This time of year may mean squaring up with the tax man but for collectors, it also means the arrival of something much more enticing. It’s when the massive Robert Edward Auctions Spring catalog, jammed cover to cover with hundreds of remarkable sports artifacts, reveals itself.
The 2014 edition got underway late last week and it’s safe to say the opening was highly anticipated. Within the first 15 hours of bidding, bids totaling more than $2.86 million were placed according to REA officials. The auction still has nearly three weeks to run.
The catalog includes over 1800 lots, ranging from a rare 19th century poster promoting ‘Red Stocking Cigars’ to high grade pre-and post-War baseball cards and memorabilia to one of the more famous home run balls in baseball history.
Rare items from Shoeless Joe Jackson, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and hundreds of other icons are being offered through April 26.
The 1874 poster pictures baseball pioneer George Wright and is believed to be the earliest American advertising poster featuring the endorsement of a commercial product by any player or sports figure. Bidding quickly hit $120,000 in the auction’s first several hours.
One of the very best Joe Jackson bats known to exist is also up for bid. Dating from the 1919-1922 period, the pro model ‘Black Betsy’ carries authentication from MEARS and PSA/DNA bat expert John Taube.
Collectors who prefer post-War icons have a chance to bid on a 1968 Mickey Mantle Yankees road flannel jersey. Acquired by a team batboy from legendary clubhouse man Pete Sheehy in the early 1970’s when the franchise was preparing for a two-year renovation project at the old stadium, the #7 shirt dates from Mantle’s final season and was signed and personalized. Bidding had reached $70,000 by the weekend.
A high grade Babe Ruth autographed baseball dating from the 1940’s and a Lou Gehrig sweet spot-signed ball from the 1930’s are included in the auction as well as a signed Roberto Clemente bat.
One item receiving a lot of media attention in recent weeks has been the home run ball hit by Carlton Fisk to win Game Six of the hotly-contested 1975 World Series. The famous image of Fisk waving his arms in hopes of willing the ball to stay fair has become legendary. The ball, which was picked up and saved by Reds’ left fielder George Foster, carries an opening bid of $100,000.
Trophy balls dating from 1859 and 1860 are being offered in the memorabilia part of the auction along with a program and ticket stub from the 1923 opening of Yankee Stadium, a Ted Williams game-used bat, a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series ring originally given to coach Billy Herman and an extremely rare 1915 Boston Red Sox panoramic photograph that features a young pitcher named Ruth.
REA’s Spring auction almost always generates fresh records in the baseball card category and this event surrenders some rare cards and sets from all eras. Headliners include the finest known 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb card known to exist (graded 8.5 by PSA). Only two common cards have ever been graded higher in the ultra-rare 1914 Cracker Jack set, with cards having been distributed exclusively inside packages of the sticky brown treat. Remarkably, the auction also includes another ’14 Cracker Jack Cobb, this one graded EX/NM.
A 1916 Globe Clothing Ruth rookie graded PSA 6 matched the Jackson with 16 bids in the early going. Showing The Babe has a young Red Sox pitcher, this card is from the same family of early 1916 Ruth cards that have been exploding in interest from collectors and investors in recent years.
The auction includes other pre-War rarities including a complete T205 Gold Border set. There is a near set of T206 cards along with a T206 Cobb with Cobb Tobacco back, one of only a handful known to exist. Set builders attempting to tame “The Monster” will also find T206 cards of Plank and Magie, two of the so-called ‘big four’ scarcities in the legendary set.
Amazingly, the auction features not one, but two uncut sheets of the iconic 1933 Goudey Gum set, one of them featuring three Babe Ruth cards and a Lou Gehrig.
There are two super scarce 1912 Boston Garter cards, one featuring Frank Chance and the other fellow Hall of Famer Ed Walsh. Other rare and high grade single cards on the block include a a 1909 T204 Ramly Walter Johnson, a 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie (PSA 7), a 1912 T207 Louis Lowdermilk, a high grade T206 Cobb (green background), the highest graded 1917 Boston Store Rogers Hornsby and a near mint-mint 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ruth.
No less than five 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles are up for grabs with varying grades as well as one of only seven PSA 9-rated 1954 Dan Dee Potato Chips Mantle cards.
Vintage unopened sports card boxes continue to soar in the marketplace and the REA event includes two 50+ year-old gems: a 1959 Topps Football cello box and a 1963 Topps wax box (with Baseball Card Exchange ‘approval wrap’), which join a 1971 Topps 2nd series football box among the featured selections.
Autographs, game-used and game-worn memorabilia, historic tickets and programs, advertising pieces, player contracts, rare non-sport cards, pop culture items, Americana and more are also part of the 650+ page catalog, which is available free by contacting REA via the company’s website.”