It was no surprise that Babe Ruth's 1922 contract addendum ($65,725) led Heritage Auction Galleries' May 5 Signature Auction, however it was a different baseball item from 1922, and of a relatively unknown player nonetheless, which stole the show at the live event in Dallas.
Bert Cole's Detroit Tigers flannel uniform ($47,800) turned heads when an onslaught of bidding took place between a phone and live bidder. Surprisingly, the piece sold for more than five times the preliminary estimate.
"The Cole uniform saw some action that we weren't quite expecting," said Heritage's sports auction director Chris Ivy. "Admittedly, we only had it estimated at $6,000-$8,000. It is the only known Tigers piece from that time period. This is a result that illustrates the benefits of selling through Heritage."
Ivy was happy with the auction's tally of more than $2.5 million and was pleased about its participants of more than 100 phone bidders, plenty of eBay Live action and a room full of participants, including hobby giants Lou Lampson, Dave Bushing, and one of the world's largest collectors Nicholas DePace.
In addition to live, phone and eBay Live bidding, Ivy was excited to introduce the company's new software, HA Live, which was tested on Heritage's website during the May sale.
"HA Live just debuted." said Ivy. "It is a new software we are beta-testing where you can see the auctioneer live as its going on. It virtually puts you in the room."
According to Ivy, bids can be placed easily on HA Live by hitting a big red button on the site. The feature also makes it easy for users to see what's going on, whether items are bid on over the phone, Internet or live on the auction floor.
Another new element that will be implemented to the company's infrastructure will be the addition of an internet-style closing, with extended bidding. In addition to one live session, this new style will debut in a second session of its 2007 October Signature auction.
"This is just another step we're taking to provide our clientele with every service we possibly can," said Ivy. "After much thought, we concluded that the auction closing style really doesn't have to be just one way or the other, live or 'extended bidding.' We have the ability to do both, so why not offer our consignors a choice?"
Heritage is currently accepting consignments for the October sale.
Anybody interested can contact consignment director Jonathan Scheier at 1-800-872-6467 ext. 314 or e-mail at jonathans@HA.com.