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Archive for the ‘Collectors & Collecting’ Category

Harry_Wright_SeatedHarry Wright, a Hall of Fame manager and pioneer during professional baseball’s gestation period in the 19th century, kept his letters in scrapbooks along with pictures and ledgers from his distinguished career. These faded pieces of paper are fragile evidence of some of the earliest business practices in baseball.

Hunt Auctions was scheduled to sell some of the items on July 14 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game FanFest in St. Louis. But the letters have been temporarily pulled from the auction after drawing the attention of the F.B.I. because of the possibility that they were taken years ago from the New York Public Library.

“The letters were written to Wright, who was the manager, the general manager and a center fielder for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, considered the first team of all paid players. A year before his death in 1895, Wright willed his archives to professional baseball’s two major leagues. The materials were donated to the library in 1921, and some of them vanished more than 20 years ago.

“The library lists as missing three scrapbooks of letters written to Wright during the 1870s, ’80s and ’90s. Of the 25 lots linked to Wright in the auction, at least 23 are from the same period as the missing scrapbooks. Only one other scrapbook remains at the library.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

Update: (7/5/09) Another Clue That Baseball Auction Has Stolen Items

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Hitler Badge“The items were sometimes delicate, often minimalist and always haunting: a monogrammed silver matchbox; a gold locket with a butterfly design; a letter-opener, its sturdy handle embellished with an eagle and a swastika. Up for auction here on Thursday, the relics fetched record prices and even spurred bidding wars, purely because of their history: They are believed to be among items owned by Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

“While the recession may mean that many Americans have been wrestling their overworked credit cards back into their wallets and cutting back on expenses large and small, some collectors have been paying record prices for historic artifacts. At Alexander Autographs, a small auctioneer that expected to generate about $800,000 in sales at its two-day auction, sales reached nearly $600,000 on Wednesday. By Thursday, they were edging toward $1 million. . . .

“The most interest — and higher prices — went to the Nazi-related items once owned by the collector John Lattimer: $4,000 for Braun’s compact; $4,250 for Hitler’s teacup and saucer, with a rose and chestnut print; and $3,000 for his dessert plate.” (more @ NY Times)

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1829-dust-jacket“A librarian digging through the archives at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford has found the earliest known example of a publisher’s dust jacket. The dust jacket, which had been separated from the book it was created for, was found bound with other booktrade ephemera. (Click image to enlarge)

“It belonged to: Friendship’s Offering for 1830. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1829.” (more @ Seattle Post-Intelligencer

More information on 19th century dust jackets (including the former earliest known jacket issued in 1832) can be found at 19th Century Dust Jackets.

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“Nearly a decade ago, embarrassed about reports of widespread fraud in the $1-billion-per-year sports memorabilia industry — dominated by baseball and filled mostly with fakes and forgeries, according to an F.B.I. investigation — Major League Baseball did something about it.

“Now every game has at least one authenticator, watching from a dugout or near one. The authenticators are part of a team of 120 active and retired law-enforcement officials sharing the duties for the 30 franchises. Several worked the home openers for the Yankees and the Mets, helping track firsts at the new stadiums. They verified balls, bases, jerseys, the pitchers’ rosin bag, even the pitching rubber and the home plate that were removed after the first game at Yankee Stadium.

“Nothing is too mundane to be authenticated, if deemed potentially valuable. Cans of insect repellent used to combat the midges that swarmed the 2007 playoffs in Cleveland were authenticated. So were urinals pulled from the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis and office equipment from since-razed Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Phillies are cutting the clubhouse carpet from last season into authenticated 18-by-24-inch mats. . . .

“Authenticators carry rolls of high-tech hologram stickers. A bullet-shaped one is placed on the object. Removing it leaves polka dots of the decal attached and renders the removed sticker unusable. A second sticker, with a matching number and a bar code, is scanned by a hand-held unit, instantly recording the item into M.L.B. computers.” (more @ NY Times)

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roy-rogersAn anonymous bidder acquired the ‘King of Cowboys’ Roy Rogers‘ OM-45 Deluxe Martin guitar at Christie’s on April 3. One of the rarest and considered among many collectors the most coveted Martin guitar, the 1930 instrument was put up for auction by the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., and attracted a winning bid of $554,500.” (cont’d @ Antiques & the Arts)

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cartoon-protest“Prints of the Danish cartoon depicting Islam‘s Prophet Mohammed as a suicide bomber in 2005 — much to the chagrin of the international Muslim community — will now be sold by the Denmark Free Press Society for $250 each. One thousand copies are to be printed and sold, with each having a designated number and signature by the artist, Kurt Westergaard, who has been in hiding due to numerous death threats. . . .

“The controversial cartoons caused riots throughout the Muslim world in early 2006, resulting in a number of deaths, property damage and a general wounding of diplomatic relations between east and west that has still not fully healed.” (more @ Huffington Post)

“Westergaard, 73, is one of 12 cartoonists whose drawings of the Muslim prophet were first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, sparking controversy among Muslims worldwide.” (more @ Straits Times)

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Walgreens has announced that the commander in chief will not sprout a Chia Afro on its shelves. . . .

“We decided to pull the product because it didn’t fit with our corporate image,” [Robert Elfinger, a spokesman for Walgreens] said in a company statement. “We also didn’t want to be subject to any misinterpretation over the product. People could interpret it through a political viewpoint or other viewpoints and we want to avoid that situation.” . . .

“News of Walgreens’ removal of the presidential planter has led at least one enterprising Internet seller to offer the Chia Obama for $50—more than double the $19.99 shelf price.” (more @ Chicago Tribune)

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