from the pioneering woman in baseball, Lizzie Stride (Arlington) (estimate: $10,000-15,000).
The collection will be going out on tour ahead of the auction, with public exhibitions planned in Chicago, San Francisco and New York.
“The collection, one of the most comprehensive and distinguished of its kind, includes extraordinary offerings that chronicle the profound social and cultural significance of America’s National Pastime,” said Laura Paulson, Chairman, Christie’s Americas. “We are honored to be presenting this collection to the public and look forward to sharing its treasures in the next months as it tours the United States and in our exhibition galleries in Rockefeller Center in October.”
Public exhibitions include:
September 26-27 | JW Marriott | 151 W Adams St, Chicago, IL (select highlights on view)
October 10-13 | Jules Maeght Gallery | 149 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA (select highlights on view)
October 13-19 | Christie’s | 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York (entire collection on view)