One of only two known cards from a rare 19th century tobacco issue sold for $88,125 Saturday, topping Hunt Auctions’ latest Premier Live Internet Auction.
Recently discovered in a Pennsylvania estate, the card of “Orator Jim” O’Rourke from the rare 1887 Four Base Hits set was graded 5 (EX) by SGC and is the highest of the two examples. One of few early professional players with a college education, 1887 was the year in which O’Rourke graduated from law school. One of only a small number of players to have seen major league action in four decades, O’Rourke made his major league debut in 1872 and played in his final game in 1904.
Based on grading company data there have only been a total of 21 Four Base Hits cards submitted with none (of any player) rating higher than an EX 5 grade.
The auction included the breakup of an exceedingly scarce complete set of 24 1912 Helmer Tobacco L1 Baseball Leathers from “The Texan Collection,” an extensive private collection of vintage cards that’s been broken up and sold over the course of numerous Hunt catalogs. The oversized premiums were issued in exchange for coupons packaged with their “Turkish Trophies” line of tobacco products.
The coupons could be exchanged for a T3 baseball cabinet card (10-15 coupons), S81 silk (20-25 coupons), or the top premium which were the leathers (35-50 coupons). Given the required number of coupons and limited population of surviving examples, the Helmar L1 Leather set are considered to be among the most valuable baseball premiums ever issued. Not surprisingly, the top seller was Ty Cobb, which netted $58,750. In all, the set of 24 leathers sold for a combined $151,457.
The collection also included an uncut sheet of 1909-11 S74 Baseball Tobacco silks. The sheet may well be the lone surviving example consisting of a total of 156 S74 baseball tobacco silks including numerous star players in duplication such as Cobb and Mathewson. It sold for $26,437.
The auction included the first installment of an extensive collection of autographed vintage baseball cards. Among those sold Saturday was a lower grade 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle, bearing a strong signature in blue marker that rated a 10 grade. The card sold for $26,437—the same price as an unsigned PSA 8 ’52 Mantle card offered just minutes earlier.
Among the post-War items offered was a signed baseball from Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game, which blew past a $5,000-$10,000 estimate, netting $26,790. The ball is autographed by Larsen across the sweet spot, “Don Larsen, Game used baseball from my 1956 World Series Perfect Game” and included a typewritten letter on Larsen’s letterhead confirming its use in the 1956 World Series perfect game and an image of Larsen signing it.
A rare 1910s Ty Cobb Tobacco tin was the third highest selling item in the auction at $32,312.
A full uniform, including the pinstriped jersey and pants worn by Red Sox outfielder Olaf Hendriksen, circa 1912-1914, sold for $23,500.
An official Western League baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and teammate Herb Pennock, preserved in its original Wilson box and recently discovered near Louisville, KY, sold for $18,104.
Complete results can be found here.