Auction Closes Saturday

It’s not too late to register and bid in Love of the Game Auctions‘ Winter, 2013 sale.  The auction closes this Saturday, February 2, at 9:00 PM EST (the day before Super Bowl Sunday).

The auction features nearly 400 lots of quality sports artifacts, including an excellent array of cards and memorabilia, including:

1935 Ruth Dollar FrontA 1935 Silver Certificate, signed by Babe Ruth and authenticated by PSA/DNA.





O'DayThe rare and possibly unique 1889 Hartley Studio cabinet photo of new Hall of Famer Hank O’Day.









MattyA collection of beautiful T3 Turkey Red cabinet cards, including Christy Mathewson (PSA 4.5), Addie Joss (PSA 5.5), and a beautiful Tris Speaker (SGC 45), many of which are among the highest-graded examples available.  This collection is part of a much larger collection of Turkey Red baseball and boxing cabinets that we’ll be offering in our Winter and Spring, 2013 auctions.








Lajoie Painting FrontAn outstanding assortment of baseball and football memorabilia, including display materials, paper ephemera, photographs, and decorative collectibles, highlighted by this stunning original painting of Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie by famed baseball artist Arthur K. Miller.









1909 T206 Williams FrontA lovely group of high-grade, low-population T206 cards including this Jimmy Williams, which is one of just two examples available at this grade level.









T206 DemiittAn assortment of other T206 rarities, including a Demmitt St. Louis variation, a Walter Johnson with a scarce Cycle 460 back, and a number of difficult backs including Carolina Brights, American Beauty 460, Brown Hindu, Cycle 460 and more.









1935 National Chicle Bronko NagurskiA large grouping of difficult-to-find 1935 National Chicle football cards, highlighted by the set’s key card, the coveted Bronko Nagurski.  The Nagurski is the hobby’s most valuable football card, available here in PSA EX 5 condition.  The auction also features a large group of highly desirable high number cards from the same set.








E98s from the Rudy Strejc CollectionThe Rudy Strejc Collection, a large, original owner collection of tobacco and gum era cards as collected by Rudy Strejc.  Raised in Portland, Oregon, Rudy Strejc was an avid collector  throughout the first half of the 20th Century, and amassed a collection of hundreds of baseball, boxing and non-sports cards, primarily from the early 1900s.  The collection features large assortments of Pacific Coast League cards including Obaks, Pacific Coast Biscuits, Zeenuts and more, as well as a large number of T206 and E98 baseball cards.  Also featured are several large lots of nonsports cards.

GameDay1An outstanding assortment of autographed memorabilia, highlighted by this 1987 NFL “Game Day” program highlighting the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 1987.  The program features 46 signatures (including 42 Hall of Famers) accumulated over the course of several years by an ardent autograph collector with close access to NFL and MLB clubhouses.  Also featured is a Baseball Hall of Fame program with more than 20 signatures, a 1979 NFL Pro Bowl program with 16 signatures, a group of 90 3×5″ photos signed by Brooklyn Dodgers players from the 1930s, a full-color 8×10″ photo signed by Roger Maris, and more.






1967 Topps SU Fregosi FrontA host of 1960s and 70s Topps baseball test issues and rarities, including 1967 Punch-outs, 1967 Disc proofs, 1968 Action All-Stars Stickers, 1973 Comics, 1973 Pin-Up proofs, 1974 Deckled Edge proofs, and this ultra-rare 1967 Stand-Ups Jim Fregosi, from one of the most rare modern issues available.








1991 Topps DS A FrontA complete set of 1991 Topps Desert Shield cards, perhaps the most scarce issue in recent memory.  It is speculated that just 6500 sets were manufactured, and many were lost in the fog of war and a purported warehouse fire.  Complete sets could only be assembled by hand from a limited number of packs that were made available to US servicemen stationed in Saudi Arabia during the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War.








The auction closes at 9PM EST on Saturday, February 2, followed by extended bidding governed by the 15-minute rule.  In order to bid on an item during the extended bidding period, you must have placed a bid on that item prior to the 9PM auction close.

Best of luck!









Last week of bidding: Consignments wanted

1935 Ruth Dollar FrontThe Winter, 2013 Love of the Game auction is closing this Saturday, February 2.

Extended bidding will begin at 9PM EST on Saturday evening.  If you have not placed bids before 9PM on Saturday, you will not be able to participate in extended bidding.  In our last auction, one lucky bidder managed to register for the auction with ten minutes to spare, and place a bid on an item just eight seconds before extended bidding began!  We don’t want anyone to get shut out, but still need to follow the rules so that we conduct a fair auction for all bidders.  We cannot guarantee that ever bidder will be successful if they wait until eight seconds before extended bidding!

Hot on the heels of our Winter, 2013 auction, we are also preparing our Spring, 2013 sale, which will open in March.  If you have been considering consigning to Love of the Game, this is the perfect opportunity.  This auction will feature a huge assortment of Turkey Red boxing and baseball cabinets, another large, original owner collection of tobacco cards including N172s, tough T206 backs, T207 rarities and more.

We will be accepting consignments for this auction until February 22.  After that, only special, high value consignments can be accepted for the Spring auction.

Need money for the hobby’s Spring auctions?  Big income tax bill coming up?  Love of the Game’s Spring sale is the perfect place to consign, as we expect all consignors to be paid quickly.

If you’re even thinking of selling your valuable sports collectibles, you owe it to yourself to get in touch ASAP, as now is the time we’re offering our most aggressive commission discounts.  Please contact us at info at loveofthegameauctions dot com.

And if you’re bidding in this week’s auction, good luck!

In advance of the Super Bowl

While we’ve got quite a bit of baseball memorabilia in our upcoming auction, we also have some great football memorabilia as well.

This is, perhaps, our favorite piece in the entire auction.  It’s a 1987 NFL “Game Day” Program celebrating the Pro Football Hall of Fame program, autographed by 46 stars of the game, mostly Hall of Famers.

GameDay1The 1987 Hall of Fame class was a great one, consisting of Larry Csonka, Len Dawson, “Mean” Joe Greene, John Henry Johnson, Jim Langer, Don Maynard and Gene Upshaw.  And while the program itself is a wonderful collectible and a who’s who in pro football history, the publication’s original owner, a longtime autograph collector with close access to both NFL and MLB clubhouses, turned it into one of the most spectacular collectibles we’ve ever seen.

Painstakingly obtaining the signatures of a whopping 46 football stars and Hall of Famers, the collector kept this magazine in his possession, bringing it out only to have it signed when one of the players chronicled in its contents was nearby.  Further, the collector obtained a number of signatures from other Hall of Famers and stars on a heavy cardboard sheet, and then hand-bound it into the publication with tape, adding additional signatures and content to the publication.  Within the publication, many of the players signed on their photos.


The result is an absolutely stunning piece of memorabilia, diligently compiled over the course of several years, featuring many of the most important names in football history, including the likes of Lance Alworth, Jim Brown, Len Dawson, Joe Greene, Paul Hornung, Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen, Don Maynard, Ron Mix, Ray Nitschke, Chuck Noll, Jim Otto, Pete Rozelle, Gale Sayers, Art Shell, Y.A. Tittle, Mike Webster, and many, many more.

For more information on this piece, and plenty of photos, visit the auction page.

Among the more beautiful, interesting and unique sports memorabilia we’ve ever seen are these two colorful containers of lantern mantle.  Lantern mantle is a device that generates bright light when heated by a flame, and are used in camping and incandescent lamps today, as well as in 19th Century lanterns.

Eclipse3Manufactured by the Eclipse Light Company of New York, both of these beautiful containers carry a college/sports theme.  The taller of the two features a young woman carrying a Yale pennant, the smaller features a young woman with a Princeton pennant.  Both containers include actual product inside.  Made of heavier weight cardboard, each cylindrical container is fragile but still sturdy, each retaining its original shape.  These ornately printed containers harken back to a day before electricity, when homes were lit by lanterns.  Both in excellent condition, the two pieces would lend themselves to a wonderful football/college sports display.

Another turn-of-the-century display piece with a football theme, we believe these two 24 x 4 3/4″ pieces were intended as wallpaper borders for a 19th Century child’s room.  While paper borders certainly exist today, these are constructed out of some sort of pressed tin, with nail holes indicating where they were to be hammered into the wall.

BorderWe cannot begin to guess how the images were printed onto the sheets, as the printing appears to be some sort of silkscreen, with four colors: black, red, green and cream/yellow, in addition to the metallic tin color.  The two identical pieces depict a variety of football-related scenes, with tackling, blocking (and holding) players all centered around a single ballcarrier, wearing a leather helmet, in the center of each of the two strips.

Each of the strips is obviously worn (and marred in some places with some sort of black paint), but display wonderfully.  The reverse of each is coated with the black paint in places, and also has what appears to be remnants of plaster affixed to the back.

Football1Football2Yet another turn-of-the-century football-related piece, this is a German candy container dating to the late 19th or early 20th Century. Measuring approximately 6 3/4″ by 4 1/2″ at its widest, it was made to resemble a rugby ball or possibly a football (complete with stitching on one side), and opens to reveal an exquisitely-lined interior that once held candy.  Expertly crafted, the piece displays extraordinarily well, with just mild staining and scratches consistent with its age and intended purpose.




Football Silks AA companion to a baseball collection featured elsewhere in the auction, we are featuring a group of 8 college football silks from the Murad Cigarettes S22 silks set.  Consisting of 250 athlete poses representing 25 different colleges of the day, the silks were distributed in packs of Murad tobacco in 1909 and 1910.  Each college was featured on 10 different silks, including multiple poses for baseball, plus football, hockey and golf.

Our grouping features silks from eight different colleges: Dartmouth, Harvard, Stanford, Syracuse, West Point, Cornell, Annapolis and California.  Each of the silks feature a football player outfitted in the appropriate colors of their school, with the college name and seal presented above and below each player.

ProBowl1The last Pro Bowl to be played outside of Hawaii until 2010’s game in Miami, the 1979 Pro Bowl was played in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with the NFC defeating the AFC, 13-7.  For their efforts, each NFC player received the whopping sum of $5,000.  This well-preserved game program was curated by the same longtime autograph collector who assembled the aforementioned “Game Day” program.  A meticulous collector, he would obtain various publications and learn them inside-out, subsequently having each player sign on the appropriate photo or page containing content related to that player.

This program contains 16 signatures (primarily of AFC players), a who’s who of the 1970s and early 80s NFL.  Signatures include Lyle Alzado, Joe DeLamielleure, Randy Gradishar, Mike Haynes, Tom Jackson, Louie Kelcher, Steve Largent, Art Shell, Donnie Shell, Wesley Walker, Mike Webster, Louis Wright, Rod Perry, Pat Thomas, Brad Van Pelt and Charlie Waters.



1800s Spalding Football FrontIssued by Koerner & Hayes of Buffalo, this die cut (approximately 3×5″) was used by Spalding as a way of advertising its sporting goods.  Part of a five-card set (the lot also contains a die-cut of a golfer), these are rarely seen in the type of exceptional condition we see here.  The football player, exquisitely preserved, has a small speck of paper loss underneath the words “FootBall Player,” but is otherwise pristine on the front.  The reverse, which features a piece on the origin of football as written by Walter Camp, is in excellent condition as well, save for a piece of adhesive affixed to the bottom (which likely could be removed).

An unusual and rarely seen advertising die cut, this is an early example of sports equipment advertising by the legendary Spalding company.

Memorabilia extravaganza, part 2

Lajoie Painting FrontFamed baseball photographer Charles M. Conlon took the classic photo of Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie that we see represented here by famed baseball artist Arthur K. Miller.  Measuring 14″ x 7″ before framing, the acrylic on masonite work was commissioned in 2006 and is a brilliant representation of the timeless image of Lajoie holding his bat, 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.

Maine artist Arthur K Miller is one of the best known contemporary baseball artists, his work having been featured at the National Baseball Hall of Fame for years.  It was in the early 1990s that Miller began painting portraits of ballplayers who thrived before the development of color photography.

Set against a clear, blue sky, Lajoie’s imposing figure dominates the image, the intensity of his glare captured as well by the painter as it was by the photographer when the original image was taken.  Standing upon an expanse of lush infield grass, the detail in the foreground is captivating, from the blades of grass under Lajoie’s feet to the shine on his shoes.  Few contemporary artists are more adept at effectively capturing the detail, emotion, and intensity exhibited in classic sports photography.

An original work of art, framed for hanging and signed by the artist, “Nap Lajoie, 1904” was painted in 2006 and presented by the George Krevsky Gallery of San Francisco.  A one-of-a-kind piece and an outstanding representation of contemporary sports art.

1907EasternLeagueAnother absolutely gorgeous display piece, this composite photo from 1907 features the players and managers from each of the eight teams of the 1907 Eastern League.  Exquisitely framed to approximately 25 1/2 x 21″, the photo is comprised of members of the Rochester Bronchos, Jersey City Skeeters, Newark Sailors, Providence Grays, Baltimore Orioles, Buffalo Bisons and Montreal Royals.

This is a brilliant piece, and not an easy one to find.  It contains photos of 119 players, many of whom would go on to play in the majors.  Many of the photos in this composite were later used on baseball cards, notably in the T206 issue (which included many players depicted here).  All eight managers – including Hall of Famers Hugh Duffy and Joe Kelley – are also depicted.

A wonderful article of baseball history that documents one of early baseball’s stronger minor leagues, the composite depicts dozens of players that appeared in the majors.  It makes for a spectacular display, one of the most beautiful we’ve seen.

Spalding GuidesWe’re also offering a number of different books and pamphlets relating to early baseball, including a March, 1913 edition of Baseball Magazine featuring Frank Chance on the cover, and a collection of early 20th Century baseball equipment guides that includes specimens from Sporting Life, Reach, Spalding, and Ken-Wel.  Additionally, we’ve got a beautiful copy of the sheet music for “Husky Hans,” William J Hartz’ 1904 composition dedicated to the one and only Honus Wagner.  While “Husky Hans” sheet music has been less scarce due to a relatively recent find, few are in this kind of exceptional condition.



PinsThe auction also features a collection of nine 1900 PD1 pinback buttons, all without advertising on the front, all featuring players with red uniforms and cream backgrounds.  The PD1 set includes 12 different pins featuring generic players with their position printed on the pin.  Often found with advertising on the front, they can be found with both gold and cream-colored backgrounds, and with both red and blue player uniforms.  Just three buttons shy of a complete set, we’re offering a very consistent collection of this scarce and interesting pinback button issue.

1913 BB Series AEqually interesting is this collection of 1913 “Baseball Series” cards.  Once mistaken for blank-backed “proof” cards from the E95 and E96 issue, these “cards” were later discovered to have been hand-cut from a series of baseball-themed notebook covers issued in 1913, which featured reproductions of the E95 and E96 cards printed on them.  Each notebook cover featured five cards, and the covers were blank-backed.

We are featuring a collection of ten of the twenty known cards, including Red Ames, Chief Bender (HOF), Mordecai Brown (HOF), Art Devlin, Wild Bill Donovan, Ed Konetchy, Harry Krause, Chief Meyers, John Pfeister, and Joe Tinker (HOF).  Despite the fact that all of these cards are printed on thin paper and hand-cut from the notebook cover, the majority present very well.  Rarely does a collector have an opportunity to acquire such a large percentage of the known cards from this scarce and unusual set.




1800s tintype frontThe last item we’ll highlight today is this extraordinary tintype, likely dating to the 1870s or 1880s, among the earliest photographic images of baseball in this country.  This image depicts a family playing baseball outside a home, a young woman holding a ball, preparing to pitch to a young man in a baseball uniform.  Also in the photo is an older woman, preparing to catch the pitch, and a small girl, standing by, watching.  They’re all too close together!  Somebody’s going to get hurt!

As is typically the case with baseball-related tintypes, the player featured is not identified.  However, this is a very unusual photo, in that the majority of tintypes are studio photos, taken indoors.  This one was clearly taken outside, in a yard.  As with many tintypes, this one has several imperfections which includes some minor scratching and two clipped corners.  Still, a strong image and a unique subject, a family playing baseball together out in the yard.

Memorabilia extravaganza, Part I

We’ve got such a great lineup of cards in this auction that it’s almost easy to forget the outstanding memorabilia offering that we’ve got in this sale.

WilliamsPerhaps our favorite piece is this beautiful broadside, advertising Ted Williams as the new sports columnist of the Boston Herald.  Williams had an infamous relationship with sportswriters that may have cost him the 1941 MVP award in a year when he hit .406 with 37 home runs and 120 RBI, but lost to Joe DiMaggio.  Despite this, at some point Williams intended to take a crack at becoming a sportswriter himself, as evidenced by this spectacular broadside.  According to the ad, Williams’ column could be read three days a week, beginning March 13.  The irony of Ted Williams becoming a sportswriter is not lost on this baseball fan.

Williams, one of America’s greatest treasures, was a great ballplayer, a war hero, a world-class fly fisherman, and a fantastic interview – but his love/hate relationship with the Boston press continued long after his retirement.

The piece, which makes for an incredible display, contains a number of condition issues, not the least of which is the fact that it has unfortunately been mounted on some sort of foamcore.  We’re unsure whether the broadside itself is affixed to the foamcore backing or if it simply sits inside the red and black photo matting, but due to the fragility of the piece, we are averse to find out for certain.  Despite this, it is a wonderful (and wonderfully ironic) display piece marking an American hero, and one of the greatest players ever.

German Art StampsThis is a very rare and interesting sheet of perforated art stamps, produced in Germany around 1909.  It contains 25 stamps of players as well as for various baseball equipment (such as a ball, glove, “body protector,” etc.).  While each player’s drawing does not bear likeness to the actual player, each player has a team affiliation and is depicted playing their actual position (i.e. Mathewson pitching, Bresnahan wearing catcher’s gear).

How this sheet could have survived in this state, we cannot imagine.  Technically in VG condition due to folds at the perforations and across the second row of stamps, the sheet is very delicate, made of very thin paper that, due to its age, is beginning to separate at some of the perfs.  Included are most of this set’s keys: Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Roger Bresnahan, Willie Keelier, and Nap Lajoie.  An incredible piece, likely one of very few to survive in uncut form, this is an incredible window into an obscure international baseball issue.

A very interesting type of 1910-era collectible are the die-cut, sepia-toned souvenir fans that contain images of the 16 captains of their various teams.  These fans, printed on heavy paper, also included blank scorecards and were affixed by staple to a wooden handle.  The fans that were used commercially also contained printed ads on the reverse, typically for local businesses.

Baseball fan AThe fan contains images of the team captains, some of the most popular players of the day, including Germany Schaeffer, Bobby Wallace, Billy Sullivan, Hal Chase, George Moriarty, Harry Lord, Harry Davis, Nap Lajoie, Mickey Doolin, Calvin Griffith, Bill Dahlen, Bill Sweeney, Frank Chance, Art Devlin, Fred Clarke and Roger Bresnahan.

Unlike all the others we’ve seen, this particular example is unused, unscored, with no advertising printed on the reverse and no handle.  Obviously used as a sample at some point in the production process, it has been preserved in outstanding condition, with very little wear.  Rarely will you see a piece as remarkably well-preserved as this.  The surface is outstanding, with virtually no wear.  The edges exhibit very mild fading, and only mild wear to the edges themselves.  All the die cuts are intact, with no chipping or missing pieces that are common with die-cut fans like this.  This is an amazing relic, in incredible condition, with multiple Hall of Famers.


1865 Doubleday CDV FrontWhen it comes to Abner Doubleday’s role in the creation of baseball, the evidence is clear: he had none.  And yet his name is as synonymous with “baseball” as hot dogs and shortstops, due entirely to the Mills Commission, a group formed in the early 1900s with a goal of proving the origin of the sport in the US.  Aimed at settling a dispute over whether or not baseball had a British origin (popular sentiment rejecting that theory), Cubs president Albert Spalding instructed the Mills commission to determine whether baseball was of British or American descent.

The “Doubleday Myth,” stating that Union officer Abner Doubleday created baseball in Cooperstown, NY in 1839 was published in 1905 as a result of a claim made by then mining engineer Abner Graves.  Graves’ recollection became the primary driver for the Mills Commission giving Doubleday credit for inventing baseball, claiming the game was American in origin.  Though largely disproven later, the myth continues to hold popular support, and Doubleday is still considered by many to be the “Father of Baseball.”

Here we have a Carte de Viste dating to 1865, picturing Abner Doubleday as part of famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady’s photo archive.  Brady, the best-known US photographer of the 19th Century, took thousands of photos that passed to E & HT Anthony of New York in default of payment for photographic supplies in the 1870s.  This CdV, published by E & HT Anthony, is likely one of those images.  We are pleased to feature it in our auction, packaged together with a 1939 first day cover commemorating the 100th anniversary of the invention of baseball, as mailed from Cooperstown, NY on June 12, 1939 – the day the Hall of Fame was dedicated.  This is an outstanding lot, commemorating the birth of baseball’s famed museum – and the Doubleday Myth.

Jennings Cigar LidMeasuring approximately 9″ x 5 3/8″, this is a remarkable, likely unused cigar box label from the inner lid of the “Hey-Yea, Get-A-Lead” brand of cigars.  Printed on lightweight, mildly glossy paper with gold embossed, ornate accents throughout the image, we feel the unframed piece was likely unused because of it’s outstanding condition.

Jennings was well-known for his enthusiasm as a third base coach with Detroit, his “Hey-Yea” cheer and associated dancing preserved on many of his photos and cards from the era.  His popularity clearly made his identity an obvious choice to sell a variety of products; baseball’s close association with tobacco at the turn of the century made a Hughie Jennings brand of cigar only make sense.  Suitable for framing into a beautiful display, this is an outstanding example of baseball-related tobacco advertising common in the early 20th Century.

Harry Pulliam has somewhat of an ignominious place in baseball history.  Named President of the National League in 1903, it was Pulliam’s controversial decision related to the “Merkle Boner” in 1908 that ultimately awarded the victory to the Chicago Cubs, who won the pennant and the World Series,  It is said that the pressure of the decision caused Pulliam to take time away from work and even consider leaving his position.  Ultimately, Pulliam committed suicide in his office at just 40 years of age, devastating the baseball communicy.

Pulliam CigarsTo commemorate Pulliam’s ascension to the post of NL President, a Pulliam brand of cigars was issued.  Experts agree that the cigars themselves were issued for just one year, 1903.  We’re proud to offer a collection that includes a Pulliam brand cigar box label and two extremely scarce cigar bands.

The box label is in EX/MT condition, retaining all its full color and reflecting little to no wear.  Very popular among prewar baseball collectors, the cigar box labels are relatively plentiful but still widely collected.

The true scarcity in this lot, however, lies in the cigar bands.  Only scarce evidence exists that the Pulliam cigars ever actually existed – an empty box that came to auction some years ago, an actual cigar with band that made its way to auction as part of a lot nearly a decade ago, and the occasional cigar band.  Here, we offer you two rare cigar bands, one in approximate VG condition and the other a stunning near mint example.  Produced on ornate gold foil with the name and likeness of Pulliam in the center, the colorful, embossed bands feature various baseball-related accents.

Among baseball tobacciana collectors, a Pulliam cigar band is a scarce commodity, and paired with the box label represent a stellar example of tobacco-related baseball advertising and a window into a sad period in baseball history.

Topps test issues and rarities

Love of the Game is developing a reputation as a great resource for prewar baseball material.  However, our current auction, much like our inaugural auction last fall, has an excellent selection of rare postwar cards.  These cards are highlighted by a number of extremely difficult-to-obtain test issues, and one of the most rare modern issues of all: the 1991 Topps Desert Shield set.

1991 Topps DS A FrontWith American troops station overseas at the start of the first Persian Gulf War, Topps modified its 1991 baseball set, creating a foil-stamped insignia on its standard 1991 baseball cards.  Intended to be distributed to soldiers serving in Saudi Arabia, it is rumored that just 6500 sets were manufactured, the cards distributed in wax packs.  Immediate demand ensued, resulting in high prices and hoarding among collectors.  Rumors abound about the ultimate fate of many of the cards: some feel that many were lost amidst the fog of war, others say that many were destroyed in a fire.  The net result is a significant modern scarcity; a set created out of patriotism amidst the hobby boom of the early 90s and scarfed up quickly, with very information about supply.

We are happy to offer an extremely attractive complete set of 1991 Topps Desert Shield cards.  Not an easy accomplishment by any stretch, packs have been difficult to come by, each complete set hand-assembled by a dedicated collector, piece-by-piece.  A high-grade, PSA-graded set sold for nearly $76,000 in the spring of 2012, cementing the set in hobby lore and verifying the value of what will continue to be a scarce and highly desirable collectible.

Topps is also known for its scarce “test” issues; unique sets created and released in a small market to determine the potential feasibility and popularity.  Topps issued many test issues over the years, issues that were later released on a more broad scale, modified and improved, or scrapped altogether.

One interesting such issue is the 1967 Topps Discs set.  Initially intended to serve as the front of a round, pinback button, the “cards” never saw the light of day.  Each of the discs were printed with foil backgrounds that were intended to be waste after the circular foregrounds were cut from the sheet.  Although the buttons never materialized, some individual proofs made it into the collecting world.  These are particularly scarce; just 38 copies have passed through the hands of the two grading companies as of this writing.  A second set of prototypes, honoring the San Francisco Giants, were also produced but never issued.  We are offering two examples of the “standard” discs (the attached Marichal) as well as a San Francisco Giants Marichal.  Please note that the PSA grading labels on these two examples have been reversed; the disc labeled “SF Giants” is actually the standard disc and vice-versa.

1967 Topps Giants Marichal Front1967 Topps Disc Marichal Front

1967 was also the year of the “Punch-Out” – a scarce test issue released commercially in and around Maryland in cellophane packs that contained strips of three perforated cards that were meant to be used in a baseball game.  These cards are highly sought after today, appealing to many collectors of rarities, set completists, and type card collectors alike.  Due to their method of distribution and intended use, high-grade examples are particularly difficult to find.  We are pleased to offer a nice group of 1967 Punch-Outs, including several of the highest-graded examples from their respective grading companies.  This Bill White and extremely high-grade Luis Aparicio are two such examples.

1967 Topps Punch Outs Aparicio1967 Topps Punch Outs White Front

Also produced in 1967 were the Topps Stand-Ups, one of the most rare postwar vintage baseball issues known.  With just a handful of each of the set’s 24 subjects known to exist, these were never actually issued for sale.  The commercial examples of these cards were intended to be die-cut from heavy cardboard so that they could be folded over into their cardboard base, so that they could “stand up” on display.

1967 Topps SU Fregosi Front

These rare cards can be found in two varieties: the actual, printed samples with the die-cuts, and uncut proofs, printed on lighter paper.  This Jim Fregosi is an example of the latter.  Definitely one of the most rare card types of the postwar era and one of the most sought-after card types manufactured by Topps, this is easily the most rare card of Fregosi.

Another of the many test issues in Topps’ fertile 1960s period, the Action All-Star stickers are an exceptionally scarce issue that were sold in strips of three panels, accompanying a stick of bubble gum.  Condition is an issue, as surviving copies are often torn at the perforations, with stickers removed from their backing.  Measuring over 15 inches in length, it is difficult to find any examples from this set, much less one with three panels intact.  We are featuring this particular panel, which highlights brand-new Hall of Famer Ron Santo in the center panel, joined by fellow Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Al Kaline on his adjoining panels.


1973 Topps Comics Davis FrontAnother rare and interesting issue, the 1973 Topps Baseball Comics were intended to serve as wax wrappers to be folded around a stick of bubble gum.  The gum was not likely to have been publicly distributed at all, as all the surviving examples do not contain the folds that would be characteristic of having been wrapped around a piece of gum for any length of time.  Several examples, however, including this Willie Davis, are marred by paper pulls consistent with the three glue spots required to fold the wax around the gum, an indicator that some examples were wrapped around gum during the proof stage.

1973 Topps Comics are extremely rare.  In 2010, a complete set of 24 was sold at auction for nearly $18,000.  During that auction, it was noted that the rare set originated from the collection of hobby pioneer Woody Gelman, who served as art director for Topps.  It is speculated that all the surviving examples originated from Gelman’s collection, as he was able to obtain a small quantity of these for distribution to the hobby, but all were destroyed by a fire at the card dealership Gelman then owned.  The only surviving examples of 1973 Topps Comics known to the hobby resided in Gelman’s personal collection.  This is surely one of those copies, one of just a few hundred examples in the entire set known to exist.

1973 Topps Pinup Marshall FrontWith a checklist identical to that of the 1973 Topps Comics, the 1973 Topps Pin-Ups were also a 24-card set that was intended to serve as a wrapper for a piece of gum.  In fact, when looking at the reverse of the Comic and Pin-Up designs (the outside portions of the wrappers), it is easy to note that the layouts are virtually identical, with coloration and the name of the product being the primary differences.

This example, of Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall, is an unissued “proof” – an even more scarce version of a very scarce issue.  Graded Authentic by SGC, the “card” is produced to the same dimensions as the commercially released Pin-Ups, but does not contain the printed reverse with the gum packaging that is featured on the actual Pin-Ups.  Just over 200 Pin-Ups have been graded by SGC and PSA combined, but just four have been graded Authentic, leading us to believe that the graded population of 1973 Topps Pin-Ups Proofs may well be in the single digits.

The 1974 Topps Deckle Edge set remains one of the most scarce and intriguing issues of the modern era.  Issued in very limited quantities around Massachusetts, the cards comprised a 72-card set that were larger and on heavier stock than the Deckled Edge set of 1969, but featuring a similar black and white photo with facsimile signature on the front.

The Standard Catalog makes reference to “proof versions with straight edges and gray or white backs” being known. We’re proud to offer a large group of them in our auction, including a good number of Hall of Famers.  This Bench is an unnumbered proof (all the others are numbered, so it’s safe to say that Topps caught an error in the proof stage), and is one of the set’s keys.  Extremely scarce, very few proofs are known, and this Bench happens to be the only graded proof from the set.

1974 Topps Deckle Bench Front copy

1935 National Chicle Football

1935 National Chicle Bronko NagurskiWeighing in at just 36 players, the 1935 National Chicle football set is quite possibly the most important football set ever manufactured.  With first-year cards of virtually every key subject in the set, as well as the hobby’s most valuable and treasured card – the legendary #34 Bronko Nagurski (featured in this auction), the set continues to grow in popularity, attracting both ardent football hobbyists and collectors of other sports who are dabbling in football for the first time.

Featuring colorful art deco designs that were typical of the time, the National Chicle football card artwork is similar to the other National Chicle cards of the day – the 1934-36 “Diamond Stars” baseball cards and also the 1933 “Sky Birds” cards.  Despite being printed on heavy stock, high-grade examples are difficult to find, particularly in the super-scarce high number series.  Evidence suggests that the scarcity of the high number series is based on those cards only being made available in the cities where the series’ players played.

A quick examination of grading company population reports will reveal the difficulty in obtaining high quality examples of cards from this issue’s high number series.  Even midgrade examples are extraordinarily scarce.  We are proud to offer a group of eight high number cards, including the incredible Nagurski, plus two cards from the first series (including the difficult #1 card, Dutch Clark).

These cards don’t make themselves available every day, and it’s an opportunity to obtain some incredibly difficult cards from one of the hobby’s most important sets.

1935 Chicle MacMurdo Front1935 Chicle Johnston Front1935 Chicle Matesic Front