Mastro Auctions December Premier Sale Unveils More Incredible Hobby Finds

Unprecedented “Skydash Collection” of E270 Tintops, famous retired numbers of Ruth and Gehrig from Yankee Stadium and rare Ted Williams Items to be offered

First came the baseball card collections of the great hobby pioneers – Nagy and Egan among the most notable. Then it was a newly discovered mint condition set of 1914 Cracker Jacks that Mastro Auctions assisted in selling for $800,000 – a new record for a card set at the time. Next, it was the exclusive handling of the pristine Lionel Carter Collection. Then, this past summer, Mastro Auctions unveiled a 1912 T215Â “Pirate” Cigarettes near set that sold for $960,000, setting a new record for the most expensive baseball card set in existence. Now, just when collectors might think Mastro Auctions couldn’t possibly have another baseball trump card to play, at least in 2007, the leading Sports and Americana house has announced it will offer an unbelievable collection of E270 Colgan’s Chips Tintops in its December 2007 Premier Auction. And that’s just one of the more than 1,500 items the auction powerhouse will offer in this incredible hobby sale.

“Of course we expect the E270s to go off the register when they are auctioned,” said Doug Allen, president and COO of Mastro Auctions. “But what is most exciting is Mastro Auctions’ ability to attract one phenomenal item or collection after another and bring it to the collecting world in the manner that it and our customers deserve. We’re encouraged that the job we’re doing and the reputation we’ve built helps the hobby “finds”, ultimately find us.”

Allen also announced another hobby “find” in terms of auction events. A distinctly new, regularly occurring live auction will be joining the Mastro Auction’s product line-up. Mastro Auctions Live Auction division is currently on target to conduct three live Connoisseur Auctions per year. The Connoisseur Auctions with be composed of primarily Fine Art and Americana items. The inaugural, live Connoisseur Auction will take place on Saturday, December 15 starting 10:00 a.m. at Mastro Auctions’ corporate headquarters located at 7900 S. Madison, Burr Ridge, IL. A public auction preview is available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14.

According to Allen, the change in the company’s line up will have a positive impacet when it comes to opening up certain categories of material to a more extensive base of customers. The Connoisseur Auctions will be held as a one-day live event utilizing the functionality of eBay Live. The events will combine various categories of Americana and Fine Art that will benefit from being presented in this new format. The Connoisseur Auction items will include, but will not be limited to Fine Art, political items, comics, illustration art and toys, as well as a host of more esoteric categories.

The Premier Sports and Americana Auctions will now be held over two days. As requested by our customers, the auction will end on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Premier Auctions will combine Mastro Auctions’ premium sports categories with non-sports cards and autographs (e.g. Presidential, historical, rock & roll, Hollywood, etc.) “We have found that these are the items that have the most cross-collecting potential in our Premier Auction events,” said Allen. “They are the categories that are most familiar to our core customer base and do well when offered in tandem.”

The bidding format in Mastro’s Premier Auctions will remain unchanged.Bidding in Mastro Auctions’ 1,500-plus lot phone/internet Premier Auction will begin on November 26 and conclude on Thursday, December 13. Specific highlights include:

The Skydash Collection – E270 Tintops
Nicknamed the “Skydash” Collection by its owner, the collection includes over 1,500 vintage cards primarily from the 1910 era. The centerpiece of the collection is 229 E270 Colgan’s Chips Tintops (145 different, including nine new uncatalogued cards), which includes two of the issue’s key cards – Joe Jackson and Jim Thorpe. The find is leaving hobby veterans awestruck.

“There isn’t much I haven’t seen in the hobby,” said Bill Mastro, CEO of Mastro Auctions and recent inductee in the hobby’s Hall of Fame. “These cards, in their quantity and condition are a true exception. The existence of this collection is one of the hobby’s greatest surprises, certainly in recent history, if not on an all-time level.”

Doug Allen, president and COO of Mastro Auctions agrees. “To say E270 Tintops are rare is like saying a World Series Championship for the Chicago Cubs is rare,” said Allen, a long-suffering Cubbies fan. “That they are few and far between is an understatement.”

Driving the immense significance of the “Skydash” Collection is a combination of three critical factors: rarity, condition and subject matter. The E270 Tintops, which are the marquee offering of the collection, were manufactured to sit inside small round tins of Colgan’s Chips mints. The incredibly thin “chips” or baseball cards, about one-half the thickness of a Cracker Jack card, were collected in quantities of 25 and mailed in to redeem a photo of the “world’s pennant winning team.”Â

The redemption aspect of the issue is presumed to explain its rarity. Because the “chips” were collected and sent in for a premium, very few remained in collectors’ hands. The issue’s paper-thin production left it extremely vulnerable to bending and creasing, explaining why, when the errant rare E270 is found, it is often in poor condition. Finally, there is the subject matter. Most of the player images on the E270 Tintops are also seen on the E254 Diamond Star series of the same era. The key cards in the E270 Tintops are those whose images do not also appear in the E254 Diamond Star Series, such as Joe Jackson and Jim Thorpe. These two images are unique to the E270 Tintops series. Consequently, the discovery of one of these key E270 cards raises the significance of any find exponentially.

According to Pete Calderon, a vintage card specialist at Mastro Auctions, the “Skydash” Collection of E270 Tintops delivers the “perfect storm” of rarity, condition and subject matter. “The sheer number of rare E270s in the collection is mind-blowing,” said Calderon.

In addition to the inherent rarity of the known E270s in the collection, Calderon explains that the find includes nine previously uncatalogued cards. “Combine that with the existence of the issue’s two key cards – the Joe Jackson and Jim Thorpe and suddenly this find becomes almost mythical.”

But incredibly, Calderon said, the merits of the “Skydash” Collection reaches unfathomable heights when condition is factored into the overall mix. “The condition of the E270s, most notably the Jackson and Thorpe are spectacular,” says Calderon. “It’s just unheard of. There simply is no precedent in the hobby for these cards.” Â

To put the rarity of the “Skydash” E270 Tintops find in true hobby perspective, Calderon explained that only five E270 Joe Jackson’s and three Jim Thorpe’s are known to exist. “Here’s the heart-stopper,” said Calderon. “The examples we have of each card in the “Skydash” Collection are far superior to any of the cards known to exist, grading SGC NM+ 86 and SGC 92 NM MT+, respectively.”

The initial offering of the E270s will consist of the best 145 different SGC graded cards including the nine new previously uncatalogued cards and the elusive Jim Thorpe card. The Jim Thorpe card will offered individually with a minimum bid of $10,000. The other 144 cards will either be offered individually or in groupings for various minimums bids. The Joe Jackson card and the balance of the duplicate E270s will be sold in Mastro Auctions’ April 2008 Premier sale.

Retired Numbers of Yankees Greats that Hung in Yankee Stadium – Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio
On April 15, 1976, Yankee Stadium reopened after two years of renovations. What was most noticeable was that the three monuments in center field were no longer there. The monuments erected to honor Miller Huggins (1932), Lou Gehrig (1941), and Babe Ruth (1949) had been moved behind the new outfield wall, as were the Ed Barrow, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Jacob Ruppert plaques. The framed swatches of actual Yankee pinstripes (with the blue felt retired numbers stitched on) and the name plaques that identified which number belong to which legend that were displayed inside the Stadium before its 1974-75 renovation were also gone. But unlike the monuments, the numbers and plaques were not placed back in the newly renovated stadium.

A 1997 letter from John Golden of Golden Glen Entertainment explains that he procured the retired numbers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio (numbers 3, 4 and 5) from the owner of a sports collectable store in Nyack, NY in 1976. The owner of the store acquired the retired numbers and corresponding plaques through the contractor in charge of the Yankee Stadium renovation who had secured the right to sell certain Yankee artifacts and memorabilia.

The retired numbers were part of that transaction. In 1990, according to Golden, Nick Priore, who was the Yankees clubhouse manager and, at the time had been with the organization for 31 years, authenticated that they were, in fact, the retired numbers that hung in the stadium prior to the commencement of the refurbishing of Yankee Stadium. By comparing the relative toning of each retired number, it is clearly apparent that No. 4 was displayed for the longest length of time, and No. 5 for the shortest. More specifically the retired Yankees numbers include:

Lou Gehrig’s Retired “Number 4” That Hung in Yankee Stadium – The First Number Retired in Professional Baseball
It is widely recorded that Lou Gehrig’s No. 4 was retired on July 4, 1939, but that is not the case. That was “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at the Stadium, when 61,808 fans paid tribute to Gehrig when he told them “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It wasn’t until January 6, 1940 that Yankees President Edward G. Barrow announced that Gehrig’s No. 4 would never again be worn by another Yankee, the first time in baseball history that a major league club had so honored a player. Lou Gehrig’s blue felt No. “4” is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script below the number are the words “Lou Gehrig Number retired July 4, 1939.” The piece is accompanied by the original bronze “LOU GEHRIG” plaque which hung beneath his retired number. The minimum bid is $5,000.

Babe Ruth’s Retired “Number 3” That Hung in Yankee Stadium
One would think that Babe Ruth’s No. 3 would have been retired when he left the Yankees or at least after he had retired from baseball, but that was not the case. The Babe and the Yankees did not part company amicably after the 1934 season. As a result he did not receive the dubious honor until 1948. Babe Ruth’s blue felt No. “3” is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script beneath the number are the words “Babe Ruth Number retired June 13, 1948.” The piece is accompanied by the original bronze “BABE RUTH” plaque which hung beneath his retired number. Minimum bid is $5,000.

Joe DiMaggio’s Retired “Number 5” That Hung in Yankee Stadium
On April 18, 1952, before the Yankees home opener, DiMaggio’s No. 5 was ceremoniously retired. Joe DiMaggio’s blue felt “5” is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script below the number are the words “Joe DiMaggio Number retired April 18, 1952.” The piece is accompanied by the original bronze “JOE DI MAGGIO” plaque which hung beneath his retired number. Minimum bid $2,500.

Ted Williams Treasures – Given to a Cleveland Indians Batboy
Sometimes it really is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. At least that was the case with the Cleveland Indians batboy who was fortunate enough to handle a few bats for the then rookie Ted Williams. He walked away with some great memories and some extremely valuable pieces of sports memorabilia, including:

Earliest Ted Williams Game Used Bat Known – MEARS A-9, PSA 8.5
The “Splendid Splinter” wielded this Hillerich & Bradsby signature model bat the latter portion of the 1930s-it’s possibilities spanning his Pacific Coast League audition, his Triple Crown season in Minneapolis and his rookie campaign in Boston. This bat in Mastro Auctions’ Premier sale is the earliest Ted Williams gamer known. Factory records for the Kentucky-based bat giant reveal Williams orders on May 12 and May 29, 1937 for models matching the specifications of the bat. Factory archives additionally list shipment of these small knob Cuccinello models in 1938. The bat’s use during Williams’ 1939 rookie season comes to light in the form of an LOA from a former Cleveland Indians bat boy who acquired the bat directly from Williams. The minimum bid is $2,500.

Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Game Worn Cap
Another great item given to the batboy by Ted Williams is a Boston Red Sox cap that was worn by the Fenway legend as he immediately established himself as the game’s greatest hitter-perhaps of all-time. The navy blue wool BoSox cap was donned by the “Splendid Splinter” during his breakthrough four-year run. That fact is evidenced by the red felt “B” sewn to the front center. In the familiar Red Sox font, the character has been applied without the surrounding white trim that was added in 1946 and has remained to the present day. The Hall of Fame head wear shows heavy wear. The minimum bid is $2,500.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
To pre-register for Mastro Auctions’ 2007 December Premier Auction and receive auction catalogs, call 630-472-1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.

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