Thursday, January 10, 2013

Auction Gold - Early 1960s Paul Hornung Jersey

This early 1960s Paul Hornung jersey was recently sold by Grey Flannel Auctions. It provides an excellent look at Packers jerseys of the period, who made them and how they were worn.

Early 1960s Paul Hornung Green Bay Packers Game-Used & Autographed Home Jersey (JSA)(Photomatch)(20+ Team Repairs)(Pristine Provenance)

Paul Hornung is one of three players to have won the Heisman Trophy, been selected as first overall National Football League draft picks, and been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the 1960's All-Decade team and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. On the left front tail of this green durene shirt is the "RED FOX" manufacturer's tag with jersey size "46". Above is a wash instructions label. Inside the rear collar is a flag tag with size "46". Player number "5" appears on the front, back and on both sleeves in white tackle twill. Hornung has signed the front in silver marker adding the inscription "5" rating a 7. The jersey is properly tagged, was presented to us as game-used and in our opinion, shows outstanding use with numerous large team repairs. Accompanied by a letter of provenance which states, in part, "In the 1960's, my father worked the sidelines as a member of the chain crew in the Orange Bowl. One day he brought me home Paul Hornung's actual game worn jersey which had been given to him by Packers equipment manager Gerald "Dad" Braisher...the jersey has been in my possession ever since". Further accompanied by a LOA from JSA as well as a photo of Hornung signing the shirt.

"Red Fox Manufacturing Co." is a new one for me. Don't think I've heard of them before, but it gives us another piece in our timeline of uniform suppliers.

Here's a close-up of one of the shoulder numbers. The "5" is distinctive, with its angles along the top of the loop. I call this a "slashed-5", and it will be important when we're trying to narrow down the date of the jersey.

The repairs are remarkable. It was common in those days to keep repairing a jersey until it was ready to fall apart. In those days, before a fresh jersey at halftime, players would wear the same battered uniform again and again, even for years at a time.

Finally, Grey Flannel has a photo of Hornung wearing this jersey in a game, matching the team repairs and game markings to establish provenance.

Maybe we can narrow down the timeframe a little by looking at pictures of our own.

This team photo from 1960 indicates that the Packers were still using a sans-serif block style in that season (there's the Golden Boy in the back row, far right or next to the far right in all these photos).

1961 seems to have seen the introduction of the serifed, slashed-5 numbers. Again, not everyone is wearing them, as some players carried jerseys over from season to season (look at Max McGee to Hornung's left). Still, there are enough examples here that we can say with some certainty that this was the new number style for '61.

We can't see Hornung in these 1962 photos, but again his teammates are wearing the slashed-5s.

Hornung found himself embroiled in a gambling scandal, and on April 17, 1963, he was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games. The suspension turned out to be little less "indefinite", and the Gloden Boy missed only one season before being reinstated in 1964. By that time, the Packers had changed uniform manufacturers, resulting in a small number change to the "hooked 5s" they wear today.

That makes 1961 through 1963 the likely range of years this jersey was worn. Given the propensity for hanging on to old laundry, I think it'll be tough to narrow down any farther without more information.

But when did the consignor acquire it? Maybe the Orange Bowl connection can help tell us. The Bert Bell Benefit Bowl, sometimes known as the "Playoff Bowl" or "Runner-Up Bowl", was played in Miami between the runners-up in each conference. The Packers played twice during this period, after the 1963 and 1964 seasons.

I'm not aware of the Packers playing any other games in Miami during this period, so it seems likely that the jersey would have been given to the consignor after one of those games.

It seems strange that even a frugal team like the Packers would keep an old jersey around for a player who was suspended indefinitely. Possibly "Dad" Braisher gave it to a member of the chain crew following the game on January 5, 1964.

This beauty sold for $44,428 including buyer's premiums. It will undoubtedly be an important part of somebody's collection.

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