We all know that sports memorabilia is a multi-billion-dollar industry. And we also know that its practitioners are primarily guys. That was quite evident at auction recently when they turned out to bid on 320 lots of sports stuff.
Baseball cards, signed photos and baseballs, pennants, Black Americana trade cards, pins, plaques, footballs, yearbooks, helmets and some boxing photos. Some were as old as a set of 1887 tobacco cards and as new as a 1998 Peyton Manning Rookie Football Card. Bidding came from the floor – where at any given time there were more than 30 or more bidders in the room – on the phone and over the internet via Live Auctioneers.
The item that attracted me was a 1940s Babe Ruth Viewer Slide. I love the old Sawyer brand Viewmasters with their round reels and the old wooden stereoscopes with their square slides. I’ve picked up a few Sawyers in the past, but have always been out-bidded on the stereoscopes.
The Babe Ruth slide showed him with actor William Bendix on his last visit to Hollywood. Bendix played the slugger in the “The Babe Ruth Story” in 1948. The slide went for $30. A Bendix poster for the movie “Kill the Umpire” (1950) was also up for sale.
I don’t know much about sports memorabilia, but I was curious enough to hang around to see how the bidding went. And I must say that the bids were reasonable and affordable, from my novice point of view.
In my research later, I found on the site sportsmemorabilia.com that such items as signed photos, cards and jerseys were considered memorabilia. Reproductions and items that had not be signed or authenticated were considered collectibles, according to the website. It also offered tips on how to become a collector.
Here are some items that I found interesting at the auction. The descriptions are from the auction house and my research:
– 1913 National Game WG5 Baseball Card Game. With box & instructions sheet, 52 player picture cards, score card and instruction card. $1,800.
– Sweet Caporal Baseball Pins (photo, top center). 1910. 11 players: George Bell, Fred Clarke, Jim Delahanty, Art Devlin, Clyde Engle, Art Fromme, George Gibson, Tommy Leach, Al Mattern, Pat Moran, Owen Wilson. The American Tobacco Company issued the pins under the Sweet Caporal brand from 1910 to 1912. Tobacco companies were among the first to use baseball cards as advertising. $120.
– Colgan’s Chips E254 with Tins (photo, bottom left). 1909-1911. With players Topsy Hartsel and Orville Woodruff. These small round cards with the faces of ball players came inside tins of Colgan’s Chips mints and gum. $110.
– Mickey Mantle signed and framed b&w photo (photo, lower right). 15 ½” x 19 ¾”. Certificate of authenticity. From Big League Marketing Inc. This was one of several that the auctioneer said once hung in Resorts Atlantic City Casino. $100.
– Joe DiMaggio at bat, signed and framed b&w photo (photo, upper right). 19 ¼” x 15 ¼”. Certificate of authenticity. From Big League Marketing Inc. This one also hung in Resorts. $130.
– 1929 Shibe Park World Series Ticket. Original cost: $5.50. Auction price: $90.
– Black Americana Baseball Trade Cards. Late 19th century, advertising for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P). $70.
– 1936 R312 Baseball Pastel Photos (photo, bottom right). 10 of them: Pie Traynor/Augie Galan (3 photos), Ernie Lombardi (3 photos), Augie Galan, Billy Herman, Fred Lindstrom, Gabby Hartnett, Frank Demare & Phil Cavaretta & Taylor (3 photos), Tris Speaker & Kiki Cuyler. $100.
– Jim Brown signed Riddell Mini Cleveland Browns Helmet. Certificate of authenticity. From S&A Sports. $25.
– Joe Namath signed Riddell Mini Dallas Cowboys Helmet with packaging. No certificate of authenticity. $40.
– 1954 Jackie Robinson Sample Display Wall Calendar (photo, upper left). My auction buddy got this one for $35.
– 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Tobacco Cards. 19 cards mounted on posterboard: Wm. Moldoon, Theo Baver, Young Bibby (Geo. Mehling), John McMahon, Jake Kilrain, Charlie Mitchell, Ike Weir, Jimmy Carroll, John L. Sullivan, Wallace Ross, Geo Bubear, E.A. Trickett, Wm. Beach, John McKay, Ed Hanlan, Miss Annie Oakley, Geo. F. Slosson, Joseph Mulvey & Dr. W.F. Carver. $110.
– Oakland Raiders Portable Folding Seat. 1995. Signed by Mike Davis, Darryl Hobbs & 2 illegible signatures. No certificate of authenticity. $4.
– 7 lots of Topps Baseball Cards with blank fronts or backs, 1987-1988. Each lot contained 4,000+ cards and included some minor stars. One bidder took most of them. They sold from $1 to $2 per lot.