Clean Sweep Auctions has hosted nearly 100 auctions in the 11 years it has been in business, but none of those sales has featured the total dollar value the company's current auction can boast.
"Dollar-wise, this is the biggest we've ever had," said company president Steve Verkman. "It's not our biggest in terms of overall lots, but it's clearly our best in terms of quality."
And while most of Clean Sweep's major auctions are headlined by memorabilia, the stars of this month's sale - which ends May 30 - are cards.
Set collectors will delight in a near-complete run of baseball sets that covers 1933 through the 1980s. That means there are Goudey sets, Play Ball sets, and 1948 Leaf and 1949 Bowman offerings to choose from as well.
"This collection of sets was consigned from a single owner," Verkman noted. "The cards look great and have been stored in nine-pocket sheets."
Also included in this collection is a run of Bowman Football sets from 1948-55. The cards are not graded, but Verkman describes the collection as being "mostly mid- to high-grade" sets.
Collectors of rare prewar cards will also want to take note of some of the scarce offerings that are available in this sale. For instance, there are 23 different T206 cards (including Walter Johnson in the "pitching" pose).
There are also cards from such rarely seen sets as the T209 Contentnea minor-league set, and two dozen cards from the E105 Mello Mint set of 1910 that include such legendary names as Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie. "I think it's the biggest selection of Mello Mints ever offered at one time," Verkman said.
There are more card offerings that fit into the "very scarce" category, including more than three dozen T215 Red Cross Tobacco cards. And from the "very, very scarce" category comes a T215 Pirate Cigarettes card of Mickey Doolan that may have only been available in the South Pacific, T216 Kotton Tobacco cards of Ty Cobb, Eddie Plank and Lajoie, among others. All of these prewar cards are graded, most with PSA slabs. "These were all purchased from a single collector who focused on very rare cards," Verkman said.
From more modern sets, the Clean Sweep sale boasts a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth card No. 144 (PSA 6), the short-printed 1948 Leaf Vern Stephens card (PSA 8) and a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card (PSA 4).
"In essence, this is the best baseball card section we've had in years," Verkman said. "This is one of the most interesting baseball card auctions on the market, especially for single cards."
Autographed memorabilia always plays a prominent role in any Clean Sweep sale, and this one is no exception. The company is offering a large selection of hard-to-find Hall-of-Fame signatures such as signed contracts from Wilbert Robinson and Bobby Wallce, signed photos from Rabbit Maranville, to name a few. "We have a large and deep selection of items from the 1920s through the '50s," Verkman said.
Signed baseballs make up a big part of the auction as well, with hundreds of pieces ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to the flirting-with-five-figures neighborhood. Among the highlights are single-signed baseballs from Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean, a ball signed by Ruth and Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance from the 1920s, team-signed balls from the 1930s to present (including several New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers team balls) and a number of All-Star Team balls.
Clean Sweep is again offering a selection of autographs from former presidents and other historical figures. "The presidential signings continue to be a growing niche for us," Verkman said.
Among the other memorabilia items being offered is a bat used by Joe DiMaggio in 1968 while he was a coach for the Oakland A's, a collection of World Series tickets dating back to the 1917 World Series, and a complete run of Sporting Life magazines from 1909-11, all in protective binders.
Information on the auction is available online at www.csauctions.com, or by calling (516) 338-8557.