YORK, Pa. – Hake’s, America’s foremost source of rare and expertly authenticated pop-culture and historical memorabilia, will launch into the 2023 auction season with a March 21-22 offering of more than 1,900 choice lots from 200+ collector categories. From Star Wars to sports, vintage toys to rock ‘n’ roll, there’s plenty to discover in the print or online catalog.
Founded in 1967 with a specialty in early political memorabilia, Hake’s has set one auction record after another in that category, handling many of the finest known examples. Last March, Hake’s set a world auction record for a pinback button with the $185,850 sale of a James M Cox/Franklin D Roosevelt jugate campaign button from the US Presidential election of 1920. That heady price demolished the $70,092 previous auction record for a pinback button of any type, which was achieved by Hake’s with the June 2021 sale of a Babe Ruth 1915 American League Champions button.
It could be deja vu all over again when Hake’s offers a 1-inch version of the 1920 Cox/Roosevelt jugate button in its opening session on March 21. An extraordinary rarity, the button is believed to have been a salesman’s sample, as was the case with the 1.25-inch button sold last March. The button entered in this month’s sale is one of only six of its type known to exist. It was the crown jewel of the legendary John Hilhouse collection and is estimated at $35,000-$50,000.
A fantastic rarity of the modern era is the pair of “No. 1” license plates from Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Presidential Inauguration. Made as special gifts for the president to bestow on members of his inner circle, an estimated 10 or fewer sets were produced – a total of 20 plates. After the inaugural, the plates consigned to Hake’s were gifted to a White House employee. Only seven individual plates of this type are known to exist, with this duo representing the sixth and seventh. They are part of a framed presentation that includes a color photo of Ronald and Nancy Reagan waving from a limo bearing identical No. 1 plates. Estimate: $5,000-$20,000
Images of two of the all-time greatest legends of baseball will be stepping up to the plate with hopes of knocking it out of the park. An authentic circa-1920 Type I original photograph of the immortal Babe Ruth from his first New York Yankees season is credited to Paul Thompson, one of the premier baseball photographers of the early 20th century. PSA/DNA authenticated and encapsulated, the 6.5-inch by 8.5-inch photo is expected to reach $20,000-$35,000.
A 1917 Honus Wagner Doherty Silk Sox (Paterson, N.J.) advertising card produced for Honus Wagner Day, Aug. 26, 1917, depicts the local hero in the final year of his playing career. Only two of these 4-inch by 7-inch pictorial cards are known to exist, making them rarer than even the exalted T206 Honus Wagner baseball card. Opportunity knocks for sports card collectors, with the auction example assigned a relatively modest $5,000-$10,000 estimate.
Star Wars collectors have stepped up their search for genuine action figure prototypes and rare productions ever since Hake’s introduced the incomparable Russell Branton collection in 2017. “That was the collection that fired off the cannon and took Star Wars toys to a new level of importance in the marketplace,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions. “We leave no stone unturned to find genuine Star Wars rarities to offer in our sales. This time around, we have something terrific from Australia, and we know collectors are going to fight to own it.”
Winter refers to a TOLTOYS (Australia) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 1980 Jawa vinyl-cape action figure on an Empire 41 Back-E card (as opposed to the Star Wars blister card that was used for the short-lived US vinyl-caped Jawas). Also, the cape on the TOLTOYS Jawa – which had a very short production run exclusively in Australia – is of a darker hue than the one seen on the US version. Graded AFA 50 VG and one of only five AFA-graded examples, the Aussie figure is accompanied by CIB LOA and will make its auction debut with an estimate of $35,000-$50,000.
Also stepping into the spotlight are two prototype action figures from Kenner’s Star Wars: Ewoks (1985) Series 2. The fully painted first-shot prototype figures are of Chief Chirpa with his staff and satchel accessories; and Paploo with his club and horn accessories. Each was packaged with a mismatched B-Wing Pilot aluminum Collectors Coin that Kenner included to show how the final product would look. Series 2 never saw production despite being shown in 1986 Kenner Toy Fair catalog, making these prototypes extremely rare and desirable. Each is graded AFA 70 Y-EX+ and comes with a CIB LOA. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000 each
A fresh-to-market collection of Hasbro Transformer toys was AFA graded at Hake’s request. “Their grades are unheard of. Many are 85, which is very high,” said Alex Winter. “They were purchased in the 1980s and sat on a shelf, untouched.” A 1984 Transformers Series 1 Optimus Prime in its original window box, AFA 85NM+ with a Trademark logo – which is much rarer than the box type with a Registered logo – is estimated at $10,000-$20,000. Additionally, there’s a 1985 Devastator gift set that is one of the most desirable productions from Series 2. It contains six individual Constructicon robots that can be merged to form one Devastator robot. “This was a very expensive set when it was released. It was the only way to acquire all six Constructicons together,” Winter noted. AFA graded 85 NM+, the set could reach $10,000-$20,000.
The Hasbro hits keep coming in the form of a 1985 GI Joe USS Flagg Series 4-vehicle playset, which leads an impressive selection of GI Joe toys. Factory-sealed, it contains a 7½ft-long aircraft carrier, towing vehicle, fuel trailer, and admiral’s launch & electronic sound system, plus an action figure of the admiral. AFA graded 60 Excellent, it could sail to a $5,000-$10,000 finish.
Combining classic monsters and hot rod car culture, a factory-sealed and boxed “Wolf Man’s Wagon” Model Kit No. 458-98 presents in a high grade with provenance from the Greg Roccaro collection. Estimate: $2,000-$5,000
Two key Silver Age comic books that are on every serious collector’s wish list will make an auction appearance at Hake’s. Marvel Fantastic Four #1 from November 1961, CGC-graded 5.0 VG/Fine, features the origin and first appearance of The Fantastic Four; while Marvel’s The X-Men #1 comic from September 1963 is CGC-graded 7.0 Fine/VF. It contains the origin and first appearance of The X-Men and Magneto. In the case of both comic books, the storyline is by Stan Lee with cover and page art by Jack Kirby. Each is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
Bob Oksner’s original cover art for DC’s Action Comics #467, published in January 1977, is an action-packed depiction of a raging Superman destroying a city. A hand-lettered pencil caption appears to emit from an antenna atop a skyscraper and says “Stop It Superman! You’re Wrecking The World!” The artwork measures 11 inches by 17 inches, and there are DC copyright stamps on verso. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000
An ultimate crossover collectible of interest to toy, bank and Disney collectors, a circa 1930-1936 Saalheimer & Strauss (Germany) Mickey Mouse tin mechanical bank, exhibits one of four design variations in the Mickey series. When the character’s ear is pulled, his eyes move and his tongue ejects to accept a coin. This pre-World War II classic is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
Perhaps no other rock music poster recalls the 1960s quite as vividly as the one Gunther Kieser designed for the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1969 shows in Germany. Showing Hendrix with an array of psychedelic tubes plugged into his head, it bears the credit line “Design: Kieser Portratfoto: Silverstein Farbfoto: Novo Studio,” which, importantly, distinguishes it from merchandising posters printed for use during the band’s 1969 US tour. The poster was discovered inside an LP by a GI who spent time in Germany during the period of the poster’s production. Bright and clean, it is expected to make $5,000-$10,000 at auction.
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