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Circa 1999 Walter Johnson Southland Bronze Figurine
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,320
Exceedingly rare bronze statue of Walter Johnson issued by Southland Plastics, circa 1999. The eight-inch-high bronze figure depicts Johnson in a pitching pose and sits upon a two-inch-high wood base bearing a metal plaque with Johnson's name engraved upon it. This is only the second example of this Johnson bronze statue that we have ever seen. The first, which was presented to and consigned directly from the Johnson family, appeared as Lot 950 in REA's October 2013 auction, where it realized $2,963. The Johnson bronze was one in series of five baseball bronzes produced by Southland beginning in 1999. We know this because the first example we sold was accompanied by a clipped article that appeared in the February 19, 1999, issue of the Sports Collectors Digest, which read in part:
Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner are on Southland Plastics' docket. Beginning with Ty Cobb in the summer of 1999, the statues will be produced every four months. The bronze statue will carry a price tag of $750 (100 statues produced), while a plastic statue - limited to 10,000 - will be priced at $79.95.
As noted in the article, Southland Plastics originally intended to produce just 100 bronze statues for each player; however, we have recently learned that the statues were produced by order only (i.e., the company did not produce 100 statues and then ship them out as orders came in; when an order came in, the company notified the foundry to produce a bronze). Given that information, and the fact that that we have seen only three examples of the Johnson, and just two each of the Cobb, Wagner, and Mathewson, it is almost a certainty that far fewer than 100 were actually produced for each player. Our consignor obtained the offered figurine directly from a former owner of Southland Plastics, who had it made for his personal collection! It's a shame that so few of these Johnson bronzes were actually produced, for it is an extremely substantial and rare artwork commemorating the career of baseball's legendary "Big Train," and one that would complement any advanced Walter Johnson, Washington Senators, or baseball-figural collection. There is a small chip along the bottom front edge of the wooden base, as well as a smaller nick at the top edge of the base; otherwise the piece is in Mint condition. Height: 9.75 inches. Oval base: 6 x 5 inches. Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,320
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