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Lot # 1337 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Ty Cobb "Autographed" Baseball Digest Magazine Forgery from the Infamous Al Stump

Starting Bid - $100, Sold For - $120

When is a Ty Cobb signed magazine not a Ty Cobb signed magazine? Answer: When it originates from Al Stump, who was Cobb's final biographer!

In the early 1980s Stump began selling what he called his Ty Cobb collection, an assortment of material that included not only hundreds of signed documents, books, and letters that he said originated from his literary collaboration with the Georgia Peach, but many of Cobb's personal items as well, most notable of which was a shotgun that Stump claimed was used by Cobb's mother to kill Cobb's father. Stump even produced a letter from Cobb in which Cobb writes that he is giving Stump many of his personal items. However, unbeknownst to everyone at the time, it was all a scam. Stump had used his personal relationship with Cobb to foster the belief that he had obtained all of the items in his collection directly from Cobb, when in fact he had forged all, or nearly all, of the items he was offering. It is very likely that Stump had some authentic material which he sold, and when it was gone and he realized how easy it was for him to sell Cobb memorabilia, he soon augmented his collection with his own creations. His "cottage industry" as a "reliable" source for Cobb memorabilia, and signed items in particular, was extremely successful. It was only as time went on, that autograph authenticators and others in the hobby finally realized that Stump had not only forged Cobb's signature and handwriting on hundreds of items, but even fabricated items he said once belonged to Cobb. For those interested in the complete story, we urge them to read the definitive article on the scandal: The Georgia Peach: Stumped by the Storyteller by William R. Cobb (no relation to Ty Cobb), which was first published in the 2010 National Pastime magazine and is currently available on the SABR website (http://sabr.org/research/georgia-peach-stumped-storyteller).

Offered here is one of the many forgeries created by Stump that quickly entered the hobby in the 1980s. This piece was purchased at auction by our consignor in the December 1998 for $948.75, which we note only to show how recently it was that Ty Cobb material with Al Stump provenance was highly respected (by many, at least; there will always be some who claim to have always known, and probably some that really did!). Often when serious authenticity issues are revealed, it is easy to assume the information was always known by all, but the collecting world's understanding of the true nature and extent of the Al Stump forgery scam is relatively recent.

The February 1961 issue of Baseball Digest is stamped "Property of Ty Cobb" on the cover and features a forged Cobb inscription on the interior. On the first page of an article titled "Minnesota's Wind, Fences Peril Babe Ruth's Mark," a black-ink forged inscription reads "Ruth's 60 mark will go soon but my career .367 will not be exceeded - Ty Cobb." When Stump sold this material, he passed it off as one of the working materials from his collaborative biography of Cobb, titled My Life in Baseball: The True Record, published in 1961. While the Cobb inscription and signature in this magazine is a forgery, the fact that this is an Al Stump forgery, and therefore represents an example of the work of one of the most famous exposed forgery frauds in collecting history, makes this an extremely interesting piece. Over and above being an Al Stump forgery, it is also an historical document relating to the legend of Ty Cobb and Stump's role in creating and perpetuating a totally inaccurate account of Cobb's personality in Stump's 1994 book Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball and Cobb: A Biography. (Stump's entire written account of his time with Cobb, which was the basis for the 1994 film Cobb starring Tommy Lee Jones as Cobb and Robert Wuhl as Stump, is extremely suspect). Even if this item were to not sell (and it is such an interesting conversation piece that we think it will!), we will have no regrets about its offering. The true purpose of REA running this lot is to provide educational information with reference to Al Stump items to collectors, and have this information properly documented in our online archives for reference to help collectors in the future. SOLD FOR $120


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