Summer Premier Auction 2020

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/28/2020

Addendum: See additional uploaded images regarding provenance.

June 12th, 1939 was a momentous day for our national pastime. To celebrate the Centennial of the baseball’s invention, the Hall of Fame held its inaugural induction ceremony in Cooperstown, NY, honoring five men elected in 1936 and 20 more members who received enough votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) in the two years prior. All of the 1936-39 honorees still living plus many future members attended the first grand event which also marked the opening of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and Museum’s hallowed doors.

Presented here is an original 1939 Baseball Centennial First Day Cover signed by 16 Hall of Famers, five of whom were part of the first four induction classes. This list of baseball royalty, all now long deceased, includes Ty Cobb (died 1961), Cy Young (d. 1955), Tris Speaker (d. 1958), Eddie Collins (d. 1951), George Sisler (d. 1973), Jimmie Foxx (d. 1967), Rogers Hornsby (d. 1963), Mel Ott (d. 1956), Charles “Kid” Nichols (d. 1953), Mickey Cochrane (d. 1962), Carl Hubbell (d. 1998), Ed Walsh (d. 1959), Fred Clarke (d. 1960), Pie Traynor (d. 1972), Charlie Gehringer (d. 1993) and Hugh Duffy (d. 1954).

All but one autograph was done in black ink, angling around the 3 -5/8” by 6-1/2” envelope to fill its rightful space. They range widely in strength and appeal, from Clarke’s 5/10 (blue) to Ott’s 9/10. Ty Cobb, whose mini photo is affixed to the event logo (more on that in a bit) has signed in 7/10 between those two on the bottom right. Cy Young’s 7/10 signature is slightly smeared (just the ‘n’) but appears by itself, making it stand out nicely. Duffy and Foxx have signed on top of each another, while Collins and Walsh overlap a bit as well. There’s really nothing to complain about with this piece of Americana history. The envelope itself is clean, crease-free and well-preserved with little toning. The back has eight of the signers’ names in pencil.

The FDC is encapsulated, for both authentication and posterity purposes, in a PSA/DNA holder with an overall grade of NM 7. A 1939 FDC signed by all 11 “original” inductees—those still alive and able to attend their own enshrinement—is considered the holy grail of First Day Covers, and we have sold three of these in the past (most recently for $146,779 in Dec. 2018). While some big names from the first three classes are missing on this one, the unique design and impeccable provenance put it in class all its own.

Provenance: Ira Seebacher, a prominent New York sportswriter and member of the BBWAA since 1932, was among the initial group of Hall of Fame voters. While covering the 1940 induction ceremony (6/13/40) for The Morning Telegraph, he got each of these 16 autographs in person.  Ira was a huge stamp collector so this special FDC with its rare Centennial of Baseball stamp was desirable to him even without any Hall of Fame signatures. With his press connections, he was able to procure a few different versions. (A second 1939 FDC from his collection signed at inaugural 6/12/39 ceremony by Ruth, Cobb, Wagner and even Gehrig sold privately for well over six figures; a scan of that other FDC is uploaded for reference, as well as images of Ira Seebacher's 1939 Cavalcade of Baseball ticket stub and his personal "Little Red Book of Major League Baseball" issued only to Hall of Fame voters. These other three items are not part of this lot; only used for reference.) A letter from Ira’s son with the complete background and further details about each FDC is included.

Design: According to Seebacher’s son, each inductee received his very own FDC with a small cut-out photograph of himself. A limited number of these were made, and this offered version was designed specifically for the Georgia Peach because he was part of the inaugural 1936 class. His full body vintage photo (2x3½ cm) was affixed on the bats and laurel pictograph inside the gold-embossed 1839-1939 Baseball Centennial logo ("Birthplace of Baseball" adds a nice ring to it). The full birth names of the first five baseball immortals voted in—Wagner, Mathewson, “Tyus R. Cobb”, Johnson and Ruth—along with their years of service are gold-embossed on the bottom. We’ve never seen any player-specific 1939 FDC version like this before, let alone one custom-made for Cobb with so many significant autographs.

Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $18,214
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Friday, August 28, 2020.
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