Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Favre memorabilia from an inveterate Cheesehead - PART II

Dec. 30, 2009
Written by Chris Nerat

(While it started two weeks ago, I have not forgotten the second half of Chris Nerat's Top Favre memorabilia, I have just been giving it a good mulling over… Actually, the holidays have come, are here, and are ending, and once that's all done - and may I be among the first to wish you a Happy New Year - the Heritage Blog will get back with regular postings from our burgeoning group of blog superstars… Enjoy the second part of Chris's post, and see you in 2010! - Noah Fleisher)

#6: Brett Favre Game-Used Touchdown Balls

Touchdown balls from any player are hard to obtain, and maybe even harder to authenticate. But, if you are fortunate enough to obtain one of Favre’s touchdown balls with solid provenance, it’s comparable to owning a home run ball from sluggers Henry Aaron or Barry Bonds. Very desirable indeed, and Heritage just happened to have sold probably Favre’s most significant touchdown ball of them all, when we offered his 2nd career touchdown ball, which also represented his first game-winning touchdown. This museum-caliber piece sold for nearly $10,000 in our October 2008 Signature Auction.

#7: Game Program from Brett Favre’s 1st Game – September 20, 1992

No, Favre isn’t pictured on the cover of this historic artifact. It actually has a Pittsburgh Steeler theme that is featured, so many uninformed Packers fans have disregarded it as insignificant over the years. Don’t let the black and yellow cover fool you. This program is highly desirable and will go up in value for years to come.

#8: Full Ticket from Brett Favre’s 1st Win – September 20, 1992

Not as valuable as his first start ticket, but a definite close second. On September 20, 1992, Favre entered the game for an injured Don Majkowski. The young player from Southern Mississippi was a little shaky at first, but led his team to an amazing comeback win, and solidified himself as Packers starting QB.

#9: Full Ticket from Game Played One Day After Favre’s Father Passed Away - December 22, 2003

One day after Favre’s father passed away, he could have had a horrific game and nobody would have blamed him. Instead, the gunslinger put up the best numbers of his career, and led his team to an amazing throttling of the Oakland Raiders. This ticket is probably the rarest of all significant Favre tickets. The game was played in Oakland, and the Raiders’ faithful just didn’t save them.

#10: Super Bowl XXXI Green Bay Packers Team-Signed Helmet

This helmet, representing Favre’s only Super Bowl-winning team is an easy choice for the list. Due to the passing of defensive leader Reggie White, Favre collectors are no longer able to put together complete Super Bowl XXXI team-signed memorabilia.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-Chris Nerat

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coin Monday: Ode to Louis McHenry Howe

Dec. 28, 2009
Written by John Dale

While it may not have quite the same ring as “Ode to Billie Joe”, there’s an “Ode to Louis McHenry Howe” in lot 2062 of The Boca Collection, Part I, one of three volumes in the set covering Heritage’s January 2010 FUN U.S. Coin Auction.

Just about everyone who isn’t either a Franklin Delano Roosevelt fanatic, over 80 years of age, or a clicker of the hyperlink bearing his name is asking, “Who the heck is Louis McHenry Howe?”
Howe was a journalist turned ultimate political insider and ultimate confidant to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Through a quarter of a century Howe guided Roosevelt through his early state-level political experiences, his personal and political crises in the aftermath of his failed 1920 bid for the vice-presidency, and the vast majority of Roosevelt’s first term as president.

Still, Howe was doubtless more famous (or infamous) at the height of his influence than in the years following his death; even recent re-tellings of history inevitably must elide ($5 SAT word alert! - Noah) important figures of any one time, and advisors - even influential ones - are often among the first to fade.

Howe’s contemporaries could not deny his influence, however, so they called him names instead, attacking his appearance and his political acumen. He was a “Rasputin” for his perceived influence over Roosevelt, an unflattering “Talleyrand,” a “ghoul.” Less grudgingly, he was also “The President’s Other I,” “The Man Behind Roosevelt,” or as the title of a recent history-biography describes him, FDR’s Shadow.

The Roosevelt-Howe relationship was unusually close for a modern American president and an advisor, and the proof coinage of 1936 is actually a testament to that closeness. Though proof set coinage had been stopped in 1916 because of rising costs and hassle, the idea was revived two decades later.

Why? To quote a quotation of a quote (it makes sense if you read the description…), “It was understood at the Treasury that the resumption of [proof coinage] was ordered on a suggestion of Louis M. Howe, secretary to President Roosevelt, a few weeks before his death.”

Thus, it was a message from the President’s secretary and confidant – in some ways a last wish – and was, ultimately, the catalyst for the return of proof sets. The idea took only months to travel from Howe’s mind to then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s desk to the coining presses in the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.

Why did Howe make his request? The press release that was the ultimate source of the above quote states simply, “Howe was said to have been interested in numismatics.”

The mid-1930s were a boom time for coin collecting, and there were a number of collectors campaigning for the return of proof sets at the time, but whether Howe was interested in proof sets himself or was acting on another’s behalf is not widely understood. Perhaps a further examination of Howe’s correspondence will reveal why this intriguing man – the “Medieval Gnome” at Roosevelt’s side, the whisperer in the President’s ear – looked after numismatics in his final days.
After Howe’s death, he was buried as much as he was praised, but his influence on President Roosevelt was incalculable. The last sets of the Boca Collection are the undeniable proof.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Monday, December 21, 2009

Coin Monday: Value Me as You Please

Dec. 21, 2009
Written by John Dale

“Colonial” or “Pre-Federal,” “Post-Colonial” or “Early American” — all are labels attached to parts of the same broad group of numismatic issues. (Here at Heritage, we just call them all Colonials.) A nearly exhaustive definition of the broad group might be: “metal coins or tokens, issued by a colonial government or private authority, on behalf of an area now part of the United States of America in the years leading up to and immediately after the area’s territoriality or statehood.”

Why must the definition be so complicated?

Actually, considering the diversity and complexity of “Colonials” themselves, every word is necessary. (I’m sure at least one Colonials specialist is going to chime in with some variant of “You missed X, Y, and Z.” Consider this an apology in advance.)

“Colonials” were made before and after the 1783 Treaty of Paris: before, a 1662-dated Oak Tree twopence silver coin from Massachusetts; after, a 1787-dated Immunis Columbia copper token. (Unless noted otherwise, all coins are from the January 2010 FUN U.S. Coin Auction.)

Colonials” were made for the British-styled “13 original colonies,” as well as North American French colonies and “New Spain” (present-day Texas), as seen in the Auction Archives.

As for the difference between colonial government and private authority, two prominent rarities from FUN’s Platinum Night offer a great illustration.

Lot 2390 is a “New Yorke” Token struck in brass, graded Fine 15 by PCGS. While no date appears on the New Yorke tokens, their origin can be pinned down to the space of a few years. They were issued by Francis Lovelace, who became the second British governor of the colony of New Yorke (as it was then spelled, after the Duke of York) in 1668. The colony had been captured from the Dutch, who called it “Nieuw Amsterdam.”

Lovelace’s governorship lasted until 1673, when the Dutch recaptured “Nieuw Amsterdam.” Though “New Yorke” was soon taken back by the British, Lovelace was not there to see the victory; he was instead rotting away in the Tower of London.

Before that end, though, Lovelace had enough favor to create the “New Yorke” tokens, which point to him on both sides: as noted in the catalog description, “the eagle on the reverse is identical to the crest on the Lovelace coat of arms.” The obverse, which shows Cupid and a woman on either side of the tree (various sources list her as Venus or Psyche), is a vignette depicting love, and puns such as “love-Lovelace” were not uncommon in coinage at the time.

While Lovelace’s “New Yorke” tokens were made with the approval of the Duke of York (or at least his indifference), the Higley coppers struck in Granby, Connecticut were strictly unauthorized. The coppers, represented in the auction by lot 2389, are traditionally attributed to Dr. Samuel Higley, a medical professional and a metallurgical amateur. He also owned a copper-mining business, and it’s believed that starting in 1737, Higley began making copper tokens, possibly with metal from his own mines.

His early copper tokens were self-described as “THE VALUE OF THREE PENCE,” according to their legends, though their closest approximations were actually British halfpennies. It would’ve been a nice racket if Dr. Higley had gotten away with it, but he didn’t, judging by his later tokens such as lot 2389; they read “VALUE ME AS YOU PLEASE” instead.

Lovelace and Higley were separated by the better part of a century and wildly different circumstances of birth and fortune, yet both contributed in their own way to the history of Colonial coinage. Theirs are also just two of the uncountable chapters in that history, told across two full centuries and a touch beyond. When Heritage’s next auction comes around, what will its Colonials have to say?

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Cheesehead's Top 10 Favre Collectibles - Part , or Heritage Auctions welcomes Chris Nerat

Dec. 16, 2009
Written by Chris Nerat

(It is with great pleasure that I can welcome veteran sports collectibles writer - and recent Heritage Consignment Director appointee - Chris Nerat to the Heritage Blog.

Some of you sports fans out there will well recognize Chris from his days editing, writing and blogging for Sports Collectibles Digest, or SCD, and - if you do - you are probably as happy as I am to see his contribution here. Chris is a recent refugee to Dallas from the frigid cold of his home in Central Wisconsin, and Heritage is glad to have him. He's a lifelong Green Bay Packers Fan {I guess he can be forgiven for that} and is probably the biggest dealer in Vintage Packers memorabilia in the country.

Besides all of his professional accomplishments, which are many at his relatively young age, Chris is a supremely nice guy - as so many from The Badger State tend to be. I know this because I had the pleasure to work parallel to Chris in Iola, WI during my brief stint a few years ago as editor on an antiques publication based out of there. Like I said, he's very welcome here in Dallas and I hope he's enjoying the transition.

I pegged Chris for the Heritage Blog the day he started and decided to let him start easy with something he knows and love: Brett Favre material. The only caveat being it had to include Heritage in it. The result is Chris's Top 10 Favre pieces as the ageless QB puts together another stellar year. We only have room today for the first five, which don't include the Heritage lot, but given that Chris is new, we'll let it pass… This time… - Noah Fleisher

On September 20, 2007, Brett Favre surpassed Dan Marino’s career touchdown passing mark when he completed a 16-yard pass to Packers receiver Greg Jennings for his amazing 421st score in front of a Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome crowd. Fast forward two years, and Favre is still slinging it, and coincidentally in that same Minneapolis dome. The difference is, this time he isn’t wearing the Green and Gold. Instead, he’s the enemy, or at least that’s the feeling in the hearts of most Green Bay Packers fans.

After spending a brief tenure in New York with the Jets, and now a Minnesota Viking, Favre is well on his way to winning his fourth NFL Most Valuable Player award, and quite possibly on the path to his third Super Bowl appearance. Favre is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, has excelled at a position no other 40-year-old player has ever even come close to … And by the way, has never missed a start during his 280-plus game career.

When considering Favre’s impressive resume already under his belt, no matter how bitter Packers collectors may be about No. 4’s recent career change, there’s no question that quality Favre items are, and will remain a smart investment for all football memorabilia collectors.

The good thing for potential Favre investors is that, recently, hype around the ‘ol gunslinger’s memorabilia has been less-than-spectacular. This has kept the price down. However, once the NFL’s postseason gets underway, and if the Vikings go on a serious Super Bowl run, Favre pieces are going to be on fire as much as one of his 30-yard, finger-breaking fastballs.

Presented here is my list of the Top Ten Brett Favre items in the hobby:

#1: Brett Favre Game-Worn Packers Jersey
No matter what team Favre is playing with, when it’s all said and done, he will always be remembered as a Green Bay Packer. Authentic Favre Packer gamers are definitely few and far between, but if you’re fortunate enough to pick up one of his green or white garments at a decent price, this is a no-brainer for the Favre investor.

#2: Full Ticket from Brett Favre’s 1st Game – September 27, 1992
Brett Favre’s consecutive start streak is one that could even make Cal Ripken Jr. blush. If you can’t afford an unused example from this game, stubs can make for a nice alternative, and a very good investment.

#3: Brett Favre Game-Worn Vikings Jersey
If you need proof, look no further than the example that recently sold for $16,000 by NFL Auction. Granted, this sale was for charity, and that may have had some affect on its realized price, but that is quite a hefty amount for a shirt that’s only a couple months old.

#4: Brett Favre Game-Worn Packers Helmet
The Packers equipment manager, Red Batty has stated that there has never been a Favre Packers game-worn helmet that has been made available to the collecting public. Well, that’s hard to believe, but we do know Favre game-worn helmets are nearly impossible to obtain. Also, the fact that there are many collectors who own Favre game-worn jerseys and would love to add a helmet as a suitable companion, the instant a gold Favre shell is offered it will attract lots of attention among collectors.

#5: Brett Favre Game-Worn Jets Jersey
Despite the fact that Favre only spent one year with the Jets, his New York gamers appear in the hobby from time to time. You will also have your aggressive Favre collectors trying to obtain an authentic gamer from each team he played with. That alone suffices a Jets game-worn jersey at No. 5 on my list.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-Chris Nerat

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coin Monday: The Catalog Stands Alone

Dec. 14, 2009
Written by John Dale

It’s been a while since I last wrote about the coin cataloger’s perspective, so why not this week? (Don’t worry. You’ll get your coin fix closer to the end of this post. See hint at right.)

As a cataloger, I realize that my coin descriptions have two uses: the short-term and the long-term. In the short term, my lot descriptions have to sell the coins - that’s why I get paid - but finding a balance is tricky. Before the auction, if a consignor doesn’t like what I’ve written - doesn’t think it’s complimentary enough, or believes I’ve left out a Very Important Fact™ - and complains to the Consignment Director, I hear about it.

Then again, after an auction, if a buyer doesn’t like what I’ve written - see above, substituting “strict” for “complimentary” and “customer service department” for “Consignment Director” - I REALLY hear about it. So in selling the coin, I have to “sell” the lot description to two different audiences with wildly different expectations, making bidders say “It’s fair” and consignors say “It’s wonderful!”

While the department doesn’t have a 100% hit rate, considering the tens of thousands of coins the cataloging department describes each year, we come surprisingly close.

Once the auction has closed, the descriptions in the Heritage catalogs have a second life as reference material. While even the most basic photo-and-text description can help with tracking the provenance of an item, the greatest catalogs — usually single-collection catalogs focused on a specialty such as early copper or silver dollars — are treated with nearly the same reverence as scholarly books, and referenced nearly as often. A glance at our Catalog Orders page shows a number of catalogs that have attained this level of respect, such as the Lemus Collection of pattern coins, sold January 2009, and the Belzberg Collection of Canadian coinage, sold January 2003

(Conspicuously absent from the list is the Walter J. Husak Collection catalog, covering his impressive collection of large cents, which has completely sold out and now commands a strong price in secondhand numismatic literature circles. You might have heard about the Husak collection — maybe from the Washington Post or Ripley’s Believe It or Not! or even Saturday Night Live. Cue Seth Meyers: "A California man's collection of 301 rare American pennies [Bzzt! Never call a cent a “penny,” even if you’re Seth Meyers. – Noah] sold at auction this week for $10.7 million. Far exceeding my pre-auction estimate of three dollars and one cent.")

In January 2010, Heritage will hold two auctions with specialized catalogs that have every chance of becoming time-tested references. On the World Coins side, the Canadiana Collection will be auctioned in New York City. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping collections of Canadian coinage ever assembled—the legendary 1936 Dot cent is just one of many highlights.

On the U.S. side, the standalone collection leading the way in our Florida United Numismatists (FUN) auction has a distinct Floridian flavor: it’s called The Boca Collection, Part I. The collection contains a complete run of the 71 proof sets issued from 1856 to 1953, covering denominations up to one (silver) dollar.

The 1890 set has an added bonus: the four gold denominations, from two and a half dollars to $20, are also included in proof. Every one of those coins is a rare delight. Each year, Heritage auctions coins and collectibles from thousands of consignors. Every consignment is appreciated, but only a handful of these collections have the value and the strength to stand alone. While I treat each coin that comes across my desk with the respect it deserves, I invariably find myself giving extra attention to coins destined for stand-alone catalogs.

A stand-alone catalog means a great collection, and even if Heritage is going to sell it off one lot at a time, a collection that great deserves to last, if only in pages.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Friday, December 11, 2009

Me and Detective 27

Dec. 11, 2009
Posted by Noah

What can I say? When in the presence of a comic book like the one you see in my hands in this picture - a pristine 8.0 graded copy of Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman, tied with one other for the best copy known - you give in to the geek factor. Tell me you wouldn't do the same?

This comic will be part of the February 2010 Comic Auction, will most likely end up being the single most valuable comic book ever offered at public auction, and will once and for all settle the eternal question of who is the more popular and/or valuable. This picture will tell you what I think. I don't think anyone would argue that Batman is certainly more relevant to this day and age than Super... Sorry...

The amazing thing about this comic book is that, yes, it is actually as gorgeous as it looks. The colors are rich and full, the detail is crystal clear and the thing is absolutely perfectly centered. It is every bit a work of art, and will command a price worthy of such. You can believe the hype on this one. I've said it before in this blog that it takes a lot to make our comic experts sit up and take notice. Needless to say, they - who have seen pretty much every great comic book ever made - did exactly what I did: they whipped out their cameras, handed it to the nearest person, and said, "take a picture of me with it!"

Yes, look at it, enjoy it, love it, but don't get too used to it.... Unless, of course, you have about a half million bucks to spend. Then it's all yours.
To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.
-Noah Fleisher

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiger, Tiger memorabilia and the whole salacious affair: Thoughts from the Heritage Auctions Blog

Dec. 9, 2009
Posted by Noah

Perhaps you live in a cave somewhere deep in the mountains. Maybe you're a survivalist in a tree house deep in the woods living off your wiles. If that is the case, then you can be forgiven for not knowing about the ugly details of the unraveling of the monolith that was Tiger Woods.

I don't want to pile on to Tiger, because he's certainly getting a deserved pounding right now in the media and from his diminished fan base, but this is a monster entirely of his own making. Before two weeks ago, a suspicious car crash and the revelation of many women that they were paramours of the World's #1 golfer, Tiger's meticulously crafted and carefully guarded public image was squeaky clean to the point of shining. Now, not so much...

Now, Heritage Auctions is not the biggest dealer in Tiger memorabilia, but we have sold some... Though none since the story broke... so it's difficult to say if values will go down in a concrete sense - there is no proof yet. But...

I've spoken with most of my friends about this mess, many folks here, and with Heritage's Director of Sports Auctions, Chris Ivy, who was kind enough to spare a few minutes of his time for to discuss this whole debacle, and in his quite erudite opinion, and I'm paraphrasing Chris, how in the world could this not affect the value of his pieces? At least not in the short term.

Here's the thing: Most of us wanted to believe that Tiger was a clean as his image. He is the single greatest golf player (almost) of all-time, and his sport is easily the most elegant and refined of any major sport. It all added up magnificently - it was perfect. He's the greatest athlete in the world, people fall at his feet, and yet he was a charitable, humble man, a loving father and husband and, best of all, a sober role model for the millions that adore(d) him. We all want badly for it to be true... So badly... Now it seems that he, on many of those levels, is not what he presented himself to be. Speculation runs rampant.

What hurts the most is that this is the image Tiger himself wanted to project, and he did it masterfully. Had he never been presented as the Super Man, his fall from grace would have been less stunning. But it's not. It's actually more stunning, as it always is when a carefully constructed house of cards comes tumbling down.

The real revelation, which shouldn't be a revelation at all, is that Tiger is simply a man, and he is flawed like every one, and replete with weaknesses like every human. We all deal with pressure in different ways and - to say the least - most of us can never even consider the kind the kind of pressure that Tiger is under day in and day out, let alone reckon how to deal with it. In that sense, Tiger deserves somewhat of a break, I suppose, though there is little anodyne for the sting of this disappointment.

Would it do Tiger any good to pull a Kobe? Should he buy Elin a great big rock and change his ways? I do believe the public would welcome back a penitent Tiger with open arms, especially if he is sincere in his reformation. Mrs. Woods, however? Most of us can answer the question for ourselves as to where we would stand were it us. But we're not necessarily married to the single most charismatic person on the planet, no matter how much I tell my wife she is...

It will be interesting in the months to come to see how Tiger plays golf under the added scrutiny, and how his memorabilia plays given his recent tribulations. A couple major championships should ease the pressure a bit... It's that very pursuit, however, that got him into this situation in the first place.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Monday, December 7, 2009

Coin Monday: The Legend of the 1943 Bronze Cent

Dec. 7, 2009
Written by John Dale

Back in late October, I discussed wrong-planchet errors in the context of a Franklin half dollar that had been struck on a planchet designed for a quarter. (The results from Houston are in, and the piece sold for $1,150. Not bad for a Mint mistake!) At the end, I left a slightly cryptic clue to another wrong-planchet error I knew about: “Oh, but I did mention ‘wrong size or type,” didn’t I? Well, I’ll tell you about that later…”

It’s officially later, if later than I’d planned, so now it’s time to let you in on the secret. This is the good stuff. The really, really good stuff.

For those of you who clicked and didn’t experience sudden coin euphoria, let me slip into my best Olmec impression and tell you The Legend of the 1943 Bronze Cent:

“Long ago, in the city of Philadelphia, there was a building called the U.S. Mint. In the early days of World War II, when copper was needed urgently for bullets and artillery shells, the Mint was using tons of copper to strike one cent coins, which were made out of bronze. To save that copper for the war effort, the Mint metallurgists experimented with other, different metals in search of a replacement. They even tried making cents out of plastic!

In 1943, for one year only, the Mint made cents out of zinc-coated steel, but a handful of 1943-dated cents were made in the old bronze alloy instead, and one of them made its way to the January 2010 FUN Auction!

Your quest is to outbid the rest of the room, retrieve the 1943 bronze cent, and add it to your collection.”

…yes, I watched Legends of the Hidden Temple way too much as a kid. To Viacom, Nickelodeon’s corporate parent: no box set? Seriously? Not even a “best-of” compilation on one DVD? But I want to give you money...

Where was I? Oh, yes, 1943 bronze cent. These wrong-metal rarities have been sources of intrigue ever since their discovery, and even today, tall tales about them flourish. To quote the 1943 bronze cent’s description in the catalog:

“Almost from the outset, the 1943 bronze cents were the subject of misinformation. Henry Ford, the automobile titan, supposedly offered a new car in exchange for a 1943 ‘copper’ cent, for example; this was not the first coin hoax centered around Ford. … Similarly, news dispatches in 1999 about a 1943 bronze cent supposedly spent as an ordinary coin overestimated its value; the original wire report claimed it was worth a quarter of a million dollars, a number that increased to a cool half-million as the story was retold!”

The legends made the 1943 bronze cent as special as it is. Generations have sought it, most finding nothing, some discovering a great love for coins. The best part of any legend, though, is its tiny center of truth, and that truth—3.11 grams of bronze, stamped by dies that never should have struck anything but steel—makes all the built-up hype seem irrelevant. It sits in the hand, sandwiched between layers of protective plastic, terribly ordinary-looking for such a prized relic. Yet it is the driving force, the dreamed-of ending for thousands of stories, true stories.

Come January, let the end be written.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

John Dillinger Dilligence: Amazing trove relating to America's most famous ganster readies at Heritage Auctions

Dec. 2, 2009
Posted by Noah

So this one has been a few months in the making, has encompassed national news coverage, a few would-be scandals from mongerers of such things and a whole lot of open-mouthed astonishment from those of us here at Heritage that have actually come face to face with the amazing John Dillinger trove, consigned by Dillinger's little sister, Frances Helen, that will be featured in the Dec. 12 Arms & Militaria Auction.

Let's just say that it's an exciting thing. Letters, guns, clothing, watches and even currency that was in Dillinger's pocket when he was shot, all of these things are part of this amazing trove. It's one of those amazing gatherings that defy explanation when you first see it. It takes a lot to impress the experts at Heritage, but when this stuff came in our Director of Civil War & Militaria Auctions, one Dennis Lowe - normally a man of quiet reserve - could barely contain his amazement.

"I've been in this business 38 years," he said, "and I've never seen anything like this. A grouping of materials this significant, and related to such a huge figure in America's collective memory, is a truly remarkable occurrence in the annals of collecting."

Agreed, times two. Actually, make that infinity+1 no backs.

The icing on the cake will be when Frances Helen herself comes to town for the auction next week. She's in her 80s now, having been only 12 when "Johnny" was killed, and she's still as sharp as ever and her memories of her older brother are quite clear. This amazing gathering of Dillinger-related material has been in her possession for decades and, while it may seem a vast treasure to the rest of us, to her it has been a heavy reminder of her departed and beloved big brother. She has held on to them to assure their safety, and the safety of her brother's legacy, but has decided that now is the time to part with the treasure, all to benefit her family's future.

For what it's worth, Dillinger comes off very well in archive, but still very crafty and smart. He relates in detailed letters to his father how he came to be who he is, and is represented physically by an amazing hunting suit worn during the shootout in Little Bohemia, WI. If history and popular memory bears out that Dillinger wasn't such a nice guy, his family still views him as a generally good man gone astray, one who just happened to really like robbing banks but never hurt anyone.

It may be disputable whether the last bit is true, but it's also never been proven.

One thing that will be proven in just under two weeks from now is what these amazing personal Dillinger treasures are worth to the collecting world at large. His Double Derringer, seized when he was arrested in Tucson, AZ, sold for more than $95,000 last June. If the items in this archive come anywhere close to that, then Frances Helen and her progeny stand to do pretty well off of Big Brother Johnny.
For all the damage he had done to his name and family during his crime sprees in the 1930s, perhaps his greatest legacy will ultimately be the security he has provided his family with, and the pop culture treasures released to the world.

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher