Love of the Blog

Communication, Commercialism, and Commentary

A rare Cuban issue

1923 Billiken Mendez FrontOur Winter auction features a number of difficult Cuban issues, none more so than this 1923-24 Billiken Cigarettes card of Hall of Famer Jose Mendez.

The Billiken Cigarettes set of 1923-24 was a Cuban-issued set that featured 2×2 5/8″ cards depicting 60 players from the Cuban Professional League.  Each black and white glossy photo contains an ad on the reverse, either for Billiken or La Moda Cigarettes.  One of the more popular Cuban League sets, this issue includes many stars of the American Negro Leagues, including Oscar Charleston (perhaps the key card in the set), Pop Lloyd, Andy Cooper, and this card of Jose Mendez.

Jose Mendez was a Cuban pitcher and manager in the Negro Leagues, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.  Mendez’ notoriety began in the summer of 1908, when he pitched 25 consecutive scoreless innings in three appearances in Havana against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.  In addition to being a standout in the Cuban League, Mendez pitched with various Negro League teams, notably finishing his American playing career with the Kansas City Monarchs, where he played and also managed from 1920 through 26.

1923 Billiken Mendez BackOn his Billiken card, he is depicted with the Santa Clara Leopards, a team loaded with American Negro League players and often considered the most dominant team in the Cuban professional league.  Mendez was a legend, the author of a 10-inning perfect game in 1909.  His dominance against American teams in Cuba made him the first internationally-known Cuban star.

The Billiken issue remains very scarce (as are most Cuban card issues), and extraordinarily difficult to find in top condition.  The cards are printed on photographic paper and are subject to significant wrinkling and creasing.  Much like American N172 Old Judge cards, the photos are often found faded, similarly making the numeric grade less important than the image quality and contrast.  While this card has been graded POOR by SGC, less due to the minor staining and wrinkling and more to the two small circular holes in the card itself, the image quality is fantastic, with sharp contrast and very clear definition to the image itself.

Cards of Hall of Famers in the Billiken set are extremely desirable, and extraordinarily scarce.  Aside from the 1910 Punch Cigars card of Menedez, no earlier issue of the player exists, and just six card sets featuring Mendez during his playing days – all Cuban issues – are known. An outstanding collectible from an international Cuban and Negro League Hall of Famer.

The fun of amateur baseball

Wilmington Cabinet FrontWe often receive consignments featuring photos of turn of the century amateur or factory teams, and love trying to identify the teams and their players.  Hosting an auction is fun, but researching these old photos of nameless players, and giving them back their names is one of the most rewarding parts of doing this.  The pieces usually wind up not being incredibly valuable, but the gratification of learning about these regional teams is more than worth it anyway.

Wilmington PinThis auction features two such pieces from the great The Wilmington, Delaware A. A. team of 1902. The team was managed by Jesse Frysinger, a local baseball legend who received accolades in the Northeast as well as nationally.  The team posted an outstanding record, prompting a mention of Frysinger in the October 25 issue of Sporting Life under the headline “Worthy of Promotion: An Independent Manager Who Made a Great Record Last Season.”  The article went on to describe Wilmington’s 93-34 record, including six victories against Major League teams, suggesting that Frysinger was destined for bigger and better things.

The young manager left Wilmington for Harrisburg in 1903, then departed to the Holyoke, Massachusetts Paperweights team of the Connecticut State league in 1904 and bringing several of his players with him.  At the conclusion of the 1904 season, he jumped the team and returned to the Tri-State League to manage the Lancaster Red Roses.  He later had surgery for an appendicitis and developed an infection from the surgery, dying in 1906 at the tender age of 33, his whole life still ahead of him.

Pictured in the cabinet and matching pinback are: Back Row (L-R): Harry Kuhn, Snake Deal, Chick Hartley, Winham P Aubrey.  Center Row (L-R): Russell, Harry Tate, Stirlith, Frysinger, Harry Barton, Doc Blough.  Front Row (L-R): O’Neil and Bert Everson.  The African-American mascot is an anonymous Wilmington resident.

Of the members of this team, several went on to play briefly in the Majors.  Snake Deal had 243 plate appearances with the 1906 Cincinnati Reds.  Chick Hartley went 0-for-4 in one game with the 1902 New York Giants.  Harry Barton had 65 plate appearances in 13 games with the 1905 Philadelphia A’s.  Severeal other players had brief minor league careers as well.

The cabinet photo is in outstanding condition, taken by Bucher studios of Wilmington.  Unlike the pinback offered elsewhere in the auction, where the image is small enough to be difficult to identify faces, this particular photo is very strong.  It is very difficult not to focus on the team mascots – a young, African-American boy, and a goat.  Envisioning these young ballplayers, each in their late teens or early 20s, their imaginations transfixed on a possible Major League career while the young boy is ineligible to do anything but be a mascot lends a sort of sadness to the photo that is almost visible in the young boy’s eyes.  This makes for a poignant image, and an excellent document not only of a great amateur or semipro team, but also of the social issues of the time.

We’re offering the pinback and the cabinet photo as two separate lots in our auction.

Pedigreed cards in our Winter auction

1895 N300 Haddock FrontThe card grading industry has, in many ways, changed the face of modern collecting.  Long-time collectors often resist the best-known changes brought about by grading: the price explosion among “low pop” commons and set registry competition resulting in exorbitant prices paid for minute increases in set “GPA.”  Many more embrace the security of being able to purchase reliably-graded cards online, often sight unseen.

But none of those developments are actually new to the hobby.  We’ve always judged cards by their condition, and deep-pocketed, quality-conscious collectors have always paid top dollar for pristine examples of the hobby’s marquee cards.  Well-known collectors have always jockeyed to have the “best” collection.  All this happened long before the names that dominate today’s set registries became household names within our hobby.  Clear proof of this resides in long-time collectors’ knowledge of where the best “unregistered” collections lie, who has the “best” Wagners, Planks and Ruths outside the graded arena of the hobby.

1955 Topps Aaron Horiz FrontWhile assessing condition and creating competition among collectors for the hobby’s top sets aren’t developments that were invented by grading companies, there is one hobby area that grading has helped develop, if not singlehandedly invented: the pedigree.  All hobbyists agree that provenance is a critical component of collecting; tracking a card back to its original owner helps to trace a card’s lineage or create a virtual guarantee of authenticity (and reduces the likelihood of alteration along the way, in many cases).  Indeed, many collectors are willing to pay a premium for cards once owned by hobby pioneers such as Lionel Carter or Frank Nagy or Barry Halper.  Other collectors go out of their way to purchase cards once owned by a player.  Some collectors have begun collecting subsets of pedigreed cards, each memorializing a specific player, collector, or hobby event.  As more pedigreed cards enter the market, pedigreed card collecting is becoming more prevalent among collectors.

1948 Ruth Story Horiz FrontWe are pleased to offer a significant pedigreed card collection in our Winter, 2014 auction.  The collection includes many cards of all eras, owned by both hobby pioneers and significant figures in the game – collecting legends like Frank Nagy and Lionel Carter, as well as Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle and Bob Feller.  Many of the cards being offered are not necessarily super valuable cards in their own right, however, they are an important piece of hobby history with impeccable provenance.

E90-1 Jennings Nagy FrontTo add to their provenance, the majority of the cards we will be offering are part of the collection of noted collector, dealer, and friend to everyone Jay Wolt.  One of the most personable and lovable guys in the hobby, Jay has been a long-time collector of pedigreed cards, seeking out such cards as a student of hobby history.  Jay collects pedigreed cards due to their historical significance, recognizing that in many cases, the hobby and the players who play the game we love are closely intertwined.  As many are aware, Jay has been battling illness, and has decided to auction a large portion of his pedigreed card collection in an effort to defray medical expenses.  We have allocated a special section in our auction just for pedigreed cards, most of which have been a part of the Wolt Collection, as a way of recognizing the interesting nature of pedigreed cards, and also out of respect for Jay.  Jay is a long-time friend and mentor, and we – along with the entire hobby – are firmly in his corner as he fights his battle.

The auction will go live this week – stay tuned.

1954 Bowman Feller FrontE90-1 Jennings Nagy Front

The Babe Slept Here.

Babe Ruth Ball 4Every year about this time, PSA/DNA publishes their list of the ten “most dangerous” autographs.  By “most dangerous,” of course, they mean the autographs that are most at risk of fraud.  It’s no secret in the hobby that the autograph business, along with many other facets of sports memorabilia collecting, is rife with fraud and forgery, and PSA believes that the hobby’s biggest name – Babe Ruth – is also the most dangerous.  In fact, 60% of the Ruth signatures submitted to PSA for authentication are rejected as fraudulent.  When autographed Ruth items often bring six figures at public auction, authentication is critical.

Equally important, however, is provenance.  The provenance of a piece can provide documented evidence of authenticity, and in the process, add significantly to its value.  In fact, it is our opinion that authentication and provenance are as important as the attractiveness of the signature itself, particularly with a Ruth signature.  In the case of Babe Ruth, who signed autographs virtually every day of his adult life, provenance is paramount.  With more than half the Ruth signed balls deemed fraudulent, and well-preserved signed balls easily reaching into five figure range, tracing a ball back to its original owner becomes a key element in determining its value.

We are thrilled to offer this beautiful signed Babe Ruth baseball, authenticated by PSA/DNA, along with a letter and well-documented story from the ball’s original recipient.  Such ironclad provenance is rare in pieces such as this.

Upon Ruth’s retirement from baseball in 1938, he almost immediately took up the cause of raising money for the war effort by participating in various fundraisers.  One such event involved a well-publicized 1943 exhibition game at the Polo Grounds where Walter Johnson served up the last pitch that the Sultan of Swat would ever deposit over an outfield fence.  We offered a press photo documenting that game in a previous auction.

More often, however, Ruth’s philanthropic activities took the same form as that of today’s pro athlete: the celebrity golf tournament.  Ruth played frequently, as evidenced by the many pictures of The Babe out on the links.

Ruth golfing in Westport, CT in June, 1946

Ruth golfing in Westport, CT in June, 1946

Such an event took Ruth to the town of Westport, CT in late June of 1946, where at the behest of his friend, Dr. Vito Edward Caselnova (golf chairman at Westport’s Longshore Country Club), Ruth was to participate with New York Giants Hall of Fame halfback Ken Strong.  Ruth, along with his wife Claire and their boxer puppy, would stay with the Caselnova family for the entire week, playing golf at Longshore, talking with local Boy Scouts and visiting victims of a recent fire at a local hospital.  Ruth’s visit to Westport, along with his stay with Vito Caselnova and his family, was well-documented in local newspapers at the time.

The Longshore golf course still stands in Westport today, as do members of the Caselnova family.  It was young Kenneth Caselnova, the recipient of this signed baseball from the Great Bambino, who penned the notarized letter that accompanies the ball.  Among other stories Mr. Caselnova relates in his letter, is this one:

My parents spent the week having nightly dinner parties for Babe, Claire and friends.  In those days the lady of the house still wore aprons when they cooked.  I remember as clear as if it were yesterday, Babe walking right up to my mother in the morning, taking off her apron, putting it on and telling her “Move over Mrs. C, The Babe is making breakfast now!”  Breakfast consisted of eggs, Canadian bacon and toast.

Ruth signed several items that week for the members of the Caselnova family (along with, no doubt, most of Westport).  But the more poignant memory, as related by Caselnova’s letter, is a chilling one:

I remember Babe pulling cans of Budweiser out of my parents’ refrigerator, not to drink, but to subdue the headaches that he was experiencing in his eyes.

Those headaches were, by 1946, debilitating for Ruth, getting worse as the summer progressed.  By fall, Ruth’s face was swollen and he was unable to eat solid food, and by late 1946 he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  Sadly, the greatest player the game had ever known would be gone within two years.

Presented here is a spectacular memento of that week in Westport, where Babe Ruth entertained an entire town, raised the spirits of injured firefighters, raised money for charity, and left indelible memories with young Kenneth Caselnova.

Babe Ruth Ball 1The ball, authenticated by PSA/DNA, is inscribed “To Big Kenneth Caselnova From Babe Ruth” in Ruth’s unmistakeable handwriting.  The signature and inscription remain bold and clear nearly 70 years later, very visible with very little fading and no smudging.  The ball itself, while worn and toned with age, remains well-constructed, though any identifying stampings that may have once been on the ball are no longer visible.  While we do not attempt to grade autographs as we find that to be very subjective, this signature would clearly rate at the higher end of any grading scale.

This is an outstanding ball, one of the most spectacular items we’ve had the pleasure of handling at Love of the Game.  It is, of course, the stories, the history, and our ability to document names and events that we find most compelling, and this ball comes with history aplenty.  Along with the ball and PSA/DNA holder, the winning bidder will receive the LOA from PSA/DNA as well as the notarized, signed letter from Kenneth Caselnova, the recipient of this baseball, relating the fascinating story of how and when he received it.  Further documentation of Ruth’s June, 1946 visit to Westport and his stay with the Caselnova family is readily available online.

A spectacular ball, signed by the most famous player in the game’s storied history, remarkably well-preserved and with impeccable provenance.  Easily a cornerstone piece of even the most advanced, sophisticated collections.

Getting warmed up.

Okay, it’s cold.  Really cold; below zero throughout a good chunk of the United States.  We’re also smack dab in the middle of the NFL playoffs, hurtling towards the Big Game on February 3.

This also means it’s time to get “warmed up” for our Winter, 2014 auction, and it’s going to be a great one.  We’re loaded with special cards, memorabilia, and autographs, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them.

But we’ll start with this.

DSCN5960_edited

This is a spectacular collection of vintage football card display boxes, ranging from 1954 Bowman right through 1977 Topps Mexican.  While we can’t help but imagine what treasures might have been inside the packs that were once held in those boxes, we also think that the boxes themselves are pretty cool; featuring gorgeous graphics from Bowman, Fleer, Philadelphia, and Topps, each in fantastic condition for display, and many wrapped in cellophane and fitted with styrofoam inserts to fill out the box.  We’ll be offering most of the boxes individually or in small groups – while it’s a very cool collection, it’s also the type of thing we’d like everyone to have a chance at winning, so by keeping the lots small, we also keep them affordable.

There’s more than what is pictured in this photo, as well, with some additional graded boxes, as well as a few actual 1950s and 60s unopened packs (all PSA-graded, including a 1952 Bowman Large Wax pack), 1974 and 81 vending boxes, a 1935 National Chicle wrapper, and a rare box of 1977 Topps Mexican cards.

So we’re kicking off a Super auction with a Super group of football display materials.

We are feverishly taking photos, writing and proofing descriptions, and getting ready to present you with our best auction yet.  Stay tuned.  And stay warm.

M110 Sporting Life Cabinets

In 1911, the popular sports publication Sporting Life published a large set of baseball cards that we now know as the M116 Sporting Life issue.  In addition to that set, the company issued a six-subject set of beautiful cabinet cards, similar in size and design to the popular T3 Turkey Red cabinet cards but much more rare.  The cards, incredibly rare today, are among the more beautiful issues of its day, and we are pleased to offer four of the six cards in our Fall auction.

Between SGC and PSA, just 94 examples of all the cards in the set have been graded.  With five of the six cards in the set featuring Hall of Famers (the non-Hall of Famer being Hal Chase), they are much more scarce than the wildly popular T3 Turkey Red cabinet cards, and far more valuable.  In this auction, we are offering the cards of Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Frank Chance, each as separate lots.

Very rarely do these cards make themselves available at public auction, and certainly not in this quantity.

These cards are extraordinarily difficult to locate in any grade, and as such, record prices are achieved with virtually every sale.  It is often, quite literally, years in-between when examples of these cards are available at public auction.

M110 Chance FrontAside from two very beat-up examples of the Frank Chance card which sold for record low prices last month, the most recent example of the card to sell at public auction came in May of 2011, an SGC example that fetched nearly $18,000. This example sold in that same auction, for $2,600, and we feel the price was depressed by the presence of the higher-grade example in the same auction.

 

 

M110 Cobb FrontFor whatever reason, the Ty Cobb card seems to make itself available more frequently than the rest.  Two Cobbs have sold at public auction this year: a PSA 2 that fetched just shy of $5,000 last month, and a PSA 4 that sold for $11,400 in early spring.  Our example, an SGC 10 with a corner clip and some creasing and surface wear, still boasts exceptional eye appeal with respect to the image itself.

 

 

M110 Wagner Front

The Honus Wagner card is extraordinarily valuable.  Just two examples have sold at public auction this year – a PSA 1.5 with a chewed-up corner and significant staining that fetched $4,100 last month, and a PSA 1 with a torn-off corner that sold for $4,800 in January.  This example is far more attractive than either, appearing as a VG card save for a slight trim on the left edge.

 

 

M110 Lajoie Front

Just one example of the M110 Nap Lajoie has sold in 2013 – a PSA 2 that brought nearly $1,700.  Our example, graded EX 60 by SGC, is a far more attractive card, closer in appearance and general eye appeal to the EX 70 example that sold for $8,225 in a 2010 auction.

As evidenced by the infrequency of their public sale, M110 cabinet cards are extraordinarily difficult to find, highly desirable among collectors, and extremely valuable.  The four examples featured in our auction represent two-thirds of a set, missing just Chase and Christy Mathewson for completion.  A grouping of cards this scarce and beautiful makes itself available very, very infrequently.

Billiken Cigarettes Andy Cooper

Billiken Cooper FrontThe Billiken Cigarettes set of 1923-24 were a Cuban-issued set that featured 2×2 5/8″ cards depicting 60 players from the Cuban Professional League.  Each black and white glossy photo has an ad on the reverse, either for Billiken or La Moda Cigarettes.  One of the more popular Cuban league sets, this set includes many stars of the American Negro Leagues, including Oscar Charleston (perhaps the key card in the set), Pop Lloyd, Jose Mendez, Marianao Torriente, and this card of Andy Cooper.
 
Cooper was a well-known left-handed pitcher who played for the Detroit Stars in the Negro Leagues when this card was issued.  In 1928, Cooper was traded to the famed Kansas City Monarchs, where he played until 1929.  As manager of the Monarchs between 1937 and 40, he won his league title three times before suffering a stroke early in the 1941 season, prematurely ending his managerial career and, shortly after, his life.  Negro League scholars generally rank Cooper among the top two or three left-handed pitchers in the history of the Negro Leagues, and while he sadly was never given the chance to compete in the Major Leagues, his greatness was finally recognized in 2006, when the Committee of African-American Baseball elected him to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
 
This example, likely Cooper’s first card, is also his most desirable.  Despite this, very few public transactions involving this card exist on record in the last few years.  In 2012, an SGC 30 example sold at auction for $5,400, while in a 2011 eBay transaction, a severely off-center SGC VG 40 example of the card traded hands for $6,800.  
Billiken Brown BackThis example is the finest known, and very likely the highest-grade example in existence.  The supply of Cuban baseball cards that survived and subsequently made it to the American hobby is very limited, and Billikens have attracted the attention of many prewar and Negro Leagues collectors due to their attractive photographs.  This is the finest known example of the first card of one of the greatest players of the American Negro Leagues.

1938 Goudey Baseball

1938 Goudey A DiMaggio FrontAs the country was beginning to emerge from the Depression, the Goudey Gum Company of Boston was struggling to stay afloat, having recently purchased the assets of the defunct National Chicle company, incorporating those assets into the Goudey product line.  1937 saw no new gum card issue featuring major league players, but the company’s innovative marketing ideas nonetheless remained strong as they issued the first series of what they called the “Heads Up” set.

A series of 24 cards featuring color photographs of players’ faces set into a caricature of a player’s body, the whimsical card designs also attempted to capitalize on the immense popularity of Goudey’s 240-card 1933 issue by mimicking the cards’ backs, and by beginning the set with card #241 – Charlie Gehringer.  For the second series, the company simply recycled the first 24 cards, adding various cartoon illustrations, along with player biographical information, to the card obverse.

1938 Goudey B Foxx FrontWartime rationing and paper drives, along with Goudey’s own financial distress, have made this issue more difficult to obtain than most of Goudey’s baseball issues (particularly in higher grade), and provided us with very little information about the production of the set.  As legend has it, most of Goudey’s company records were burned in the factory furnace in the 1960s, taking any files that might help us to understand the company’s decision to re-print the first series cards with modified designs, as opposed to issuing new cards of new players.  Certainly, many of the day’s superstars are not represented among the set’s 24 subjects – Carl Hubbell, Al Simmons, and Bill Dickey, to name a few.  Further, the issue’s second series refers to  the set’s containing a total of 312 subjects, when the set itself actually cut off at number 288 (Bob Feller).  What happened to those last 24 cards?

We are pleased to offer an outstanding group of 1938 Goudey cards – among the finest in the hobby – as collected by the owner of Love of the Game.

1938 Goudey B Lombardi FrontThe cards, which represent 41 of the set’s 48 cards, are currently ranked #2 on the SGC Registry (minus the #274 DiMaggio, which is not included in this auction).  The #1 set is, of course, the famous Lionel Carter set, which was purchased and kept together as a single set, and includes the only 1938 Goudey to be graded MINT 10 to date.

This same set was also retired as the #6 set on the PSA Set Registry some years ago, and crossed to SGC as a “second opinion.”  Each of the cards in this offering has been graded by both companies, and received a numeric grade each time.  More than half the cards grade NM or better, with only two grading below EX-MT.

1938 Goudey A Lombardi FrontOne of the two is the #246 Ernie Lombardi variation – a scarce variation of which only one example is known to have graded higher.

 

 

 

 

 

1938 Goudey A Doerr Front

1938 Goudey A Feller Front

One of the set’s key cards – the #264 Bob Feller – is graded NM-MT 88.  An extremely scarce card in high grade, just one has ever graded higher.  The collection also features the rookie card of Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, card #258, in NM-MT 88.

 

1938 Goudey WrappersLastly, the collection features two different wrappers.  The wrappers are very scarce and rarely make their way to public auction, never before as a pair (to our knowledge).  While the wrappers are not marked, we believe these to be the first and second series wrappers.

An outstanding collection of very scarce, high-grade cards from one of the hobby’s more interesting mainstream gum card issues.

1938 Goudey B Lopez Front

1938 Goudey B Gehringer Front

1938 GOudey A Mungo Front

1938 Goudey A Greenberg Front

1938 GOudey A Gehringer Front

Yet another autographed set.

Grand Slam AOur 1955 Bowman Football set is pretty phenomenal, as far as autographed sets are concerned.  But we’ve also got a pretty spectacular baseball set to offer, a unique one that was created just for autograph collectors, and yet extraordinarily difficult to complete: The 1978 “Grand Slam” baseball set, featuring 201 cards of some of baseball’s all-time greats, all-stars, and local heroes.
In 1978, Donruss photographer Jack Wallin produced a 200-card set of baseball cards, designed as a way for autograph collectors to obtain the signatures of some of the game’s greats.  Each of the 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ cards are printed in black and white, with the player name printed along the bottom and player biographical information printed on the reverse.  Just 2,000 sets were produced.
 
Before the set was produced, the subject of card #53, outfielder Carl Reynolds, unfortunately passed away at just 75 years of age.  Since his passing would make it impossible to complete an autographed set, a second card #53 was produced, but just 500 copies printed – of pitcher Sal Maglie.
 
Grand Slam BToday, just 23 of the set’s 201 players are living.  Of the remaining 178, seven (including Reynolds) passed within a year of the set’s production: Reynolds, Rube Walberg, George McQuinn, Dale Alexander, Hal Trosky, Fred Fitzsimmons and Stan Hack.
 
This set represents an outstanding achievement in autograph collecting: a complete 201-card Grand Slam set, with 199 of the cards signed.  42 of the card’s subjects are members of the Hall of Fame.
 
In addition to the impossible Reynolds, just the near-impossible George McQuinn card is missing for completion.  McQuinn, a seven-time All-Star second baseman, died on Christmas Eve of 1978 at the tender age of 68, meaning he was alive for just a few months after this card was produced.  The set’s remaining cards – including the scarce #53 of Sal Maglie – have all been signed.
 
Autographs included in this set are: Leo Durocher (HOF), Bob Lemon (HOF), Earl Averill (HOF), Dale Alexander, Hank Greenberg (HOF), Waite Hoyt (HOF), Al Lopez (HOF), Lloyd Waner (HOF), Bob Feller (HOF), Guy Bush, Stan Hack, Zeke Bonura, Wally Moses, Fred Fitzsimmons, Johnny Vander Meer, Riggs Stephenson, Bucky Walters, Charlie Grimm, Phil Cavaretta, Wally Berger, Joe Sewell, Edd Roush (HOF), Johnny Mize (HOF), Bill Dickey (HOF), Lou Boudreau (HOF), Bill Terry (HOF), Willie Kamm, Charlie Gehringer (HOF), Stan Coveleskie (HOF), Larry French, George Kelly (HOF), Terry Moore, Billy Herman (HOF), Babe Herman, Carl Hubbell (HOF), Buck Leonard (HOF), Gus Suhr, Burleigh Grimes (HOF), Lew Fonseca, Travis Jackson (HOF), Enos Slaughter (HOF), Fred Lindstrom (HOF), Rick Ferrell (HOF), Cookie Lavagetto, Stan Musial (HOF), Hal Trosky, Hal Newhouser (HOF), Paul Dean, George Halas, Jocko Conlan, Joe DiMaggio (HOF), Bobby Doerr (HOF), Sal Maglie, Pete Reiser, Frank McCormick, Mel Harder, George Uhle, Doc Cramer, Taylor Douthit, Cecil Travis, “Cool Papa” Bell (HOF), Charlie Keller, Bill Hallahan, Debs Garms, Rube Marquard (HOF), Rube Walberg, Augie Galan, George Pipgras, Hal Schumacher, Dolf Camilli, Paul Richards, Judy Johnson (HOF), Frank Crosetti, Peanuts Lowery, Walter Alston (HOF), Dutch Leonard, Marney McCosky, Joe Dobson, George Kell (HOF)Ted Lyons (HOF), Johnny Pesky, Hank Borowy, Ewell Blackwell, Pee Wee Reese (HOF), Monte Irvin (HOF), Joe Moore, Joe Wood, Babe Dahlgren, Bobb Falk, Eddie Lopat, Rip Sewell, Marty Marion, Taft Wright, Allie Reynolds, Harry Walker, Tex Hughson, George Selkirk, Dom DiMaggio, Walker Cooper, Phil Rizzuto (HOF), Robin Roberts (HOF), Joe Adcock, Hank Bauer, Frank Baumholtz, Ray Boone, Smoky Burgess, Walt Dropo, Al Dark, Carl Erskine, Dick Donovan, Dee Fondy, Mike Garcia, Bob Friend, Ned Garver, Billy Goodman, Larry Jansen, Jackie Jensen, Johnny Antonelli, Ted Kluszewski, Harvey Kuenn, Clem Labine, Red Schoendienst (HOF), Don Larsen, Vern Law, Charlie Maxwell, Wally Moon, Bob Nieman, Don Newcombe, Wally Post, Johnny Podres, Vic Raschi, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Rivera, Pete Runnels, Hank Sauer, Roy Sievers, Bobby Shantz, Curt Simmons, Bob Skinner, Moose Skowron, Bob Turley, Vic Wertz, Bill Virdon, Gene Woodling, Eddie Yost, Sandy Koufax (HOF), Lefty Gomez (HOF), Al Rosen, Vince DiMaggio, Bill Nicholson, Mark Koenig, Max Lanier, Ken Keltner, Whit Wyatt, Marvin Owen, Red Lucas, Babe Phelps, Pete Donohue, Johnny Cooney, Glenn Wright, Willis Hudlin, Tony Cuccinello, Bill Bevans, Dave Feriss, Whitey Kurowski, Buddy Hassett, Ossie Bluege, Hoot Evers, Thornton Lee, Spud Davis, Bob Shawkey, Smead Jolly, Andy High, Mickey Vernon, Birdie Tebbetts, Jack Kramer, Don Kolloway, Claude Passeau, Frank Shea, Bob O’Farrell, Bob Johnson, Ival Goodman, Mike Kreevich, Joe Stripp, Mickey Owen, Hugh Critz, Ethan Allen, Billy Rogell, Joe Kuhel, Dale Mitchell, Eldon Auker, Johnny Beazley, Spud Chandler, Ralph Branca, and Joe Cronin (HOF).
 
Grand Slam FThis is an incredible set.  It contains signed cards from some of the game’s greatest names, like Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Sandy Koufax, and also contains autographs from some of the game’s most beloved players not to enter the Hall of Fame, like Smoky Joe Wood, Pete Runnels, Jackie Jensen and Pete Reiser.  It pays tribute to some of the game’s most popular players, as well as some of its forgotten heroes.
 
Obtaining a complete set of signed 1978 Grand Slam baseball cards is no easy task.  Most of the players featured in the set have passed away, so obtaining the signatures through the mail would be impossible.  While complete, signed sets must certainly exist (in our research we uncovered one blog where the owner also had a complete set, also with one signature missing), we have never seen one come to auction and cannot locate one online.  Therefore, obtaining such a set must be done card-by-card, with great deliberation and great expense.  Indeed, this is likely the only opportunity a collector will have to obtain this set autographed without having to undertake the arduous process of tracking down and purchasing 201 individual cards.  
 
An incredible collection of autographed cards, representing some of the greatest names in baseball history, with all but one of 200 possible cards autographed, including 42 Hall of Famers, plus the scarce Sal Maglie and Rube Walberg cards.

 

A few words about scans

There seems to be a lot of commentary lately on the topic of auction houses, and what they do (or don’t do) to their scans and photos, in terms of presenting them to the hobby in auction catalogs and websites.  Since the topic is “hot” just as our auction is going live, it makes sense for us to state right here, publicly and for the record, precisely what our policy is on this matter.

Taken right from our auction rules, rule #27:

“Love of the Game Auctions makes every attempt to describe each item in our sale as accurately as possible.  We do not “sweeten” or otherwise enhance any scans or images, save for general unsharp mask or image re-sizing, general color correction of photographs, and cropping out unsightly background distractions with the magical Photoshop program.”

This has been our published rule since Day One.

When scanning cards, our process is very simple.  We use a Canon CanoScan 9000F – a consumer-grade scanner that anyone can buy for less than $200 – and the software that came with the scanner.  We do not alter the scanner settings, in any way.  Whatever the settings on the scanner were when it shipped from the factory, that’s how it is now.

When we scan cards, we do it at 200 DPI resolution.  Then we import the image into Photoshop Elements and crop out the background.  We like to crop the image flush to the card holder, and ensure that it’s nice and straight.  For ungraded cards, we leave a thin border around the cards, so that the edges and corners are clearly visible.  Then, we reduce the size of the image.  We like all our scans of similar cards to be uniform, so that when you open them in your browser, they’re all the same size and not totally haphazard and sloppy-looking.  For instance, all cabinet cards get reduced to 5″ in width.

Once we’re done changing the file size, we use the “Unsharp Mask” function at a very low setting, to correct any blur that may have resulted when we reduced the file size.  That’s it.  We take great care to ensure that our scans properly represent the item you’re buying, so that when you receive it in the mail, you aren’t disappointed.  No brightening, no changing color saturation, no changes to the contrast to hide creases, no changes to the image itself (aside from the aforementioned unsharp mask), whatsoever, of any kind.  Period.

We want everything we do to look great.  However, we do not do anything - anything - to physically alter the appearance of anything in our auction in a deceptive way.

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