Clean Sweep Auctions' next event, which closes Jan. 25, will feature roughly 1,200 lots of sports cards, memorabilia and Americana. But Clean Sweep president Steve Verkman says the auction is as much about quality as it is quantity.
"Without a doubt, this is the best lineup of items we've ever had," Verkman said. "We've got some wonderful stadium seats, autographs, a strong selection of memorabilia and some great trading card offerings with a lot of beautiful sets and rare singles."
Among the highlights of the auction:
Stadium artifacts - There are 46 different stadium seats, including seats from Ebbetts Field, the Polo Grounds, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and much more. The first lot in the auction is an enormous original turnstile used in Shibe Park and Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia that Verkman desicribes as "spectacular." He also believes this to be the largest single-owner stadium seat collection to ever come up for public or private sale.
Presidential autographs - The auction features a spectacular document signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison while Jefferson was President. There will also be Presidential-signed items from Benjamin Harrison, John Tyler, James Monroe, John Kennedy, both Roosevelts and others. Verkman said the interest in Presidential signatures has grown significantly in recent years. "This is becoming a fairly big category for us," he said. "We've noticed a lot of sports collectors are also very interested in this category. There seems to be a natural crossover among those who appreciate rare, vintage signatures."
Baseball autographs - There's certainly no shortage of premier names in this auction. There will be two Babe Ruth single-signed balls, a Lou Gehrig letter, multiple signed items from Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson and other legends of the game.
Among the rarities will be a baseball that includes the signature of Ray Chapman, the only player to ever die in a big-league game. On Aug. 16, 1920, Chapman - a member of the Cleveland Indians - was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays. He died from the injury. "Chapman autographs are very rare," Verkman said. "As far as we know, there are only six or seven known Chapman signatures in the market, and maybe two or three on baseballs. This is the first Chapman-signed ball I've ever seen." Chapman signed the ball in 1918 along with Cleveland teammates Tris Speaker and Robert Roth. The owner of the ball then somehow got to a circa-1930 Philadelphia Athletics game and hit paydirt by obtaining signatures from Connie Mack, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Max Bishop, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Dykes, Jack Quinn, Cy Perkins , Bill Shires and Joe Boley. In all, there are 12 other signatures besides Chapman on the ball, five of which belong to HOFers.
Another item that should be attractive to baseball autograph seekers is a batch of New York Yankees contracts from the 1970s and early '80s. Among the players available are Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss and many others. "These come from a single-owner collection that we've spent months pursuing," Verkman said. "He had these in his possession for more than 20 years. You don't see modern contracts that often, particularly from that era and particularly from the Yankees."
Baseball memorabilia - There's a wide variety of items to choose from, beginning with several interesting game-used bats. These include an early 1960s Roger Maris, a Carl Furillo and a scarce Tom Seaver from 1977. "This category is much deeper than usual for this auction," Verkman noted of the bat selection.
Also sure to attract the attention of bidders are two tickets from the 1919 World Series and a clean 1919 World Series program from Chicago, one of the most important World Series programs ever produced because of the infamous "Black Sox" scandal. "Next to a 1903, this is very possibly the most significant World Series program in existence," Verkman said. This copy is in remarkable condition for its age - it has a nice cover with only some minor surface wrinkles, the interior pages are very clean, the scorecard is loose but complete and unscored and the back cover is very clean.
Other sports memorabilia - Football is one of the other focal points in the auction, as evident by the complete run of Super Bowl programs that will be available. The collection will be broken down into a variety of lots. "We want collectors to get what they want," Verkman said. "They shouldn't have to worry about buying 40 programs just to fill in the handful of years they're missing. So we're selling the programs from Super Bowls 1-5 as individual lots, then the rest are sold in very manageable lots of 5-10." There will also be a 1958 Cleveland Browns team-signed football with Jim Brown from his rookie season, a 1969 Jets championship signed football, a 1987 Denver Broncos championship ring and a program from the first year of the NFL.
Boxing contains two different period Jack Johnson signed items and early autographs of Jim Corbett and Abe Attell. "Football and boxing are two areas where we've seen a big uptick in demand," Verkman said. "It's like there's a pent up demand for this stuff."
Baseball cards - There's plenty of high-quality vintage items being offered, and Verkman said it may be the best selection of card offerings the company has offered in a single auction. There are high grade sets of 1934 Diamond Stars, 1948 - 1949 Bowman, 1953 Bowman Color, 1953 Topps, 1955 Topps, 1957 Topps and many more. There's also a nearly complete set (207 cards) of the 1911 M116 set that features Near Mint 7s of Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson. Verkman said the retail value of the 27 key cards in this set is nearly $11,000.
There's also a collection of Old Judge singles, an empty 1953 Topps wax box, and single cards that include high-grade tobacco offerings, 1952 Topps 8s, several Mantle 8s and many Mint 9 star cards from the 1960s.
Phone and Internet bidding for this auction is now open and closes on Jan.
25. For full details on the items available, visit www.csauctions.com