When grocery magnate Charles Adams, inspired by witnessing the 1924 Stanley Cup finals in Canada, decided to create the Boston Bruins, it began the history of one of the most important sports franchises in North American history. Game worn sweaters surviving from that significant first season in Boston have been virtually unheard of since, until now: Heritage Auction Galleries will feature Bruins left-winger George Redding’s 1924-25 jersey, easily one of the most historically important and desirable hockey artifacts ever to reach the public auction block, in its April 24 Signature® Sports Collectibles Auction.
“This brown wool sweater is the only surviving representation to surface from the ’24-25 Bruins,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports at Heritage, “a team that holds the distinction of being the first NHL club to play its home games south of the Canadian border. Though that debut season for the team was not particularly auspicious, with just six wins in 30 games, the supreme relevance of this sweater cannot be disputed. The start of the United States’ participation in the world’s most noteworthy professional hockey league began with this very uniform top.”
For the record, Redding would net three goals and two assists in 27 games in that inaugural Bruins season. The jersey was acquired originally from Redding’s family and includes a photo of Redding wearing it, providing the most ironclad provenance possible.
This Bruins jersey, however, is simply the tip of the ice rink as far as hockey memorabilia goes in this auction. Another superbly rare early NHL gamer, a mid-1930s Frank Finnigan game-worn Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, will provide hockey collectors a golden opportunity to own what may well be the last surviving example of a game-used top from one of the first great Leafs team.
The oldest living NHL player at the time of his death at age ninety-one in 1991, Finnigan had been a member of the Stanley Cup Champion 1927 Ottawa Senators and 1932 Toronto Maple Leafs, and a participant in the Ace Bailey Benefit Game of 1934, considered the NHL’s first All-Star contest. The historic ownership of the offered sweater only paints half the picture, however, as this remarkable artifact likewise holds the distinction of being the earliest Maple Leafs jersey ever presented at public auction. Jerseys from the 1940s have occasionally made their way into the hobby, though earlier representations, minus this gem, are all but impossible to locate. This jersey dates from Finnigan’s second tour of duty in Toronto between 1934 and 1937.
“This is a monumental rarity,” said Ivy. “Given its age, and how intensely it was used in its day, the mere fact of its survival is amazing enough. No apologies are necessary for the far less than perfect condition of this piece. To the most cultured and comprehensive collectors, this sweater is perfect as is.”
A quintet of other rare and attractive hockey items round out the considerable rink offerings in this auction, starting with a superb 1964-65 Bobby Orr Oshawa Generals Game Worn Jacket. Owned and worn by Orr at the tender age of 16, this jacket stands as the earliest uniform piece of this iconic Hall of Famer ever to surface for public auction. Orr was signed by Boston at the age of 12 and began play for the Oshawa Generals of the junior league Ontario Hockey Association at 14. In 1966 he would officially sign with the Bruins for a $25,000 salary, three times the rookie average. The contract would make him the highest-paid player in NHL history.
Of particular note and attraction to hockey collectors will be two game-worn Chicago Black Hawks jerseys. One is a 1951-53 Sid Finney/Jim Peters Game Worn Jersey in the famed Black Hawks “barber pole” style, regarded among collectors as one of the best NHL jerseys ever made, and the other is a 1956-57 Glen Skov jersey. Skov figured prominently in the three early-1950s Stanley Cups for the Red Wings before becoming an alternate Captain – as indicated by the “A” above the heart – with the Black Hawks in 1956.
Collectors of the modern game will be heartened to see a Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 2006-2007 game worn jersey – worn in the ’07 playoffs, to boot – representing the legends-in-the-making of today’s NHL. Not since a youngster named Wayne Gretzky appeared on the scene in the waning days of the 1970s has the hockey world been so captivated by a teenaged talent, earning Crosby the nickname “The Next One” in deference to his predecessor. This jersey ranks among the finest of the small supply of Crosby gamers to reach the auction block, dating from his sophomore NHL season in which his 120 points earned him the Art Ross Trophy, and the distinction of becoming the youngest player – and only teenager – to win a scoring title in any major North American sports league.
Of the most interesting non-game related pieces of NHL memorabilia is a 1952-53 Jean Beliveau Signed CAHA Player’s Certificate with Official Contracts/Letters, representing the culmination of one of the more circuitous routes ever taken into professional hockey. This is perhaps the rarest group of material from the beloved Hall-of-Famer to emerge in the hobby. Included is his signed player’s certificate from 1952-53, a 1951 agreement that sent Beliveau from his brief stint with the Canadiens, with letters from each GM, a signed letter from Aces coach George Imlach that offers a renewal of contract to Beliveau for the 1952-53 season with the mentioned contract, and a questionnaire for players filled out in fountain ink by the Beliveau himself, with such quirky answers as “golf & women” to the “What are your Hobbies?” line.
To read a detailed description of these lots, and to see downloadable, fully enlargeable images, go online to www.ha.com/714.
Heritage Sports Collectibles specializes in rare and collectible sports cards, as well as uniforms, equipment, and related vintage sports memorabilia. Consignments for future Signature Sports Auctions are currently being accepted. Prospective consignors or sellers of quality vintage sports cards and sports memorabilia are encouraged to contact Chris Ivy at 800-872-6467 Ext. 1319 or email: CIvy@HA.com.
For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.ha.com.
To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Client Services at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1150, or visit www.ha.com/Catalog to order by email.