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Superman collection flies to more than $250K

An 120-item collection of Superman premiums, licensed merchandise, movie promos, and original art, realized more than $250,000 at a summer auction that finished at more than $1.2 million, through Hake's Americana & Collectibles.

YORK, Pa. – Hake’s Americana rang up another seven-figure total this past summer with its $1.2 million online/absentee Auction #215, featuring private collections of pop culture antiques and collectibles. Bidding competition was fierce, and many record prices were set across a broad range of categories.

A 1958 hardcover first edition of “Stride Toward Freedom,” which its author, the Rev. Dr. Martin

Hake's Superman

Superman Paint Set, $10,755. (All photos courtesy Hake's Americana & Collectibles)

Luther King Jr., signed and personally inscribed to Chief Justice Earl Warren, made a powerful statement in the opening session when it sold for $49,335 against an estimate of $20,000-$35,000 (all prices quoted include the 15 percent buyer’s premium). The historically important tome was the centerpiece of the political memorabilia section and attracted bids well into the early morning hours of July 15. Warren’s leadership was widely credited in the Supreme Court’s 1954 unanimous decision on 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.”

After Warren’s death in 1974, the book remained in the Warren family’s personal library until its consignment to Hake’s auction. “The price paid for the book did not surprise us. It is a historic artifact of the highest magnitude and truly a one-of-a-kind piece,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Americana. “Both men associated with the book were integral figures in the Civil Rights Movement, and the importance of their legacy cannot be overstated. For this important work of literature to be signed by the author, Dr. King, to Chief Justice Warren places it in its own stratosphere when compared to other MLK Jr.-signed pieces, or any artifact associated with social consciousness, for that matter.” Winter said he believes the price paid for the book may be a world record for any book signed by King, or possibly for any artifact signed by King.

Over the years, political memorabilia of all types have performed exceptionally well in Hake’s sales. In the July 14 session, a Taft and Sherman presidential/vice-presidential jugate picturing the two 1908 election candidates with Miss Liberty was bid to $5,605. Impeccable provenance went a long way to fire bidder interest in several private collections, including the career archive of Negro League and multi-national Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo (Cuban, 1906-1971). The archive included Dihigo’s prized collection of 1923-24 Gutierrez and Billiken cigarette/cigar baseball cards, which he began at age 17. It sold for $25,745.

 Figure of Snow White from the set of large Old King Cole store displays of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which sold for $18,075.

Figure of Snow White from the set of large Old King Cole store displays of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which sold for $18,075.

High-quality Disney items from renowned collectors Doug and Pat Wengel, and other high-end sources, were strong across the board. The category was led by an extraordinary set of large Old King Cole store displays replicating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which sold for $18,075. Hake’s recorded bids totaling more than $250,000 on the 120 featured lots from the late Ken “Franco” Toscanini’s Superman collection. Toscanini’s vast holding incorporated not only comic books, but also premiums, licensed merchandise, movie promos, original art and more – all in crisp, beautiful condition.

“Superman fans knew that many of the pieces in Franco’s collection were so rare, they might never appear in the auction market again in their lifetimes. Once a collector owns something really rare, it stays in their collection and they’re not going to give it up,” Winter observes.

One such example is the Superman Golden Age Christmas comic book rack topper produced in 1940 to promote eight National (DC) Comics titles. One of only two known examples, it reached $24,035 – almost five times its high estimate. An original-release 1941-43 Paramount Pictures/Fleischer Cartoons linen-mounted Superman poster also flew past its estimate to settle at $17,395. A Superman Paint Set entered with a $700 to $1,000 estimate and produced a surprising $10,755 payday.

To contact Hake’s for consignment details, call 866-404-9800 or 717-434-1600, or email Hake's next auction, #216 begins Oct. 20 and will be open for bidding through Nov. 10-12, at

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