June 10, 2006

Overview of F&W Publishing Sports Fest Show held June 9th-11th, Chicago, IL

On Friday both Dave Bushing and myself attended the annual Sports Fest Show held in Chicago. As is our new policy, MEARS did not exhibit at the show. The main reason for not attending in an official capacity is the inability to access all of our research tools, which are housed in the main research center in Milwaukee and the need for a quick turnaround time created via the show environment. In recent months we have added 100’s of books to our library, thousands of hours of video, and many more thousands of photographs to our main office’s resource center. A show environment with the “get it in, get it out,” mentality does not fit with our complete methods of evaluation and grading. After review, MEARS does miss the interaction with our customers and have discussed setting up in the future with a “meet and greet theme” with our main focus on discussing and educating the public of MEARS services, and saving the actual authentication for our Milwaukee office.

There were many MEARS customers set up including the auction house contract holders Geppi’s, Mastro Auctions, & Sotheby’s. Dave Hunt of Hunt Auctions submitted a jersey for evaluation. Huggins & Scott’s Josh Wulkan also submitted a nice grouping of early 1980s knit jerseys, which will be featured in their next auction. Josh told me his customers responded very favorably to the MEARS authenticated items featured in his last auction and looks forward to a growing relationship with MEARS.

Sotheby’s with SCP Auctions was set up with an impressive lineup of jerseys and bats, which will be featured in their June 24th auction. Collectors could see first hand the 1954 Hank Aaron rookie road jersey, the 1918-21 Walter Johnson Nationals jersey, and Jackie Robinson’s own 1949 Louisville Slugger rookie bat with signed letter from his wife Rachael. As stated in my June 6th, 2006 bulletin board post, the staff at SCP did bring lots: #130 Jerry West, #207 Ted Williams, #247A Jim Palmer, and Lot #196 Babe Ruth cap for MEARS to evaluate. Best of luck with these historic items.

Mastro Auction’s own Doug Allen was set up in the front of the show taking consignments, passing out catalogs, and answering questions to all interested parties. MEARS is scheduled begin evaluations for their August auction and I am sure they will have a great variety of vintage and modern equipment for which they are known for.

While meandering, Rare Sportsfilms of Naperville, IL were exhibiting. MEARS added several DVD’s to our library including the 1960 Oilers AFL highlights and the 1968 AFL Highlights. These are must have titles for any serious AFL collector.

I met for the first time J.P. Cohen of Memory Lane, Inc,. MEARS was contracted to grade and authenticate Babe Ruth’s 1942 Last Home Run at Yankee Stadium game used ball which sold in their last auction. It was nice to put a face with a name.

Jim Pratt representing Geppi’s Memorabilia Road show announced their next auction September 12th and 13th. MEARS has worked with the Road Show for both of their auctions and looks forward to the continued relationship. We have not conducted the research for this auction yet, but Jim Pratt assures me the items from the Phil Rizzuto collection along with some of the boxing items will make for a block buster sale .

Not presently in the MEARS area of expertise, I still enjoyed my conversation with vintage autograph dealer Phil Marks. A veteran to the show circuit, Phil and I discussed the direction of the autograph hobby. He noted that collectors are beginning to search vintage autographed items signed contemporary to the player’s career. Joe DiMaggio autographs will never be rare, but items signed between 1936-1951 are truly scarce.

Long time Chicago collector John Dotts sold a very rare 1930 Green Bay Packers Levebre Studios promotional photo to Dave Bushing. John is both known finding great vintage baseball and football items along with talking about his proud membership of the Republican Party and conservative politics to anyone that will listen.

SCD’s staffers Jeff Pozorski, Steve Bloedow and T.S. O’Connell were there passing out magazines. Look forward to there thoughts of the show in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

What I did notice is with the exception of the auction houses highliting marquee items, there was very little in the way of game worn equipment. From my informal interviews with dealers and collectors, the reason being is collectors are either holding their items or consigning to auction houses or Ebay. All collectors told me that 3rd party authenticated items are red hot right now and I have no reason to believe the trend will change.


Troy R. Kinunen