Auctions Provides a Fun Diversion

First, a company note: Auctions’ debut sale ends Thursdaty. To see the lineup and register, click here.

But first, here is what it was like leading up to the auction:

So this is what it’s like to have unlimited amounts of money, time, energy, patience and eventually joy. I never thought I might be able to experience that all at once.

Nope, I didn’t win the lottery, enter never-never land or get a lobotomy. We’ve been going through some of the items that will be appearing in the debut sale of Auctions, and it’s been a treat seeing all the great collectibles the world has to offer. It’s one thing to see these items in a catalog or on computer screen, but to see them pass through with our own eyes has been a blast.

The other day I got to “play”  with a 1925 tin mechanical baseball game from Frantz Toys call The Great American Game. This beats any video game system I had growing up, even if it didn’t feature any real players. It was simple, colorful and fun. A rotating scroll determined the outcome of the “at-bats” and I never had more pleasure out of a game of chance. I’ve worked in the toy hobby market in a former life, but this was the first time I got to play with a toy that fit my grandpa’s generation. Did I mention it was a good week?
And then I got to pretend I was a kid in the 1940s who just polished off a bowl of Nabisco Shredded Wheat cereal just so I could redeem the box top for a Ted Williams ring. Heck, I would stomach the cereal today if that prize was still an option. Now, all the rewards from shredded wheat involve a healthier lifestyle. Big deal.

Under my desk, I have a couple of game-used bats from the likes of Tony Clark and Rondell White. Those full-size versions have nothing on the 1910 mini decal Joe Jackson bat I swung around a few hours before I penned this column. What great color and design on the barrel. What? It’s worth how much? Perhaps I should have been more gentle. I’m kidding of course. While curiosity got the cat, I was careful with all of my handling of these treasures.

I had never seen a NFL championship ring before in person, salesman sample or otherwise. They’re huge, glitzy, obnoxious and just what you want to show off to the rest of the world that for one season there wasn’t anyone better than you. Those rings make a statement and then some. This version was a 1972 Miami Dolphins Bob Griese example. It didn’t fit my fingers.

And then there were the signed balls – Babe Ruth, Don Drysdale, Ted Williams, Johnny Unitas, Michael Jordan, etc. It seems players took a lot more pride in signing items in years past. Big, bold and, most importantly, legible signatures were found on most of the balls, making for easy identification and the chance to piece together the exact years on team-signed examples.

It was also fun to see what types of items collectors got signed. One of the most unique ones was a 1:16-scale die-cast golf cart signed by Carl Yastrzemski. The artwork was the nicest to look at, but the ticket stubs, postcards and index cards weren’t too bad either.

I had the chance to feel what it was like to sit in the Boston Garden, courtesy of two cushy stadium seats. I lived a day in the warm-ups of numerous NBA players, realizing – when the outfits were far too big – why I never had a chance on the court.

I also learned that this is one big hobby, full of more material than any one person could ever dream of collecting. It’s those niches that keeps the hobby humming, and I hope you all keep it going. After all, how else am I supposed to learn about things like Stereo Viewers, 1946 World Series pen and pencil sets and how Al Kaline and Tom Selleck end up signing the same piece of memorabilia?

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