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Lot # 1394 (of 1512)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1915 Schmelzer's Sporting Goods Advertising Pins Complete Set (10) with Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Two Previously Unknown Pins - The Only Complete Set!

Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $19,200

Presented is one of the most extraordinary baseball pinback finds of all time: a newly discovered complete set of ten advertising pinbacks issued in 1915 by Schmelzer's Sporting Goods of Kansas City, Missouri. By any measure, Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pins are one of the pinback collecting world's most desirable and legendary rarities. The discovery of even a single sample would be remarkable, as fewer than fifty Schmelzer's pins are even known to exist. Prior to this discovery, a find of ten different Schmelzer's pins would have been thought to be impossible. Prior to this find, only eight different Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pins were known to exist! For many years, eight different subjects, each corresponding to a different baseball position, were known to exist in the Schmelzer's set, and collectors and pinback enthusiasts had always speculated that there must be a ninth pin to round out a complete baseball team. The ninth pin was always presumed to be "second base," as that was the only position missing. But the identity of the ninth featured player was unknown. This remarkable find answers the 100-year-old mystery and identifies the ninth player position pin representing second base as Hall of Famer Johnny Evers! The tenth different pin? We had never before even contemplated the existence of a tenth pin. But it also exists and is included in the find: The previously unknown tenth pin in the Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pin set is manager George Stallings!

The ten pins offered here represent the only known complete set in existence.

This complete set of ten pins has a fascinating history. When we received the e-mail from a noncollector inquiring about the value of his ten different Schmelzer's pins, we were naturally skeptical both because of the extreme rarity of Schmelzer's pins and because we only knew of eight different subjects. We immediately asked for pictures, and after a short wait, we were stunned to see that not only were the pins real, but there really were ten different subjects! Significant pinback discoveries such as this, let alone from a set issued 100 years ago, are naturally few and far between. In response to our inquiry as to how he happened to have these great rarities, the consignor explained to us that his parents owned and operated an antique shop in Kansas City from 1953 to 1963. This made a lot of sense because Schmelzer's was a Kansas City sporting goods store. Our consignor recalled seeing the pins among the family's odds and ends as early as 1960, and noted that they were saved because he liked them, and that they have remained in storage for the past 55 years. Careful storage and remarkable foresight (or luck) is responsible for this incredible offering today! This newly discovered set of ten pins is the second-largest find of Schmelzer's pins ever (second only to REA's find of twelve pins in 2006, which included only six different subjects).

In addition to their great rarity, Schmelzer's are noted for being the first baseball pin set to combine photos of famous ballplayers with color lithographic artwork. Each pin in this striking set features a black-and-white portrait image of the player along with a full-color figure of a generic ballplayer to the left, representing a position, which is also noted above the portrait in red lettering. On the curl of the pin it is indicated, in tiny letters, that these pins were manufactured for Schmelzer's Sporting Goods by The Whitehead & Hoag Company, the premier pinback-maker of the era. Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pins have been revered by advanced collectors for both their rarity and design since the earliest days of organized collecting. They are also noted for the inclusion of several big names, including Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson, in the relatively small set. While these players were staples in many prewar card sets, and their cards can routinely sell for great sums, those cards pale in comparison in terms of rarity to the Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pins. Any short list of the era's most desirable baseball pinbacks will include the Schmelzer's Sporting Goods pins of Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson (all of which, of course, are included in the offered set).

The ten subjects which comprise this complete set are: Ty Cobb (Right Field, Detroit Tigers), Charlie Deal (Third Base, St. Louis Terriers), Johnny Evers (Second Base, Chicago Cubs), Hank Gowdy (Catcher, Boston Braves), Danny Hoffman (Left Field, St. Louis Browns), Joe Jackson (Center Field, Cleveland Naps), Rabbit Maranville (Short Stop, Boston Braves), Christy Mathewson (Pitcher, New York Giants), Butch Schmidt (First Base, Boston Braves), and George Stallings (Manager). While this set is naturally extremely noteworthy for its completeness and uniqueness, it is also the case that the ten pins display beautifully! They are not perfect (though Jackson is close), due to varying degrees of foxing, but are still exceptionally attractive. Each pin boasts a crisp image and bold colors. The original gloss is intact, and the celluloid surface of each pin is free of any distracting scratches or chips. Light to moderate foxing is present along the edges of all of the pins, and on the fronts to varying extents. Ideally, the Joe Jackson pin (only the sixth known example) has survived in the finest condition, with minimal foxing almost exclusively relegated to the curl (aside from some minimal perimeter spotting, foxing virtually not visible from the front). The front foxing is most serious on the following five pins: Cobb (only the fifth known example), Gowdy, Hoffman, Mathewson, and Stallings. Foxing is present but much more modest and therefore of far lesser impact to the extremely impressive appearance of the remaining five pins: Evers, Deal, Maranville, Schmidt, and, as noted, Jackson. The original advertising back paper is complete and intact on the reverse of each pin, with bold black printing and light toning. The original pin is also complete and intact on all as well.

In our opinion (and we are big fans of pinbacks so maybe we are biased), a strong case can be made that the rarest baseball pinbacks are extremely undervalued and represent an extraordinary value compared to the rarest baseball cards. As baseball pinbacks continue to rise in prominence among the world's most advanced collectors, it would not surprise us if the most desirable examples someday rival the values placed on similarly rare and desirable cards. That is not the case today, but we can't help but think this may someday change, especially with reference to Joe Jackson.

The significance of the two previously unknown subjects (Evers and Stallings) cannot be overstated as, in addition to providing the answer to a century-old mystery, they represent the only known examples of each. This is a spectacular, unique, and most remarkable newly discovered complete set of one of celluloid collecting's most desirable advertising pinback rarities. Total: 10 pins.

SOLD FOR $19,200

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