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1968-1971 Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings Game-Used Road Jersey Photo Matched!
Starting Bid - $10,000, Sold For - $58,750
Detroit Red Wings road jersey, dating from 1968-1971, worn by hockey's greatest legend: Gordie Howe. Graded a perfect A10 by MEARS. Every sport has its own icon, a larger-than-life figure whose accomplishments far surpassed that of any player before him. Gordie Howe is one of the few members of this elite club. Offered here is one of the most rare and historically significant hockey game jerseys in existence: a Detroit Red Wings road jersey, dating between the years 1968 and 1971 (likely dating from precisely the 1969-1970 season, as explained below), worn by the immortal Gordie Howe. This jersey, in addition to its rarity and historical significance, also holds the special distinction of being one of (if not the only) Gordie Howe jersey that can be positively photo matched! In a remarkable photo-match discovery that any collector will be able to appreciate, this very jersey is pictured hanging in Gordie Howe’s locker in a specially published 1970 yearbook-style magazine titled Hockey’s Living Legend – Gordie Howe – 25 NHL Seasons. Everything on the jersey and the photo matches, but most important is the fact that the unique board paint marks on the jersey are a perfect match. (The telltale identifiers are eight reddish board paint marks located on the white body of the jersey, just above the red trim along the base. The location and configuration of those marks, all of which are distinct and easily recognizable, on the actual jersey are identical to those seen on the jersey in the photo.) The magazine, which was issued as a special commemorative tribute by the Detroit Red Wings and also serves as a yearbook, includes not only a lavishly illustrated biography of hockey’s living legend, as well as plaudits from many of his contemporaries, but also player profiles of the entire 1970-1971 Detroit Red Wings club. The merits of the jersey speak for itself, but the addition of the photo-match in this 1970 publication, illustrating this very jersey hanging in Gordie Howe's locker, is simply a remarkable and very rare bonus of the type that is almost never found with any early Hockey jersey, let alone one of such extraordinary significance.
The red-and-white dureen jersey features the Red Wings team patch on the front and the number “9” on the reverse and each sleeve. The reverse numeral is appliquŽd in red tackle twill, while the sleeve numerals are appliquŽd in white tackle twill. An “Olympic Sporting Goods” label appears in the collar, directly below which is a frayed size tag that appears to read “46.” A wash tag is located on the interior left rear tail. Although no year tag is present, the jersey is consistent in all respects, based upon comparative images, to those worn by Howe between the years 1968 and 1971 (the 1970-1971 season marked his final season with Detroit). Because this very jersey is pictured in a publication issued in the beginning of the 1970-1971 season, it can be more narrowly dated to 1968-1970, and more than likely dates from precisely the 1969-1970 season (although, as MEARS notes, it is possible this jersey could have been worn in more than one season, which is the reason they have expanded the years of its potential use to 1968-1971). In fact, this jersey may even be the very one Gordie Howe is wearing on his 1970-71 Topps hockey card (illustration is provided for comparison), which is extremely likely in our opinion, and consistent with the jersey dating to precisely the 1969-70 season (images for trading cards naturally almost always date from the year prior to publication), as well as consistent with the early 1970-71 season publication date of the photo-match. The jersey is completely original, with no alterations, and displays moderate-to-heavy use throughout. A number of tears and vintage team repairs are easily visible along the front, reverse, and each sleeve, including two large tears within the bottom red stripe on the front. Graded A10 by MEARS, with no other examples listed in the MEARS census.
For many fans Gordie Howe was, still is, and always will be, “Mr. Hockey.” For over thirty years Howe reigned supreme as hockey’s greatest player and even though most of his long-standing records were later broken by Wayne Gretzky, his accomplishments at the time were nothing less than extraordinary. A twenty-one time NHL All-Star, Howe won six Art Ross Trophy’s as the NHL’s leading scorer and six times was awarded the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. He also led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cups during his long and illustrious tenure with the club. The only player to appear in the NHL in each of five decades, Howe was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and in 2008 was the first recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award. Gordie Howe jerseys are not only extremely rare, but among the most desirable of all game-used sports garments. Tantamount to a Babe Ruth jersey in baseball or a Jim Brown jersey in football, Howe jerseys are rarely offered (we have never seen another) and are an item one would expect to only be found in museums, such as the Hall of Fame or the Smithsonian Institute, or in the most advanced private collection. This is the first Gordie Howe jersey we have ever handled, and given both its exceptional physical characteristics and the fact that it can be seen pictured hanging in Gordie Howe’s locker, we cannot imagine a finer example. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $58,750
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