Love of the Game Auctions current sale is live, the company’s first auction to feature a printed catalog. The auction closing date is Nov. 1. The sale features sports and non-sports cards and memorabilia from the late 19th century to the present, highlighted by a rare and valuable 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie, graded EX/NM+ 82 by SGC. The card, once owned by noted collector Charles Conlon, is one of the finest examples of the Goudey rarity in the hobby.
Also featured is a beautiful 1910 Tip Top Bread Honus Wagner, graded EX 60 by SGC. The card is a particularly exceptional and important example, having been once owned by hobby pioneer Lionel Carter. Known for his penchant for high-grade cards, Carter amassed an incredible collection over the years, and acquired many cards before the hobby was as condition-sensitive as it is today. The result has been an increased level of confidence among contemporary collectors that cards bearing the Carter pedigree are fresh, unaltered examples.
“This is, by far, our biggest and best auction yet,” said Auction Director Al Crisafulli. “By increasing our growing list of consignors, we’ve been able to expand the number of quality lots, and are offering some of the most incredible pieces we’ve been fortunate enough to offer.”
While the auction has an excellent blend of cards and quality memorabilia, some of the most impressive highlights are its assortment of high-quality complete sets.
“One of the crowning achievements in collecting is a complete T206 set,” Crisafulli said. “We’re thrilled to offer a complete, collector-grade 520-card set that includes all the key variations, Southern Leaguers and tough-to-find scarcities that make collecting T206 cards such a challenge.”
The set, which includes 29 graded cards, does not include the “Big Four,” of course (the ultra-valuable Wagner, Plank, Magie and Doyle cards), but contains all the others.
Also featured in the auction is an incredible 1910 E93 Standard Caramel set, currently ranked No. 4 on the PSA Registry. “This is an incredible set,” said Crisafulli. “Most of the cards are sharp and clean, giving the appearance of mid or high-grade cards. The consignor purchased the set some time ago at auction, and then upgraded the Mathewson by adding a PSA 5 example. The result is a gorgeous set, with many of the cards in the upper stratosphere of graded examples.”
Ultra high-grade sets are also represented. Lot #8 in the auction is an incredible 1954 Red Heart Complete Set that currently ranks #1 on the SGC Registry. Two-thirds of the set have been graded MINT 96 by SGC, with no examples graded below NM-MT 88. Both the set’s key cards, of Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial, have graded MINT 96. Very few finer sets exist in the hobby.
Additionally, the auction features a high-grade complete 1952 Red Man set, currently ranked #4 on the SGC Registry. Compared with all the other graded, registered sets, this is the #6 highest-graded example of the iconic set in the entire hobby, regardless of grading company.
Non-sports sets are also represented, with a fabulous 1934 National Chicle Sky Birds complete Master Set. This set, which includes each card along with the entire, scarce Series of 144 subset, is easily one of the finest in the hobby, ranking No. 1 on the SGC Registry. One of the most beloved non-sports sets in the hobby, the issue contains cards of American heroes and villains like Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Baron Von Richtofen (The Red Baron) and more, issued while they were still capturing the hearts and minds of children and adults alike.
Other sets featured in the auction include a rare, 1933 George C. Miller complete set, an unusual 1893 N135 Duke Cigarettes “Talk of the Diamond” set, a complete 1948 Bowman baseball set, a beautiful 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Baseball set, currently ranked #13 on the PSA Registry, a beautiful, complete 1973 O-Pee-Chee baseball set, a high-grade 1967 Philadelphia football set and more.
A boutique auction, the sale is specially curated to cater to the advanced collector, with the clear images and detailed, informative lot descriptions that have become a hallmark of the company. Specific auction highlights include:
Rare and Valuable Baseball Cards
One of the auction’s key highlights is a 1950-51 Toleteros Josh Gibson, graded EX 60 by SGC. Considered to be the most popular and highly sought-after Negro Leagues card, the Toleteros card captures the person widely considered the greatest-ever Negro Leaguer a few years after his passing. Unquestionably rare, fewer than 30 graded examples are known. With just eight higher-grade examples known to exist, this card is the pinnacle of Negro League card collecting.
Also included is one of the T206 issue’s “Big Four,” the Sherry Magee “Magie” error. Graded VG 3 by PSA, this is one of the most important cards in the T206 set, widely sought-after among advanced collectors.
The auction also includes a spectacular high-grade example of Babe Ruth’s 1933 Goudey Sport Kings card. Graded NM/MT 88 by SGC, the card is virtually perfect, with beautiful, clean borders, sharp corners, and strong centering.
Rare Cuban cards of Negro Leaguers enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame are also well-represented, featuring extraordinary 1923-24 Nacionales Cigarros cards of Cristobal Torriente and Andy Cooper, along with Caramelo Deportivo cards of Ray Brown, Martin Dihigo, and Ray Dandridge.
1888 H.D. Smith & Co. Gum Cards:
Long known to the hobby as 1888 “Scrapps Tobacco,” these colorful die-cut cards were never able to be positively identified. We were fortunate enough to receive a consignment consisting of two of the three known “joined” examples of these cards – one featuring Hall of Famers Sam Thompson and Ned Hanlon, and one featuring William Robinson and Bill Gleason. The Robinson/Gleason card contains an additional tab referencing “H.D.S. & Co.” We were able to use this to trace the cards to Cincinnati-based gum manufacturer H.D. Smith & Co., and definitively identify the distributor of these beautiful cards.
A key highlight of the Spring auction is a catcher’s mitt purported to have been used by Bob Feller’s father to practice with during Feller’s childhood. The mitt, which was sold by Feller to noted collector Barry Halper and eventually purchased by hobbyist Seth Swirsky, comes with letters of provenance from both Feller and Halper, along with other memorabilia related to the mitt.
The auction also features a rare book entitled A History of the Boston Base Ball Club 1871-1897, by George V. Tuohey, a 242-page hardbound book describing the early history of the Boston Beaneaters, with plenty of pictures and illustrations.
Also included is an ultra-rare program from Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in 1923 – the first game ever played at “The House That Ruth Built.” The program is one of just a dozen or two known to exist, and is a rare historical document.
Other memorabilia featured in the spectacular sale includes a beautiful 1924 Kansas City Monarchs advertising poster, a beautiful, framed newspaper supplement featuring Honus Wagner and the 1901-03 Pittsburgh Pirates, a gorgeous Type 1 photo of Ty Cobb, a 1940s-50s Griesdieck Beer chalk scoreboard and much, much more.
Hall of Fame Autographs:
Of course, autographs are also well-represented in the sale, beginning with a gorgeous, signed check from Babe Ruth. Signed in 1940, the check is made out to the St. Albans Golf Club, the Queens, NY club where Ruth played so often after his retirement. Authenticated and encapsulated by PSA/DNA, the check is simply spectacular, with a beautiful, bold signature.
An incredible example of the colorful 1979 TCMA card set “The Fifties” is also featured. While the set itself is fairly common, this example boasts an astonishing 229 autographed cards of the 291, and can barely be improved upon – all but 24 of the cards that were even possible to have autographed at the set’s date of issue have been signed. Including superstar Hall of Famers like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams as well as regional favorites like Chico Carrasqual, Marty Marion and Don Mossi, this is an incredible set.
Another interesting signed piece is a fascinating Bloomer Girls postcard signed and inscribed by pitcher Smoky Joe Wood. Wood, who began his career pitching with a Bloomer Girls team, is often the subject of speculation among collectors looking to unearth a rare postcard with Wood with the team. The result is many “false positives:” Bloomer Girls postcards with subjects inaccurately claimed to be Smoky Joe. On this particular postcard, Wood signed “I did not play on this team of girls. Joe Wood.”
The auction features more than 60 lots of autographs, including a large group of cards signed by players featured in the T206 set, a huge hoard of signed, vintage 3x5” cards, a very rare 1963 Asheville Tourists team-signed baseball featuring Hall of Famer George Sisler, an incredible baseball featuring signatures of 24 figures from Dodgers history, a vintage Stan Musial signature alongside his 1948 Bowman “rookie” card, and plenty more.
Rare Card Types
As usual, the auction is also ripe with rare and valuable card types that are seldom seen in the hobby. Among the most rare are an 1894 Betz Studios composite cabinet photo of the Baltimore Orioles, an 1894 Duke Cabinet of George Davis, a 1906 Lincoln Publishing postcard of Connie Mack (one of a number of Lincoln Publishing postcards featured in the sale), and a number of 1910 T209 Contentnea First series cards.
1914 Cracker Jack
The popular 1914 Cracker Jack issue is also well-represented, including examples of the issue’s key card, of Christy Mathewson, the rare and valuable #93 Del Pratt, along with a number of sharp Hall of Famers and stars including Joe Tinker, Eddie Collins, Johnny Evers, Chief Bender, Joe Wood, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, Ed Cicotte, and many more.
Exhibit baseball cards of all kinds are plentiful in this auction, from single cards to larger lots. Among the most rare are a number of lots containing 1928 PCL Exhibits, including single cards as well as group lots. Examples from the 32-card set are extremely difficult to locate, and our auction features a total of 13.
The auction also features a number of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb Exhibits from various years. For Ruth, we offer Exhibit cards from 1921, 1926-29 (follow-through), 1926-29 (pose), 1927, and 1935. For Gehrig, we feature both 1926-29 and 1927. For Cobb, the auction features Exhibits from 1921, 1922 and 1927.
Of course our Exhibit offerings are not restricted to individual cards. We are proud to feature group lots from a number of Exhibit sets issued over the period of several decades, highlighted by a beautiful assortment of 1953 Canadian Exhibits, as well as a large group of 1947-66 Exhibits, including many tough variations, representing 61% of a complete set. The auction also features beautiful original artwork used to create the 1925-31 Harry Heilmann, 1925-31 Tris Speaker, and 1948 Willie Keeler cards.
The final date to bid in this auction is Saturday, Nov. 1. Catalogs will mail to all registered bidders the week of Oct. 13. To register for the auction and review the selection online, visit http://www.loveofthegameauctions.com. Love of the Game is in the process of assembling its Winter, 2015 catalog auction, which will prove to be its biggest and most exciting auction yet. For more information, or to consign your valuable material, contact Love of the Game at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (973) 452-9147.