‘Antiques Roadshow’ leads Eliot Ness credentials and archive to Mass. auction

WORCESTER, Mass. – A rare collection of credentials and memorabilia belonging to legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness has surfaced and will be offered for the first time at an important Sept. 27 sale by Central Mass Auctions of Worcester, Mass.

4-inch by 5-inch photograph of noted G-Man Eliot Ness.

Auctioneer Wayne Tuiskula of Central Mass Auctions first viewed the collection while he was appraising collectibles for PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” in Miami on July 10, 2010. Tuiskula states that he is very pleased to have been chosen to offer this wonderful collection of Americana to the public.

Ness’ Department of Justice May 14, 1932, credential (numbered 3423) and Treasury Department of Prohibition credential dated May 20, 1927, (numbered 557) are the only known to exist, which offers bidders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a rare piece of American history.


This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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The Ness collection, which has been appraised at $30,000 to $50,000, will be sold in its entirety. Other items include Eliot Ness’ business card and Christmas card. Among the other rarities are campaign photographs and brochures from Ness’ unsuccessful 1947 run for mayor of Cleveland.

Ness memorabilia also includes original photos of Ness with dignitaries of the time including Thomas Dewey (Governor of New York from 1943-1954); Gene Tunney (1926-28 Heavyweight Boxing Champion); and Harvey Firestone Jr. (head of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.) and others.

Eliot Ness 1932 Treasury Department Bureau of Prohibition credentials.

These exceptional items were part of the estate of Eliot Ness’ trusted personal secretary Winifred Higgins Knorr, who died in 1997. Also included are telegrams to Knorr sent from Ness.

Note from Ness to his assistant Winnie on Hotel Astor stationery.

There are also many personal effects of Ms. Higgins, who was very successful in her own right. She held important positions within the Federal government and she became an attorney graduating Cum Laude from Cleveland Marshall Law School in June 1955.

According to biography.com, Eliot Ness was born in Chicago in 1903. He became a U.S. Treasury agent in 1927 and a U.S. Prohibition agent in 1928 in Chicago. He was the leader of a team named the “Untouchables” because they refused bribe offers from Al Capone’s gang of mobsters, and Ness was in part responsible for Capone’s arrest and conviction on tax evasion charges.

Ness later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he became Safety Director weeding out hundreds of crooked police officers. He later ventured into the business world becoming chairman of Diebold Corporation and vice president and treasurer of “The Middle East Company.”

Eliot Ness died of a massive heart attack March 15, 1957, but his legacy lives on today through the best-selling book “Untouchables,” which Ness co-wrote. Published a month after his death, the book illustrates Ness’s exploits in battling Chicago gangsters during prohibition. Today, the name “Eliot Ness” remains one of the most notable in American law enforcement.

The Ness auction will be held Thursday, Sept. 27 beginning at 6 p.m. at 267 Providence St. in Worcester, Mass. For more information on the Ness collection and Central Mass Auctions, contact the firm at 508-612-6111 or info@centralmassauctions.com.

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