Rare Robert Crumb counterculture cartoonist archive brings $16,950

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – An archive of material pertaining to the famous counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb – including a pair of original hand-drawn personal greeting cards and a 13-page sketchbook – sold for $16,950 at a multi-estate sale held March 4-6 by Philip Weiss Auctions.

The sketchbook, measuring 5 inches by 8 inches, was crammed with the quirky and humorous drawings that have made Crumb famous since he burst on the scene in the 1960s. Included were a four-page story/poem titled The Moonlight March, illustrations depicting folk singers Judy Collins and Joan Baez, a two-page spread of the New York City skyline and more.

On the front of each greeting card is an image of a woman named Barbara (and each card was addressed to Barbara). One of the cards contained a long handwritten note from Crumb. Both cards measured 9 1/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches. Robert Crumb was a founder of Zap Comics. He is best known for the characters Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, plus the Keep on Truckin’ image.

The auction featured online bidding through Proxibid.com and featured nearly 1,600 lots in a rainbow of categories. When the final gavel sounded, over $500,000 had been spent. Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

The top lot of the sale was a single-owner collection of over 525 rare and vintage T206 baseball cards from the early 1900s. The lot coasted to $18,080 and featured classic names like Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson. All of the cards were Piedmont and Sweet Caporal Backs. Of course, the group would have fetched much more had it included the rare Honus Wagner T206.

An original oil on canvas rendering of Duchess Henrietta, executed in 1963 and signed on the back of the frame “Sir Henry Lilly,” achieved a respectable $13,560, thanks to a very determined bidder and some fine restoration work. Also, a great production cel from the 1940 film Fantasia, depicting a wide-eyed Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, hit $7,345.

An 18 karat gold and Black Opal pendant owned by former heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson and presented to him in honor of his victory over Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 26, 1908, rose to $6,215. The two-inch-long pendant had been given to Johnson, the first black heavyweight champ, by Percy Marks, the premier jeweler and a specialist in Black Opals.

An incredible single-owner sports autograph collection – loaded with signed index cards, baseball cards, Hall of Fame cards, letters and other pieces – hit $7,628. The trove, gathered mostly from the 1950s-1970s, included autographs from Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roy Campanella, Bob Feller, Bill Terry, Warren Spahn, Py Traynor, Harmon Killebrew and others.

Speaking of sports legends, a bat used by Yogi Berra in the 1962 All-Star Game was a hit for $9,605. The bat had been consigned by a former batboy for the Detroit Tigers. He explained that batboys were permitted to bring damaged bats home. This one, a Hillerich & Bradsby model 125, had a crack in the handle. The bat was engraved "1962 All Star Game, Yogi Berra, Chicago."

A pair of original Peanuts daily comic strips, drawn by the late illustrator Charles Schulz, both did well. One, dated July 23, 1966, featured Linus and Snoopy, with Snoopy using his “Ice Cream Radar.” It changed hands for $13,000. The other, dated Aug. 1, 1986, showed Charlie and Lucy in a baseball story line. It was signed and inscribed by Schulz in blue ink and made $9,040.

A monumental Gorham sterling silver Art Nouveau centerpiece bowl, 18 inches wide, heavily decorated with acanthus leaves and undulating flowers and weighing 91 troy ounces, sold for $3,503, and an Armand Marseille No. 231 Fany Toddler character doll, 15 1/2 inches tall, with sleepy eyes and a composition body, commanded $2,260, despite having a hairline crack.

To learn more about Philip Weiss Auctions and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auctions you may call (516) 594-0731 or e-mail them at phil@prwauctions.com.

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