Universal Rarities’ inaugural auction ended Sept. 15 and definitely lived up to its name. With a wide array of items ranging from a Thomas Edison signed patent for the incandescent lightbulb to a massive silver brick recovered from the Nuestra Senora De Atocha shipwreck to Elvis Presley’s signed 1953 high school yearbook to a Charles Manson signed letter with great content, there was something for everyone.
The featured item was a Babe Ruth signed 517th home run ball, graded PSA 7, which went for $29,694 with the 17.5 percent buyer’s premium. Other headliners included the Edison piece ($32,663); the silver shipwreck brick ($10,406); a Beatles check set with scarce John Lennon/Paul McCartney dual-signed check ($16,337); a Muhammad Ali personally owned and worn boxing robe ($9,555); and one of the finest signatures of finest signatures of Ruth on an document, signed “George H. Babe Ruth” ($11,860).
“This auction really exceeded expectations,” said Jeff Woolf, director of operations at Universal Rarities. “Being our first auction, we felt we did everything right and had a very strong presentation, but you never quite know until the auction is over. We got an overwhelming response from the hobby.”
The 850-lot auction ended with a sell-through rate of 90 percent and totalled more than $500,000. Signed documents dominated much of the inventory, with everything from sports, entertainment, music and historical figures also available. Woolf used his hobby experience, connections and the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy for success in their debut auction.
Other noteworthy sports items included: Larry Bird’s life-altering, letter of release intent document, which led to his transfer from Indiana to Indiana State ($5,268); Barry Bonds signed game-used, No. 499 home run jersey ($7,184); Roberto Clemente signed document display ($6,332); Kobe Bryant’s game-used 1999-00 NBA Finals road jersey ($6,332); Ruth-signed 1930 Yankees payroll check ($17,394); Muhammad Ali signed, ring-worn trunks ($3,598); and a 1957 Topps Baseball complete set in EX-NM condition ($4,789).
Some of the elite entertainment items included: “Ocean’s Eleven” complete vintage document archive ($4,731); “Wizard of Oz” cast signed display ($4,206); Al Pacino signed contract for “The Godfather III” ($3,843); Mike Myers’ costume from “Austin Powers: Goldmember” ($4,206), Playboy issue No. 1 featuring Marilyn Monroe ($3,924); a John Lennon signed Apple music contract ($4,906); Elvis Presley and Col. Tom Parker signed document ($4,906); and Frank Sinatra’s first driver’s license ($9,562).
Top historical items included: Abraham Lincoln signed presidential appointment ($9,801); Lincoln-signed military confession ($6,695); Thomas Jefferson signed Naval commission from 1808 ($4,055); George Washington signed Continental Army discharge ($11,061); a rare Albert Einstein signed cancelled check ($4,906); and Harry Houdini original signed contract and photo ($4,906).
“The constant challenge,” said Woolf, “is getting pieces out there that are truly unique, and then doing it all over again.” Universal Rarities’ next auction will end Dec. 16, with bidding going live on Nov. 20. The consignment deadline is Oct. 17. For more information and complete auction results, visit www.universalrarities.com.