Sotheby's and SCP Auctions will add another chapter to the ongoing collaboration between the two auction companies with the June 24 auction at the Sotheby's offices in New York City.
Atop the marquee will be a couple of jerseys that figure to grab attention from well beyond the usual hobby circles. A Walter Johnson jersey from the estate of a teammate of the Hall of Famer's carries a pre-auction estimate of $200,000-$300,000 and is the only example in private hands. Emerging after some 80 years of seclusion in the estate of Johnson's teammate Eric "Swat" Erickson, the jersey is described by SCP officials as one of the most important baseball artifacts ever discovered.
It will share the spotlight with a wide range of remarkable material, none more impressive than a signed 1954 Henry Aaron rookie road jersey that boasts pre-auction predictions ($150,000-$250,000) in a similar zip code to the Johnson threads. A 1932 Babe Ruth game-used and signed bat winds up in the same giddy stratosphere with a pre-auction estimate of $150,000-$200,000, along with a 1955 Mickey Mantle Yankees home jersey, with photo matching it to his epic 486-foot home run that season ($100,000-$200,000).
The 300-plus lot sale also features a boatload of significant New York Yankees items and a prominent single-owner basketball jersey collection, as well as material representing the most prolific figures in the history of America's most popular sports.
The 1858 Fashion Course All Star Game "Scorers Report" from the Baseball Match between the "New York Nine" and the "Brooklyn Nine" ($100,000-$200,000) will also be included. Property from the sale will be on exhibition at Sotheby's galleries from June 19-23.
Lee Dunbar, director of Sotheby's Collectibles Department, said, "In each one of the Sotheby's/SCP auctions we have broken new ground in sports memorabilia, offering the bat that Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run ever at Yankee Stadium, the contract selling Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio's 1936 Yankees rookie jersey. For this auction we've unearthed the road jersey of the second most successful pitcher of all time, Walter Johnson, who remains to this day the greatest Senator of them all."
Of the selection of material slated for the June 24 sale David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions, stated, "In every Sotheby's/SCP Auctions sale, we take pride in bringing forth historically important material that is fresh to the marketplace or largely uncirculated. In that regard this auction is our finest to date. Advanced collectors will see many of the finest pieces in the sale for the first time in the pages of our catalog."
An unaltered circa early 1920s road jersey has surfaced as the only the second known example of a Washington Senators' jersey worn by Walter Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Johnson's 1927 road jersey resides in the Hall of Fame."Swat" Erickson.
The Steve Myland Collection
The Aaron jersey and an enormous portion of the Yankees material in general and the Babe Ruth items in particular come from well-known hobby figure Steve Myland.
Myland, a dealer and wholesaler who traces his roots to the earliest days of the hobby, has amassed a notable private collection of vintage sports memorabilia. Among the highlights from the Myland Collection, in addition to the Aaron rookie jersey, is Ruth's double-signed contract with Samuel Goldwyn Inc. for his appearance in the film "The Babe Ruth Story" ($20,000-$25,000), a 1914 yearbook from St. Mary's School for Boys picturing Ruth ($10,000-$15,000), and a baseball signed by the 1933 inaugural American League All-Star Team featuring Ruth and Gehrig ($15,000-$20,000).
Uncataloged Topps cards
The 1968 Topps Test 3D set was a unique set for its time, testing the acceptance of this new "technology" on baseball cards, and offered in the sale will not only be a complete set of this extremely rare issue but also three never-before-seen examples. The players represented on these three uncatalogued cards are Rick Monday, Tommy Davis and John O'Donoghue ($10,000-$15,000 each). Unlike the previously known Brooks Robinson prototype, which was square cut and of a slightly different size with the team name across the front, all three of these cards are manufactured exactly like the other 12 cards in the set, absent any text or logos.
The sale also boasts the official handwritten, scored and dated "Scorers Report" from the second and most significant of the three matches, played at the famous Fashion Race Course on Long Island, New York. SCP officials describe the unique item as the earliest known official "Scorers Report" of any organized baseball game extant. They also note that the piece has additional historical significance because the Fashion All Star Games of 1858 were the first in which ballplayers played in an enclosed park and the first in which patrons were charged admission to an organized baseball game.
Another significant 19th-century item offered in the sale is an 1857 trophy ball from a match played by Brooklyn's famed Excelsiors team. The gold-painted baseball sits atop a sterling silver base. The artifact ($30,000-$40,000) originates from the estate of the former owner of the New York Globe newspaper that sponsored the Excelsiors team.
The auction also features Lou Gehrig's 1934 All-Star gold pendant ($10,000-$15,000) and a 1961 Roger Maris game-used batting helmet that was obtained directly from Maris in the Yankees clubhouse at the end of the season ($40,000-$60,000).
A single-owner collection of important basketball jerseys includes some of the finest individual examples representing many of the NBA's top 50 greatest players. Highlighting the collection is Wilt Chamberlain's 1957-58 Kansas Jayhawks home jersey ($50,000-$75,000). The jersey, originally obtained from the Chamberlain Estate, is described by SCP officials as arguably the most important college basketball jersey ever offered at auction.
Other player jerseys offered from this significant collection include Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Bob Pettit, Bill Bradley, Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Paul Arizin, George Gervin and Meadowlark Lemon. Also included in the sale will be George Mikan's personal copy of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players signed lithograph issued in 1996 ($40,000-$60,000).
The catalog is available at www.sothebys.com or by calling (888) 752-0002. Catalogs are also available for purchase in Sotheby's galleries in New York and London. The price for the catalog is $36, including shipping and handling.
Registration is required to bid in Sotheby's auctions. Bidders can register in person at the New York headquarters anytime before the sale, or via fax when submitting an absentee bid form. For more information, go to www.sothebys.com or www.scpauctions.com, or call (212) 606-7414.