Monday, December 22, 2008

Auction Gold

Cruising around past auction archives can net some real treasures. From Robert Edward Auctions' 2008 auction comes this beauty.

The auction description:
This museum-quality NFL jersey holds the significant distinction of being, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest known Green Bay Packers jersey in existence and can be narrowly dated to the three-year period 1945-1947, when it was worn by defensive back Ken Keuper. Graded A9.5 by MEARS. The black knit jersey is trimmed in gold along the collar and sleeves, and features full-length sleeves (with padded elbows). The number "18" is appliqu├ęd in gold tackle twill on the front and reverse. An "O'Shea" manufacturer's label appears in the collar, and a "46" size tag is located on the crotch piece. Original and unaltered, the jersey displays moderate -to-heavy wear including a number of small holes on the front, and a vintage team repair on the reverse. The dating of this jersey, as well as its attribution to a specific player, was determined by a combined analysis of the manufacturer's tag, jersey style, and size/number (a comparison was made between the size of this jersey to the height and weight of the only two players who wore this number during its years of possible use). Based upon all three criteria, the jersey could only have been worn by defensive back Ken Keuper between the years 1945 and 1947, his only three seasons with the club. During Keuper's three years with the club he appeared in a total of thirty-eight games and recorded six interceptions. The Packers finished in third place in the Western Division each season between the years 1945 and 1947. The Green Bay Packers are the third-oldest team in the NFL and also the most successful. The Packers won a record eleven NFL Championships between the years 1922 and 1965, as well as three Super Bowls. Despite their storied history, pre-1960 Green Bay Packers jerseys are exceedingly rare and this is what we believe to be the earliest example known. It is also the fourth-oldest NFL jersey for any team listed in the MEARS census (the earliest is a circa 1933-1934 Bears jersey). This is a remarkable jersey in all respects and, given the legendary status of the franchise, one of the most significant surviving relics in NFL history. Graded A9.5 by MEARS (10 point base grade, but minus a half point for the small holes on the front). This jersey has been consigned to this auction directly from the personal collection/inventory of world-renowned bat and jersey authenticators David Bushing and/or Troy Kinunen. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $9,987.50
Wow. $10K. A little out of my price range, but I love the photos.

Outstanding in all its details:

But the real gem is the authentication paper:

An amazing opportunity to get actual data on the classic jerseys, especially the numeral measurements. Helpful for making those replicas.

So few of these old jerseys still exist, although MEARS is wrong on one point - if their attribution is correct, this is not the oldest known Packers jersey in existence.

I don't know which one is the extant packers jerseys is the oldest, but I do know of at least two Don Hutson jerseys in museums. Hutson played until 1945, which would make them at the very least as old as the earliest date they've assigned to the Keuper jersey.

The Packers Hall of Fame has one of those Hutson jerseys, donated a couple years ago by the family which used to run the Rockwood Lodge.

The second one's in Canton (kind of hard to see - it's the jersey on the left, you can make out the "4"):The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame has other old jerseys, including this beauty worn by Ted Fritsch in the 1944 Championship Game against the Giants (Lambeau's sixth and last World Championship).

The memorabilia store All-American Sports in Milwaukee (on National, right around the corner from Miller Park) has a framed 1940s jersey in its store, or did about five years ago. How many other jerseys are in private hands may never be known, but the number can't be that high.

I don't know which one is oldest, and maybe we never will. They're all gorgeous, though. Such an elegant design. Navy and gold compliment each other, and the gold yoke is pure class. The 1994 throwbacks didn't even come close to capturing its spirit.