Auction preview: Titanic items, Bob Feller ticket, Type 1 Willie Mays photo

Three items from the Titanic and several pieces of MLB legends highlight the weekend's upcoming lots

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Welcome to cllct's weekly auction preview.

Every Thursday, we'll highlight the most interesting items coming up for bid this weekend and offer our analysis. Comments are from cllct's Darren Rovell and Will Stern.

Michael Jordan signed baseball

Closing: Today

This Jordan-signed OAL (Official American League) baseball, accompanied by a Beckett LOA, is listed without a date and presents quite poorly, with discoloration around the ball and an ugly, smudged autograph.

Stern: While the OAL ball adds value, just about everything else here is a mess. Heritage sold another signed ball (not OAL) dated to Jordan’s baseball stint in 1994 for $1,680.00. The date as well as the UDA sticker (MJ’s exclusive signer) should still fetch a premium to the inferior Goldin example.

Rovell: Era does count for something, and a ball from Bobby Brown's tenure as AL president means Jordan likely signed it while playing with the Birmingham Barons, or perhaps his exhibition game with the White Sox. Even still, I’d rather a beautiful Jordan sig on a non-era ball. Folks, no sharpies on balls please. Stick to ball points!

John Jacob Astor IV pocket watch recovered from Titanic

Closing date: Saturday

Beyond the Titanic, watch enthusiasts consider Astor's pocket watch to be a significant piece of horological history (Credit: Henry Aldridge)
Beyond the Titanic, watch enthusiasts consider Astor's pocket watch to be a significant piece of horological history (Credit: Henry Aldridge)

John Jacob Astor IV was a well-known, wealthy member of the famed Astor family, who died during the sinking of the Titanic. His body was recovered more than a week later, miraculously in “perfect condition” without bruising. The watch was restored after its retrieval and has since become a staple of Titanic memorabilia lore.

Stern: The connection to the Astors is the piece that draws me in … otherwise, I can’t say I’d select a pocket watch as a top Titanic memento. Also, I am not one to collect items found on dead bodies. Just a rule of mine I tend to follow.

Rovell: Definitely an amazing piece, but a pocket watch is getting less relevant by the day. Doesn’t relate to anyone under 60. So while you have the strong Astor connection, the actual value of the piece, in my opinion, is overstated.

Apollo 12 Lunar Surface-Flown Chicken Soup Food Packet Signed by Alan Bean

Closing date: Today

Alan Bean was the fourth human to walk on the Moon during the second Lunar landing as a part of Apollo 12. Bean brought this packet of ‘chicken soup food’ along with him for the mission, one of around 70 meal-related items stocked for the trip. Nearly all of the food brought for the mission was either consumed or left behind.

"This food packet became a treasured part of my personal space collection upon its return from the Moon in November, 1969,” Bean writes in a letter of provenance. The packet is signed and inscribed "Flown to the surface of the Moon in Intrepid, Nov. 1969, Alan Bean, Apollo 12 LMP."

If it hits its reserve, this will likely set the record for a single bag of uneaten, flown space food. The top 3? Stuart Roosa’s Apollo 14 chocolate pudding sold for $6,250 in RR in 2022. Charles Duke’s unused cheddar cheese crackers from Apollo 16 sold at Bonham’s for $5,000 in 2012. Buzz Aldrin’s signed and unused Pea Soup from Apollo 11, sold at Christies for $4,830.

Stern: I thought this was basically a marketing ploy to trick space collectors. But after reading the letter of provenance from Bean, it’s actually a really sweet item. The idea of one of the first people to ever walk on the Moon wanting to bring home a memento makes immediate sense to me. And the genuine motivations of Bean keeping the otherwise-silly item all those years makes it far more collectible in my eyes.

Rovell: Space food is a weird item for sure. But space collectors love it. It’s a chance to get a space flown item that was close to the astronauts at a low price. Most space flown stuff, no matter what it is, usually starts at $10,000+

Wallace Hartley violin case recovered from Titanic

Closing date: Saturday

Everyone knows the (possibly apocryphal) story of the orchestra playing as the ship went down. Well, regardless of whether or how that true story unfolded, this violin case is a piece of history. The violin itself sold for over $1.2 million in 2013.

Stern: This is one I can get behind. The story is there. We have a semi-comp with the violin sale. Broad cultural appeal. The works. That being said, the multiple for violin case to violin isn’t exactly readily available.

Rovell: The band going down playing is one of the greatest tales of all time. But you don’t get the violin, the case is a hardly a good consolation prize.

Type 1 Photo of the iceberg that allegedly felled the Titanic

Closing date: Saturday

This photograph was taken by a member of the recovery ship CS MacKay-Bennett, the primary ship used to recover the bodies from the North Atlantic.

Stern: This appears to be a perfect example of an insider's piece. A hyper-specific and somewhat complex item, appearing at auction via a specialty avenue, targeted at an audience self-selected to care deeply about this minutiae. The estimate of under $10,000 doesn't feel far off, if it truly is as advertised. I have a feeling some enterprising Titanic collectors will form their own opinion on this piece as it relates to authenticity, and they will either go way higher than estimated (if their research leads them to believe this checks out) or we will see a lackluster result (if independent research is unable to yield new information, or, if it reveals something new that actively devalues the piece).

Rovell: While the idea of this is admittedly highly intriguing, there’s a lot of explanation required here. And one of my rules is when there is too much explanation, or a required leap of faith, it’s a pass.

But it’s actually even worse. Turns out Henry Aldridge sold a picture of what is more likely the iceberg in 2015 for more than $32,000. It was taken by the chief steward of the steamer Prinz Adalbert, which passed hours after the Titanic sank. The steward noticed the iceberg had a red paint streak on it.

The pic they are selling here was taken more than two days later and doesn’t look like the other iceberg. Another picture of the iceberg, taken by the captain of a ship two days before the Titanic reached the site, sold for $25,725. This picture looks similar to the other one that sold for big money.

c.1951 rookie season Willie Mays autographed Type 1 photograph

Closing date: Wednesday

The Type 1 photo of Willie Mays was used to produced several cards. (Courtesy: Hunt Auctions)
The Type 1 photo of Willie Mays was used to produced several cards. (Courtesy: Hunt Auctions)

This Type 1 photo was used to produce several significant Mays cards, including the 1952 Berk Ross. Another example, exhibiting superior eye appeal and overall condition (though lacking a signature), sold in February 2023 at SCP Auctions for $9,113.

Stern: As we wade deeper into the waters of the Type 1 world, we are going to be able to glean new insights into the preferences of collectors — whether they place more value on condition and the degree to which autographs provide a boost in price (if any). The estimate at Hunt is $2,000-$4,000, which might indicate the house’s evaluation of the item’s condition is weak enough to warrant a fraction of the previous comp. Or perhaps this is another signal of the declining prices of most non-grail Type 1s.

Rovell: Not a spectacular photo, definitely not a spectacular sig. Hard pass.

O.J. Simpson Bank of America Visa Business Credit Card

Closing date: Today

A Bank of America card issued to O.J. Simpson is set to sell Thursday night at Goldin. Likely one of, if not the, last credit cards owned by Simpson (expiration date: January 2023), the consignor purchased the card on eBay for $59.99 in July 2023. Unsurprisingly, they are using Simpson’s recent death in the hopes of providing a catalyst to boost the sale.

Stern: Given its late date and lack of authorized signature on the reverse, I would have expected this to fall short of post-death sales for an unsigned O.J. Discover Card ($1,500, April 2024) and a signed Sears credit card ($1,000, April 2024).

Rovell: No sig on back kills the piece. Likely wasn’t ever used and perhaps was never even in his possession.

Bob Feller No-Hitter ticket stub (PSA 2)

Closing date: Wednesday

The single highest-graded stub from Feller's 1946 no-hitter (Credit: Hunt Auctions)
The single highest-graded stub from Feller's 1946 no-hitter (Credit: Hunt Auctions)

This is one of just five examples authenticated by PSA from Feller’s second no-hitter and the highest-graded example.

In July 2023, Hunt sold a lower-graded PSA 1.5 example for $1,200. Though, it’s quite clear that if not for a pinhole, the PSA 1.5 ticket would outrank the lot currently at Hunt. It has exceptional eye appeal, a cleaner tear at its bottom, as well as a clean back (the back of the PSA 2 ticket is a bit of a disaster area).

Stern: At this point, I might as well make this a recurring segment … it never ceases to astound me to see the extent to which auction houses routinely fail to market their items appropriately.

In this case, there isn’t a smoking gun error as we’ve seen in the past. But there are omissions that completely baffle me. Hunt notes the ticket is the highest-graded (check) and highlights the game as Feller’s second no-hitter (check). But it feels sacrilegious to exclude the fact Feller was facing off against four future Hall of Famers (Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Gordon and Bill Dickey). If we’re talking astounding feats of pitching, it’s extremely relevant that DiMaggio, one of the greatest hitters to ever wield a bat was stymied on that day. And I’m not done … DiMaggio was quoted after the game saying “Anybody who had the stuff Feller had today deserved a no-hitter.”

While I’m on a roll, one more tidbit. Yankees director of PR Red Patterson reportedly said before the game “Why I’ve never seen a no-hit game, and I don’t expect to see one today.” Point being, Hunt brings an extraordinary piece to auction and leaves so much meat on the bone when it comes to simple storytelling.

Despite its superior grade to last year’s $1,200 auction, I would much rather have the lower-graded copy’s eye appeal. That being said, we’re talking about such a scarce ticket to a no-hitter by an all-time legend, so I wouldn’t blame any collector who doubles or triples up from the 2023 sale.

An autograph on a vintage card can elevate its value by thousands of dollars (Credit: Heritage)
An autograph on a vintage card can elevate its value by thousands of dollars (Credit: Heritage)

1940 Play Ball Jimmie Foxx #133 PSA VG 3, PSA/DNA Auto 10

Closing date: Saturday

Heritage has this Foxx card ending over the weekend. The estimate was set at $6,000 and it already has blown by that with over a day remaining. The card’s condition grade would normally warrant something in the range of $300, but the perfect 10 signature (one of just two signed examples and the single-highest graded among them) caught our attention.

Stern: This is the most beautiful autograph I’ve ever seen. I think Foxx must have been taking calligraphy classes in the offseason. Wow.

This is a perfect example of how vintage autographed cards can take a card from one price bracket to another. And in this case, I would expect to see an all-out brawl among the bidders that could take this card to the $20,000 range. Out of the 1,294 items in the auction, it’s got the 10th most views. Though, to be fair, I’m likely responsible for 20% of those personally.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct. You can follow him on X at @Will__Stern.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.