commentary - go straight to highlights
Wow, great auction! There are a ton of excellent display pieces.
give my top three picks here, plus some. But it's only the
tip of the
iceberg, because there are just so many great things. My
number one pick in this auction is: Lot
c1928 die-cut stand up Spalding advertising
sign featuring Paul Waner sliding into base.
piece! I don't recall ever seeing it before, although the
catalog says it came from the Barry Halper collection.
size is what puts it over the top, 42 inches tall by 29
inches wide (framed 48" x 35") Three foot tall
would be considered big, 42" inches is exceptional for
a die-cut stand up, but then when you factor in the great graphics! Then
the fact it's
Spalding, king of sports equipment. To top it all off
it's a hall of famer, Waner!
The condition seems to be
pretty good. The catalog copy states, Quote:
separation crosses horizontally the catcher's image, with
some minor restoration." Unquote.
only other negative thing I see in the catalog description is
that it states the sign has been mounted on corrugated
cardboard, Quote: "Miraculously saved from a 1920's sporting goods store, the large piece (29x42") has since been mounted professionally on corrugated cardboard."
Unquote. As far as a scientific approach to
conservation, mounting it on corrugated cardboard is definitely
not something I'd recommend. But, based on what it is, and
that it was good enough for the Barry Halper collection, I
guess the next generation can worry about that LOL.
technical word of advice I'll mention, when you access the
web page to see the piece on the Heritage site, be sure to
use the enlargement feature in the bottom left corner of
the photo. The initial photo displayed, at least on my
monitor, is reduced , I suppose so you can see the
whole sign. However the beauty and detail of the sign is
also reduced until you enlarge it. I'm not that
crazy about the way it's all set up. I prefer the way my
photos are set up on my site. The photo in the hard
copy catalog is too small too. The actual image of the
sign in the hard copy catalog is only 3 13/16 inch tall. It
should have gotten a whole page, if not the cover.
last thing I'll mention is it's framed. Usually the first
thing I do with framed die-cut signs is pull them out of
the frame and display them standing up as they were
intended. That's the way they were seen in their era, in
the sporting goods stores. To me seeing them displayed in
all their glory is part of their charm, and you experience
their full impact. Of course you can't argue with the fact
they're much better protected in a frame. And this one's
so big I could understand leaving it that way.
next favorite lot would be another di-cut stand up sign, Lot
19543, a 1920's Stall and Dean
advertising display featuring Ty Cobb, in an
action pose reaching high for a ball,15 3/4" tall by
10 inches wide. The catalog description advises another
example of this sign sold in the Halper auction for
$19,550.00. It also points out a true and interesting fact
that Cobb 1886-1961, was an advertising risk.
Quote: The Peach's rather controversial nature made him a bit of a gamble for product endorsement, so it is quite rare to see Mr. Cobb working solo on an advertising piece despite his tremendous talents.
Unquote. From everything I've read he was definitely a
piece of work. How many people do you know that get into a
fight with their utility company over their bill, refuse
to pay it, and end up living with the power shut off in an
affluent neighborhood. Like he did in Palo Alto California
when he was retired? And how about spiking all those
players the way he did when he slid into base?
to the sign, he is a hall of famer (elected 1936) and
whether you like him or not it is an important baseball
artifact. It's not as big as the Waner Spalding piece, and
not as colorful, but it's still great. $19,550.00 worth of
great...on that other one anyway!
my third pick is that incredible Shibe baseball box. Lot
19524, 1880's J.D. Shibe Base Balls Box
, 5 1/2 inches tall by 5
1/2inches wide by 8 1/2 inches deep. wow what a beauty!
And the condition is remarkable. Especially for being from
the 1880's! The catalog description is educational and
informative. It relates among other things that a
dozen contemporary baseballs couldn't fit into it, as it's
label informs, Quote: The historical significance of this box cannot be overstated, as it was Shibe that developed the machinery than made mass production of baseballs a possibility. It is also worth noting that a dozen standard sized baseballs could not possibly be held within this box, leading to the undeniable conclusion that the balls held within were the smaller sized specimens associated with the very earliest days of our National Pastime.
Park in Philadelphia, later renamed Connie Mack Stadium,
opened April 12, 1909 and was demolished in 1976. The
Shibe it was named for was a Benjamin Shibe, no doubt some
relation to the J.D. Shibe that
produced these balls, and whose portrait is featured on
the box's label.
just so much great stuff I have to mention a few more
highlights, even though they weren't in the top three. Lot
19001, 1881 Harry Wright Personal Scorebook with Multiple Signatures
. This is the
first lot in the catalog, patriarchal!
are two occupational shaving mugs
with baseball motifs. One in an auction would be
significant, but there's two! Lot
19523, and Lot
19533, This second one is believed to have been owned
by a Dode Paskert who played professional baseball from
1907-1921 for the Reds, Cubs, and Phillies. Lot
19528 , a c1880
Victorian porcelain baseball statue by Heubach deserves
mention. This is one of the larger harder to find
14" versions. Lot 19522
is the rare and desirable 19th
century silk baseball Stevengraph.
One last mention before we go to the boxing items, as this
is quite special. Lot
19369, a Jesse Owens Signed Track Shoe.
This one proves you never know what you'll see in the
sports collecting world. Great piece!
taken back by the amount and overall quality of the boxing
Circa 1810 Molineux vs. Cribb Boxing Pitcher
Wow, that's what you call advanced! And great looking!
Then below that in the catalog, the 1860's ''Champion Tobacco'' Box with John Heenan
man, talk about great, and the condition! Then that 1880's Jake Kilrain vs. Jem Smith
outstanding folk art, very strong! And of course to see my
opinion of Lot
19334, the Gail and Ax Sullivan poster, all you have
to do is scroll to the story I wrote on it a long time ago
that's posted on both sides of this page!
up this preview, I
hate to end on a sour note, but I'm bothered by those two
19340, the so called "1894 James J. Corbett Championship Trophy",
19341, listed as "1896 John L. Sullivan Presentational Trophy Cup".
I guess the foremost problem I have is that the engraving
on each appears a little similar. For instance both names happen to be in longhand, The style
of font Corbett's name is done in reminds me a little of the 50's diner
one I have on my computer. Another thing is each trophy
comma after the day of the month. It's interesting at least one of them, isn't spelled out, as I've often
seen in antique trophies. Something more distinguished
like "JANUARY TWENTY FOURTH EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND
NINETY FOUR" would have been more typical of a trophy
awarded to a world champion.
me, the wide lettering of Sullivan's name looks a little amateurish
and desperate. I hope these didn't both come out of the
Sacramento California area. There's a guy I've seen for
years around northern California that sells engraved
antique trophies that make me cringe. Some are quite
elaborate and I'm becoming increasingly concerned.
trophies were awarded by athletic
clubs, which in fairness I suppose would be possible. That
seems like too many similarities though. Especially for
supposedly being produced four years apart by separate
firms in separate cities.
century trophies, their engraving particularly, generally have an unmistakable ornateness
these don't have. I would expect a much nicer trophy to
have been given Corbett for the World's Heavyweight
Championship. The catalog doesn't say if the Corbett one
is sterling. Hopefully the
catalog writer felt that went without being said. Because
that could be the kiss of death for me, if it were silver
the more important the event or achievement, the more
ornate the trophy and it's engraving are.
should understand there
are two basic type trophies. Presentation pieces made of
sterling silver, and stock mass produced trophies, usually
of silver plate. Presentation pieces are unique one of a
kind works of art, typically commissioned by monied aristocrats
for yachting and other formidable events. During the late
19th and early 20th century in America, Gorham, Reed and
Barton, and Tiffany's competed for such commissions.
The Corbett trophy doesn't appear to be of presentation
silver caliber, and has a stock trophy look. Presentation
silver would have been far more appropriate an award for
Heavyweight Championship of the World. In fairness, the
only reason I can think of that a presentation silver
piece would not have been used would be that boxing might
not have been respectable enough then.
to my eye, the design style of each of the trophies
doesn't match their dates. The Sullivan one looks about
1900-1910. And the Corbett one looks to be from around the
1920's, and like something a fraternal lodge would have
given to a small town baseball team.
nice thing about trophies is they can lend themselves well
to research. Usually the event and date it took place is
right on them. And the more important the trophy the more
likely you can find documentation to research the event
the trophy was awarded for. Many big libraries, particularly
the university ones, have newspapers dating back to
the nineteenth century on microfilm for most of the larger
American cities. I've researched trophies this way and it's exciting to
find the first hand reports. Once I
sold a trophy I paid $2.00 for back to the International
Silver Company that made it, for $500.00 by researching it
point is, I'd like to see what was written in the
newspapers about both these events to see if there is any
reference to the trophies. The catalog description
of the Sullivan trophy states "Lost to history are the precise details of the circumstances surrounding the presentation of this awe-inspiring loving cup......"
that I don't see any mention for either trophy of written
accounts from anyone stating where, when, or who they were
obtained from. These are potentially very important
artifacts, especially the Corbett one. Myself, if I were
to drop bank on either, I'd like like to know more of
of written preview