Rare Cuban Baseball Card Set and Ephemera Leads in Hake’s Online Auction

A set of Cuban baseball card—which features many Negro League stars, as well as five National Baseball Hall of Fame members—is the only complete collection of Cuban baseball cards issued in 1923-24 by Tomas Gutierrez, manufacturers of Diaz brand cigarettes, ever to come to the auction block. It is expected to sell for $75,000 to $100,000 at sale hosted by Hake’s Americana & Collectibles.

YORK, Pa. – With an immense array of items that fall under one of two headings: either “I had one of those!” or “I’ve never seen that before – anywhere!” Hake’s Americana & Collectibles has opened the bidding on its Auction #211, with one particular lot—a complete set of Cuban baseball cards from the 1920s—expected to carry the auction’s top-lot honors.

As is the tradition with Hake’s—the auction house that established pop culture as a bona-fide category of historical memorabilia—bidding on the 2,864 lots will close in an orderly consecutive fashion over three days, this time from March 18 through March 20, 2014.

One of the most sought cards in the set is card #14, Oscar Charleston, graded a 20 Fair 1.5. Charleston played in the Negro Leagues from 1915 to 1944 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Negro Leagues Committee in 1976.

The card set—which features many Negro League stars, as well as five National Baseball Hall of Fame members—is the only complete collection of Cuban baseball cards issued in 1923-24 by Tomas Gutierrez, manufacturers of Diaz brand cigarettes, ever to come to the auction block. There are 84 SGC-graded cards in the set, numbering 1 through 83, plus #85. To Hake’s knowledge, no card #84 is known. 

“To give you an idea of how valuable this set is to collectors, we sold eight cards from the same series (from the late Richard Merkin’s collection) for $30,000,” said Hake’s General Manager Alex Winter, noting that the cards in this set are in higher grade, and there are 84 of them. The set features a who’s who of Cuban baseball talent of the 1920s. The players featured in this set also include members of the Cuban and Negro League Halls of Fame. The lot estimate is $75,000-$100,000.

The auction also contains early Cuban baseball memorabilia from the fabled Merkin collection. The selection includes news service photos of teams and players; a few signed documents, a broadside, scorecards and other rare ephemera.

The other highlights from the auction includes pieces from the Julie Powell collection of early political memorabilia, Part II of the Disney character toy and collectibles collection of children’s book author Maurice Sendak (1928-2012), a unique collection of JFK/RFK presidential and campaign items, Additionally, there are several examples of original post-psychedelic-era poster art from a master of the genre, Mark Arminski.

The auction opens with American political relics from the renowned collection of Philadelphian Julie Powell. Lot 20 is a high-grade example of an 1872 “Grant and Wilson” name flag. In beautiful condition, it is expected to make $2,000-$5,000. Another desirable 19th-century survivor is Lot 171, a starburst silvered-brass badge with Abraham Lincoln’s profile portrait and the inscription “EMANCIPATION/JAN 1 1863.” Only the second example ever encountered by Hake’s, this badge comes with provenance from the revered John Ford collection. Estimate $2,000-$5,000.

A modern-era, original-owner political collection includes 40-50 significant pieces from the Kennedy era. “The consignor was a trusted Kennedy senior aide who played an important role in the advance planning of personal appearances and trips for both JFK and his brother, Robert, during their presidential campaigns,” said Hake’s founder, Ted Hake. “His collection includes items that are just never seen, such as JFK staff-only badges. Lot 86 is a laminated JFK “Official Staff” badge issued to the consignor for use during the 1960 presidential campaign. Estimate: $2,000-$5,000. Other items include a JFK election night staff badge, four different sterling silver filigree pens and pencils JFK used as gifts, RFK “Press” badges, two RFK signed photos, and rare tickets and documents provided only to those guests invited to Kennedy funerals in 1963 and 1968.

This 1930 Mickey the Musical Mouse tin toy, made in Germany for English market under license to Ideal Films, Ltd., is expected to realize between $20,000 and $35,000.

Comic character toys from the estate of children’s book author/illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) were among the top sellers in Hake’s November sale. Now collectors will have a chance to bid on Part II, which includes some real gems. Lot 2038, a 1930 Mickey the Musical Mouse tin toy was made in Germany for the English market under license to Ideal Films Ltd. The toy features Mickey and Minnie Mouse pushing a stroller with a horn-tooting baby Mickey in tow. The lot could reach $20,000-$35,000 at auction. Other Sendak highlights include Lot 2046, a figural Mickey Mouse painted cast-aluminum doorstop, est. $10,000-$20,000; and Lot 2668, an SGC-graded complete set of “Mickey Mouse with the Movie Stars” gum cards. Each card has a comic scene of Mickey Mouse interacting with a Hollywood celebrity, such as Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Groucho and Harpo Marx, etc. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000.

Two consecutive lots feature original pen-and-ink artwork by legendary comic book artist Jack “King” Kirby. Lot 1859 is the original art for page eight of the November 1965 issue of Marvel’s Fantastic Four #44, with a Stan Lee storyline that introduced Gorgon of the Inhumans. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000. Lot 1860 comprises a pair of pages of Kirby artwork from the January 1969 issue of Marvel’s Captain America #109. For the issue’s story written by Stan Lee, Kirby reinterpreted the origin of Captain America, which he first drew with Joe Simon in 1941’s Captain America Comics #1. Lot 1860 is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.

Lot 1844, featured on the cover of Hake’s catalog, is a special framed artwork of Superman drawn in 1941 by the character’s co-creator Joe Shuster as a gift for MLB Hall of Famer Louis “Lefty” Gomez. The depiction of the Man of Steel, with legs astride and hands on hips, is described by J.C. Vaughn of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide as “the single finest Joe Shuster Superman I’ve ever seen.” The work was personally inscribed by Shuster and collaborator Jerry Siegel: “Best personal regards to Lefty Gomez from one SUPERMAN to another.” It carries an estimate of $20,000-$35,000.

Leading the comic books to be sold is Lot 1711, a CGC 3.5 VG copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962),the first appearance of The Amazing Spider-Man. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000.

Leading the comic books to be sold is Lot 1711, a CGC 3.5 VG copy of Amazing Fantasy #15. Issued in August 1962, the comic has a Jack Kirby cover, Steve Ditko art and a Stan Lee storyline that introduces readers to The Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker), as well as Parker’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000.

A small archive of material by/from legendary concert poster artist Mark Arminski has been entered in the sale. The grouping includes posters he designed – that subsequently were signed by the musicians they promoted – and multi-artist-signed items by Mark and his peers. “Mark was both a fan and friend of the artists and is considered one of the greats of his generation, with more than 300 posters to his credit. He’s from the second wave of artists who bridged the gap between the old-school psychedelic artists and the new school of artists who are adding to the ongoing evolution of concert poster art,” said Winter. In addition to poster art, the Arminski offering includes Lot 2812, an aqua-oil painting of fellow artist Audrey Pongracz, who specializes in surreal and dream-like paintings with pop-culture elements. Estimate: $2,000-$5,000.

Lot 1000 is an iconic white suit worn by the late KFC founder Colonel Harlan Sanders and purchased from his wife’s estate. The double-breasted coat and slacks set was tailored by Merton Chesher of Toronto and has a dated 1966 label inside the collar identifying the outfit as being for “COL H SANDERS.” Estimate: $10,000-$20,000.

Hake’s Americana Auction #211 is now open for bidding by phone, mail or online. For more information or to request a free printed catalog or, call 866.404.9800 or 717.434.1600, e-mail to hakes@hakes.com or visit the Hake’s Americana & Collectibles website.

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