Sport Images before 1941
In addition to T206 Wagner and Babe Ruth cards.
See also : Lou Gehrig Photos 1900s 1910s
1904-1942 The Conlon Archive
2016 SOLD for $ 1.8M by Heritage
Until 1942 Conlon is the anonymous author of the most important photographs of baseball, published and re-published in magazines, guides and sports cards. All the top players in Major League are displayed in his work.
Conlon shoots all his views on the field. He observes the differentiation of actions depending of the player, their method to hold the ball or the bat. His early negatives are made on glass plates 5 x 7 ". The improvement of the techniques then allows the photographer to use the format 4 x 5" on glass and later on acetate.
The increase of sensitivity now makes possible the view of a speedy movement in close up. His image freezing a spectacular action by Ty Cobb on July 23, 1910 is a masterpiece of instant photography.
The 7,462 original negatives taken by Conlon during the 38 years of his photographic career are housed in 85 boxes, each one around shoebox size. They were sold together for $ 1.8M at lot 80082 by Heritage on August 27, 2016.
This complete archive is unique, extraordinary and irreplaceable in the history of baseball throughout its period. The sale includes only the photographs and in no way the intellectual property rights. Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
See dedicated page :
1910 T206 Eddie Plank
2018 SOLD for $ 690K by Heritage
The backs are advertisings for the various brands of the company : 14 for cigarettes and one for scrap tobacco. 80% of the T206 cards have Piedmont or Sweet Caporal backs. The back is also referring to a factory number of the tobacco company.
On September 20, 2018, Heritage dedicated an entire auction to the dispersion of a remarkable collection of T206 in NM7 or better condition. The cards will be sold individually. Wagner is not there. The sale includes no less than 9 of the 13 cards graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA out of a total population of 225,000 T206 certified by this organization.
Lot 50292 is a Magie, Phila. Nat'l, with a back of the first issue at 150 subjects. It is the best card of this variant, graded NM-MT8 by PSA and the only one in this rank. Its rarity is due to a spelling mistake in the name of Sherry Magee, corrected for subsequent impressions. This Major League player owes his posthumous fame to a typographical error. It was sold for $ 660K.
The, lot 50391, sold for $ 690K, was a Plank, Phila. Amer. graded NM7 by PSA, with a back of the second issue at 350 subjects. Eddie Plank was a good Major League player, still recognized today as one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball history. His card is known to PSA in 72 copies, including 1 NM-MT8 and 3 NM7. The reason for this rarity is not known, maybe the breakage of its printing plate.
Gettysburg Eddie's T206 card shares with the fabled Honus Wagner both a maddening elusiveness and an apocryphal tale accounting for his rarity. This spectacular representation is one of just three reaching PSA NM 7, a rating exceeded just a single timehttps://t.co/zjImIIQKWQ pic.twitter.com/ZixUcR5Dx8— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) September 19, 2018
1910 T206 Joe DOYLE Error Card
The error was discovered during an early stage of production and corrected so that very few examples of the error card have survived. It was identified in the 1970s by a dealer. PSA is only recording 10 graded units, 4 of which carrying the Piedmont 350 reverse.
The mis-spelling error of Magie instead of Magee in the original 150 Subjects series left more escapes. The finest known example was sold for $ 660K by Heritage on September 20, 2018, lot 50292.
VG+ 3.5 by SGC
2023 SOLD for $ 1.32M by Robert Edward
After a professional removal from the book, the card has been graded VG+ 3.5 by SGC. It will be sold by Robert Edward on August 13, 2023, lot 1.
PSA has graded another example at VG+ 3.5 and two at VG3, and BVG one at VG-EX 4.
Our Summer Catalog Auction is now Open! Check out Lot # 1! An Extremely Rare 1909-1911 T206 White Border Joe Doyle Hands Above Head N. Y. Nat'l SGC VG+ 3.5 - Newly Discovered! Head to https://t.co/5F5O7h6nkJ to place your bid now!@reaonline @sgcgrading #thehobby #Auction pic.twitter.com/TE5xf7BfKF— RobertEdwardAuctions (@REAOnline) July 24, 2023
This #T206 Joe Doyle Hands Above Head N.Y. Nat’l error card was hiding within a North Carolina family for 100 years and the last one to sell at auction went for more than $1 million! Bidding is open now thru Aug 13.https://t.co/XI1djwlZVL#thehobby #whodoyoucollect pic.twitter.com/BBHmRDsldj— RobertEdwardAuctions (@REAOnline) July 24, 2023
Good 2 by PSA
2022 SOLD for $ 1.06M by Mile High Card
FINAL DAY TO BID ON March Premier Catalog Auction: Lot #2: Exceedingly Rare 1909-11 T206 Piedmont 350/25 Joe Doyle N.Y. Nat'l Hands Up PSA 2 GOOD. Bid Now: https://t.co/YunZEsKgHA @milehighcard @PSAcard #doyle #t206 #newyork #whodoyoucollect #sportscardcollector pic.twitter.com/SGXYEwOhza— Mile High Card Co (@milehighcard) March 31, 2022
1909-1911 Ty Cobb King of the Smoking Tobacco World
2020 SOLD for $ 900K by Mile High Card
In the field Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb are arch-rivals. Their attitudes towards the American Tobacco appear to be opposite although the details of their business are not known. Wagner withdraws early his permission to publish his only portrait that becomes the rarest image of the series.
If we consider the combinations of front and back, the Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back is the rarest and the only back bearing the name of a player, in an obvious promotional intention.
The back does not address one of the 15 brands. It displays in large capital letters "Ty Cobb" King of the Smoking Tobacco World and in tiny letters the address of the plant in North Carolina. No other player has been the subject of a specific T206 edition. This back was used exclusively on the verso of the image of Ty Cobb's portrait on a red background. No other card is known with this back, not even the other three Ty Cobb subjects from the same series.
This edition is considered regular but it is indeed mysterious. Compared to the other T206s the cardboard is tougher and the image on front side has remained in bright colors as if it had been protected by a coating. Free from tobacco stains, they have not been packaged unlike the other combinations in the series.
About 22 cards are known. The grouped conditions of the major discoveries in the southern United States, 5 together in 1997 in Georgia and 7 together in 2016, may suggest that the Ty Cobb back has never been available to the public.
Ty Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, had tried to market a brand of pipe and rolling tobacco under his own name. On September 19, 2019, Heritage sold for $ 144K a tobacco tin box inscribed on front side as Ty Cobb Granulated Cut Plug along with a stylized image of Cobb with bat on shoulder inspired from another T206 variant of this player.
The assumption that the Cobb-Cobb card is a later plagiarism for a commercial operation that was ephemeral or failed would explain all the peculiarities of the material and of the editing as well as its rarity.
The 2016 surfacing event is named the Lucky 7 Find. They were graded by PSA FR 1.5 (one card), Good+ 2.5 (four cards), VG+ 3.5 (one card) and VG-EX+ 4.5 (one card). The two best units have the highest grades awarded for this variety.
From the Lucky 7, the best card, graded VG/EX+ 4.5 with a glossy surface, was sold for $ 900K at lot 3 by Mile High Card Company on September 3, 2020. The VG+ 3.5 was sold for $ 410K by Heritage on February 24, 2018, lot 80006. One of the 2.5 with perfect color was sold for $ 240K on February 25, 2017. The lower grades attributed by PSA are related to wear and not to print weakness.
1911 Autographed Photo of Joe Jackson
2021 SOLD for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt
Joe is the son of a peasant from South Carolina. The family is poor. Joe appreciates that he is gifted for baseball and begins playing to win some money. He is so strong that he breaks the arm of a fellow by pitching a ball and his playmates will no longer dare to face him. He will become a hitter.
He was nicknamed Shoeless Joe before his debut in the Leagues when someone noticed that he was playing in his socks. He had taken off his shoes just on that day because of a painful blister. Added to the fact that he was illiterate, this idea of a barefoot champion certainly contributed to his immense popularity. He was one of the best two hitters of his time, almost equal to Ty Cobb.
Joe was prohibited from baseball in 1920 with seven other players in the Black Sox scandal for a fix in Major League. He is the only one among the eight indicted whose guilt was later questioned but his case had served as an example of bad practice and from all his glory he was only left with the shame.
An album of 60 autographed baseball photos emerged as a time capsule at auction by Heritage in 2015. It had been prepared in 1911 by a photo dealer in Cleveland named Frank W. Smith.
Smith was indeed a fan of the local MLB club, the Cleveland Naps. He joined the Naps in March 1911 in Alexandria, Virginia, where they had some training. The album was featuring the players and managers of the Naps during that session and was completed later in that year by similar views of the New York Giants taken in Chicago. The format was mostly 8 x 10 inches in size for the Naps and 5 x 8 inches for the rest of it.
Three stars of the baseball were included. Nap Lajoie was the Cleveland team's namesake since 1903 and Joe Jackson had just been hired by them. Christy Mathewson was with the Giants. Their photos were offered as separate lots and the rest of it was sold for $ 13K. Christy fetched $ 93K and Nap $ 16.7K.
The athletic prodigy Shoeless Joe, aged 24, was the highlight of the collection. He was reputed to be an illiterate and indeed his writing is clumsy. I guess that he would not refuse an autograph to Smith while the rest of the team was doing it. It is the only known photo autographed by Joe Jackson in his 13 year MLB career. It has been authenticated by PSA/DNA. The location and date have been added by Smith below the signature of the illiterate.
This photo was sold for $ 180K by Heritage on February 21, 2015, lot 80051 and for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt on October 7, 2021, lot 58. In the same 2021 sale, Christy's 5 " x 8 " photo from the Smith album was sold for $ 138K, lot 55.
An #auctionrecord for any signed sports photograph was set for an exceedingly scarce and important 1911 "Shoeless" Joe Jackson-autographed photo by Frank W. Smith which sold for $1,470,000, far exceeding the estimate of $200,000-400,000. @HuntAuctions https://t.co/MF5ay34oiU pic.twitter.com/pePqvupClf— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 7, 2021
Babe RUTH Cards
See dedicated page :
1925 ESCO Lou Gehrig
2021 SOLD for $ 1.03M by Memory Lane
The images were issued in black and white by halftone prints in postcard size, 3-3/8" x 5-3/8" (8.5 x 13.5 cm). They were often reused from year to year. The publisher is not identified and the back is blank, which is consistent with the fact that the sale to the public was not planned. The views are not numbered.
In 1925, Exhibit publish the portraits in action of 128 baseball players, most often in a vertical format. The player's name and position, along with his city and league, are grouped in a box at the bottom left.
This series includes a rookie card which is outstanding in the history of baseball images : Henry L. Gehrig, Infield, New York, A.L. (American League). Lou Gehrig, 22, holds up his bat for hitting. He already has that look of a quiet colossus which will please the public so much.
The Gehrig rookie card from the Newman collection is graded EX 5 by PSA, it is one of 4 in that grade with 3 higher. It was sold for $ 1.03M by Memory Lane on July 10, 2021, lot 4.
An autographed example graded by PSA VG-EX 4 (MK) with a signature graded 8 was listed for a two run private auction by BWIC n February 2023, lot 4. The MK refers to graphite notations on the reverse. Signed cards that are clean enough for being graded are of the utmost rarity for the 1925 Exhibits Gehrig rookie.
This image is of course not the earliest from Gehrig's career. A print of a press photo taken in 1923 featuring him with the Yankees uniform was sold for $ 22.7K by Heritage on August 14, 2015, lot 81004.
2021 SOLD for $ 800K by Goldin
The mark (MK) observed by PSA is on the back, almost completely erased, and does not affect the image. With such a qualifier, it is indeed less desirable than the card from the Newman collection, graded EX 5.
2021 SOLD for $ 690K by Christie's and Hunt
It is certified as Authentic by PSA/DNA with a rating at 9 for the signature in black fountain pen. The blank back has been inscribed "Saw him play" by its first owner with the batting average score of the player in two World Series events.
1941 Play Ball Joe DiMaggio
2020 SOLD for $ 750K by Heritage
In 1941 he achieves his greatest sporting feat, unequaled to date : 56 successive games with at least one safe hitting, from May 15 to June 17. This record is accompanied by a song by Les Brown and His Band of Renown, recreating the passion of the stadium and of the girls : "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, We want you on our side".
Of course Joe is the star of the baseball cards of that time. In 1940 he is awarded the # 1 in the series of 240 Play Ball cards published by Gum Inc, with a photo on which he is ready to hit. He is the best hitter in MLB with an average of .381 in the previous season. The back considers him as the best fly-chaser, deserving his new nickname of Yankee Clipper and implicitly making him the successor of the Sultan of Swat.
In 1941 his Play Ball card is numbered 71 in a series limited to 72 which also includes his two brothers, Vince and Dom. The image is the same as in the previous year except that it has been colored. To explain this apparent decline in the list, we may assume that the Play Ball 1940-1 was not sold out when the prints 1941-1 to 1941-48 were prepared. The text on the back is updated.
About 800 1941-71 cards have been graded by PSA but only one is certified at the highest level of their scale, Gem Mint 10. It was sold for $ 750K by Heritage on February 22, 2020, lot 50014.