Poster for a Negro Leagues baseball game
  • Negro Leagues photos – old with new signatures
  • Negro Leagues pitcher Terris McDuffie
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    Auction Finds

    Reader asks about Negro Leagues baseball poster

    Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources to help them determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    Today’s question is about a Negro Leagues baseball game poster.

    Negro Leagues baseball game poster

    An up-close view of the Negro Leagues baseball game poster sold at auction three years ago.

    Question:

    I have a poster of the above in better shape – can you tell me the value of it today?

    Answer:

    The reader was referring to a vintage poster for a Sunday afternoon doubleheader on Sept. 3, 1944, between the Negro National League’s New York Cubans and the Newark Eagles in New York. In the four corners of the poster were noted players from both teams. The photos were faded, but the players looked to be Terris McDuffie and Ray Dandridge with the Eagles and Impo Barnhill and Juan Vargas with the Cubans.

    I wrote about the framed poster – which was not in great condition – three years ago after it came up for auction. The original owner had glued it to a wall, and placed black and white pictures around it, according to an auction-house assistant. Someone else had removed it from the wall, tearing it in places around the edges, and then consigned it.

    The Negro National League was started in 1920 by Andrew “Rube” Foster (whose face is now on a U.S. postage stamp), shut down in 1931 and revived in 1933 by Gus Greenlee. Its counterpart, the Negro American League was formed in 1937. The two leagues were independent operations until 1949 when they merged. The new combined league ended in 1960.

    The poster at auction sold for $140.

    The full poster for the 1944 game between the Newark Eagles and the New York Cubans.

    The full poster for the 1944 game between the Newark Eagles and the New York Cubans.

    As for the reader’s poster, I cannot affix a price to it. As I always say, it depends on condition, rarity and who wants it at a given point in time. In my research, I could find no recent sales of vintage (not reproduction) Negro Leagues posters. I did find several that were sold in 2009 and earlier. Two 1950s posters – one a barnstorming broadside – sold for $250.

    A limited edition reproduction poster of a 1930s game between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Chicago American Giants and signed by four players – including Satchel Paige – sold for $787. The poster was created for the July 1988 National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City. It came with a letter of authenticity.

    I also came across what was described as a circa 1943 original painting on fiberboard for a poster announcing a game between the same two teams. It sold for $5,000 in 2010, and was done by Spencer T. Banks and signed “S.T. Banks Poster.” It is apparently an original of the limited edition poster. I was curious about the artist but could find only one with that name via Google: An African American commercial artist from St. Louis. Not sure if that’s him, though, because I could find out nothing else about him.

    Negro Leagues baseball game poster

    A circa 1943 Negro Leagues baseball original art poster signed “S.T. Banks Poster.” From Hunt Auctions.

    The top asking price I found for a poster was on eBay, where a buyer was selling what was said to be one of the first Negro baseball posters. It was from 1909 – more than a decade before the league was formed – and promoted a team connected to Foster. It was selling for $10,500.

    A 1909 photo postcard of the same team, the Leland Giants, sold for $22,137 (plus premium) in 2010. The team was founded by Frank Leland. Foster came on board in 1907 as a manager (he was also a pitcher). He left the team and helped form the American Giants in 1911.

    During my research, at least two auction houses that specialized in sports memorabilia kept turning up: Hunt Auctions in Exton, PA, and Huggins & Scott in Silver Springs, MD.

    On the FAQ page on its site, Hunt offers to give a ball-park figure on the value of items if a photo and other info are provided. I would suggest that the reader check out the Hunt site for more information. This service appears to be complimentary, but the company charges for a professional appraisal. Don’t feel obligated to consign the item if you aren’t interested in selling it. I wasn’t able to find a similar free service on the Huggins & Scott site.

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