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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
Another 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.
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.