YORK, Pa. – Superheroes aren’t always the product of fantasy. Sometimes they’re ordinary people who’ve gone on to achieve superhuman goals – like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and baseball legend Martin Dihigo, the only man ever to be inducted in the Baseball Halls of Fame in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Backed by their rich and unique legacies, Dihigo and King unquestionably deserve the title of “superhero” and the right to stand alongside Superman in Hake’s Auction #215, which closes for bidding July 14-16. This auction is open for bidding by phone, mail or online at www.hakes.com.
The centerpiece among the many important civil rights mementos entered in the 2,600-lot sale is a
1958 first edition of Dr. King’s Stride Toward Freedom, which the civil rights icon signed and gifted to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren a few months after its publication. Warren’s leadership was widely credited with the passage in 1954 of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark bill that banned segregation in public schools. In a bold hand, Dr. King inscribed the book: “To: Justice Earl Warren, In appreciation for your genuine good-will, your great humanitarian concern, and for your unswerving devotion to the sublime principles of our American democracy. With warm Regards, Martin L. King Jr.” Held in Justice Warren’s personal library for a lifetime and now consigned to auction by the Warren family, the book is a unique cultural artifact and estimated at $20,000 to $35,000.
As was the case with Dr. King, there were no footsteps to follow for “El Maestro,” Martin Dihigo (Cuban, 1906-1971). His plaque at Cooperstown describes the five-nation Hall of Famer as “the most versatile of all Negro League players.” Along with Babe Ruth, Dihigo is regarded as one of the greatest two-way players in baseball history. His fellow HOFer Buck Leonard summed it up concisely when he described Dihigo as “the best ballplayer of all time, black or white.”
Photos include an 8-by-10 matte-finish shot of the Havana Lions, signed and annotated by Dihigo. It is one of three different known Cuban League team premiums issued in early 1923 by the Cuban newspaper La Discusion and is quite likely the earliest depiction of a then 17-year-old Dihigo as a professional player (estimate: $10,000-$20,000). A second album contains Dihigo’s prized collection of 1923-24 Gutierrez and Billiken cigarette/cigar baseball cards. The lot includes Dihigo’s signature and handwritten notes. It is estimated at $20,000 to $35,000. All Martin Dihigo items will convey with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) signed by Martin’s son, Gilberto Dihigo.
Completing the triumvirate of superheroes featured in Hake’s auction is the one and only Man of Steel, represented by an extraordinary collection of Superman items amassed by the late Ken “Franco” Toscanini. While he did not begin collecting until 1992, Toscanini made up for it in a hurry. Over time, Toscanini’s vast collection incorporated not only comics, but also premiums, licensed merchandise, movie promo items, original art and anything offbeat or rare emblazoned with the trademark “S.”
There’s a pictorial comic rack topper produced in 1940 (estimate: $2,000-$5,000), an original-release 1941-43 Paramount Pictures/Fleischer Cartoons linen-mounted Superman poster ($10,000-$20,000) and a boxed 1950s Bandai (Japanese) Flying Spaceman motorcycle toy with caped Superman rider ($10,000-$20,000).
In addition, three extremely scarce items from this collection will be presented. One is a 1948 Superman movie serial standee – one of two known – with busy, colorful graphics and an image of the villainous Spider Lady in the background. The other two items are Fleischer Studios original color model art for Superman ($10,000-$20,000) and Lois Lane ($5,000-$10,000). Each is drawn in pencil with the artist’s elaborate handwritten notations indicating which colors should be applied where.
In light of the extensiveness of the Toscanini collection, Hake’s has set up a display of all the Superman auction items at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore. The auction also features a variety of big-name Disney character collectibles, from the collection of Doug and Pat Wengel. For more information, visit www.hakes.com call 866-404-9800 or 717-434-1600, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.