REA Receives National Media Attention For T206 Honus Wagner Sale!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

REA on FOX Business Network’s “Opening Bell” with Charles Payne

REA on ESPN’s “Mint Condition” with Antonietta Collins

REA on CBS Radio 880 with Jim Smith

Listen to the full interview here

REA on News 12 New Jersey

Watch the full newscast here

REA in the New York Daily News

Read the full article here

REA in the Star Ledger

Read the full article here

REA on Pittsburgh CBS station KDKA

Read the full article here

1958 Grammy Award - Tequila - First Grammy Award Ever Issued! Plus Nomination Plaque and Rare Awards Dinner Menu!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

Robert Edward Auctions is extremely pleased to present an original Grammy Award for the song Tequila presented to Dave Burgess and The Champs. The award, which is offered as a late addition to the Spring Auction and appears as lot #1527 (click here to visit the auction) has been consigned directly by Dave Burgess. The complete auction description is below. The piece is attracting national media attention, including a New York Daily News article (available here) and an appearance on FOX Business Network (available here).


Grammy Award issued in 1959 to guitarist Dave Burgess, leader of the rock group The Champs, for the group’s iconic instrumental piece, Tequila. While all Grammy Awards are special and rarely seen at public auction, this particular award is historically all the more significant in that it represents the first Grammy Award ever issued! The Grammy, which is issued by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in recognition of outstanding achievement in the music industry, was first presented on May 4, 1959, at a ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills (the awards ceremony, as is standard, recognized the performances for the previous year). Over the years the annual Grammy Awards show has evolved into an institution as one of the most spectacular nights in music, and is seen by millions of viewers worldwide. During the first ceremony in 1959, awards were presented in twenty-eight different categories, with Tequila recognized in the category “Best Rhythm and Blues Performance.” To watch Tequila performed live on the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, click here.

The offered award, in addition to its significance as the first Grammy, is also notable for its remarkable provenance: It has been consigned directly by Dave Burgess and has been in his sole possession since 1959! It is also accompanied by the nomination plaque for Tequila and the exceedingly rare program from the first Grammy Award ceremony in 1959, both very substantial and significant items in their own right. (Normally an item of this magnitude would be prominently featured in our printed catalog, but the decision to offer it for sale only came to be days after the catalog had been printed). Ideally, Mr. Burgess has included a one-page signed letter of provenance for the Grammy Award, which reads in full:

To Whom it May Concern: I, Dave Burgess was the leader of the rock group known as, THE CHAMPS, best known for our worldwide number one recording of TEQUILA. In the year 1959, I was nominated and received the first Grammy Award ever presented at the first Grammy award show in Hollywood California. This Grammy has been in my personal collection under glass since that time. According to Sony, who now owns the master, Tequila is the number one instrumental of all time. The nomination plaque and the menu/program are also included. I have never heard of another menu/program still in existence. All of the above is absolutely true and I attest to that fact.


The origin of the instrumental Tequila, and its phenomenal rise to the top of the charts in 1958, is one of the most unlikely stories in music history. In 1957, Dave Burgess was working as a recording artist at Challenge Records (founded by Gene Autry), where he produced a number of singles, both under his given name and under the pseudonym Dave Dupree. He also served as a session guitarist for the company. One afternoon he was trying to come up with a piece to serve as the “B” side for a record he had previously recorded, titled Train to Nowhere, and asked a few of the other session players to help him, including saxophonist Daniel Flores and drummer Glen Alden. In no time at all, Flores (credited under the name Chuck Rio) came up with a latin-rock instrumental that they titled Tequila. Train to Nowhere was released by Challenge in January, 1958, and received little attention until a Cleveland DJ played the “B” side. Soon after, Tequila rose to the top of the US charts, spending five weeks at number one and finishing the year at number eight. With the success of Tequila, the musicians formed an official group called The Champs, which later included Seals and Croft as members. The Champs performed and recorded together for a number of years before disbanding in 1965. Although the group produced a few modest hits, including a follow-up to its hit single in 1960 titled Too Much Tequila, none ever surpassed the enormous success of Tequila, which is today one of the most iconic instrumentals ever recorded. Over the years, Tequila has been featured in countless television shows and movies, not to mention advertisements, and is instantly recognizable to generations of music lovers.

This is the first Grammy Award we have ever offered, and we have only seen a small number at auction over the years. (As one would expect, most performers are reluctant to part with such a prestigious award, and, as is also the case with Oscars, there have been numerous title issues and legal challenges by the Academy to the sale of more recently issued awards, issues which are not present here - at least none that we are aware of as we write this!) Most Grammy Awards are passed down to family members after the passing of the artist. In this case, not only is the award coming directly from the recipient, which is remarkable itself in that it has been cherished for the past 56 years, but we should also note that Mr. Burgess is selling the award only to put the proceeds to a very important and great use: to help with medical bills for a family member.) This Grammy, of course, is the earliest Grammy Award ever offered at public auction. The fact that this Grammy dates from the first year of the award, and was issued for one of the most famous instrumentals in music history, truly distinguishes it as one of the most significant awards in music history, and one that would be equally at home in either the Smithsonian Institute or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grammy Awards issued to notable performers or for famous songs have always been well received by collectors. In 2004, at Sotheby’s sale of the Johnny Cash estate, three different Grammy Awards presented to Cash sold for $187,200, $84,000, and $72,000, respectively, while in 2003, a Grammy awarded to Simon and Garfunkel for the song Mrs. Robinson, realized $50,528 at auction.

The Grammy Award (4.75 x 4.75 x 6.5 inches) features a representation of a vintage phonograph (complete with horn) resting upon a wood base. The affixed plaque reads “National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences - 1958 Presented to Dave Burgess & The Champs Tequila.” The base displays moderate wear, including a few tiny abrasions. The horn, which is a separate piece that screws into the phonograph, has a stripped and partially broken thread but remains attached as issued. The nomination plaque (8.5 x 10.5 inches) also displays moderate wear, with a few tiny surface marks. The large-format fold-over program/dinner menu (11 x 14.5 inches) features both the dinner selection for the evening, as well as all of the nominations in each of the twenty-eight categories. Burgess has inscribed the interior in blue ink (grading “10″), “All the best/Dave Burgess/’The Champs’.” The program displays a center fold, minor creases, and a few edge tears. Total: 3 items. Reserve $30,000. Estimate (open).


The T206 Vic Willis Collection of Jim Blumenthal

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


The following appears in the printed catalog introducing the T206 Vic Willis Collection of longtime friend and noted collector Jim Blumenthal:

One of the greatest things about collecting is that it unites people from all walks of life around a common interest and shared goals. These are people who you might not otherwise have any occasion to meet in life, but a shared interest can bring you together and form strong bonds that lead to longtime friendships. For us at REA, and countless others within the hobby, this was especially the case with collector Jim Blumenthal, who passed away in October 2014 at the age of 47 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Jim was a true renaissance man, in his personal and professional lives as well as in his collecting life. An accomplished academic, Jim was regarded as one of the world’s preeminent Buddhist scholars and taught at several institutions in Oregon in addition to traveling around the world to speak at conferences and events on the subject, as well as personally providing translation services for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A passionate Grateful Dead fan, Jim was known for amassing a vast music library spanning all sorts of genres. A dedicated card collector, Jim was immersed in projects ranging from the earliest days of baseball cards right through the 1970s, resulting in a remarkable world-class card collection and contributions to the hobby that will forever be remembered.

Jim was an active participant on several message boards, interacting with other collectors, sharing his cards, his knowledge, and his passion. He was always quicker to commend someone else on their accomplishments than he was to talk about his own, but when he did, he did so knowing that they would be best understood and appreciated by his fellow hobbyists. He was a fixture at the National Sports Collectors Convention, attending for several days each year and bringing with him the tremendous humor and good nature (along with some really great cards) that were his hallmark and appreciated by everyone he encountered. Jim was universally respected by his peers, possessing the highest understanding of our hobby. It was hard not to be immediately impressed by Jim, who though soft-spoken, spoke passionately and informatively about the cards and the hobby whenever given the chance. In his presence, it was hard not to be aware of how balanced he was, how spiritual he was, and what a tremendous positive force among us he represented. It was an honor to have him as an important part of our collecting community, and we were privileged to have him as a collector and more important, a friend.

Jim’s collection was vast and spanned many areas that individually would be challenging and impressive but together were remarkable and awesome. There were three distinct collecting projects that Jim worked on throughout his life that everyone particularly associated with him. The first project was the 1886 N167 Old Judge set, of great importance as the first series of baseball cards ever produced by Goodwin and Co., which would end up as the most important card manufacturer of the nineteenth century. The set consists of twelve cards, including six Hall of Famers, and had not been completed by a single collector in modern times (we can’t even be sure it was completed in 1886). This project was truly the collecting version of climbing Mount Everest! After many years and much research and tenacity, Jim was miraculously able to locate all the cards (a feat unto itself!) and complete the set, reuniting all twelve cards, a seemingly impossible quest. Jim published an exceptional look at the set in the Spring 2013 issue of Old Cardboard magazine. The second project was the colorful thirty-card 1910 E93 Standard Caramel set, considered by many to be among the most popular of the 1910-era caramel-card sets, which is loaded with Hall of Famers and stars. Beginning in the early 2000s, Jim set out to build the finest Standard Caramel set possible. This mission culminated in a set boasting an incredible 8.10 overall GPA (the next closest set is 6.16), thirteen consecutive years as the number-one set, and an induction of the set into the PSA Set Registry Hall of Fame in 2008. The third project was the legendary 1909-1911 T206 White Border set, which provided countless challenges and avenues for collecting. Jim tackled this set from all angles: as a set collector, as a key-card collector, and as a rare-back collector. His efforts yielded one of the finest T206 collections ever assembled. One of Jim’s favorite cards within the set was the batting pose of Hall of Famer Vic Willis, and Jim set out to collect this card with every available advertising back known. The card could be found with fifteen different advertisements on the reverse, a number that doesn’t seem all that daunting until one considers that it included advertisements for Drum, Uzit, and Lenox with brown printing, each of which ranks among the rarest backs in the entire set. Finding an example of these backs with any subject is extremely difficult, but finding an example of Vic Willis batting is borderline impossible. But Jim did the impossible, as he’d done many times before in other areas of his personal, professional, and collecting life, and completed this back run. We are honored to present this collection in the spring auction (Lots 277, 278, 279, 280, and 281) to document, for Jim and for everyone else, that the impossible is possible. Proceeds from the sale of this collection will be going to assist with charitable efforts close to the hearts of Jim, his family, and his work.



Spring Auction Preview Lot: Complete Set of 1915 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods Advertising Pins Discovered Including TWO NEW CHECKLIST ADDITIONS!!!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


1915 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods Advertising Pins Complete Set (10) with Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Two Previously Unknown Pins - The Only Complete Set!

Presented is one of the most extraordinary baseball pinback finds of all time: a newly-discovered complete set of ten advertising pinbacks issued in 1915 by Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods of Kansas City, Missouri. By any measure, Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins are one of the collecting world’s rarest and most desirable baseball pinbacks. Their rarity is legendary. The discovery of even a single sample would be remarkable, as fewer than fifty Schmelzer’s pins are even known to exist. Prior to this discovery, a find of ten different Schmelzer’s pins would have been thought to be impossible. Prior to this find, only eight different Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins were known to exist.

For many years, eight different subjects, each corresponding to a different baseball position, were known to exist in the Schmelzer’s set, and speculation among collectors and pinback enthusiasts has always been that a ninth pin existed to round out a complete baseball team. The ninth pin was always presumed to be “second base,” as that was the only position missing. But the identity of the ninth featured player was unknown. This remarkable find answers the 100-year-old mystery and identifies the ninth player position pin representing second base as Hall of Famer Johnny Evers! The tenth different pin? We had never before even contemplated the existence of a tenth pin. But it also exists and is included in the find: The previously unknown tenth pin in the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pin set is manager George Stallings!


Obviously, the ten pins offered here represent the only known complete set in existence.

This complete set of ten pins has a fascinating history. When we received the e-mail from a noncollector inquiring about the value of his ten different Schmelzer’s pins, we were naturally skeptical both because of the extreme rarity of Schmelzer’s pins (reproductions are known) and because we only knew of eight different subjects. We immediately asked for pictures, and after a short wait, we were stunned to see that not only were the pins real, but there really were ten different subjects! Significant pinback discoveries such as this, let alone from a set issued 100 years ago, are naturally few and far between. In response to our inquiry as to how he happened to have these great rarities, the consignor explained to us that his parents owned and operated an antique shop in Kansas from 1953 to 1963. They bought them at their Kansas City antique store. This made a lot of sense because Schmelzer’s was a Kansas City Sporting Goods store. Our consignor actually recalled seeing the pins among the family’s odds ‘n ends as early as 1960, and noted that they were saved because he liked them, and that they have remained safely in storage for the past 55 years. Careful storage and remarkable foresight (or luck) is responsible for this incredible offering today! This newly discovered set of ten pins is the second-largest find of Schmelzer’s pins ever (second only to REA’s find of twelve pins in 2006, which included only six different subjects).


In addition to their great rarity, Schmelzer’s are noted for being the first baseball pin set to combine photos of famous ballplayers with color lithographic artwork. Each pin in this striking set features a black-and-white portrait image of the player along with a full-color figure of a generic ballplayer to the left, representing a position, which is also noted above the portrait in red lettering. On the curl of the pin it is indicated, in tiny letters, that these pins were manufactured for Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods by The Whitehead & Hoag Company, the premier pinback-maker of the era. Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins have been revered by advanced collectors for both their rarity and design since the earliest days of organized collecting. They are also noted for the inclusion of several big names, including Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson, in the relatively small set. While these players were staples in many prewar card sets, and their cards can routinely sell for great sums, those cards pale in comparison in terms of rarity to the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins. Any short list of the era’s most desirable baseball pinbacks will include the Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods pins of Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson (all of which, of course, are included in the offered set).

The ten subjects which comprise this complete set are: Ty Cobb (Right Field, Detroit Tigers), Charlie Deal (Third Base, St. Louis Terriers), Johnny Evers (Second Base, Chicago Cubs), Hank Gowdy (Catcher, Boston Braves), Danny Hoffman (Left Field, St. Louis Browns), Joe Jackson (Center Field, Cleveland Naps), Rabbit Maranville (Short Stop, Boston Braves), Christy Mathewson (Pitcher, New York Giants), Butch Schmidt (First Base, Boston Braves), and George Stallings (Manager).

While this set is extremely noteworthy for its completeness and uniqueness, it is an added benefit the ten pins display beautifully! They are not perfect (though Jackson is close), due to varying degrees of foxing, but are still exceptionally attractive. Each pin boasts a crisp image and bold colors. The original gloss is intact, and the celluloid surface of each pin is free of any distracting scratches or chips, as is commonly encountered with pinbacks. Light to moderate foxing is present along the edges of all of the pins, and on the fronts to varying extents. Ideally, the Joe Jackson pin (only the sixth-known example) has survived in the finest condition, with minimal foxing almost exclusively relegated to the curl (aside from some minimal perimeter spotting, foxing virtually not visible from the front). The front foxing is most serious on the following five pins: Cobb (only the fifth-known example), Gowdy, Hoffman, Mathewson, and Stallings. Foxing is present but much more modest and therefore of far lesser impact to the extremely impressive appearance of the remaining five pins: Evers, Deal, Maranville, Schmidt, and, as noted, Jackson. The original advertising back paper is complete and intact on the reverse of each pin, with bold black printing and light toning. The original pin is also complete and intact on all as well.

In our opinion (and we are big fans of pinbacks so maybe we are biased), a strong case can be made that the rarest baseball pinbacks are extremely undervalued and represent an extraordinary value compared to the rarest baseball cards. As baseball pinbacks continue to rise in prominence among the world’s most advanced collectors, it would not surprise us if the most desirable examples someday rival the values placed on similarly rare and desirable cards. That is not the case today, but we can’t help but think this may someday change, especially with reference to Joe Jackson.

The significance of the two previously unknown subjects (Evers and Stallings) can also not be overstated as, in addition to providing the answer to a century-old mystery, they represent the only known examples of each. This is a spectacular, unique, and most remarkable newly discovered complete set of one of celluloid collecting’s most desirable advertising pinback rarities. Total: 10 pins.

Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+++.


Newly Discovered 1897 Cameo Pepsin Gum Pin Checklist Addition: Hall of Famer “Big Sam” Thompson

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


Exceedingly rare, newly discovered Cameo Pepsin Gum pin of Hall of Famer Sam Thompson of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is the first “Big Sam” Thompson Cameo Pepsin Gum pin we have ever seen (or heard of!) and it may represent the only known example, since it does not appear in any of the published checklists, including the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards. Incredibly, it was just recently discovered this year by a New England antiques dealer, who by chance found two Cameo Pepsin pins in an estate he purchased (the other, Tenney, also appears individually in the spring auction). This is the only issue to feature Thompson at the tail end of his career (he appears on several tobacco cards and cabinets years earlier as a member of the Detroit Wolverines). That fact, combined with this pin’s extremely rare (and possibly unique) status, make it a particularly exciting Cameo Pepsin Gum checklist addition. The pin is clean and crisp, with especially strong photo contrast and a clean surface. The reverse paper label is completely intact. Excellent condition overall. All Cameo Pepsins are rare (some naturally rarer than others), and when newly discovered collections surface, there is always the possibility of a previously unknown checklist addition, but this newly-discovered Hall of Famer is a particularly exciting checklist addition. Manufactured by Whitehead & Hoag. Diameter: 1.25 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

Provided below is a link to an extraordinary 2012 article on Cameo Pepsin Gum pins, including a then-current checklist, courtesy of The Sports Collectors Digest and written by Keith Olbermann:


1909-1911 T206 White Border Honus Wagner PSA VG 3 - One of the Finest Examples in Existence!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


Every T206 Wagner naturally has a great story, sharing the Wagner legend that is now part of classic American folklore, and every Wagner also has an additional story relating to its provenance. Collectors have always been fascinated with all aspects of the history of Wagners: how they were discovered, where they have been purchased, when, for how much, where they have been, how they have happened to survive. Sometimes there are more questions than answers, and sometimes a Wagner is special in ways that no other examples share.

Wagners that have great stories include “The Gretzky-McNall Wagner” (the most valuable and famous card in the world), “The All-Star Cafe Wagner” (when owned by Charlie Sheen, displayed at the All-Star Cafe in New York, famously stolen by employees and replaced with a color Xerox, later recovered by the FBI); “The Nun’s Wagner” (a very low-grade, trimmed, and shellacked T206 Wagner donated to an order of Roman Catholic Nuns, who were shocked to discover its great value; the $262,000 the sale of the card realized in 2010 was put to great use by the order). There is also “The Jumbo Wagner” (a T206 Wagner with very large borders), “The Burdick Wagner” (”Father of Card Collecting” Jefferson Burdick’s very own example, donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art), “The Halper Cooperstown Gift Wagner” (in the 1980s when famous collector Barry Halper learned that the Hall of Fame did not have a Wagner, he gave them his duplicate as a gift!); “The Diecut Wagner” (the background was completely cut away on this card, leaving only the portrait and bottom border; REA sold this card in 1997); “The Nagy Wagner” (a very strong example once owned by legendary pioneer collector Frank Nagy); “The Restored Wagner;” and even “The Restored and Unrestored Wagner.” We’re sure there are others that are deserving of special distinction and mean no disrespect by not naming them.

Robert Edward Auctions is extremely pleased to present “The Oceanside Wagner,” one of the finest examples of the legendary T206 Wagner in existence. This exceptional card was entirely unknown to the modern collecting world for nearly a century until it was discovered in the basement of an Oceanside, New York, home in 2008 alongside hundreds of other 1910-era tobacco cards. The entire collection of cards, carefully saved for generations in the family of the original owner, was presented as part of a New York-based estate auction, where the T206 Wagner naturally “stole the show,” realizing a then-record price of $791,000. At the time of the sale, the card was graded by SGC, but in the years since, the buyer opted to have it graded by PSA to match the balance of his impressive collection. (SGC was alerted to this fact and adjusted their population report accordingly so as to not double-count a card of this importance.) The offered card has the incredible distinction of being one of the few T206 Wagner examples to have such a short, but concrete, provenance and chain of custody. Many of the known examples have circulated within the hobby for decades and have changed hands several times. “The Oceanside Wagner” has had only two owners in its entire 106-year existence! This is a remarkable and desirable trait that few other T206 Wagners can claim. The new buyer will be only the third owner ever of this incredible card!

The Card: Graded VG 3 by PSA. This very attractive T206 Honus Wagner possesses virtually every quality highly desired by collectors. It has vibrant colors, a bright orange background, and a crisp, bold, and entirely flawless portrait. The card is well centered (very slightly to the right), and the corners show even wear, with only a single small crease present on the entire card, placed unobtrusively in the top right corner and barely breaking through to the reverse. The advertisement for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes printed on the reverse is perfectly centered and clean.

This is a particularly strong T206 Wagner that far exceeds the condition and visual appeal usually found with T206 Wagners. This is very easily seen just by looking at the card, but it is further confirmed when one evaluates the known T206 Wagner population as documented by the PSA and SGC population reports. The offered card is one of only four examples graded at this level by PSA with three additional VG examples graded by SGC. Only four examples grade higher (all by PSA): one NM-MT 8, one EX 5, one EX 5 (MC), and one VG-EX 4. By any measure, this is one of the highest-grade examples of the T206 Wagner in existence! Of the forty-six T206 Wagners listed on the combined PSA and SGC population reports (which may be a bit high as several examples have been crossed between the two companies over the years), twenty-three grade Poor or “Authentic,” one grades Fair, and eleven grade Good.

A grade of VG is exceptional for a T206 Wagner, and the visual appeal of the offered example places it at or near the top of the already exclusive company it keeps. This is a phenomenal-looking card in all respects that elicits a positive and awed response from everyone who sees it. The colors are noticeably brighter, fresher, and bolder than virtually every other T206 Wagner in existence. The image is perfect, and it shows just enough honest wear to give it character but not serve as a distraction in any way. Its provenance as an original-owner example introduced to the hobby in 2008, purchased by a collector (our consignor) at public auction, and kept in his sole possession until now, adds a nearly unparalleled documented history to this card that defines the next owner as only the third unique owner of this card in its history. Valuing Wagners is very subjective. That’s for the bidders to decide. History has shown that the T206 Wagner has always been a tremendous store of value, and has gradually climbed in price for decades, commanding ever-impressive sums in all grades. Higher-grade examples are few and far between. Whatever the auction result, whether it brings far more (as we believe it deserves to), or less, than its 2008 auction selling price, it is a great privilege and honor for us to be chosen to present this card, the finest example of the legendary T206 Wagner ever auctioned by Robert Edward Auctions, and one of the finest examples in existence of card collecting’s greatest treasure.

Reserve $100,000. Estimate (open).


First Known 1951 Topps Blue Back Display Box Surfaces - Woody Gelman Provenance!!!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

Below is a preview April auction catalog description for a particularly interesting item that we think collectors will enjoy seeing and reading about!


Presented is an incredibly rare and desirable original one-cent 1951 Topps Blue Backs display box. This is, in our opinion, the most significant and simply extraordinary Topps display box known to exist. It is also very likely the rarest. This is the very first 1951 Topps Blue Backs display box that we have ever seen let alone had the privilege of offering! In addition, the box is accompanied by an extremely rare original 1951 Topps wrapper.

When we received an e-mail from an extremely advanced old-time collector alerting us to expect this display box as part of his consignment to this auction, we were extremely curious and anxious for his package to arrive. We had never before seen the box that he described, but we knew from his description that it would be special. We were not disappointed! Upon unwrapping the display box, we were immediately aware of its great rarity. We had never before even seen a 1951 Topps Blue Back counter display box. And we had never even heard of a surviving example. In addition to being awestruck by its rarity and design, we were also most fascinated with an ink stamp in the upper left corner that read “File Copy Please Return To Woody Gelman.” Woody Gelman, of course, was one of the most legendary pioneers of collecting and was also the head of the art department at Topps. This box was his personal copy! The remarkable provenance, in fact, explains how this incredible box even happened to survive. Woody Gelman thought to put aside a box in 1951!

Out of curiosity, we asked our consignor if he happened to recall how he came to acquire this box. Not only did he remember, but the answer made a great deal of sense. He purchased this display box in 1985 directly from Bob Foster, a very prominent dealer from Connecticut who specialized in the rarest wrappers and boxes. In the mid 1980s, Bob acquired an extremely impressive selection of box and wrapper rarities (that no doubt included this very box) directly from the family of Woody Gelman!

The box, which measures 8.5 x 4.75 x 2.25 inches, has survived in tremendous condition, a fact that is directly related to its time as Woody Gelman’s personal file copy. The bottom of the box displays adhesive residue and small areas of excess paper from removal from Gelman’s album (where it was stored flat). The box was been reassembled and glued shut at the top opening. The colors are bright and crisp, with a green, red, and yellow color scheme around the side and top panels surrounding various baseball scenes and advertising for “Baseball Trading Card Candy.” A small sticker on the top panel advertises the “New! Blue Back Series,” a reference to the Blue Back series cards produced by Topps in 1951 that this display box once housed.

The accompanying wrapper has been flattened to dimensions of 7 x 4.75 inches and presents as Excellent, with only a few breaks in the delicate wax surface visible under close inspection. It features the same design as the top panel of the Blue Back display box and encourages youngsters to collect the full deck of 52 baseball cards. This wrapper was not designed for the Blue Back box, but was used for packaging the Topps Major League All-Stars, Connie Mack All-Stars, and Teams cards issued in the same year, which were accompanied in packs by two-card panels of red backs (blue backs were issued later and may have also been packaged in panel form inside these wrappers, but we cannot be sure). While this wrapper may or may not have housed blue backs at one time, it is an exceptionally rare and important companion piece as a Topps relic from the same year (1951).

This is a tremendously rare and significant pairing of an original display box and wax wrapper from this monumental year in Topps and card-collecting history. The box (as well as the wrapper) would be extremely significant additions to any world-class collection of display boxes, advertising, or Topps-related collectibles. Total: 2 items (one display box and one wrapper). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).


A few illustrations from additional 1951 Topps related lots in the auction that came with the box and wrapper (but are offered separately) appear below:




REA Auction Preview: Very First Three Stooges One-Sheet Poster Coming To Auction!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


Half of All Three Stooges Titles 1934-1957 Are Represented in Historic Sale

Robert Edward Auctions will be offering the most extraordinary Three Stooges movie-poster collection to ever come to auction in the history of collecting in its April 25, 2015 auction. The most important highlight of the collection is what may be the only known one-sheet poster for the group’s first film for Columbia Pictures in 1934: Woman Haters. Is this the only example that exists of this historic poster? “We think it is. We can’t find another. But we can’t be positive,” says REA’s auction manager Tom D’Alonzo. “The only collectors who have even suggested to us that another exists all seemed to have one thing in common. They really want this one!” While the one-sheet from the Woman Haters is the prize of the collection, due to its enormous historical significance, many extreme rarities spanning the Stooges’ entire career are included. The offering is the final of three auctions that were required to present the collection. This is the largest selection of vintage Three Stooges posters to ever come to auction, and the best has been saved for last!

The Stooges produced 174 comedy shorts for Columbia between the years 1934 and 1956. This amazing offering features one-sheet posters for half of those films, eighty-seven different titles total, including nine rarities from the 1930s and early 1940s starring Curly: Woman Haters, Violent Is The Word for Curly, Termites of 1938, No Census No Feeling, An Ache In Every Stake, All The World’s A Stooge, Cactus Makes Perfect, Dizzy Detectives, and A Gem of a Jam. One of the most exciting lots in the auction will be the astounding collection of seventy-six different Three Stooges one-sheet movie posters, spanning the years 1947 to 1957. Incredibly, this collection of seventy-six posters features nearly every Three Stooges one-sheet poster ever issued featuring the team of Moe, Larry, and Shemp, with the exception of just three.

Lobby cards are equally represented in the sale, the most significant of which is the only known lobby card from the Stooges’ second short in 1934, Punch Drunks. In addition to its extreme rarity, the Punch Drunks lobby card comes with the special provenance of having been obtained by the consignor directly from Moe Howard’s daughter, Joan. Fifty-five different lobby cards are featured in the sale, including ten seldom-seen examples from the 1930s: Punch Drunks, Hoi Polloi, Slippery Silks, Whoops I’m An Indian (two different scene cards), Cash and Carry, The Sitters Downers, Grips, Grunts & Groans, Mutts To You, Healthy Wealthy and Dumb. This is an unprecedented offering of Three Stooges posters, all of which originate from the finest private collection of Three Stooges posters ever assembled. Online bidding starts approximately April 5th. For more information regarding the sale or to request a free catalog, please visit Robert Edward Auctions’ website at or call 908-226-9900


1899-1900 Brooklyn Dodgers Financial Record Book: A Treasure Trove of Lost Dodgers History (Plus REWARD for Missing Pages 177-178!)

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

REA April Auction Preview:

Offered here is one of the most extraordinary items we have ever handled and one that would be the cornerstone of any advanced Brooklyn Dodgers collection: the official ledger book recording all of the Brooklyn Base Ball Club’s finances from April 1899 through December 1900. We have never before seen anything comparable to this ledger, which provides a complete accounting of the team’s day-to-day financial operations at the turn of the century. Recorded in this book (in the personal hand of co-owner Charles Ebbets and another club official) are all of the club’s income and expenses during the two-year period, during which the Baseball Club won two pennants, including everything from player salaries and gate receipts to the cost of peanuts and mowing the grass.


The survival of this historic ledger book in itself is remarkable and has a fascinating story. It was literally saved from the dumpster during the dismantling of Ebbets Field following the club’s move to Los Angeles in 1959. According to our consignor, Robert Dunn of Brooklyn, a friend of his was part of the labor crew working at Ebbets Field at the time and he asked his boss if he could take home any of the items that were being thrown in the trash. His boss said he could help himself! This ledger was one of the items he thought looked interesting enough to save. A year or two later, the friend, knowing our consignor liked baseball, gave him the ledger as a gift. This was back in the early 1960s, when the ledger (and almost all baseball memorabilia) had little monetary value. But Mr. Dunn’s interest in baseball and Brooklyn history was most sincere. He was the ideal caretaker for this extraordinary volume that captures the heart and soul of the Brooklyn Dodgers during an era from which so little exists that documents the inner workings of the finances of the Brooklyn Dodgers or any other Major League franchise. This ledger book documents virtually everything!


While our consignor has been the only owner of the ledger since that time, unfortunately, it has not remained in his sole possession during this entire time. In the mid 1990s he loaned the ledger to a third party, allegedly for museum display purposes. Incredibly, the third party subsequently represented in his personal financial dealings with others that he owned the ledger book. In 1997 he used it to obtain a loan of sorts, actually “selling” the ledger book which he did not own (along with additional items, including other Dunn family personal keepsakes such as the Dunn family’s ticket stubs to the final game at Ebbets Field, saved by Mr. Dunn’s grandfather, as well as other Dodgers items which were also loaned) for $15,000, but with the right to buy the ledger and other items back for $16,000 the following year if desired (an option which was exercised). All of this was completely without the knowledge of Robert Dunn, who for years requested the return of the Brooklyn Dodgers ledger book and the rest of his material. Finally, in October of 2005, Mr. Dunn threatened to hire an attorney if the material was not returned by October 31, 2005. When the return was not forthcoming, legal counsel was retained. The ledger book and other items were finally recovered in 2006.



The drama, however, does not end there. Unbeknownst to our consignor, during that decade-long “loan” period, one leaf of the ledger book (a single sheet, representing two pages numbered 177 and 178), appears to have been removed from the album. Those two pages we believe are the Brooklyn Dodgers financial ledger pages in Ebbets’ hand that surfaced in 2000 when they were offered as Lot 1104 in Hunt Auctions’ February sale. Obviously, we have no way of knowing who won the sheet in that auction, or where it is today, but Mr. Dunn has authorized Robert Edward Auctions to offer a $1,000 reward for the return of the missing sheet to reunite it with and complete the 1899-1900 ledger book. If the sheet is returned to REA prior to the close of the auction, it will be reunited with the ledger as part of the lot. If the page should be returned after the auction, it will be sent to the winning bidder at that time.

The ledger (9.5 x 14) is comprised of 301 numbered pages. The entries end on page 181. Of those 181 recorded pages (minus pages 177 and 178), all but seven contain handwritten financial information of the club. Two years are represented: 1899 and 1900. Page 1 is blank, as are pages 64-69, which separate the years 1899 and 1900. All of the entries are neatly scripted in black fountain pen, grading “9″ on average. In general, the ledger proceeds chronologically, with income and expenditures recorded, respectively, on the left-hand and right-hand pages. Some sections of the ledger are in the personal hand of Charles Ebbets. The balance is in the hand of another club official.

This book is a treasure trove of financial information. All incoming funds and outgoing funds of the club are recorded. Included are the exact attendance records for Brooklyn’s games, with gate receipts broken down by seat prices. Also recorded are all of the concession sales, including peanuts, refreshments, and scorecards. Included on the expenditure side are both player and employee salaries ( team owner Charles Ebbets’ salary is also recorded numerous times, including in his own hand), as well as the cost for general repair and maintenance of Washington Park, equipment (balls, bats, uniforms, etc.), team stationery, newspaper advertising, a subscription to the Sporting News, and, of course, peanuts (150 pounds of peanuts cost $7.75 in 1900). In short, virtually all financial information relating to the business of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1899 and 1900, there is no doubt this volume was Charles Ebbets’ single most important document of financial records of the club. It was literally the heart and soul of the business of The Brooklyn Base Ball Club.

What is especially notable is that the ledger documents not only player salaries (which all alone is extremely fascinating, especially in light of the many great players on the club), but also provides information regarding Ebbets’ partnership with Baltimore Orioles team owner Harry Von der Horst. During this period of time owners were allowed to have financial interest in more than one club. Von der Horst invested heavily in the Brooklyn club in 1898, acquiring controlling interest at the time, and the ledger records numerous payments to both Von der Horst and the Baltimore Base Ball Club over the next two years. As a result of the merger, Von der Horst supplied Brooklyn with many of his former top players, including Hughie Jennings, Joe Kelley, Joe McGinnity, and Willie Keeler, as well as manager Ned Hanlon (Hanlon also owned shares of the Brooklyn franchise through Von der Horst). With that influx of talent, Brooklyn captured the pennant in both 1899 and 1900. Each of those future Hall of Fame players is listed numerous times in the ledger with regard to salary payments and special compensation. The ledger also records the payment of fines to the National League levied against Kelley, Keeler, and Bill Dahlen on July 13, 1899.

Additionally, the ledger records bonus payments to both John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson in September and December of 1900 (the bonus payment to McGraw is the last entry in the book). After the National League dropped the Baltimore Orioles (along with three other clubs) prior to the 1900 season, the contracts of McGraw and Robinson were assigned to Brooklyn on March 9th. The next day, their contracts, along with that of Bill Keister, were purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. McGraw and Robinson did not want to play in St. Louis, especially since they owned a successful cafe in Baltimore called the Diamond. McGraw only agreed to report to the Cardinals after the reserve clause (which basically bound a player to one club for life) was stricken from his contract. As can be seen here, both players also received a financial bonus to play for St. Louis.

It would be impossible for us to unlock all of the secrets and historical significance of this entire large volume without investing far more time and research than is possible for us to devote. Leafing through the pages, everywhere we look, there is important otherwise lost history of the club and baseball of the era that is recorded here and nowhere else. The business of major league baseball at the turn of the century has few surviving records, let alone such complete records for a team of the stature of the Brooklyn Base Ball Club, the National League Champions of 1899 and 1900. There is no doubt that in the future this volume will be greatly appreciated as an extremely important original source document of incalculable value to historians and scholars of the game and Brooklyn baseball.

Condition: The exterior portion of the leather-bound ledger is extremely worn, displaying numerous large tears and staining. Moderate separation is evident along the spine, but the volume remains firmly bound. The pages display only minor toning and are in Excellent condition overall.

Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open).


REA Fall Auction Hits $4 Million!!! Sets Countless Records!!!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized


Babe Ruth Rookie Sells for $84,000; Rare McKinley Card Hammers Down At $96,000, Setting Non-Sport Card Record!

Collectors turned out in full force for Robert Edward Auctions’ Fall Auction, the second such event added to the company’s calendar after many years of conducting a single blockbuster Spring Auction. An incredible 15,710 bids were placed on the 1410 different lots offered for sale, 98.5% of which sold to an impressive 576 different winners. The auction ended with total proceeds of $4,072,980.

The auction was full of extremely strong showings for hundreds of vintage, rare and high grade cards and historic memorabilia that have long been the REA trademark. “The auction was amazingly successful,” said REA President Rob Lifson. “We had a little bit of everything for sale. The interest from collectors was incredible and the amount realized was considerably more than we anticipated.”

Paced by the highest-graded example of the legendary 1932 U. S. Caramel William McKinley rarity, which hammered at $96,000, a total of seventy-one items sold for $10,000 or more. Other top-selling items included a 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie card ($84,000), a 1909-1911 T206 White Border Eddie Plank ($66,000), and an extraordinary newly-discovered baseball signed by Babe Ruth ($39,000), which had been carefully saved in the same family for decades.


Babe Ruth items continued to be a strong draw, and collectors had their pick from numerous cards, autographs, and other items of the “Sultan of Swat.” In addition to the rookie card and single-signed baseball mentioned earlier, a number of other items produced impressive final figures at the end of the night. A beautiful uncut sheet of 1933 Goudey cards featuring a bold example of #181 Babe Ruth realized $36,000, while a newly-discovered 1915 Boston Red Sox real-photo postcard, depicting a young Ruth in his rookie season, sold for a record $21,600. An original 1917 news photo of Ruth attracted forty-two bids, the most of any item in the auction, and sold for $16,800. 1930s gum cards of Ruth were of special note to advanced collectors, including a 1932 U. S. Caramel PSA NM 7 ($15,600), a 1933 Goudey #149 SGC NM+ 86 ($15,600), and a highest-graded 1933 World Wide Gum #80 SGC NM+ 86 ($10,200). Other Ruth highlights included an extraordinary signed photo ($10,200), a twice-signed check ($7,200), and a signed baseball glove ($6,600).
ruthball.jpgCollectors continued to show great appreciation for the T206 White Border set, long regarded as one of the most popular sets in the hobby. In addition to the Plank rarity mentioned earlier, two large accumulations of T206s were hotly contested by bidders, with a near-complete set of 457 different realizing $27,000 and a new-to-the-hobby group of 325 different hammering down at $20,400. A near-complete PSA-graded set of Southern Leaguers realized $13,200, while a unique and striking printing error of Cy Young, discovered in an old-time collection, brought $10,200. Several rare backs were also up for bid, led by a Brown Hindu example of Mordecai Brown, which sold for forty-five times its opening bid and hammered at $9,000 and a Lenox example of Vic Willis, which realized $7,800. Common players brought big numbers too, including a Lenox example of Mickey Doolan ($7,200), an Uzit example of Doc Crandall ($5,100), and an autographed Nap Rucker ($5,100).

Other card highlights include:

• 1914 T222 Fatima Individual Players Complete Set - #1 PSA Set Registry - $39,000

• 1933 V353 World Wide Gum (Canadian Goudey) Color-Process Sheets - $30,000

• 1915 Cracker Jack #103 Joe Jackson PSA NM 7 - $27,000

• 1878 Boston Team Cabinet with George and Harry Wright - $27,000

• 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle SGC EX 60 - $22,800

• 1917 E135 Collins-McCarthy #80 Rogers Hornsby Rookie SGC EX+ 70 - $20,400

• 1909 T204 Ramly Walter Johnson PSA EX 5 - $19,200

• 1908 PC760 Rose Postcard Honus Wagner - $18,000

Non-baseball cards were also well-represented with many impressive prices turned in among cards from football, basketball, and hockey. A stunning partial set of 1961-1962 Fleer basketball cards, consisting of forty-eight cards graded Mint, was broken up and sold individually, much to the delight of collectors. Led by a sharp example of Wilt Chamberlain’s key rookie card ($10,800), the group totaled an astounding $47,280. A 1959 Topps football cello box realized $19,200. Rookie cards continued their hot streak with a PSA MINT 9 Peyton Manning rookie bringing $13,200, a 1958 Topps Jim Brown graded SGC NM/MT+ 92 sold for $4,800, and a 1962 Topps Fran Tarkenton graded SGC NM/MT+ 92 hammering at $4,200, nearly three times its book value for the grade. A beautiful 1948 Bowman George Mikan rookie graded PSA NM 7 sold for $6,600 while a 1986-1987 Fleer Michael Jordan graded BGS GEM 9.5 ended at $4,500.

Memorabilia collectors had plenty to choose from as well, and the rookie contract of Hall of Famer Ross Youngs, consigned directly by his family, was a highlight. The 1917 contract called for Youngs to earn a salary of $1,200; at the end of the auction, it hammered for an incredible thirty-two times his salary, ending at $39,000. Two championship rings were also among the highest-selling items, with a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series ring presented to Red Patterson and a 2009 New York Yankees World Series ring presented to an executive each hammering at $30,000. A stunning Christy Mathewson check, accompanied by a letter directly from Mathewson’s wife, brought $20,400, and a 1923 Yankee Stadium opening-day ticket stub realized an incredible record-setting $19,200. A fascinating group of Dieges & Clust items, comprised of many unique items relating to the production of various rings, press pins, and awards, tallied an impressive $33,600. One of the finest collections of baseball Hartland statues to ever be assembled or auctioned was met with extremely strong bidding, selling at $15,600. One of the most unique items in the auction, a 1982 Derek Jeter Little League team-signed baseball and team photo, generated tremendous interest among both the general public and serious advanced collectors, finally ending at $14,400 once the dust settled.

Other memorabilia highlights include:

• 1934 Brooklyn Dodgers Road Uniform - $14,400

• 1931 Lefty Gomez Signed New York Yankees Contract - $10,800

• 1868 Atlantics vs Tri-Mountain Trophy Ball - $9,600

• 1869 Nebraska Otoes Trophy Bat - $9,600

• 1948 Chesterfield Advertising Display - $9,600

• 1971 Thurman Munson Game-Used Home Flannel - $9,600

• Circa 1933 Billy Hamilton Signed Album Page - $8,400

• 1949-1950 Willard Brown Signed Puerto Rican League Contract - $7,800


The second installment of the finest collection of “Three Stooges” material ever to be offered at public auction, consisting of high-end movie posters, lobby cards, and trading cards, proved again to be a tremendous hit with collectors. Ten one-sheet movie posters and more than fifty lobby cards were presented over fifty-five different lots and tallied $157,020 after the dust settled. Two one-sheet posters from 1937 short films, Playing The Ponies and Dizzy Doctors, led the category, realizing $22,800 and $18,000, respectively. A 1935 lobby card from the film Hoi Polloi also generated great interest, hammering at $10,800. On the trading card side of the collection, extremely spirited bidding drove the entire collection of ninety-six ultra high-grade 1959 Fleer cards, presented over thirty-seven different lots, to an astounding total hammer of $162,420, including individual cards of Curly ($13,300), Larry ($5,400), and Moe ($5,400).

Original nonsport artwork also was met with great collector interest as several vintage sets were well represented and turned in outstanding prices. Two original 1962 Topps “Mars Attacks” artworks presented individually sold for a combined $27,000. An assortment of fourteen 1962 Topps “Civil War News” original artworks sold for a collective $18,240, while ten 1965 Topps “Battle” original artworks totaled $14,880. A single 1934 National Chicle “Skybirds” artwork realized a record $5,100.

Modern cards also earned tremendous respect in this auction, with a collection of 133 different cards produced between 1996 and 2004 realizing a staggering $79,020. Led by a collection of rare 1996 Donruss Signature Series cards, highlighted by Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken, which sold for $27,000, the collection showed that there is great demand in this area of the market. Other top sales included $20,400 for a collection of sixteen 1999 Upper Deck Piece of History game-used bat cards, $10,800 for three limited-edition Ted Williams insert cards, and $4,500 for twenty-two 1996 Leaf Signature Series cards.

REA is now accepting consignments for its next auction, set for the spring of 2015. To inquire about consignments, learn more about Robert Edward Auctions, view all auction results, register for future auctions, or receive a complimentary copy of one of their past catalogs, visit For further information, contact Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ 07069, or call (908) 226-9900.