Why did we pedigree the Rudy Strejc Collection?

CobbThe first time I saw a collection with a pedigree, it was 2006, when SGC marked all the Frank Nagy Collection cards.  Nagy was a legendary collector, a hobby legend with a collection that was massive in scope.  By adding the Nagy Collection pedigree, SGC ensured that collectors who chose to keep their cards in the holder would ensure that Nagy’s cards would be Nagy’s in perpetuity, and that a winner of any of Nagy’s cards would be able to boast ownership of cards once owned by a hobby pioneer.

Other collectors followed suit and had their collections pedigreed – the Steve Soloway collection was pedigreed by PSA.  Soloway is a member of the PSA Hall of Fame with another massive collection of top notch cards, and when pieces of the collection were sold off, collectors were happy to own a piece (we are featuring one of Soloway’s cards in our February auction).  More famously, the Lionel Carter collection gave collectors the opportunity to acquire 1930s gum cards that were kept in pristine condition, pulled right out of packs and painstakingly filed away in albums.  A Carter-pedigreed card did not just serve as a badge of ownership of a piece of a hobby pioneer’s collection, it also served as a badge of a true high-grade card, likely untouched and unblemished by modern card doctors.

Cards have also been pedigreed that were once owned by professional athletes.  We’ll have a few of those in our February auction as well – cards owned by Ted Williams, Lou Burdette, Robin Roberts, and more.  We’ve seen cards owned by Eddie Collins, Casey Stengel, Harmon Killebrew, and many others as well.  Owning a card once owned by a pro athlete is a way of drawing us closer to that player – a way of owning a piece of his childhood, or one of his memories.  Indeed, the opportunity to own a card once owned by a hobby pioneer, a major collector, or a pro athlete has caused an entire new hobby segment to spring up: collectors of pedigreed cards.

But why pedigree the Rudy Strejc Collection?

Rudy Strejc was not a hobby pioneer.  He did not devote his live to cataloging cards, filing them meticulously in binders, acquiring the most rare examples or building the most complete collection.  He didn’t keep his cards in mint condition – far from it, actually.  He didn’t complete any sets.  He wasn’t a young collector who eventually grew up to become a famous athlete, and he wasn’t a famous athlete who collected cards of himself.

Rudy Strejc was a boy who grew up in Portland, Oregon during the tobacco era.  Like many other kids, he collected cards as a kid, and continued to dabble in the hobby as he got older.  He traveled the country for his union job, and as an enlisted man, and he acquired cards wherever he went – Obaks on the West Coast, T206s in the East.  He handled his cards.  Surely, he kept them in his pockets.  As a kid, he likely punched spindle holes in them and tied them together with string (as many other kids did).

Jackie Front

Essentially, Rudy Strejc collected cards the way they were meant to be collected.  He collected because he loved them.  Sure, he loved baseball, but he also loved all sorts of paper ephemera.  His collection included cards of movie stars (a hoard of T85s are part of the collection), boxers, birds and ballplayers.  His collection included more than 270 T212 Obaks, but it also included (among other things) a near set of T77 Light House cards, a group of 1892 Duke Cigarettes Floral Beauties cards, and about 100 T206s, mostly with Old Mill backs.

Rudy Strejc was a collector.  A regular kid, a regular guy, who held onto his cards for his entire life.

I still have most of my childhood collection.  Most of my hobby friends do, too.  It was the passion and nostalgia for those childhood collections that drew many of us back to the hobby as adults.  It’s that passion – that Love of the Game – that got this company started in the first place.  Rudy Strejc represents all the things that are good about the hobby.  He represents the passion we’ve all had for it, the enthusiasm with which we collect, and our love of the hobby.

For those reasons, there’s not a better auction house to offer the Rudy Strejc Collection.

At the Love of the Game booth at the Philly Show earlier this month, we were visited by bunches of kids, walking the floor with their dads.  Occasionally, one would look at the cards in the Rudy Strejc Collection case we had on display.  I watched their eyes widen as they saw the names: Ty Cobb.  Cy Young.  Walter Johnson.  These kids weren’t looking at the grades on the holders, or the sharpness of the corners – they were looking at the names and the pictures on the cards.  And they’d listen as we told them the story of Rudy Strejc, a kid who collected cards in the early 1900s, who chased after cards of his favorite players – just like you do – and who loved them so much, he saved them for his entire life.

Those kids, and their dads, were all captivated.

Rudy Strejc wasn’t a pioneer, a massive collector, or a pro athlete.  Rudy Strejc represents the rest of us.  And to us, there’s no better reason to put Rudy Strejc’s name on some of his cards.  We hope you agree, and we hope you’re able to add a few of his cards to your collection.

LOTG to Feature the Rudy Strejc Collection in its January/February 2013 Auction

E98s from the Rudy Strejc Collection

Tobacco-Era, 1948 Leaf and 1952 Topps Cards Among Highlights

 

GREAT MEADOWS, N.J., Dec. 3, 2012 –Love of the Game Auctions, an Internet-based sports auction house catering to the passionate collector of memorabilia and cards, announced today that it will feature the Rudy Strejc Collection in its January/February 2013 auction. Highlights include tobacco-era cards – both sport and non-sport – as well as Pacific Coast candy and bakery cards and an assortment of postwar gum cards.

Rudy Strejc (1900-1975), a career union steamfitter and pipefitter, lived in Portland, Ore. He was an inveterate collector of small things, ranging from cigarette cards to postcards and more. A bachelor, he lived for his entire life with his sister in the house where they had been raised by Czech-American parents.

His home was close to the store his father and an uncle operated. Strejc Brothers, Dealer in Staple and Fancy Groceries, may have played a key role in Strejc’s collecting, which likely began around 1908. The shop sold almost everything, including, the small packages of cigarettes and candies that contained collectible cards for everything from pugilists to movie stars.

From 1925 to his retirement in 1965, Strejc worked as a union business agent, a job that took him to conferences all over the country and overseas. His travels provided ample opportunity to collect thousands of cards of all types and from many places. Strejc was a big Pacific Coast League baseball fan, as reflected in the collection’s many Obak Cigarette, Pacific Coast Biscuit, and Zeenut cards. He also accumulated a large quantity of T206 (mostly with Old Mill backs) and E98 baseball, as well as a host of boxing and non-sport cards. Select items from the Strejc Collection currently are being pedigreed by SGC.

“This is a collection of a boy who loved his cards.  He wasn’t a hobby pioneer or someone who worked to keep things in mint condition,” said Love of the Game Auction Director Al Crisafulli. “Simply put, Mr. Strejc’s cards are well loved. He bought them as they came out, starting when he was a kid, and kept them for his entire life. They are handled. Some have pin holes. At some point, a relative trimmed some of the Obaks and T-206s to fit them into binder pages.  But this is an original owner collection, fresh to the hobby, and we’re excited to offer it because we think our clients will appreciate its history.”

Rudy Strejc 5

Strejc’s collection ultimately passed to his cousin’s son, Harvey Steele. It was packed away and largely forgotten until the news earlier this year of the “Black Swamp” find of baseball cards in Ohio. At that time, Steele decided to pull them out and take another look.

“It really is an amazing collection that reflects just how passionate Rudy was about cards,” he said. “I wanted to be sure that the auction house I chose would ‘get’ this and give his collection the attention it deserves. Love of the Game’s smaller-auction format and Al’s genuine interest and enthusiasm about the history behind these cards and their collector made it the obvious choice.”

Crisafulli founded Love of the Game in 2012, and its first, highly successful auction took place in October. The Rudy Strejc Collection represents the company’s first full-collection consignment. “Mr. Strejc was a real collector – he loved the hobby,” Crisafulli said. “This is a fitting consignment for us because it represents everything Love of the Game is about.”

Obaks from the Rudy Strejc Collection

Love of the Game will be previewing items from the Strejc Collection and accepting consignments for its January/February 2013 auction at The Philly Show in King of Prussia, Pa., from Dec. 7-9. Information about the company will be located at Booth 308; Love of the Game will be offering commission discounts for new customers’ first consignments.

Love of the Game’s January/February 2013 auction preview will be live in mid January with bidding open until February 2. For more information on Love of the Game and how to become a consignor or bidder, visit the company’s website at loveofthegameauctions.com.

Wow!

So, we had our first auction.

Our exciting day began early in the morning, when we noticed bidding activity begin to increase.  Traffic remained steady all through the day, and when the auction went into extended bidding at 6PM, things were about as exciting as they could be.  Bidding was brisk, the phones were ringing, new registrations were coming in at the last minute – one person actually registered at 5:50 and got in a bid with just 23 seconds to spare!

The auction closed after about five and a half hours of extended bidding.  Ultimately, we achieved our best-case scenario for the inaugural auction, eclipsing $140,000 in sales, achieving our goals for average number of bids per lot and falling just shy of our goal of overall percentage of lots that sold.  By Sunday morning we had analyzed the prior night’s sale and made decision to reduce opening bids and offer smaller bidding increments on lower-priced items.  We began putting aside winning lots and assembling packages.

And then I looked out the window.

The sky had turned an ominous shade of dark gray at around lunchtime.  I looked around and realized that in all the excitement for the auction, I hadn’t really done a good job of securing everything in advance of the oncoming hurricane.  So I elected to spend a few hours battening down the hatches, so to speak.  First, I put all the auction winnings up high.  And once we got the house in order, I went back to the office to resume working on processing invoices and packing up winnings.

The power went out at about 4:30.  It was restored yesterday, ten days later.

Inbetween, we were hammered by some serious winds, the kind that blew shingles and siding off the house, tore open the pool cover, blew down a few trees in the backyard.  For days we were without power, cellular, internet, cable, or anything else that would enable us to communicate with the world.  We relied on friends to pass messages out to the hobby, letting them know our predicament.

After a week or so of helping friends clean up, getting the house organized, and figuring out how to live without electricity, I went back to the office and began assembling packages by the light of a generator-powered desk lamp.  Cellular service was restored on Monday, enabling me to use my phone as a wireless hotspot so I could respond to the hundreds of emails that had come in the prior week, and begin processing dozens of payments that had come in.  And finally, late Wednesday afternoon, the lights flicked back on.

Over the last two days we’ve worked really hard, and have completely caught up.  All items that have been paid for have been shipped, and all payments that have been received have been processed.  It’s our goal to ship quickly and to pay consignors quickly, and despite a hurricane knocking power out for more than a week, we’re proud to say that we still will have shipped winnings and paid consignors more quickly than most auction houses.

More importantly, though, we thank everyone who participated in the auction and helped make it a great success.  The consignors who trusted us with their valuable material, even though it was our first auction and we had no proven track record.  The bidders who were so eager to register and bid aggressively.  The hobby media that were so quick to embrace the new company.  All helped us to achieve a successful debut auction, and we’re incredibly thankful to be a part of such an enthusiastic and helpful group of people.

So now we’re on to Auction #2, which will be held early this winter.  We’re aggressively seeking consignments, particularly interesting memorabilia, rare and valuable card types, back varieties, interesting card issues, and of course, high-grade Hall of Famers in all sports.  If you’ve got anything you’re considering selling, we would be thrilled to talk to you.

We’ve already got some incredibly scarce and interesting items for the next auction – so keep watching this space, because we can’t wait to tell you all about it.

And once again, thank you all for your enthusiasm in consigning and bidding, and for your patience in waiting for us to get un-buried from the hurricane.

Warmest Regards,

-Al

Love of the Game Auctions Inaugural Sale Now Open for Bidding

GREAT MEADOWS, N.J., October 9, 2012 – Bidding is now open at Love of the Game Auctions, a new Internet-based sports auction house catering to the passionate collector of memorabilia and cards.  With an inaugural auction highlighted by the most treasured and valuable of all football cards – the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski – the company is inviting new bidders to register online and begin bidding.

The auction closing date is Saturday, Oct. 27. The auction features high-quality baseball and football memorabilia from the late 19th Century to the early 1970s, highlighted by the exceptionally high-grade Nagurski (graded NEAR MINT 7 by PSA), known throughout the trading card hobby as the most coveted and valuable football card.

“We can’t imagine a higher-quality debut auction,” said LOTG Auction Director Al Crisafulli.  “The Nagurski is an outstanding card, but every item in the auction is special.  It’s a small, curated selection of quality sports artifacts.  Each lot is interesting in some way, either because of its scarcity, its quality, or because it tells a story.  We think we’ve built an auction that will appeal to baseball and football collectors of all types.”

For more information on Love of the Game and how to bid in the October 2012 and future auctions, visit the company’s website at loveofthegameauctions.com.  Online bidder registration for the company’s inaugural auction is open now.

In addition to the Nagurski, the inaugural Love of the Game auction features a host of high-quality baseball and football collectibles, some of which are highlighted here.

1911-14 D304 General Baking Cards

Highlighted by the set’s key card, that of Ty Cobb, the auction features a grouping of ten D304 General Baking cards.  Graded VG 3 by PSA, the D304 Cobb is the key card from one of the hobby’s most rare and desirable vintage bakery issues.  The D304 set features numerous Hall of Famers and scarce back varieties, many of which are represented in this collection, including Chief Bender, Eddie Collins, Sam Crawford, Rube Marquard and Nap Lajoie.

Autographed 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig

Also featured in the auction is a beautiful, autographed 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig  (authenticated by PSA/DNA).“We’re especially thrilled about the Gehrig,” explained Crisafulli.  “His is one of the most famous signatures in all of sports, and his ’33 Goudey card is instantly recognizable – a truly iconic card.  Having an autographed copy blends the best of both worlds.”

American League Founding Fathers

The auction also features two cabinet photos and a rare, possibly unique studio photo of some of the American League’s founding fathers.  An original Carl Horner studio cabinet of Ernest Barnard, the Cleveland Indians President in the early 1900s who took over for Ban Johnson as the second president of the AL is in outstanding condition, with a crisp, vivid image.  Equally beautiful is the studio cabinet of Jimmy “Loafer” McAleer, the former Cleveland Spiders outfielder who helped found the AL and eventually became part owner of the 1912 Champion Boston Red Sox.  Possibly most stunning of all is the Walinger Studio portrait of Hall of Fame pitcher Ed Walsh,  wearing his 1906 World Championship medallion.  The auction also features  Twelve Immortals, an original news service photo depicting the greatest assembly of ballplayers ever, from a 1943 War Bonds exhibition where the great Babe Ruth hit his last-ever home run in a big league ballpark.

High-End Football Cards

The inaugural sale also features a number of outstanding football cards, including a large run of high-grade, high numbers from the 1935 National Chicle set (highlighted by the set’s final card, Bernie Masterson, in a beautiful PSA NM 7).  Also represented is the iconic 1948 Leaf set, with several high-grade PSA cards including Hall of Famer George Connor in PSA NM-MT 8.

The auction also boasts an ultra high-grade 1972 Topps Roger Staubach rookie card, a very difficult high-end example of the 1951 Bowman rookie card of Hall of Famer Lou Creekmur, and the first card of Chargers lineman Ernie Ladd from the 1962 Fleer set, all graded MINT 9 by PSA.

Complete Sets

Highlighted by a 1963 Fleer Football set that is entirely graded by PSA and ranks #13 on their registry, there are a number of complete sets represented.  Other difficult complete sets to appear in the auction include 1948 Swell Sport Thrills Baseball, 1960 Topps baseball, 1961 Fleer baseball, 1962 Fleer football, 1964 Topps football, 1966 Philadelphia football, and even one non-sports set: the 1945 Mutoscope Artists Pin-Up Girls.

T206 Baseball Back Variations

The highly popular T206 baseball set is also well represented, including a number of very scarce back varieties.  A rare, blank-backed Harry Gasper card is featured, as is an ultra-rare card of Hall of Famer Vic Willis with a Drum Cigarettes back.  Other scarce backs are well-represented, including Broad Leaf 350, Lenox, Carolina Brights, and several with brown Hindu Cigarettes backs.

Prewar Baseball Rarities

Prewar baseball rarities abound in the auction, including:

Interesting Baseball and Football Memorabilia

The auction also includes an assortment of memorabilia including items from the Pacific Coast League, the World Football League, and bats, photographs, team-signed baseballs and vintage uncut sheets, including a 1958 Topps uncut sheet with two Mickey Mantles and a stunning 1971 uncut sheet, loaded with Hall of Famers.  Other rare and interesting card-related memorabilia includes a 1962 Topps card autographed by Mickey Mantle, a 1934 Goudey baseball card album set, a near mint 1957 Topps uncut panel, a 1950 Cleveland Indians team-issued photo pack, and a number of salesman’s samples including 1954 Bowman, 1955 Bowman, and 1955 Topps baseball.

To review the auction online, visit http://www.loveofthegameauctions.com.  Love of the Game is in the process of assembling its winter, 2013 sale.  For information, or to learn how to consign to Love of the Game, email info@loveofthegameauctions.com.

 

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  About Love of the Game Auctions

So. Why?

Last I checked, there were something like 20 auction houses in the sports hobby that I would call “regular” – legitimate companies that conducted regular auctions of sports cards and memorabilia.  There were probably another dozen or so “occasional” auctions.  And then there’s the one monstrous auction website that has items closing every minute of every day – eBay.

Continue reading “So. Why?”