A pre-rookie bat from “The Kid.”

Carter Barrel BrandOur Winter auction features this beautiful Gary Carter signature model K55, dating to the 1973 labeling period, prior to “The Kid” breaking into the big leagues.  Carter’s time in the minors featured a rather meteoric rise, rocketing through Rookie and A ball in 1972, a full season of AA ball in Quebec in 1973, a full season at AAA in Memphis in 1974 before breaking in with Montreal in 1975.

Carter KnobIt was during Carter’s time with the 1973 Quebec Carnavals that he first used this bat, as evidenced by his number 48 being written on the bat’s knob (along with Carter’s initials) and with the number 4 eventually obscured as Carter assumed his number 8.  The bat exhibits signs of excellent use, with a slight crack in the centerbrand, clearly visible ball marks on the left and bat barrel, as well as blue and red bat rack streaks.  At some point the crack in the centerbrand was secured with tape, but the tape has been removed.  Most notable of all the use characteristics is the application of pine tar on the upper and lower handle with a “gap” inbetween, a characteristic noted on other Carter bats.  The bat has also been signed by carter to the left of his signature brand.

All of this has resulted in a grade of GU 8 by John Taube of PSA/DNA.  This is a wonderful bat, well-preserved but with outstanding signs of use from one of the most beloved players of his era, leader of the World Champion 1986 Mets, and deserving Hall of Famer.  Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

Carter Longview

Rare and Desirable Schmelzer’s Pins Ty Cobb – Newly Graded!

1910 Schmelzers Cobb FrontThe Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pinback button set is incredibly rare, with only a few dozen examples known of any player, and just five Ty Cobb examples known to exist.  The 1 1/4″ diameter pinback issue is among the most rare of all baseball pinback sets, the first baseball celluloid pinback issue to feature lithographic artwork juxtaposed with an actual player photo.  Produced by the Whitehead & Hoag company (manufacturer of most of the era’s pinbacks) and issued by Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods of Kansas City, MO, these pinbacks are unbelievably rare, and extremely desirable among the hobby’s most advanced collectors.

Much has been stated in the past with respect to the rarity of the Schmelzer’s pinback issue in relation to any baseball card issue of the same era.  The pins are so rare that until this past Spring, just eight different subjects were known to exist – and then two more were found (Johnny Evers and George Stallings).  Today, only one complete set is known to exist, with only one known example of the Evers and Stallings.  With just ten subjects known (one for each position plus a manager), the “team” includes four Hall of Famers (Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Rabbit Maranville, and Evers) plus Joe Jackson – quite a powerful punch.

Presented here is one of just five known examples of the issue’s unquestionable key: that of Ty Cobb.  Graded NM 7 by PSA, this example is the only Cobb on PSA’s population report.  It is likely the finest example of the Cobb pinback in existence.  The image quality is nearly perfect, with virtually no signs of age or wear to speak of.  A slight patina on the pin itself, with some very mild discoloration along the edges of the reverse are the only visible signs of wear, this is truly a spectacular example.

The finest known example of the key subject from the hobby’s most rare pinback issue.  An absolutely extraordinary rarity.

1916 Mino Cigarettes Tris Speaker

T216 Mino Speaker FrontThe second of the T216 Mino cards featured in this auction, the Tris Speaker card earned its way into our “Featured Items” section simply due to the head-turning responses it received at three Northeast shows where we displayed the card.  The card turned heads in unexpected ways, with just two collectors ever having seen one before.  Indeed, according to VCP, just one example has sold at public auction in the last three years, an SGC 40 that eclipsed $3,500 in 2012.

 

 

T216 Mino Speaker BackGraded GOOD 30 by SGC, this example was graded some time ago, certainly prior to SGC’s establishment of half grades at the lower levels.  With wide borders and even corner wear, the well-centered card does exhibit some minor creasing, but nothing that breaks the color of the card to any great degree, and certainly nothing to detract from the card’s excellent eye appeal.  An uncommon pose for a Speaker card, this is truly an interesting one, an extremely tough card from a seldom seen Louisiana tobacco issue.

Amazing High-Grade ’34 Goudey Gehrig

1934 Gehrig FrontThe phrase “Yellow Gehrig” is one any prewar collector will recognize; it clearly refers to the iconic 1934 Goudey card featuring the bold portrait of a smiling Yankee captain, set against a bright yellow background.  The Gehrig-endorsed 1934 Goudey issue helped cement the first baseman as the game’s biggest star in the wake of a fading Babe Ruth; his wholesome image and impossible consecutive games streak endeared him to baseball fans not only in New York but nationwide.

The 1934 Goudey issue remains one of the more popular of the gum card era, and without a Ruth, it is the issue’s two Gehrig cards that are the set’s undisputed keys.  The bright yellow background is susceptible to showing stains and scuffs, accentuating every flaw even in higher-grade examples.  Such high grade examples are rare, however, with just three specimens attaining a grade of MINT 9 by PSA, with two graded MINT 96 by SGC and one GEM 98.

There is no two ways about it: this is a monster card.  Graded MINT 9 OC by PSA, the qualifier refers only to the top-to-bottom centering issue that falls outside the range for a straight MINT grade.  The centering issue is relatively unobtrusive as far as eye appeal is concerned, however, the addition of the qualifier brings the sale price of the card down below the unquestionable six-figure range this card would fetch in a straight 9 holder.  Regardless, however, the card is as beautiful a “Yellow Gehrig” as you are likely to find, with brilliant yellow coloring and blazing corners.  The slight blemish near Gehrig’s left cheek that is visible in our high-resolution scan is strictly on the holder and not the card; it is a small blemish in the plastic that qwe were unable to remove.

With a total graded population of more than 1,000 examples, the number to achieve a MINT grade or better is just six.  One of the most beautiful “Yellow Gehrig” cards in existence, a pure mint copy with a slight centering flaw that reduces the card’s technical assessment but certainly not its aesthetic appeal.

There’s cool…and then there’s COOL.

As Hat AThere are some collectibles that are fascinating and interesting, and there are others that are just too cool to properly describe, and this qualifies as one of them.

Winning five consecutive AL West championships, the Oakland A’s of the early 1970s were one of the game’s most electrifying and dominant teams.  Their colorful nature was encouraged by owner Charles Finley, who adopted vivid green and gold uniforms, offered his players $300 bonuses to grow mustaches, nicknamed his star pitchers “Catfish” and “Blue Moon,” and introduced the flourescent orange baseball, which was tested in night games.

Legend has it that in the early 1970s, Finley had cowboy hats custom made for his players.  This particular hat was made for the coolest of all the A’s players – pitcher Vida Blue.

Blue won the Cy Young and the MVP in 1971, posting a 24-8 record with a 1.82 earned run average.  One of the greatest pitchers of his era, Blue was also one of the coolest, and is still active in promoting baseball to inner-city children.  Which is cool.

As Hat BThe hat is a quality suede hat, featuring the A’s logo patch on the front, and a gold band with black and gold feathers.  The brim is rimmed with gold.  The liner of the hat is satin, the leather sweatband stamped with the Bandera Premier logo, and the telltale stamping “Made Especially For VIDA BLUE” stamped in gold leaf along the right of the sweatband.

We have not seen anything else like this.  What could be cooler – perhaps Tito Fuentes’ sunglasses?  Dock Ellis’ curlers?  Joe Pepitone’s hair dryer?  We’re not sure, but for now, this custom-made cowboy hat, gifted by one of the era’s most colorful owners to one of its most colorful players, is the epitome of 1970s baseball cool.

Roy Campanella 1952 All-Star Game-Used Bat

Roy Campanella and Eddie Mathews pose for a photo before the 1952 All-Star game.
Roy Campanella and Eddie Mathews pose for a photo before the 1952 All-Star game.

Near the peak of their strength as a team, the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers sent seven players to the All-Star game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia: Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Preacher Roe and Duke Snider.  The game was halted early due to rain, called after just five innings, with the National League defeating the American League, 3-2,thanks to a fourth inning 2-run home run by Hank Sauer.

Coming off his MVP season of 1951, Campanella was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star team (he would ultimately appear in eight). The Dodgers catcher would play all five innings of the game, with two at bats.  In his first, in the top of the second, he popped out to Al Rosen at third base.  In his second, he drew a 4th inning walk, moved to third on an Enos Slaughter double, and was stranded there to end the inning.  For the purposes of this auction lot, however, those two at bats – and one batted ball – are important.

While players were (and, technically, still are, though they’re paid for by the teams) responsible for ordering their own bats, Hillerich & Bradsby rewarded participants in each year’s All-Star Game and World Series with a gift: two brand-new bats, prepared to the player’s specifications, and branded with the year and occasion.  Those bats are, obviously, much more scarce than their typical bats, with just two manufactured for each player, they are much less likely to have survived.

Campanella Bat - Long ViewIn our Winter, 2016 auction, we are pleased to feature Roy Campanella’s G80 model Louisville Slugger, emblazoned with the 1952 All Star Game designation.  The bat is visually stunning, absolutely beautiful in eye appeal and quality.  While the bat is exceptionally clean, particularly given its age, it does exhibit signs of light use, with some ball marks on the left barrel and a very light coat of pine tar on the handle.  The bat also exhibits some minor streaks consistent with being removed from a bat rack.  Considering the circumstances surrounding the manufacture of this bat, coupled with Campanella’s lack of action in the game (just a foulout and a walk), John Taube of PSA/DNA, after thorough examination, has graded this bat a GU 9.

Campanella Bat - Barrel BrandThis is an outstanding bat, a beautiful example and just one of two such bats manufactured for Campanella.  With specifications that match Campanella’s 1952 ordering records exactly, and a length and weight that match the bats ordered by Campanella in 1952, the authenticity of this bat is unquestionable.

Campanella Bat - KnobRoy Campanella bats are very difficult to find.  Campanella remains one of the most popular players in baseball history, his tragic story still a source of sadness for New York and Los Angeles sports fans.  Campanella’s smiling face and proud determination in the face of his 1957 accident have made him an American hero.  One of the most rare of all Campanella collectibles, a game-used bat from one of his All-Star appearances.

A REALLY rare Honus Wagner

T216 Mino Wagner Front

The T216 People’s Tobacco issues are the last of the Louisiana-based tobacco sets.  Issued during the lengthy period between 1911 and 1916, the cards advertise either Kotton, Mino, or Virginia Extra brands, with Mino and Virginia Extra being the more scarce varieties.  The cards are extraordinarily scarce today, with higher-grade commons reaching into the four-figure range on a regular basis, and Hall of Famers fetching considerably more.

Along with Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, the Honus Wagner serves as the issue’s anchor, the most valuable and desirable card of the issue.  While population reports for this issue are unreliable as they do not accurately reflect either the different variations of the set’s cards or the three different backs, it is our belief that there are fewer than a half dozen graded Mino Wagners in existence – and while we understand and appreciate that so many long-time prewar collectors eschew grading in general, we feel that the population reports remain an excellent guideline when determining scarcity.

A quick scan of VCP reveals just four sales of this particular variation and does not include this example; the most recent sale of this variety was in a Barry Sloate auction in 2008 – a PSA 3 example that exceeded $9,000.  Seven years later, we are proud to offer this example in our upcoming Winter catalog auction.

T216 Mino Wagner BackGraded GOOD 30 by SGC, the card actually boasts incredible eye appeal – wonderful centering and large, wide borders that exhibit the majority of the wear at the very edges and corners.  The rare Mino Cigarettes back is virtually unblemished, with some very minor flaking at the “O” in “Mino” and some very minor edge wear.  Quite a fantastic example indeed, a card that has historically made itself available at public auction only once every few years.  One of the rarest and most desirable of all Wagner’s cards, from a highly collectible New Orleans issue.