MLK Book Inscribed to Chief Justice Earl Warren at Hake’s July 14-16 Auction
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.
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 US 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-$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.”
“Hake’s is tremendously proud to be auctioning Martin Dihigo’s personal memorabilia archive on behalf of the Dihigo family,” said Hake’s President Alex Winter. “In part, it documents a remarkable career through 1940s team photos of Martin with the Havana Lions and Cienfuegos Elephants in Cuba, and later with the Mexican League’s Xalapa Chileros. But in addition, the archive includes the 1920s-era baseball cards that Martin collected as a teenager. Never before have we ever encountered anything like this, where a baseball player’s memorabilia includes his boyhood collection of baseball cards.”
Photos include an 8 x 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. Dihigo’s personally compiled photo album from his 1925-26 season chronicles his travels in the US and Cuba while playing for the Negro League Cuban Stars and Cuban League Marianao Tigers. The 40-photograph album is expected to make $10,000-$20,000.
A second album contains Dihigo’s prized collection of 1923-24 Gutierrez and Billiken cigarette/cigar baseball cards. “This album was available by turning in a complete set of 85 Diaz Cigarette cards. Also included are 51 cards from a 60-card edition issued by Billiken Cigars. With the addition of Martin’s signature—multiple times—and his handwritten notes, this album is a baseball collectible of the highest magnitude,” said Winter. It is estimated at $20,000-$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. He became the ubiquitous figure at comic book shops, collector shows and conventions who wanted anything and everything—early or modern—that pertained to Superman. Over time, Toscanini’s vast collection incorporated not only comics, but also premiums, licensed merchandise, movie promos, original art and anything offbeat or rare emblazoned with the trademark “S.”
Each item displayed in Franco’s Superman rooms was preserved and displayed with meticulous care. As a result, the condition of the collection overall is crisp and beautiful.
There’s a pictorial comic rack topper produced in 1940, est. $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, est. $10,000-$20,000.
And then there are the three items that Winter says are “unlikely to be seen at auction again, because no collector is going to give them up.” 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 referenced by Winter 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.
Winter noted that because the Toscanini collection is so special and soon to be dispersed to collections worldwide, Hake’s has set up a display of all Superman auction items for the public to enjoy at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore.
A blue-chip name in Disney collectibles—the Doug and Pat Wengel collection—attracted collectors in droves to Hake’s last auction and set the bar exceedingly high for future consignors. That good-natured but daunting challenge has now been answered by the superb offering of rare Disney items available in Hake’s July sale. A sampling of highlights includes a first-edition 1939 Pinocchio hardcover book signed and inscribed by Walt Disney ($2,000-$5,000), an early 1930s Charlotte Clark soft doll trio comprised of like-new examples of Mickey, Minnie and Pluto ($5,000-$10,000); and, from another lucky dip into the Wengel collection, a Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck boxed “Kiddie Sand Set” ($2,000-$5,000).
A magnificent, complete set of Old King Cole store displays replicating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the only known set of its type to include all of the figures. There are eight painted composition displays of the beloved cartoon characters plus two painted fiberboard displays of quaint cottages, each of a different style and color. The Snow White lot is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
The Disney section also contains some of the most desirable character ceramics ever to pass through Hake’s gallery, starting with a circa-1932 Rosenthal porcelain figure of a broadly grinning Mickey Mouse holding an oversize six-shooter, estimate $2,000-$5,000; and a circa-1940 Brayton Laguna figurine of Figaro the Cat in bed, also $2,000-$5,000. Three large and wonderfully executed figurines of a golfing Donald Duck—each posed differently—were produced by the revered Zaccagnini studios in Italy. Ranging in size from 8.25 to 9.25 inches high, each is expected to sell for $1,000-$2,000. They are joined by an irresistible circa-1947 Zaccagnini tableau of The Three Little Pigs. Measuring 6 by 10.5 by 8 inches, this exquisite work of porcine ceramic art could reach $2,000-$5,000.
Hake’s Americana Auction #215 has opened for bidding by phone, mail or online at www.hakes.com. The first session will close on July 14, 2015, while the second session will conclude on July 16. July 15 is an interim day in which bidders can peruse the catalog and prepare for further bidding. To request a free printed catalog or for information on any item in the sale, call toll-free: (866) 404-9800 or (717) 434-1600. Email: email@example.com. Visit the catalog online at www.hakes.com.
First image: ‘Stride Toward Freedom’ 1st edition book by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., published 1958, signed and inscribed by King to US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Warren family provenance. Est. $20,000-$35,000. Courtesy of Hake’s.
Second image: ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15, Marvel Comics, August 1962, featuring first appearance of Spider-Man. Est. $10,000-$20,000. Courtesy of Hake’s.