Love of the Game Summer Auction Closes Saturday

High-grade sets, prewar rarities, outstanding memorabilia among auction highlights

T206 Plank FrontGREAT MEADOWS, NJ, August 20, 2013 – Bidding is winding down at Love of the Game Auctions’ summer auction.  With the auction closing slated to begin with the extended bidding period at 9:00 PM EDT on Saturday, August 24, there is still time to register and place bids for what is sure to be the company’s largest auction yet.

The auction features a host of high-grade complete sets, quality baseball and football memorabilia from the late 19th Century to the present, a host of autographed memorabilia, and an extensive group of scarce and valuable sports cards.

“The auction features a little something for everyone,” said LOTG Auction Director Al Crisafulli.  “The pieces that are getting the most attention right now are the T206 Eddie Plank and the enormous collections of 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack baseball cards.  We’ve also got the highest-grade 1964 Topps Football set on the PSA Registry and an incredible 1967 Topps Baseball set.  Bidding has been brisk all month, and we’re starting to see bids coming in at a more and more rapid pace as the auction close approaches.”

The T206 Plank is one of the hobby’s most scarce and valuable cards, with high-grade examples reaching into the six-figure range at public auction.  One of the rare occasions where an “affordable” Plank becomes available in the hobby, the example offered in this auction is graded POOR 10 by SGC.

“T206 collectors who are looking to get a little closer to completion by adding a Plank should look long and hard at this one,” explained Crisafulli.  “The eye appeal in this example is much stronger than most of the low-grade Planks.  A T206 Plank is a very rare and desirable card, and collector-grade examples simply don’t become available very often.  While the pricing of any Plank can’t be considered “low,” this may be the last “affordable” example the hobby sees for a while, and as prices continue to increase, a Plank may never become available at this price level again.”

The auction also includes a 1914 Cracker Jack near set, currently ranked #4 on the PSA Set Registry at 81% complete.  Entering its 100th anniversary, the popularity of Cracker Jack cards has never been higher, and with this collection just 27 cards short of completion, it represents an outstanding opportunity for a collector to acquire a large portion of one of the hobby’s most iconic sets.  At the same time, LOTG is providing collectors the opportunity to bid on individual cards and lots – the configuration that receives the highest bid total (the complete set, or the sum total of the bids on the individual lots) will be the “winning” one.

1915 Jackson FrontIn addition to 1914 Cracker Jacks, the auction features more than 120 cards from the 1915 Cracker Jack set, highlighted by the issue’s two key cards: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb.  The collection includes dozens of Hall of Famers, all graded by PSA, and available as individual cards and small group lots.

Another scarce Cracker Jack included in this auction is the 1914 example of Del Pratt’s card.  One of the most scarce and valuable cards of all the Cracker Jacks, Pratt’s 1914 is one of just two cards where the player’s pose changed on their card from 1914 to 1915.  The result is that the 1914 Pratt is one of the most difficult cards to obtain in any condition, a true rarity among the popular Cracker Jack issues.

The auction also features the #1 1964 Topps Football set on the PSA Set Registry, a magnificent set with an incredible grade point average of 8.28.  Built by a long-time football collector, the set has been #1 on PSA’s registry for eight of the last 11 years, consistently upgraded and improved upon during that period.

“The 1964 Football set is one of the most beautiful football sets you will ever see,” said Crisafulli.  “This particular set is one of the hobby’s most highly-regarded complete sets from an extremely advanced, high-grade collector.  It’s simply one of the most attractive high-grade sets you’ll ever see.”

1967 Topps Mantle LOTGThe set also features a spectacular 1967 Topps complete set, currently #14 on the PSA Set Registry with a grade point average of 8.21.  One of the finest 1967 Topps sets ever assembled, each of the set’s 609 cards have achieved a grade of at least NM-MT 8, with an astonishing 121 graded MINT 9.  Far more important than all the statistical details of this set, however, is the amazing eye appeal of these cards.  The collection was assembled by a graphic designer with an intense love for this set and its design, and a perfectionist’s eye for printing detail.  In his perfectionism, this set avoids the print defects and centering problems typical of 1960s Topps issues.  The result is an absolutely stunning set, many examples of which are available to view on the LOTG auction page.

In addition to these highlights, the Summer LOTG Auction features a host of high-quality baseball and football collectibles, some of which are highlighted here.

1933 Goudey Cards

The auction features a collection of attractive, midgrade cards from this iconic prewar set, highlighted by an EX-MT example of the iconic #160 Lou Gehrig and an attractive, collector-grade example of the classic #144 Babe Ruth card.  Each of the other cards were acquired individually by a collector with an eye for bold color and visual appeal, and thus each example outshines its assigned grade.

1933 Goudey Gehrig FrontHigh-Grade T206 Cards

The auction features a host of higher-grade cards from the highly desirable T206 issue, including 15 different cards graded NMT or better by either PSA or SGC.  A number of Hall of Famers in higher grades are also available, highlighted by such names as Ty Cobb, Hugh Duffy, Addie Joss, Willie Keeler, and Christy Mathewson.

19th Century Cards and Memorabilia

19th Century baseball is also well-represented in the auction, highlighted by a number of highly desirable baseball cards such as 1887 N172 Old Judge cards of Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor, and Hank O’Day, the extremely rare 1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats card of George “Sleepy” Townsend, or the super high-grade N29 Allen & Ginter Buck Ewing, graded NM 7 by PSA.

NewsboyThe auction also features some unique 19th Century memorabilia, highlighted by an extraordinarily rare 1895 Newsboy Tobacco Cabinet Photo Display.  Designed for store owners to house some of the many Newsboy cabinets they were provided as premiums, this well-worn wooden piece is the first example that LOTG has ever seen, an extremely rare document of 19th Century cards.

Unique Autographed Memorabilia

The auction features a complete set of hockey pucks, individually signed by the 1973-74 World Champion Philadelphia Flyers.  With 22 pucks in total, this collection makes for a fantastic display and incredible document of one of the Flyers’ most memorable seasons, their first post-expansion Cup.

72 Flyers PucksAlso featured are a pair of unbelievable autographed books.  The first, a copy of Donald Honig’s pictorial history book The National League: An Illustrated History, has been signed by 88 different players from throughout the history of the game.  The companion is, of course, a copy of Honig’s The American League: An Illustrated History, which has been signed by 53 different players.  Two unbelievable pieces that represent a lifetime of autograph collecting and an amazing journey through the history of the game, each of the books are in remarkable condition, particularly given the number of signatures they contain.

DiMaggio MantleThe auction also features a large assortment of vintage magazines, signed by their cover subjects.  Assembled over the course of decades by two avid autograph collectors, the majority of the magazines are popular titles like Sports Illustrated, Street & Smith, and Sport.  Featured subjects include Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle,  Ted Williams and Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Hank AaronBilly Martin, Jim Brown, Y. A. Tittle, Muhammad Ali, and Ali with Joe Frazier.

Scarce Regional Card Issues

1954 Wilson Feller FrontThe auction’s baseball offering is rounded out by a large assortment of scarce regional issues, highlighted by a stunning complete set of 1960 Bell Brand Dodgers cards.  The auction also features 17 different cards from the immensely popular 1954 Wilson Franks set, several scarce examples of 1953 and 1954 Stahl-Meyer cards,  1952 Num Num Foods,  1954-56 Spic and Span, 1965 Kahn’s, and more.

Other key items in the auction include:

 Love of the Game’s summer auction is slated to close on Saturday, August 24.  To register for bidding, visit the company’s website.

Great memorabilia at LOTG

Each auction, we try and focus a good portion of our attention on memorabilia.  We love memorabilia because it displays so well, and provides such great mementos of the game.  Most collectors have at least some memorabilia on display, whether it reminds them of a favorite team, a favorite player, or a favorite era.

Lajoie Painting Front This is an incredible original painting by famed baseball artist Arthur K. Miller, of the great Nap Lajoie.  Collectors may have heard the name Arthur K. Miller recently, because he was the artist commissioned by PSA to create the 1914 Cracker Jack “Card That Never Was” of Babe Ruth that was displayed and promoted so heavily at the recent National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.

This painting, measuring just 14″ x 7″ before framing, is an acrylic on masonite work commissioned in 2006, and is a brilliant representation of the timeless Charles Conlon photo of Lajoie, holding his bat and gazing off into the distance.  Conlon’s photo is likely the most recognizable image of “The Frenchman,” having been reproduced countless times with the pose notably featured on Nap’s T3 Turkey Red cabinet card – one of the most coveted in the set.

This is a one-of-a-kind piece, framed for hanging and signed by the artist, painted in 2006 and presented by the George Krevsky Gallery of San Francisco.  It is an outstanding representation of contemporary sports art.  Lot #31 in the auction.

Giants Sheet Music Front Coming off a banner year in 1894, the Giants barely eclipsed a .500 record in 1895, finishing 21.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.  Managed by Hall of Famer George Davis and with HOF pitcher Amos Rusie at the tail end of his career, the team did not rebound well from its 1894 World Championship.  Still, this did not stop composer W. A. Gardner from writing a march dedicated to the team.

Measuring approximately 10 3/4″ by 15″, this beautiful piece of memorabilia borrows engravings of Giants players from the N.Y. Evening World for its cover art.  Featuring likenesses of Rusie, Davis, George Van Haltren, Duke Ferrell, and W. H. Clarke, there are a total of 16 players emblazoned on the beautiful cover.  The piece exhibits some natural age-related wear, but nothing that distracts from its incredible eye appeal, with beautiful player images and graphics.  An excellent display piece, this is lot #22 in the auction.

1938 Yankee Photo The 1938 Yankees sent seven players to the American League All-Star team: Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Bill Dickey, Johnny Murphy (who replaced Hank Greenberg on the roster due to injury), Red Rolfe and Red Ruffing.  This oversized AP News Photo, dated July 1, 1938, contains all but Murphy, but includes All-Star manager Joe McCarthy in his place.

There is some clout in this photo.  Hall of Famers McCarthy, Gehrig, Ruffing, Gomez, DiMaggio and DIckey stand side-by-side in the dugout, alongside longtime baseball man Red Rolfe.  Headed for their third consecutive World Series victory, the Yankees would win 99 games with this lineup in 1938, one of the stronger teams in Yankee history.

The photo is exceptional – significantly oversized, it measures approximately 16″ x 10.5″, with significat wear around the edges and a few small spots of paper loss.  There is moderate creasing and surface wear on the photo, but nothing so dramatic as to decrease its eye appeal and image quality.  The reverse contains the AP stamp and date, along with writing indicating the subject of the photo and player identities (which were added in ink significantly after the photo’s production).  Four glue marks are also apparent on the back.  Still, this is an exceptional, large-format original image of seven great Yankees, as the team’s leadership is passed from the Iron Horse to the Yankee Clipper.  Lot #19.

Newsboy We have never seen one of these before.  An extraordinarily rare retail display piece, designed for store owners to display some of the many Newsboy cabinet photos they were provided as premiums.  Newsboys were given to tobacco or drugstore owners in the late 1890s, for giving to patrons purchasing a package of plug tobacco from the National Tobacco Works of New York.  Newsboy cabinets were an enormous set of cabinet photos of actresses, actors, sports figures, places, and other celebrities.

Measuring approximately 19.5″ x 24″, this display is constructed of wood, backed by cardboard, with wood dividers separating the piece into 12 different sections, each approximately the size of a Newsboy cabinet photo.  Printed on the horizontal slats is the following:  “ONE OF THESE PHOTOGRAPHS WITH EACH ONE CENT PIECE OF NEWSBOY PLUG TOBACCO” followed by “NATIONAL TOBACCO WORKS.”

The piece is extremely worn and in need of restoration, particularly to the cardboard backing, which is filled with holes and tears.  The wood is stained and split in several areas, with printing that is extremely difficult to read.  However, the piece is extremely rare.  We have never encountered one, and did not know they even existed.  While we are certain that Newsboy aficionados are well aware of its existence, we have not seen a display piece for Newsboy cabinets of any kind, much less one custom-designed to advertise and hold the cabinets in a retail environment.  Collectibles relating to Newsboy tobacco are highly desirable, with advertising posters and lighters selling into the thousands of dollars, regardless of condition, on the rare occasions in which they become available.  This is an extraordinary companion piece, related to one of the most popular and complex cabinet issues of the 19th Century.  Lot #14.

Paperweight FrontWe often write about vintage pieces with a baseball theme that are aimed at children, or somehow related to them.  We’ve got several such pieces in this auction, notably this gorgeous glass paperweight featuring a super-clear image of the children of the Emerald School in Emerald, PA, dating to 1896.  The photo is like new, due to being preserved well underneath the clear glass.  Measuring approximately 4″ x 2.5″, the photo features boys posed with baseball gear: vintage bats, gloves and baseballs appear throughout the photo of the children, who are posed in front of the school with their teacher.  This is an incredibly detailed photo, with much to look at (and even more to see under magnification), an unbelievable representation of late 19th Century childhood and how it intertwined with the great American game.  Lot #26.

1095b_lgAnother fantastic piece is this group of four six-inch wooden rulers, each of which advertises a product on the front, and a baseball team’s schedule on the reverse.  The collection contains rulers advertising schedules for the 1917 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1917 Boston Red Sox (2), and 1923 Washington Senators.  Extremely attractive display pieces, each ruler still works properly after nearly 100 years!  Lot #29.

It wouldn’t be a memorabilia auction if we didn’t have tobacco-related items, and this time around we have many.  Two particularly interesting pieces are these doorway advertising displays, one advertising Sweet Caporal cigarettes and the other advertising Lorillard Climax tobacco.  Each is die-cut into heavy cardboard, with a very colorful image on the front (of a person ostensibly leaning out a door, holding a package of cigarettes or a tin of tobacco).  The reverse advises departing patrons to shut the door.  These two pieces are extremely attractive, colorful and durable, and would be excellent additions to the doorway of your memorabilia room.  Lot #25 and Lot #27.

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To round out this entry, we’ve also got a remarkable collection of 40 celluloid pinback buttons advertising High Admiral Cigarettes, each with a different saying.  Used as a premium, these small (7/8″ wide) buttons each contain a humorous or topical (for the time) saying, such as “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry” or “I let no grass grow under me.”  The reverse advertises High Admiral Cigarettes, along with the button manufacturer Whitehead & Hoag of Newark, NJ (inventor of “celluloid,” and manufacturer of many, many pin backs of this era).  The text on the buttons are printed in a variety of colors and typefaces, all connected by the High Admiral brand printed beneath each phrase.  Lot #527.

Pinbacks 1


The fun detective work we get to do

1900s Boston Cabinet FrontLate last fall, we drove out to rural Pennsylvania to visit with a potential consignor who had a large collection of paper ephemera, some of which included baseball items.

When we arrived at the house, we encountered a very nice family with binders and binders of all sorts of baseball-related items: individual cards, complete sets, postcards, and various forms of memorabilia.

It was a pretty incredible collection of stuff: some was particularly valuable, some not so much, but most of it was incredibly interesting.

In reviewing one of the binders, which was filled with off-grade baseball cards from the 1950s, we encountered this cabinet-style photograph.  Immediately, we were intrigued by the image: obviously an “important” ballpark, very likely from the major leagues, but not a field we could immediately recognize.  We visited with the family for a few hours and ultimately were awarded a nice consignment that included a few complete Topps sets, some baseball cards and Exhibits, a few memorabilia items – and this photo.

1900s Boston Cabinet BackWhen we began researching the photo, we quickly noted the back.  Underneath the word “Getz” (or “Yetz”) in pencil, is written “Boston + NY Giants.”  While we realize that anyone can write anything on the back of a cabinet photo, but that does not make it so (and believe us, we’ve seen all sorts of crazy claims made about cabinet photos based on the handwritten notes on the reverse), it seemed at least possible that we were looking at a photo of a Giants/Braves game, and perhaps even probable.  Magnifying the photo enabled us to look at the scoreboard, however, confirmed that it was, at least, a National League game: the scoreboard was monitoring games from eight National League teams.  This dated the photo to at least 1900 (the year the NL went to eight teams).

Rather than just leave it “as is” and make a guess, however, we dug in a bit, by researching the stadium.  We guessed from the shape of the diamond and the uniform style that we were looking at a photo from the early 1900s, but it was more difficult than one would think to identify the ballpark.  The Braves played at the South End Grounds in Boston until 1915, when Braves Field opened.  But very few photos of the South End Grounds exist (the second version of the park burned down in 1894, and the third version was renovated several times between 1894 and 1903), and Braves Field was renovated multiple times, the orientation of the diamond moved around, fences moved in, and grandstands and bleachers added between 1915 and 1952.  This made it difficult to unequivocally identify the park.

That’s when we consulted with stadium expert Tom Daley.  Tom has helped us with research numerous times, specifically with regard to stadiums, and with this example we were stumped.  Within minutes of consulting with Tom, he ruled out the South End Grounds as a possibility by producing a map of Boston that included the Grounds and other geographical landmarks that were not visible in the picture.  Then, Tom produced a photograph of Braves Field from August of 1915, just before it opened.  It was clear: we had our ballpark.



From there, we focused again on the scoreboard to see what games were being played that day.  New York at Boston, Brooklyn at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh at St. Louis, and Chicago at Cincinnati.  By consulting boxscores, we were then able to determine which days those eight teams played at those four ballparks.  From that point, it was simply a matter of reviewing the boxscores and comparing the scores, and we were able to isolate the date of the game: May 26, 1916.

On that day, John McGraw’s Giants clobbered the Braves by the score of 12-1.  Braves manager George Stallings left pitcher Lefty Tyler in the game for the entire 9 innings to take the abuse; he gave up 12 earned runs on 14 hits.  Thought Tyler would go 17-9 with a 2.02 ERA for the Braves in 1916, this was not his best day.

Larry Doyle had 4 RBI for the Giants, and Fred Merkle and Dave Robertson each had three hits.  Sailor Stroud got the win for New York; it would be his only win of the season.

By consulting the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s uniform database, we can reasonably ascertain based on cap color (and also by the scoreboard) that the Giants are on the field and the Red Sox are at bat.  Based on this, we can be reasonably certain that the picture is showing us Sailor Stroud on the mound, Fred Merkle at first, Larry Doyle at second, Art Fletcher at short, and Hall of Famer Bill McKechine at third.  We can see Benny Kauff in center, and it is reasonable to assume that Red Dooin is behind the plate.  The home plate umpire is none other than newly-inducted Hall of Famer Hank O’Day.  The umpire on first (just to the right of the support beam) is Mel Eason.

Dissecting this photo was one of the most fun things about putting together this auction.  It went from being a nondescript photo of a nondescript game to being a real photo, with real people we could identify.  The photo includes at least two Hall of Famers – one officiating behind the plate, and one playing third base.  The photo also documents the only 1916 victory for Sailor Stroud.  The New Jersey native won 20 games in his major league career, but enjoyed a successful career in the Pacific Coast League, winning 20 games three times and playing 14 seasons, posting a 2.21 lifetime ERA.

The photo itself is worn, with “Compliments of G. L. Jewell” written in ink on the front of the mount, and the aforementioned pencil writing on the reverse.  Wear and staining to the mount protect the photo somewhat, but the photo is also subject to some cracking and general surface wear.  Still, it is a beautiful piece, an actual document of Braves Field just a few months after it’s inauguration.


Special thanks to Tom Daley for invaluable research assistance.

1914 Cracker Jack Near Set Featured at Love of the Game

High-ranking set among the prewar scarcities offered in company’s summer auction

1914 CJ JohnsonOn the eve of the iconic set’s 100th Anniversary, Love of the Game Auctions is pleased to announce that its summer auction features a PSA-graded 1914 Cracker Jack near set.

The set, which is 81% complete and ranks #4 on the Current Finest list of PSA’s Set Registry, is being offered to bidders in two ways: as a complete set, and individually as singles and smaller lots.  The configuration which receives the highest bid total will be the configuration in which the set is sold.

“We’re thrilled to have such a great collection in our fourth auction,” said Auction Director Al Crisafulli.  “The Cracker Jack sets are getting a ton of attention lately, mostly due to the approaching 100th anniversary of the set and the release of Tom and Ellen Zappala’s great new book The Cracker Jack Collection.  This group of cards is extremely attractive, an unbelievable head start for someone looking to build a set or a great group of upgrades for someone who’s already got one.”

1914 CJ BresnahanOne of the most attractive baseball sets ever produced, the 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack sets feature a color portrait or “action” pose set against a deep, red background.  Printed on flimsy paper, the 1914 set is plagued by condition issues and caramel staining due to the cards being inserted directly into Cracker Jack boxes.  Loaded with Hall of Famers and deadball era stars, this is among the most popular prewar baseball sets ever produced.

“The collection has been entirely graded by PSA, with grades ranging from 1 to 6,” explained Crisafulli.  “Most of the cards weren’t collected based on their numerical grade, but their eye appeal.  Many of them look fantastic, but the technical grades have been reduced by the caramel staining that is so common with this issue.”

1914 CJ AlexanderThe collection is missing just 27 cards for completion, among them the scarce Christy Mathewson, Joe Jackson, Del Pratt and Ty Cobb cards (the Pratt is available as a separate lot in the auction).  Still, the 1914 set is so difficult to finish that  just three complete sets exist on the PSA “Current Finest” list, with this group being the closest to completion.

“More than 20 Hall of Famers are represented in this group,” continued Crisafulli, “as well as many of prewar baseball’s big names like Smoky Joe Wood, Chick Gandil and Eddie Cicotte.  Since we’ve already got a large group of 1915 Cracker Jacks from the Full Count Find, this auction features at least one card of almost every player featured in the Cracker Jack sets.”

1914 CJ WalshOpen for bidding now, Love of the Game’s summer auction is slated to run through August, closing on Saturday, August 24.   Interested collectors can register to bid on the company’s website.