Hake’s June 29-30 auction led by original comic art, Pokemon uncut sheet, Star Wars rocket-firing Boba Fett prototype, 1915 Babe Ruth/Red Sox rookie button

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Historical Highlight: George Washington-signed promissory note for purchase of slaves, including young Revolutionary War hero William Lee

1767 George Washington-signed slave sale promissory note for his trusted personal valet William ‘Billy’ Lee, who went to war with Washington, including at Valley Forge and Yorktown. Never before seen at auction. Accompanied by Hake’s and JSA Letters of Authenticity. Opening bid: $10,000
1767 George Washington-signed slave sale promissory note for his trusted personal valet William ‘Billy’ Lee, who went to war with Washington, including at Valley Forge and Yorktown. Never before seen at auction. Accompanied by Hake’s and JSA Letters of Authenticity. Opening bid: $10,000

YORK, Pa. – Throughout 2020 and the first quarter of this year, collectors of pop culture memorabilia made it clear that even a global pandemic could not stop them from enjoying their favorite hobby. Via the Internet, they were able to acquire unique, investment-grade pieces by bidding in Hake’s $2.9 million February collectibles auction, which broke multiple house records and captured world record prices in several categories. That trend continues to gather steam now that Hake’s has announced the exciting highlights of its June 29-30 online auction.

Original comic art, vintage comic books, political memorabilia, Star Wars, GI Joe and other action figures; a 1999 uncut Pokemon sheet, and treasures of the classic baseball era are just a few of the sizzling categories featured in the current 2,381-lot auction

In keeping with Hake’s tradition, the sale will open with historical and US presidential material. Lot #1, a 1767 promissory note hand-signed by George Washington, is unquestionably one of the most important documents Hake’s has ever handled. It “speaks” from a shameful period of America’s past when even the noblest of our nation’s founding fathers kept slaves. 

The promissory note serves as Washington’s commitment to purchase four slaves, including William Lee, an African-American youth who became Washington’s trusted personal valet. A Mount Vernon financial ledger specifies that the transaction was for: “Mulatto Will £61.15/ Ditto Frank £50/ Negro Boy Adam £19/ Jack £19.” The document is hand-signed in black quill-pen ink by George Washington and his brother John Augustine Washington, and is addressed to “Mary Lee, Acting Executor of John Lee, Deceased.”

William Lee, or “Will,” as he was known to the future president, spent two decades at Washington’s side – at social events, on surveying expeditions, at the First Continental Congress, and on the battlefield throughout the American Revolution, including the 1777-’78 winter at Valley Forge and the Siege of Yorktown. He was also charged with the security of Washington’s most important papers and entrusted with top-secret information. Because of his constant wartime presence alongside Washington, Lee became something of a celebrity amongst the soldiers. He was almost certainly the most famous African American of his day. 

It is consistently noted in Washington’s papers that William Lee was regarded as more than a manservant. Upon Washington’s demise, his will stipulated that all of his 120 slaves were to be freed upon the death of his wife, Martha – with only one exception. He immediately freed William Lee and provided a $30-per-year salary, stating, “This I Give Him As A Testimony Of My Sense Of His Attachment To Me, And For His Faithful Services During The Revolutionary War.”

“That an enslaved man could rise to such lofty ranks distinguishes William Lee as one of the great unsung heroes of the American Revolutionary period,” said Scott Mussell, Americana Specialist at Hake’s Auctions. The framed George Washington-signed promissory note is offered with Hake’s and JSA Letters of Authenticity, and has an opening bid of $10,000.

Some of the finest original comic-book art ever to pass through Hake’s doors will be offered in the two-day sale. A top entry is Charles Schulz’s Sunday page art for the July 3, 1955 Peanuts comic strip. Featuring early depictions of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy, this rare and coveted artwork is in fine condition overall and carries a $75,000-$100,000 estimate. 

The original final cover art for the comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5 (October 1985) by co-creator Kevin Eastman is another top highlight. The action-packed full-color scene features all four Turtles along with Professor Honeycutt/Fugitoid. Estimate: $35,000-$50,000

For decades, Superman fans wishing for a marriage between the Man of Steel and his longtime girlfriend Lois Lane have been led down the aisle but never to the altar. That changed in December 1996 with the release of Superman: The Wedding Album #1. Hake’s is proud to offer the original John Byrne cover art for this issue, which was obtained shortly after its creation and is fresh to the market after nearly 25 years in the same collection. Complete with ink and pencil annotations added during production, this artwork is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

The comic book section features more than its fair share of coveted titles. X-Men #1, from September 1963, graded CGC 5.0 VG/Fine, introduces the X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl) and Magneto. This important Silver Age Marvel comic could reach $20,000-$35,000. Another great #1 issue, the 1984 debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is graded CGC 9.2 Near Mint, and includes the first appearance of not only the Turtles, but also Splinter and Shredder. A first print, it is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.

Nothing is hotter in today’s auction marketplace than vintage Pokemon cards, especially in proof format. Hake’s will make history on June 30 when it presents the earliest uncut Pokemon proof sheet ever to cross the auction block. From 1999, the shadowless, holographic sheet contains 99 cards, including seven ultra-rare Charizard cards. The property of a Hasbro employee who received it as a gift in 1999, it could reach record territory on auction day. Estimate: $100,000-$200,000. 

Knocking down one action-figure record after another in recent years, Hake’s will unveil yet another enticing prototype from Kenner’s 1979 Star Wars toy line. An encapsulated Boba Fett rocket-firing prototype L-slot action figure, AFA 85 NM+, will convey to its lucky new owner with a CIB COA. A winning bid in the $100,000-$200,000 range is predicted. A near-mint 1982 G.I. Joe Series 1/9 Back (first version) framed, uncut proof sheet with provenance from the Bill Byers Pre-Production G.I. Joe Collection is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

Collectors of early baseball memorabilia have discovered some of the hobby’s greatest relics in sales hosted by Hake’s. Wait till they see what’s waiting for them later this month. First of all, there’s the only known surviving presentation photograph of the 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords, taken during the team’s second year in the Negro National League. The immortal lineup in this photo includes Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston. With provenance from the famed Black Ball Collection, it is estimated at $20,000-$35,000. 

Those who tried their best to acquire one of two near-apocryphal Babe Ruth rookie-era buttons from the Paul Muchinsky collection in previous Hake’s sales will have a third and final chance on June 29. A wonderful Babe Ruth / Boston Red Sox 1915 American League Champions button measuring 2¼ inches in diameter, one of only two in existence, will step up to the auction plate with an open estimate. The two buttons previously sold by Hake’s – each of a different design – sold for $62,980, a world record price for a button of any type; and $52,367, the second-highest price ever paid for a button. Against a “last dance, last chance” landscape, it’s anyone’s guess how high the bidding will go for the last of the Muchinsky rookie-Ruth trio.

Hake’s June 29-30, 2021 auction is now open for bidding. For a free printed catalog or additional information on any item in the sale, call 866-404-9800 (toll-free) or 717-434-1600. Email [email protected]. Online: https://hakes.com/

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