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1928 Tony Lazzeri Lucky Strike Trolley-Car Sign
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,963
Beautiful high-grade Lucky Strike trolley-car advertising sign of Tony Lazzeri, one of five signs issued in this classic series. Today, those Lucky Strike signs are universally regarded as among the most attractive and desirable baseball advertising display pieces ever produced. They are also among the very few baseball advertising display pieces dating from the 1920s which are in full color. Lazzeri, who is identified in the advertisement as the "New York Yankees Star Infielder," is pictured in a fielding pose. To the right of his image is his endorsement: "I like Luckies. They are mild and mellow." Lazzeri, who was one of the key members of the club's fabled "Murderers' Row" lineup in 1927, finished the year with 18 home runs, 102 RBI, and a .309 average. Those numbers, along with what were probably the sky-high endorsement fees for both Ruth and Gehrig, made Lazzeri an ideal choice for Lucky Strike in 1928. It is interesting to note that 1928 was both the height of Lucky Strike's cigarette advertising blitz and the beginning of what is now an advertising staple: the celebrity endorsement. Lucky Strike launched the most aggressive tobacco advertising campaign ever seen in 1928 and, according to Allan M. Brandt in his authoritative work The Cigarette Century (Basic Books, New York, 2007), its campaign took full advantage "of the 'cult of personality' that emerged in the 1920s as a force in advertising." As a result, the American public was bombarded with testimonials by athletes, celebrities, entertainers, and socialites as to the benefits of smoking Lucky Strikes. In their choice of ballplayers, the company certainly recruited the cream of the crop, as all five players featured in its advertisements were later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Harry Heilmann, Lefty Grove, and Tony Lazzeri). In the late 1970s a hoard of about fifty "Lucky Strike" signs surfaced. Most top-grade examples found today, almost certainly including this very piece, originate from that single find. The sign (20 x 10 inches) displays only a few extremely tiny surface wrinkles (only visible when viewed at certain angles) and is otherwise Near Mint in appearance. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 27.75 x 18 inches. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $2,963
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