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Universal Rarities rolls out Ruth-signed ball, Edi

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More than 70 years after emerging from a scramble in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, the ball from Babe Ruth’s first home run of the 1930 season (shown at right) is up for grabs once again, this time on the auction block with 850 other collectible treasures in the “Autographs, Collectibles & Memorabilia Auction” on Sept. 15.

Along with the Bambino’s coveted home run baseball, the auction includes several premier pieces covering a wide spectrum of collectible interests, including a patent schematic for the incandescent light bulb signed by Thomas Edison; Frank Sinatra’s first drivers license from 1934 (shown lower right); Barry Bonds’ 499th home run jersey, and among other things, a 100-pound brick of pure silver recovered from the famed “Nuestra Senora de Atocha” shipwreck of 1622.

The public sale will be conducted as a phone/fax/Internet auction by Universal Rarities (, a Corona, Calif.-based auction company formed by Jeff Woolf, former auction director of Odyssey Auctions (now Heritage-Odyssey).

“I’m very excited about what we have to offer collectors in this inaugural auction. The material is very impressive in both breadth and scope,” said Woolf. “Our main goal was to have something for everyone, whether they are the high-end collector looking for a museum-caliber relic or the casual collector looking for an affordable addition to the collection. No matter what your collectible interest and economic threshold is, you’re certain to find something for your collection in our sale.”

Auction highlights include:

  • Ruth’s signed 517th home run baseball, hit during an April 25, 1930, game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The ball was recovered by a Long Beach, Calif., businessman John Harrington, who had Ruth sign the ball after the game. Stored away for more than 70 years, the ball has been acquired directly from the Harrington family and brought out for public sale for the first time ever.
  • An original patent schematic for the incandescent light bulb, signed by Thomas Edison. In September of 1880, Edison signed the partially printed schematic and submitted it to the government of Peru to secure his rights to what would be, arguably, one of the greatest inventions of modern civilization. The document illustrates and explains the function and theory of the incandescent light. Along with the amazing content of the document, it features an exceptionally rare “Thomas Alva Edison” signature from the legendary inventor and is one of just a handful of pieces ever seen in the market to bear this rare form of Edison’s autograph.
  • A complete set of autographed checks from The Beatles, including a scarce Lennon and McCartney dual-signed check. The Lennon and McCartney check represents one of just five dual-signed examples known to exist, and URA officials contend is the finest specimen extant.
  • A massive silver brick recovered from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha shipwreck. Nearly 100 pounds of pure silver in one massive bar was recovered from the famous shipwreck, The Nuestra Senora De Atocha, found by Mel Fisher. the brick was struck with many interesting markings by the various people involved with the minting and handling of the silver before it went down in a storm in 1622 off the Florida Keys.
  • Frank Sinatra’s first driver’s license. The license was issued to Frank Sinatra (then known as “Francis Sinatra”) on April 16, 1934, from the Department of Motor Vehicles at age 18 (even though the license states he was 19) while still living at home in Hoboken, NJ.
    It is believed to be his first driver’s license, which was still in use by Sinatra six years later when the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles revoked it in connection with a car accident involving Sinatra in 1939. According to a letter from a lawyer which accompanies the license, Sinatra had failed to make payments on a judgment made against him as a result of the accident.
  • A complete archive of signed documents pertaining to the original “Ocean’s Eleven” film from 1960. Featuring 14 documents signed by various members of the legendary cast that participated in the making of the film, included with this lot are documents representing all five Rat Pack members (Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop), including Sinatra’s inducement agreement to play the lead role of “Danny Ocean.”
  • A New York Yankees payroll check issued to Ruth on June 16, 1930, signed by Ruth along with Yankees President Jacob Ruppert and General Manager Ed Barrow.
  • The original San Francisco Giants jersey worn by Barry Bonds on April 15, 2001, when he hit his 499th career home run.
  • A personally owned boxing robe worn by Muhammad Ali, which includes a signed letter of authenticity directly from Ali himself.
  • An early document signed by both Elvis Presley and his famed manager, Colonel Tom Parker, from October of 1956.
  • Al Pacino’s contract agreement in which he agrees to play the role of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather: Part III.”

Anyone interested in participating in this sale can do so by logging on to the company’s auction Web site at, where they can view all lots in the sale as well as register for bidding. In addition to the Web site, a full-color catalog for the auction is available. The catalog will be inserted with the Sept. 16 issue of Sports Collectors Digest (next week).

For additional information and copies of the auction catalog ($5 each), contact Universal Rarities, 512 South Corona Mall, Corona, CA 92879, or phone (800) 270-RARE, or (951) 278-8420. The fax is (951) 278-1655; e-mail at

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