MVPs in multiple pop culture categories drove in a $2.57M total at Hake’s Premier Auction
Star Wars figures, Transformers and iconic Hendrix poster among the many record-setters, with nine of the top 10 lots surpassing their high estimates
YORK, Pa. – Hake’s served up a pop culture feast at their March 21-22 Premier Auction, with one exciting rarity after another eliciting pre-sale comments like, “I’ve never seen one of those in the marketplace before” or “I never even knew that piece existed.” Closing at $2,570,000 inclusive of buyer’s premium, the two-day event was led by heavy hitters from the baseball, political memorabilia, Star Wars, comic art and vintage toy categories. Many items powered past their high estimates, and some set new world auction records along the way.
Leading the list of top 10 prices realized was a 1-inch version of the elusive 1920 Cox/Roosevelt jugate button. One of only six of its type known to exist, and likely a salesman’s sample, it was the most highly prized piece in the legendary John Hilhouse collection. Hake’s cataloged it with a $35,000-$50,000 estimate, but collectors had their say and pushed it to a final price of $100,300. Hake’s now holds the world record for selling the top three pinback buttons at auction, including a 1.25-inch Cox/Roosevelt jugate ($185,850, 03/15/2022) and an oversize “Drink Alpen Brau” pictorial button depicting the 1916 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox with a youthful Babe Ruth ($62,980, 09/23/2020).
“We thought the Cox/Roosevelt jugate in this sale had a good shot at challenging the high estimate, but we did not see it doubling that number – an incredible result,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions. “It is a clear indication of how strong the political memorabilia market is and how many collectors are willing to pay above-estimate prices for genuinely rare items.”
The immortal Bambino – Babe Ruth – came out swinging on Day 1 of the auction in the form of an authentic circa-1920 Type I original photograph taken during his first season with the New York Yankees. Credited to Paul Thompson, one of the premier baseball photographers of the early 20th century, the photo was PSA/DNA authenticated and encapsulated. Against an estimate of $20,000-$35,000, it shot to the rafters with a winning bid of $78,529.
The appetite for early baseball treasures was also evident with the sale of a Honus Wagner Doherty Silk Sox (Paterson, N.J.) pictorial advertising card produced for Honus Wagner Day on Aug. 26, 1917. Only two such cards are known to exist, making them rarer than even the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card. Estimated at $5,000-$10,000, the Silk Sox Wagner card rose to $14,422, more than twice the price paid previously for the other known example, which, at the time of its sale, was thought to be a unique survivor.
Ever since introducing the Russell Branton collection in 2017, Hake’s has become known as the home of rare and exotic Star Wars action figures. The piece de resistance in their March 21-22 Star Wars lineup originated in The Land Down Under. The 1980 TOLTOYS Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Jawa action figure on an Empire 41 Back-E card displayed a vinyl cape in a rare hue and was graded AFA 50 VG. One of only five AFA-graded examples, the Aussie figure made its auction debut at Hake’s and closed just shy of its high estimate, at $49,324.
Two fully painted first-shot prototype action figures from Kenner’s Star Wars: Ewoks (1985) Series 2 – Chief Chirpa and Paploo – also found favor with bidders. Each was packaged with a mismatched B-Wing Pilot aluminum Collectors Coin that Kenner intentionally included to show how the final product might look. Series 2 never saw production despite being shown in 1986 Kenner Toy Fair catalog, making these prototypes extremely rare and desirable. Each was graded AFA 70 Y-EX+, came with a CIB LOA, and carried an individual estimate of $10,000-$20,000. They achieved identical money, each selling for $18,821.
The toy market was turned on its head yet again with world-record-setting prices for two Hasbro Transformer toys. Both had been AFA graded at Hake’s request prior to their sale, and each earned a stellar rating of AFA 85 NM+. A 1984 Series 1 Optimus Prime in its original window box packed a punch at $34,462; while a 1985 Series 2 Devastator gift set followed confidently to achieve $25,370. Each had been estimated at $10,000-$20,000. Also worthy of note, a 1986 Masters of the Universe Eternia Series 5 playset with towers, vehicles, a monorail and a bevy of other accessories settled at $13,369 against expectations of $2,000-$5,000.
There was no shortage of interest in the array of comic books and original comic art, including a Marvel The X-Men #1 comic book cover-dated September 1963. CGC-graded 7.0 Fine/VF and containing the origin and first appearance of both The X-Men and Magneto, it sold within estimate for $27,418. The original art for the cover of DC Comics’ Brave And The Bold #179, published in October 1981, was drawn by Ross Andru and inked by Dick Giordano. Its action-packed scene shows Batman swinging in to assist members of the Legion of Super-Heroes as they attempt to rescue teammates. The artwork sold for $14,162 against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000.
An extraordinary rarity, a 1939 Superman Christmas card issued by McClure Newspaper Syndicate – the earliest of any known holiday cards with an image of the Man of Steel – was accompanied by a letter on McClure letterhead and addressed to McClure cartoonist Wilhelm Timyn (known professionally as “Tim”). Deemed the only known example of its type, the card was bid to an astonishing $12,234 against a pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$5,000.
A visually compelling music poster that rocked the auction was a 1969 production featuring Gunther Kieser’s interpretation of Jimi Hendrix with psychedelic tubes plugged into his head. Extremely rare and not to be mistaken for merchandising posters printed for use during the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1969 US tour, the auction entry had been discovered inside an LP by a GI who spent time in Germany during the period of the poster’s production. Assigned a $5,000-$10,000 estimate, it resonated with collectors of Sixties ephemera, who chased it to $18,561.
To discuss consigning to a future Hake’s auction, call 866-404-9800 (toll-free) or 717-434-1600; or email [email protected]. All enquiries are kept strictly confidential. Visit Hake’s online at www.hakes.com.
All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of buyer’s premium as stated in Hake’s Terms & Conditions (www.hakes.com).