Clean Sweep Auctions' next sale is going on now through Sept. 27, and it's a milestone event in more ways than one for the Carlisle, N.Y., company.
In addition to featuring the first full-color catalog of items for its customers, the upcoming auction also features the most material Clean Sweep has ever offered in a single auction. The centerpeice of this auction is one of the largest autograph collections in the country.
"This collection contains almost 1,500 signed baseballs, including a mind boggling 623 team balls," said Clean Sweep president Steve Verkman. "It's so large, we will be selling this collection over two auctions."
While the baseballs make up the foundation of this auction, the headliners are two familiar names in the hobby - Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.
There will be more than a dozen signed Ruth items for sale, including some unique photos, team balls and a single-signed baseball.
Among the photos are some candid shots of Ruth off the field. One is a 7-by-9 photo of Ruth seated at a bar in formal attire surrounded by nearly a dozen other men, including Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser and former Cleveland pitcher Steve Gromek. "Ruth was very conscious of his public image and would not allow himself to be photographed in a bar," Verkman said. "We believe this is the only signed Ruth photo of this type in existence." The photo carries a minimum bid of $2,500.
Another photo shows Ruth cutting his birthday cake in 1946. You can see the inscription on the cake, which reads, "Happy Birthday to Babe Ruth, from Max and Peter." The photo is signed by Ruth, although part of the letter "B" in his first name has been cropped off. The minimum bid on this item is $1,800.
In addition to a single-signed Ruth ball - on a 1930s era ball with a signature that's been graded a 7.5 - Ruth appears on team-signed Yankees balls from 1928 and 1932. Those team-signed items carry minimum bids of $4,500 and $2,000, respectively. There's also a 1939 Hall of Fame induction ball that features the signatures of Ruth, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, Connie Mack, Cy Young and 11 other legends. "This was from the first induction ceremony at Cooperstown and one of the most important events in the history of baseball," Verkman noted. It carries a minimum bid of $6,000.
Meanwhile, single-signed Mantle items range from stunning large photos to equipment to cards and, of course, baseballs. There are also more than 50 multi-signed items featuring Mantle in this sale.
As for the selection of autographed baseballs, there are team balls going back to the 1920s through the present. "There are some real treasures here, including many balls signed in the 1950s and 1960s with key HOF autographs," Verkman said. "We have decided to sell the bulk of the team balls by team and these are arranged into very manageable lots." James Spence Authentication has reviewed all of the balls, Verkman said.
There are also some very high-end, signed cards that include a 1933 DeLong Lou Gehrig, 1961 and '62 Topps Roger Maris signed cards and a 1974 Topps Thurman Munson signed card. Among the more unique signed items are a Ty Cobb signed 1928 Japanese state dinner menu, a 65-inch metal Brooklyn sign autographed by 56 Dodgers, a superb 1955 Dodgers signed program and a beautiful 1956 Yankees signed large proclamation. The auction has some interesting autographed letters from the likes of Ty Cobb, Effa Manley, and even a letter from Ted Williams to Joe DiMaggio from the 1940s.
For collectors of items relating to current players, there are signatures from Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens available. And for an unusual piece of player-used memorabilia, how about putting in a bid on a 2002 H1 Hummer that was once owned by Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling? The vehicle comes with just about every high-end option imaginable, including four LCD video screens, two DVD players and more than 20 speakers. The minimum bid is $40,000 and it comes with a copy of the title, autographed by Schilling.
The auction also features a variety of presidential and historical autographs, including signatures from John Hancock to Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan. Publication collectors will also find rare World Series programs from 1916 and 1919. Among the trading card lots for sale are a complete 1952 Topps set, several high-grade sets from the 1960s and a variety of premium prewar singles.
Many of the Clean Sweep highlighted items appear in an 8-page, full-color advertising section in the Sept. 22 issue of SCD (last week). For more information about this auction, or to bid online, visit www.csauctions.com.