OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A sepia postcard depicting a Hall of Fame plaque of baseball legend Babe Ruth and boldly signed by the Bambino himself, sold for $62,150 at a two-day, three-session multi-estate sale held March 28-29 by Philip Weiss Auctions. It was a new record for a signed postcard by Ruth – or any other player – by about 33 percent. It was but one in a collection of similar postcards.
“The Babe Ruth card was the linchpin piece of a remarkable Hall of Fame plaque postcard collection,” said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions. “Ruth’s signature was incredible, with strong ink on the front.” Other top lots from the group included Grover Cleveland Alexander ($31,640) and Eddie Collins ($19,775). The remainder (including Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner) were above estimate. The weekend event featured more than 1,500 lots – mostly fresh-to-the-market merchandise from estates and collections.
“It was a good sale, one where the high-end and rare items fetched nice high prices,” Weiss said, adding the gross was around $600,000. He said he was particularly pleased that medical devices and calculating instruments did well enough that he would offer them again in the future. “I had no idea what to expect, because we’d never sold them before,” he said, “but there might just be a niche there.”
The star of the category was a Pascaline Calculator – a mechanical calculator made for adding currency. It soared to $21,470. Manufactured in the 1950s, the device features a series of square openings along the top of the casing, and eight wheels. To enter a digit, a stylus is inserted between the appropriate wheel’s spokes and the wheel is turned until stopping at the bottom (like dialing a phone).
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.
A Louis XVI-style marble-top side cabinet with gilt bronze marquetry (circa 1920s) gaveled for $15,820. The piece featured three drawers over two drawers flanked by cupboards, and was raised on acanthus capped scroll feet.
An oil on canvas painting by an unknown artist from the School of Rubens, depicting a woman with leopard skin scarf and crown on her head, went to a determined bidder for $9,040. The work was nicely framed and was in very good condition.
A pair of 19th-century Sevres urns, with gilt bronze rams’ heads for handles and acorn finial on the lid, topped out at $5,085. The urns featured romantic scenes on the front and extensive landscapes on verso.