Vintage memorabilia is a red-hot market, and there is no shortage of auction companies offering great items throughout the year. But there’s no time of year in the auction market like early December, when several high-profile auction houses roll out some of their finest material in the hopes of attracting wealthy collectors.
According to the December auctions calendar on www.SportsCollectorsDigest.com, there are 13 significant auctions closing over a 16-day period. Of those events, there are a handful that are sure to attract record prices and national attention for some of their items. Among them:
• Grey Flannel – Collectors from throughout the country are reserving their seats at Yankee Stadium for the second day of a two-day auction organized by Grey Flannel Auctions and Yankees Steiner Collectibles. They are coming to the House that Ruth Built to buy memorabilia – more than 200 items – that for the first time are being reconnected to the place where baseball history and heroes were made.
More than 1,200 other important items will be auctioned through Dec. 8 on the Grey Flannel Auctions website, www.greyflannelauctions.com. On Dec. 9 a total of 400 bidders will make their way to a heated tent area along the third base box seats of Yankee Stadium. A preview of items for the live auction will take place Dec. 8 and the morning of the next day in the Great Moments Room at Yankee Stadium.
Among the most coveted items in this sale will be the earliest known Mickey Mantle autographed game bat, one that Mantle ordered from the factory on April 17, 1951. Among other Mantle items will be a signed, game-used 1955 jersey. The sale also features a game-used 1942 Joe DiMaggio pinstripe, a game-used Babe Ruth bat from the early 1920s and Yankees team-signed balls from all eras.
• American Memorabilia – The company’s Dec. 8 Holiday Gift Auction is headlined by a 1927 New York Yankees original photo signed by the entire team, including Ruth, Lou Gehrig and 28 other Yankees. The signatures have been graded NM-MT 8 by PSA/DNA. “The photo even includes the batboy/mascot, Eddie Bennett, and several other very rare Yankees signatures like Charlie O’Leary, Art Fletcher, Johnny Grabowski and Urban Shocker,” said Frank Chmielewski, art director at American Memorabilia. The photo arrives with LOAs from PSA/DNA, James Spence Authentication and a letter from the estate of the photo’s longtime owner.
• MastroNet – The largest multi-consignment, Internet/phone auction the company has ever conducted – more than 2,800 lots – will conclude on Dec. 7-9. According to MastroNet president Doug Allen, the size of the December auction was driven to new heights by the company being selected to represent several major collections. Among the collections: The Frank Nagy Collection, featuring a number of rare tobacco cards; the Duke Hott Collection, featuring high-end football memorabilia, including dozens of game-used jerseys and helmets; and the Mark Friedland Collection, a significant accumulation of PSA-graded sets and single cards. The auction also features a variety of Chicago White Sox items, including a rare program from the 1917 World Series.
• Sotheby’s/SCP – Joe DiMaggio’s rookie uniform and Joe Jackson’s “Black Betsy” bat form a potent one-two punch for the Dec. 10 Sotheby’s and SCP Auction in New York City. SCP and Sotheby’s officials estimate the DiMaggio uniform will bring in excess of $600,000. Auction lots will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s second floor galleries from Dec. 5-9. The sale is expected to bring approximately $5 million.
Another highlight of the sale is the original 1935 Heisman trophy plaster sculpture, used as the model for the most famous award in college football. SCP officials noted that the original 1935 Heisman Trophy sculpture will be sold on the same day (Dec. 10) as the 2005 Heisman trophy winner is announced in New York City.
• Lelands.com – The 1941 Heisman Trophy, awarded to the University of Minnesota’s Bruce Smith, is among the highlights of the Lelands.com 2005 Winter Auction. Other significant items in the auction include a 1921 Ruth game bat – the earliest known Ruth home run bat known to exist – and Wayne Gretzky's first Edmonton Oilers contract signed on The Great One’s 18th birthday. Also in the auction are game bats from Gehrig, Tris Speaker and a very rare game-used bat of Jim Thorpe. The Lelands.com 2005 Winter Auction includes more than 1,700 items in an Americana and Sports auction. The action will close on Dec. 15-16, 2005. All bidding can be done at www.Lelands.com.
• HistoricAuctions.com – One of the newest sports auction houses in the industry, this Florida-based company will offer dozens of game-used jerseys from players such as Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andrew Jones, Joe Montana, John Elway, Albert Pujols and others. The online auction ends Dec. 1
• Universal Rarities – Gehrig’s original 1935 contrat with the Yankees is the top item of the company’s Dec. 16 sale. Last year, Gehrig’s 1936 contract sold for more than $100,000. The company is also offering a baseball signed by Ruth, comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Eddie Collins, George Sisler, Frank Baker, Tris Speaker, Lefty Grove and Walter Johnson.