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.

1929 Kashin Publishing

1929 Kashin RuthProduced in roughly 1929 by Kashin Publications of New York, the R316 set was distributed in single-card packs, as well as in four packs of 25 cards (with the Babe Ruth card included in each box).  Each card features a crisp, black and white photo, many of which were taken by Charles Conlon and many of which were subsequently used for the illustrations of the 1933 Goudey set.  Each of the blank-backed cards has a facsimile signature and team/league designation printed on the card front.
 
Complete Kashin sets are extraordinarily rare.  In fact, as of this writing, just one complete, graded and registered set exists: this one.  The reason for this lies both in the difficulty of the cards to obtain in general, and the four extraordinarily difficult “short print” cards, thought to be those of Bump Hadley, Jesse Haines, Henry Seibold, and Phil Todt.  Those four cards were allegedly removed from the 25-card boxes to make room for Babe Ruth, so that each of the 25-card boxes would contain a card of the Great Bambino.  As such, the “short print” cards are much more difficult to obtain than the others (which are not easy to find in their own right).  In fact, the total graded population of each of the four cards between SGC and PSA is as follows: Hadley (4), Haines (6), Seibold (4) and Todt (15).  When the total graded population of Kashin cards exceeds 2,600, one can see how difficult those four cards can be.
 
1929 Kashin GehrigBeyond the difficulty of assembling a complete Kashin Publications set, however, is the astounding GPA of this particular set.  In addition to being the only complete, graded set known, the set weighs in with a GPA just shy of EX-MT 80, ranking this the highest of all the active, graded sets on either registry, with just one set on PSA’s “All Time” list achieving a higher GPA (but remaining incomplete at 100 cards, missing the Henry Seibold).  The set’s components grade out as follows:
 
SGC MINT 96 (2 cards): #43 Waite Hoyt (HOF), 58.  SGC NM/MT+ 92 (5 cards): #13 Earl Combs (HOF), 49, 50 Joe Judge, 77 Red Ruffing (HOF), 83, SGC NM-MT 88 (24 cards): #4 Moe Berg, 7, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 24, 33 Lefty Grove (HOF), 40, 45, 51, 54, 61 Heinie Manush (HOF)68 Herb Pennock (HOF), 72, 76, 78, 79 Babe Ruth (HOF), 82, 89, 94 Lloyd Waner (HOF), 96, 101 SGC NM+86 (6 cards): #1, 2, 8 Jim Bottomley (HOF), 46, 53, 65   SGC NM 84 (21 cards): #3, 5, 9, 21, 22 Urban Faber (HOF)26 Jimmy Foxx (HOF)28 Lou Gehrig (HOF), 29 Charlie Gehringer (HOF), 30 Goose Goslin (HOF), 31, 37, 39, 44, 48, 52 Chuck Klein (HOF), 63, 64, 69, 70, 85 Al Simmons (HOF), 97.  SGC EX-NM 80 (23 cards): #6, 10, 18, 23, 25, 27 Frankie Frisch (HOF)32 Burleigh Grimes (HOF), 41, 47, 55, 56 Fred Lindstrom (HOF), 57,  60, 62 Rabbit Maranville (HOF), 67 Mel Ott (HOF), 73, 74, 75 Edd Roush (HOF), 84, 86, 87, 92 Pie Traynor (HOF), 93 Dazzy Vance (HOF). SGC EX+ 70 (7 cards): #17, 42 Rogers Hornsby (HOF)71 Sam Rice (HOF), 80, 88 Bill Terry (HOF), 90, 100 Hack WIlson (HOF).  SGC EX 60 (7 cards): #35 Chick Hafey (HOF), 38, 59, 66, 95 Paul Waner (HOF), 98, 99. SGC VG-EX 50 (1 card): #34 Bump Hadley (short print).  SGC VG 40 (2 cards):#80 Henry Seibold (short print), 91 Phil Todt (short print). SGC POOR 10 (1 card): #36 Jesse Haines (HOF – short print).
 
1929 Kashin Set BThis is an astonishing set, with more than 60% of the cards grading NM or better, and all four rare short prints present and accounted for.  For a variety of reasons mostly related to the country’s poor economy, 1920s baseball card sets are typically unattractive and are typically underrated in the collecting community; the 1929 Kashin issue is, in the opinion of many, far and away the most attractive set of its era.  Loaded with Hall of Famers and outstanding photographic representations of the stars of the day from one of the best-known sports photographers of all time, the 1929 Kashin set has quite a bit going for it, and this is the finest of all the known, graded Kashin sets.  The cards are scarce enough that SMR does not offer value on any cards from the set, however, the most recent sales of a NM-MT Ruth and NMT Gehrig alone eclipsed $5,000 combined.
 
1929 Kashin Seibold FrontThis is an outstanding photographic representation of the key players at the dawn of the Live Ball Era, including some of the most popular players to set foot on a baseball field, and the single greatest professional ballplayer of all time.  It is the only complete, graded set on register, with all four rare short prints represented, and it is the highest-grade example of this set currently on any Registry.  A rare and outstanding collection.

1955 Bowman – Complete & Autographed Set!

1955 StautnerBeing involved in the hobby for more than 30 years gives one an immense appreciation of its true rarities – items that inspire a double-take due to rarity, complexity, or beauty.  This complete, autographed 1955 Bowman football set boasts all three.  Simply completing such a set is a collecting marvel that involves a great deal of patience and dedication: many of the players in the set are deceased, or simply did not sign many items.  Further, the 1955 Bowman set is particularly beautiful and colorful, each card featuring a full-color image of the player and team logo, silhouetted against a bold and colorful background.
 
1955 Bowman FordA complete 1955 Bowman football set is an incredible scarcity simply due to the presence of the rookie card of Hall of Fame defensive end Len Ford.  Ford is considered one of the most rare autographs of all Pro Football Hall of Famers.  The example included in this collection is an extremely well-centered, sharp example featuring the Hall of Famer’s signature boldly applied in ballpoint pen in the upper left corner of the card.  It is simply a majestic example of one of the most difficult signatures in football autograph collection.
 
Beyond the Ford, however, the 1955 Bowman set includes many other key rookies and Hall of Famers, some of which are scarcities in their own right: Doak Walker (HOF), Mike McCormack (HOF RC), Frank Gifford (HOF), Alan Ameche (RC), Pete Pihos (HOF), Ford (HOF RC), Ollie Matson (HOF), Jack Christiansesn (HOF), Norm Van Brocklin (HOF), Dick Stanfel (RC), Lou Groza (HOF), John Henry Johnson (HOF RC), Tom Fears (HOF), Joe Perry (HOF), Pat Summerall (RC), Ed Brown (RC), George Blanda (HOF), Ben Agajanian (RC), Jim Ringo (HOF RC), Bobby Layne (HOF), Y.A. Tittle (HOF), Hugh McElhenny (HOF), Billy Wilson (RC), Les Richter (HOF), Rick Casares (RC), Bob St. Clair (HOF RC), Leo Nomellini (HOF), Lou Creekmur (HOF), Frank Gatski (HOF RC), Jim Finks (HOF), Andy Robustelli (HOF), Ernie Stautner (HOF), Emlen Tunnell (HOF), Charlie Trippi (HOF), Bob Toneff (RC), Tom Landry (HOF), Chuck Bednarik (HOF), and L.G. Dupre (RC).  Card #120 of Finks, also a difficult autograph, is exceptional, with a dark, bold ballpoint signature.
 
1955 LandryWhat makes this collection that much more spectacular, however, is the incredible condition of most of the cards.  Easily averaging EX to EX-MT, the majority of the cards included in this set have been extraordinarily well-preserved, particularly for autographed cards.  Signed cards from the 1950s are often ravaged by time, creased and wrinkled, with significant corner wear.  Even modern collectors seeking autographs on vintage cards often choose off-grade examples, so as to avoid “damaging” a higher-grade card with a signature.  
 
1955 MatsonIn the case of this set, however, the cards are extraordinary – very little surface and corner wear, each signature applied in ink and each very high-quality in appearance, with the majority in the 6-8 range.  This is a spectacular set, originally part of the MacAllister collection of autographs that was auctioned off some years ago.  Thankfully this set – each of which’s 160 cards have been authenticated and encapsulated by PSA/DNA – was kept together by the original purchaser, who recognized the set’s uniqueness and the challenge involved in assembling such a collection card by card.  We are thrilled to present the entire collection to you as one single 160-card set, meticulously assembled and preserved, an outstanding artifact from the golden age of American football.
1955 Tunnell

Every player has a name.

1671a_lgOne of the things about the hobby that simultaneously frustrates and challenges us is the concept of the “unnamed player.”

Many people have played baseball, and many have been photographed in the act (or in the studio).  One can generally tell, however, when a photo is “serious,” as opposed to a photo of neighborhood kids playing stickball.  Particularly with turn of the century cabinet photos, there are tons of photos that have survived the years, depicting ballplayers in uniform, often taken right in a photography studio.

The hobby occasionally wreaks havoc on these photos.  Initially, when a ballplayer walks into a photography studio, he has a name.  He gets his photo taken, plays a few more seasons, then lives his life.  He marries, has kids, maybe grandkids.  Eventually he passes away, and is remembered by the people who loved him.

Unfortunately, though, over the years his belongings spread out among his descendants, and perhaps they wind up at an estate sale.  Eventually, the baseball photo finds its way into the hobby.  In the process, however, the player gets separated from his name.

Allow us to introduce you to William Saunders.

Saunders was a second baseman for the Bain Wagons baseball team of 1898, the “Woodstock Bains” of the Class D Canadian League.

This outstanding image and beautiful mount led us on another one of our fun research projects – identifying the player.

Based on the information printed on the mount, crediting the photo to A. Spinks of Woodstock, Ontario, we were able to trace the cabinet to Alfred Spinks, a photographer in Woodstock who bought out his business partner/brother in 1894, and operated his photography business until 1908. From there, we were also able to identify the player’s team – a factory team, from the Bain Wagon Company. Bain was a large business that operated in the city of Woodstock and surrounding areas between 1884 and 1926, that could, according to the Woodstock Museum, produce 50-60 wagons per day.

Once we encountered the Woodstock Museum website, though, we discovered ateam photo of the Bain Baseball team, from 1898. Seated on the far right, with the bat leaning against his lap, was one William Saunders, the team’s second baseman, and the subject of this beautiful cabinet photo we present to you today.

The Woodstock Bains were a team in the Class D Canadian League of 1899, the only season the team existed. Saunders is credited as having played 13 games behind the plate for the Bains, hitting just .140 with 7 hits in 49 at bats. Saunders was teammates with Bill Cristall, who pitched 6 games with the 1901 Cleveland Blues, and Frank Hemphill, who played 14 games with Chicago and Washington in 1906 and 1909. The big star of the Canadian League that season, however, was a 19-year-old outfielder named Sam Crawford. Crawford hit .370 for the Chatham Reds before moving to Columbus of the Western League, and eventually the Cincinnati Reds in 1899. Crawford, of course, would go on to become a Hall of Fame outfielder with the Detroit Tigers.

Of course this is not Sam Crawford, this is William Saunders, but he is nonetheless a ballplayer with a name, who lived in Ontario, Canada and was photographed in the late 1800s by Alfred Spinks while wearing his Bains baseball uniform. And the photo is beautiful, in outstanding condition with excellent image quality. The gorgeous, ornate white mount is in fantastic shape as well, slightly worn with some foxing at the top of the mount and some wear and dirt on the reverse. Still, an outstanding document of pre-1900 Canadian baseball.

The Most Significant Postwar Baseball Card

1952 Mantle 5-5 FrontEasily the most popular and significant postwar baseball card, the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle goes beyond the now-overused term “iconic” and into the stuff of legend.  Atop the want list of thousands of collectors, experienced and novice alike, it is often stated that this, along with the T206 Honus Wagner, are the best-recognized cards in the hobby.  Certainly, owning any ’52 Mantle is a badge of collecting honor, but one of this quality is a true rarity – a well-centered, crease-free, midgrade example with vibrant color and clarity of image, something to bridge the gap between the more common, lower grade examples and the ultra high grade, ultra expensive ones.
 
This card is a truly spectacular specimen, a card that so often appears with severe centering issues is centered here nearly perfectly, with only a slight, non-distracting tilt keeping us from boasting about its true perfection.  The corners are square with slight wear that reduces the technical grade of the card, but despite that, it remains a wonderful example – vivid colors, crisp registration, and again – the centering!  This is a card that should be chased not for its grade, but for its appearance within the grade – typically, a card in this condition will exhibit a noticeable flaw, and, softer corners (consistent with the grade) aside, there is no such issue with this example.  This is as wonderful a card as you will find in this type of condition.
 
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle remains one of those baseball cards that transcends the hobby – one that people outside the hobby recognize at a glance.  Still one of baseball’s most widely-recognized names, Mickey Mantle remains one of the most revered figures in sports, and despite not being his official “rookie” card, the 1952 card is certainly his most popular and sought after.  Completing the 1952 Topps set remains a monumental collecting achievement, partially due to the difficulty of obtaining the more scarce high number cards, but mostly due to this card – postwar collecting’s most treasured card.

T206 Sherry “Magie” error highlights upcoming auction

 

T206 Magie FrontThe most popular and widely-collected prewar card issue is undoubtedly the T206 issue.  While the player selection is large and includes a large number of Hall of Famers, and the multitude of back varieties lends varying degress of scarcity to the set, the issue also includes a number of rarities that represent some of the ultimate challenges to collectors.

 

The Sherry Magee “Magie” error is one of them.  Known as the fourth of the “Big Four” rarities in the set (the other three being the venerable Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank, and “Slow Joe” Doyle (N.Y. Nat’l) cards), the Magie’s error is perhaps the least romantic from a collecting standpoint, and yet that is part of its appeal.  While nobody definitively knows the reason for the Plank and Wagner rarities, and the Doyle rarity is so extremely rare that it escapes all but the most well-funded collectors, the reason for the Magie rarity is simple: Magee’s name was initially misspelled, and corrected during the initial Piedmont 150 printing.  

 

Despite the variation only being known with the Piedmont 150 (Factory 25) back, it is still considered by most collectors to be a necessary card for completion of the T206 set.  It is for this reason that its value continues to rise.  One of the hobby’s most important rarities, it is thought that only 150-200 examples of this card exist, the demand for this card far exceeding the supply as more and more collectors tackle T206 and its many challenges.

 

Graded VG 3 by PSA, this example is one of the more attractive of the midgrade Magies.  With strong, bold color (along with some visible surface wear), the card is marred by rounded corners consistent with the grade, and yet remains a striking example.  With an extremely high percentage of the known Magies existing on the lower end of the grade spectrum, an example as striking as this is highly desirable and will be extremely sought after for years to come.

 

A very attractive example of one of the hobby’s most important and well-known cards.