They were placed in a family scrapbook in 1902 and became a family heirloom that was passed from one generation to another, spanning six generations before the family decided to part with them by putting them up for auction.
They are nine W600 Sporting Life Cabinets that include six Hall of Famers, Honus Wagner, Connie Mack and Willie Keeler among them, all dressed in formal attire, street clothes or team uniforms.
The collection was presented to Memory Lane auction house at last year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago and they are among the 1,360 lots in the Winter Classic Auction from Dec. 21 to Jan. 11.
“Unearthed after being held captive in a family scrapbook for well more than a century, their sparkling central images and utmost rarity clearly rank them high on an abundance of vintage collectors’ want lists,” Joe Tomasulo of Memory Lane told SCD.
Joe Kelly, Rube Waddell and Nap Lajoie are the other Hall of Famers that will all be presented in separate lots. Al Orth, William Coughlin and Johnny Kling are the others. They were issued from 1902 to 1911 by the Sporting Life Company.
One of the hobby’s top 20 T206 sets is among other items available to bid on in what is the largest auction in 20 years for Memory Lane.
The T206 near-set consists of 493 of the 520 possible subjects (less the Wagner, Plank, Magie Error and Doyle variation) and is 95 percent complete. Of the possible 74 Hall of Famers, 71 are included with all of the four Ty Cobbs, three Mathewsons, two Johnsons, three Youngs and Speaker.
The set took more than a decade to complete, and the weighted GPA is “a steller 3.81.” It ranks 17th on the PSA Registry for the basic 520-card set.
“One of the more impressive T206 near-sets recently offered to the collecting community, it combines fine aesthetics, an overwhelming array of our national pastime’s grandest heroes and a myriad of mid-grade subjects to satisfy even the sophisticated collector,” Tomasulo said.
The auction also features nearly 100 historic photos from decades ago, including a rookie era photo of Babe Ruth pitching and another of the young hurler with Boston Red Sox teammates Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard. A young Lou Gehrig taking a swing and Jackie Robinson’s famous arrival at the Brooklyn Dodgers clubhouse in April 1947 are among other photos.
A new hobby find in the auction is a 1921 Tip Top Bread Baltimore Orioles set including Lefty Grove. One of only four known graded examples, the card identifies the future Hall of Fame ace as “Groves.” It will be sold separately from the remainder of the set, which includes three previously unknown subjects that are ”true 1/1s.”
Look for unique autographed baseballs and thousands of high-grade vintage sports cards, including a 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson PSA 6. Among more recent cards are a PSA 10 1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter, multiple 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie cards, high-grade Joe Namath and Pete Maravich cards, a PSA 10 1976 Topps Walter Payton, and several high-grade Mickey Mantle cards.
Collectors will appreciate two fascinating autographed baseballs from the first All-Star Game in 1933. One is an official American League ball carrying the signatures of 13 members of the American League squad including Ruth and Gehrig. The ball was originally obtained by Charles Comiskey, the White Sox owner who hosted the history-making game at his south side ballpark and gave it to the consignor’s grandfather.
The second ball carries the autographs of both managers that day: John McGraw and Connie Mack. It was obtained by a Kansas rancher who found himself in Chicago for the game. Passed down through the family, the well-preserved ball is the only known sphere carrying the autographs of both Hall of Fame skippers and associated with that important afternoon.