Personal scrapbooks compiled by Shoeless Joe Jackson are on the auction block as part of the Lelands.com Vintage Sports 2014 Catalog Auction.
The three volumes comprise more than 250 pages of photos, broadsides, newspaper articles and other documents from the career of the player who was famously banned for life along with other members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox.
“The Joe Jackson scrapbooks certainly rank near the top of the greatest pieces we’ve handled,” said Lelands Chairman Josh Evans.
And that’s saying something considering Evans has sold 14 different T206 Honus Wagner cards, the daguerreotype of the first organized baseball team, Alexander Cartwright’s New York Knickerbockers, the infamous Buckner Ball, Carlton Fisk’s 1975 World Series Game 6 home run ball, and five Babe Ruth jerseys including the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever, the 1920 jersey Lelands purchased for $4.4 million.
“But these three scrapbooks should have a shelf to themselves in our own private Cooperstown,” Evans stated. “We have never had or seen anything quite like this. A wealth of material written and graphics on one of the greatest players of all and certainly baseball’s preeminent mystery man. This just opens the door that much more and lets us peek inside.”
Stuck inside the pages are pages from his 1924 back-pay lawsuit against the White Sox in which he answered “no” to all questions about whether he threw the series or took money to do just that.
“There is a very fascinating piece in there of World Series gambling content predating the 1919 scandal,” Evans explained. “Addressed to Joe from an ‘unknown friend’ from New Orleans, it is dated October 8, 1917, the day after the White Sox won the first two games of the World Series in Chicago against the favored mighty Giants of New York. His loosely titled ‘friend’ is looking for inside ‘dope’ on the series which is period lingo for inside gambling into. This is an incredible inside view of the rough and tumble times. The National Game was in such a state that players’ involvement in gambling was an open secret in the days preceding the entrance of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis on the scene. We cannot know who this letter is from or who but we do know it was significant enough to scrapbook.”
The scrapbooks also include a never-before-seen in-painting photo of Jackson in catcher’s gear, the award presented to him for “the longest throw in heaving contest between All Stars and Boston Red Sox” and several 1920s barnstorming broadsides after he was banned from Major League Baseball.
“We believe these were kept over time as they have a certain chronology but does not stick to it firmly,” Evans said of the three scrapbooks. “It represents the entire span of his life from his earliest days playing ball to the end of his life running the liquor store. Another clue is that these were actually old family scrapbooks with civil war era newspaper and magazine prints with the exploits of shoeless Joe pasted over images of the Yankee invasion.”
Additional baseball memorabilia up for auction include a cap worn by Red Sox legend Ted Williams during the 1955 All-Star Game, baseballs signed by a then eight-year-old Derek Jeter and his Oakwood Little League (Kalamazoo, MI) teammates along with team photos and championship trophies, as well as the only known 1908 Honus Wagner Rose Postcard with “Greenfield’s Chocolates” Ad Back.
Evans says the Wagner is a “totally fresh card, new to the hobby which is always the most exciting thing to appear on in our auction. It came out of a general postcard collection where baseball was one of many collecting areas. This elderly gentleman knew exactly what he had and justifiably considered it the best piece in his collection.”
Created using the famous Carl Horner photograph found on the famous T206, its discovery has added one more card to a tiny checklist of Greenfield’s cards.
“Ironically, there were recently chats online about what was the ‘T206 Honus Wagner’ of baseball postcards,” said Evans. “I couldn’t help chiming in that technically wouldn’t it be a Honus Wagner PC760 Rose Postcard with the Greenfield’s Chocolates Advertising Back although none were known. There are only 14 known ad backs of any players and no Wagner. I got a chuckle out of it knowing we had the card in our safe, set for this auction.”
Tobacco card collectors and fans of the pre-War era will also be locked in on a collection of 1915-16 Fatima Tobacco Baseball advertising posters including a 1916 Babe Ruth Boston Red Sox spring training poster.
“The 1915-16 Fatima posters are the predecessors to the much more widely distributed and later (1940s-60s) illustrated Current News,” Evans explained. The Fatimas were distributed by the tobacco companies to be hung on the walls of stores selling both cigarettes and newspapers. They
promoted buying newspapers illustrating news of the day with emphasis on baseball mixed with four color illustrations advertising Fatima and other cigarette brands.
Evans made a large find in the 1980s and it’s the same hoard that is in his current auction.
“I sold them to one of my earliest big clients and I recently had to track them down second-hand and happily they are back where they belong. It is very exciting when we get things we sold back in the good old days, especially a Fatima Tobacco poster depicting Babe Ruth in spring training with the Boston Red Sox.”
The auction also features more than 150 Seabiscuit items, including a glass-encased presentation case containing two race-worn horseshoes, one of which he wore when he beat Triple Crown winner War Admiral in their 1948 winner-take-all match race – considered the greatest horse race in history – the other from his famed 1940 Santa Anita Handicap win. Original race programs, signed photos and etchings, oil paintings, advertising material, artwork, rare books, prints, and glass and china ware are among the other spectacular Seabiscuit memorabilia up for auction.
Among the single signed baseballs from the family of famed actor Joe E. Brown and his son, former Pittsburgh Pirates GM Joe L. Brown, up for auction include ones signed by Ty Cobb, Eppa Rixey, Satchel Paige, George Sister, Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, a special Roberto Clemente Forbes Field “Last Game” signed baseball and numerous others.
The auction also includes a blood-stained 1970s game-worn jersey used by New York Rangers Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert and a one-of-a-kind James Naismith signed 1893 basketball handbook – considered the second most important signed basketball document.
There is also a 1964 Cleveland Browns NFL Championship ring, a pristine 1890s Reach
black leather strap football helmet in its original box, a program from the first Harvard-Yale football game program in 1875, a collection of Aqua five Triple Crown race-worn winning saddle cloths and a copy of the 1908 book by Moses Fleetwood Walker – the first African-American pro baseball player – entitled “Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present and Future of the Negro Race in America.”
Lelands will also be selling an array of vintage music and Americana memorabilia, headlined by a fringed suede vest and art nouveau coin belt worn by iconic singer Janis Joplin as well as a signed calendar book and ticket stubs. The consignor was a then 14-year-old girl who, along with her parents, befriended Joplin when the legendary rocker performed in concert at the University of Alabama in 1969, just 10 months before Joplin’s death. The girl and her parents first met Joplin’s band tossing around a football, then with Joplin herself at local motel. Immediately, Joplin took the teen under her wing and gave her cooler clothes when Joplin changed, along with special “reserved” section tickets to replace the girl’s less desirable seats. All of this material is the result of that once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
The auction also includes The Beatles white matte Gold Record Award for “Let it Be,” a life-size 1964 Beatles monochrome promo by Dezo Hoffman, a John Lennon 1972 signed “Grapfruit” with splendid caricature, and an 1818 Declaration of Independence by Benjamin Owen Tyler.
Bidding concludes January 16, 2015 at Lelands.com.