As many of you may know, I have long been a huge fan of vintage pennants, those big soft felt examples that pre date 1970 with a special fondness for the early circa 1900-1920 oversize (longer than 29”) early pennants of which, baseball is the king. Pennants that feature players such as the Frank Chance or Joe Tinker or anything Federal League examples being the top of the heap. The old SCD guide used to list pennants in their memorabilia price guides but to date, there has never been a book dedicated solely to Pennants, that is until now. Last summer, Mike Egner sent me his new “Vintage Pennant Price Guide”
He divided the book by sport and team and then proceeded to show examples of pennants that had been offered in various venues over the past few years. In addition to major league baseball, there are sections on the minor leagues such as the Minneapolis Millers or the San Francisco Seals as well as the Women’s professional league and the Negro Leagues. The next section includes Football (he lists Baseball & Football Edition which means a Hockey or Basketball version may be in the works) which not only includes the AFL and NFL but the old AAFC teams such as the Brooklyn Tigers, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Rockets, Los Angeles Dons and the New York Bulldogs. (He lists the Yanks and Bulldogs under AAFC section but they were really part of the NFL in 1940’s)
Each section starts off with the City, Team, and era and under each pennant he lists the size (oversize, full size (29”) or ¾ size (some mini pennants listed) followed by the rarity factor and then a price range. Now lets talk about the good and the areas that I feel can be expanded on. First off, any new first time venture is a huge undertaking. To be the first person to do a price guide and show as many different examples as Mike has is a major accomplishment. Pictured are some pennants that I have never ever personally handled. Some of these are the rare player pennants such as the Johnny Vandermeer pennant found under the Reds section and four different Jackie Robinson styles. Then there are the super rare Willie Mays and John McGraw pennants. In fact, some of the Negro League pennants such as the rare Brooklyn Eagles pennant exist as a single example to date. Given the grouping of pennants he has featured, it is safe to say that this is the largest ever-assembled number of pennants in one place at one time. This feature alone makes this book a must have for anybody who is even contemplating collecting vintage pennants.
With regards to his pricing, this being the biggest sticking point when doing any price guide in that some of these pennants are so rare that putting any price sticker to the piece is purely speculative, he seems to be very fair and accurate across the board with the usual examples that may be so common, you might be hard pressed to get his low end price while other items are so rare that if you get two players that want the same item, his high end price might get dwarfed but again, these are the pitfalls of putting together any price guide and to take an author to task on such a variable given the market at any given time would be unwarranted.
Now to my opinion as to some of my suggestions. First off, I know he did not have access to these pennants but in my opinion, the pair of 1922 New York Yankees heads pennant that included Ruth and the matching New York Giants pennant are the most valuable pennants to have ever surfaced. The Yankees version is on the cover of the Richard Wolfer’s September 5th, 1991 catalog. This incredible pennant featured 14 head or face shots of the 1922 Yankees wearing their hats. Each pennant (Yankees and Giants) has the year and Pennant winners printed on the pennant as well. It measured 28.5” and even in 1991, it was listed at $2000-2500 but I think today, it would well exceed 10K or beyond and the Giants versions would not be far behind. I did go through some of MEARS library collection of really early catalogs and while I found a few pennants not featured in Mike’s book, there were not very many.
Next, his rarity guide goes from extremely rare (with *** as possibly one of a kind) to common which is fine except that on many of the pennants listed as very rare, (he states that this means that 5-10 may come up for sale every year) yet I found several such as the Boudrou Day pennant that I have only seen 2-3 examples ever thus his listing as very rare at 5-10 per year is optimistic and would have been moved into the extremely rare category (1-5 per year). Again, it appears as if Mike tends to be cautious in his rarity factors but unless you have been dealing with pennants for years or have access to every auction catalog going back twenty years or more, it would be an impossible task to get every pennant in it’s true rarity category. I like his ratings, I think I would have probably tweaked the amount of each style that appears on the market each year by pealing them back a bit. Again, just my opinion and since it is his book, he can put the perimeters anywhere he wishes.
My last suggestion and I know this is a money issue, is that I wish the pennants were pictured in color with larger images. Many of the most stunning pennants ever produced are within the pages of this book and the black and white format does just not do them justice. I know that the audience for such a guide is rather limited and the cost of a larger full color book would probably be cost prohibitive and if you want to take this book to shows with you, this format size is perfect but for the collectors out there that have seen some of these stunning pennants in real life, larger full color pictures would have been fantastic. The covers are done in full color and I just wish this could have been carried through the entire book.
To surmise, this is a must have for any collector library. The scope, pricing and dating is very accurate and if successful, I am sure there are many more additions to be made in subsequent volumes and once the basketball and hockey version hits the market, it will be the most complete bible to collecting pennants ever produced. My hats off Mike, you touched a nerve. Do you think I will ever see one with motor racing or horse racing in the future? Maybe some early airplane pennants, then some political, maybe some early advertising examples, travel pennants, actors/actresses and the list of killer pennants goes on.
To get your copy, you can visit Mike at his website: www.vintagesportsshoppe.com