Autographs of baseball Hall of Fame legends Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner headline Collectible Classics' Oct. 25 online auction. As usual, vintage cards and scarce memorabilia also have a central role in the 302-lot auction.
The Gehrig signature is alone on the sweet spot of a pre-1934 OAL baseball, and the Ruth autograph is a large cut in fountain pen. PSA/DNA and Kevin Keating authenticated both autographs, and PSA graded the Ruth signature a Mint 9.
Collectible Classics rates the Gehrig signature a 6-7 with overall characteristics of an 8. "The top loop of the 'L' is faint. Otherwise, the autograph is an 8," explained John Burk, co-owner of the auction company with his wife, Judy.
According to Judy, both autographs came from the same consignor "because we were happy to sell his entire collection, not just these choice items. Some of his other collectibles are elsewhere in this auction, and more will be in our live auctions and in our November online auction."
The Wagner signature comes at the end of a vintage handwritten letter in which he responds to a request to describe the most difficult play he ever made. "In our discussions with several autograph experts and veteran Pittsburgh collectors, none could recall another Wagner letter with significant baseball content," John said. Keating authenticated the autograph.
Two other premium Wagner collectibles are available - a scarce W600 Sporting Life cabinet card (top right) of the Pittsburgh favorite in street clothes and his 1916 wedding photo. "The photo is rare enough," Judy said, "that Wagner's granddaughter did not have an original. A previous owner made a copy for her. We are offering the original."
Autograph collectors have many other single-signed items to choose from, including photos or baseballs autographed by Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Jim Catfish Hunter, Willie Mays and Ted Williams. Mantle signed a photo from his high school basketball days, and Williams, a huge photo of him with Ruth. Curt Flood's autograph is on a Flood model glove from "Stan the Man."
Multi-signed lots are abundant. Autographs of everyone on the Pittsburgh Pirates 1960 World Series roster, including an outstanding Roberto Clemente signature, constitute one lot. A similar lot represents the 1961 New York Yankees.
The signatures of Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner and Al Simmons are on autograph album pages in separate lots. Another lot has the autographs of Dom, Vince and Joe DiMaggio on individual index cards.
A 1939 Washington Senators team baseball holds special interest because of the rookie signatures of Early Wynn, Mickey Vernon and Elmer Gedeon. The Gedeon signature is especially scarce. A track star at the University of Michigan, he had a five-game major league career in 1939. A bomber pilot in World War II, he was killed in a mission over France in 1944.
A 1966 Cleveland Indians oversized team photo signed by 31 players and officials is another featured item. It includes Wynn, Rocky Colavito and Leon Wagner.
Other lots with multiple signatures include photos signed by the Ripkens - Billy, Cal Sr. and Cal Jr.; Mays, Mantle and Duke Snider; Harmon Killebrew, Mays and Mantle, and Williams, Ralph Kiner and DiMaggio. One lot has 48 photos signed by Phillies ranging from Rich Ashburn and Smoky Burgess to Ozzie Virgil and Mitch Williams.
From the gridiron comes a 1941 Heisman Trophy Award program signed by Bruce Smith. According to John, "It is one the strongest autographs ever offered of this elusive Heisman hero." Other football signatures are those of Bobby Layne, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Johnny Unitas and the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1970s "Steel Curtain."
A rare 1910 Ty Cobb fan (bottom left) from the American Tobacco Co. is among the top memorabilia offerings.
Artifacts from Pittsburgh's Forbes Field also are high on the list. They include an arched window from the entrance area of the ballpark, a reserved seat and a box seat.
A watch given to Monte Irvin by Joe DiMaggio is another highlight. Irvin provided a letter of authenticity, and Keating authenticated Irvin's signature.
Collectible Classics is putting up for bid three pieces of original artwork used to create official press pins. The artwork by the late Norm Shorrock, a Balfour artist and official, is for 1984 and 1985 Hall of Fame Induction pins and a 1964 Cincinnati Reds phantom press pin. An original watercolor of Stan Musial by respected cartoonist Frank Lanning also is up for auction.
Publications collectors can choose from a program for Ted Williams' first game, and the only game in which both he and Lou Gehrig appeared; a 1915 University of Michigan program with George Sisler; and a one of the first baseball novels, The Fairport Nine, published in 1880.
Vintage photography is a Collectible Classics staple. This auction has a 1908 photo of Black Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte with an Arkansas team; one of Billy Sunday preaching, multiple photos of Paul and Lloyd Waner, including Paul with the San Francisco Seals. There are two photos of Nile Kinnick, the Heisman Trophy winner who died in World War II.
Indoor Baseball is the subject of an unusual lot. Created in 1887 to enable baseball to continue indoors in the winter, the game enjoyed substantial popularity in the first two decades of the 20th Century. It evolved into softball.
Graded and non-graded cards will be sold, including PSA Gem Mint 10 1951 Wheaties cards of Ted Williams and George Mikan and an SGC NM 84 1953 Bowman Color card of Pee Wee Reese.
Various other sports are represented. Graded rookie cards of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Joe Montana also are up for auction. An uncut sheet of 1961 Fleer football cards is a key item. A partial set of T218 Champion Athletes & Prizefighters is offered, as well as autographs of such sports heroes as Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey and Max Baer.
Almost 40 lots of non-sport cards and memorabilia are in the auction, including original cabinet photos of President Grover Cleveland and his wife, a ticket for a Washington, D.C., event honoring Charles Lindbergh after his trans-Atlantic flight, an Ethel Barrymore autograph, rare advertising thermometers featuring scenes of D.C., an oversized promotional card for Seal of North Carolina Tobacco, a 1930s Mutoscope bandleaders set with graded cards, a T.V. Westerns set and a large collection of airplane cards.
A free catalog is available from Collectibles Classics at 724-446-3079 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The auction is online at www.auctionscc.com.