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Lot # 680 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1939 Signed Hall of Fame Induction Photo Including Ruth, Wagner, Johnson, and Young, Signed By All

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $23,500.00

Presented is one of baseball autograph collecting's rarest and most significant Holy Grails: a signed photograph of the 1939 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies gathering of legendary immortals. Only several authentic signed examples of this iconic photographic image are known to exist. In fact, this is only the second authentic example we have ever seen. The first was in Barry Halper's collection and was sold in 1999 (in higher grade this appeared as Lot #1174 in the famous Halper auction and sold for $63,000). The rare original news photograph, taken at the dedication of the Baseball Hall of Fame on June 12, 1939, has been signed by ten of the eleven then-living inductees present that day: Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Grover Alexander, Eddie Collins, and Connie Mack. This signed photograph originates from the personal collection of former New York Yankees and Red Sox catcher Fred Hofmann (1894-1964), who played nine Major League seasons (1919-1928) as a backup catcher and was Ruth's teammate in the 1920s. The photo captures the ten inductees posing together on the dais and has been signed by each player (in a variety of inks) either atop or above his respective image. The grades of the signatures are as follows: Ruth ("9"), Collins ("6"), Mack ("7"), Young ("6"), Johnson ("4"), Sisler ("7/8"), Lajoie ("5/6"), Speaker ("6"), Alexander ("6"), and Wagner ("2"). The Alexander signature is strong but contrasts somewhat poorly against the dark background. This is one of baseball's most famous images and one that has been reproduced in countless books and periodicals over the years. Few other photos exist that feature a similar grouping of legendary ballplayers, let alone at such a significant event celebrating their induction to the Hall of Fame, the opening of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Baseball. Astute fans may wonder why this photo, which to the best of our knowledge is the only known group photograph of the 1939 Hall of Fame inductees from that day, does not include Ty Cobb. The famed "Georgia Peach" was indeed present that day, but he arrived late and missed the photo shoot. Legend has it that Cobb was late intentionally so that he could avoid confronting Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Landis, with whom he had a long-standing feud dating back to the 1920s. The photo itself is an extremely rare original 1939 International News photograph and bears the company's proprietary stamp on the reverse. The photo (10 x 8 inches) has a chip in the upper left corner (not visible due to matting), a two-inch horizontal tear along the left border, and several light surface creases, none of which significantly detracts from its extraordinary display value. The photograph has been matted from a previous framing and is affixed to a cardboard backing for framing purposes by two small pieces of tape on the reverse (easily removed if desired). Extremely impressive, technically in Good condition overall, though with a far superior appearance. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $23,500.00

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