Thursday, July 24, 2014

Auction Gold: Lee Joannes' Super Bowl I cufflinks!

Wow. There's an amazing find in Heritage's current auction:

1967 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I Championship Gold Cufflinks....

Originally owned by former Packers president Lee Joannes!

1967 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I Championship Gold Cufflinks.  It was Milwaukee Journal sportswriter Oliver E. Kuechle who coined the moniker, "The Hungry Five," a somewhat pointed commentary on the quintet of Green Bay Packers board members who seemed always to be in desperate need of cash to keep their fledgling team afloat. Today their founding franchise of professional football stands as one of the most iconic in American sports, but the team's very survival remained very much in question in those earliest years when most gridiron fans considered the collegiate game to be the only one that mattered. But together with coach and star player Curly Lambeau, Green Bay Press-Gazette publisher Andrew Turnbull, attorney Gerald Francis Clifford and team physician Dr. W. Webber Kelly, grocer Lee Joannes formed a united front against looming bankruptcy, serving as team president during the darkest days of the Great Depression. Each pioneering executive is properly immortalized in the Packers Hall of Fame.


Beyond the odd signed legal document and team correspondence, almost nothing exists in the collecting hobby from Joannes today despite his supreme relevance to the very existence of the Green Bay Packers. Presented here is a thrilling exception to that rule, a pair of gold cufflinks awarded to Joannes following the Pack's victory in Super Bowl I. Those familiar with Championship hardware from this first edition of football's most celebrated contest will note the striking resemblance to the rings presented to Starr, Hornung and the gang, but these are the only cufflinks we've ever encountered. It is safe to say that they are considerably more rare than the rings from which their design is cribbed.

Packer-green emeralds are set inside a clever design incorporating the shapes of both a football and a globe, encircled by raised text announcing, "1966 World Champions Green Bay Packers." The circular portion of each cufflink is stamped on verso with the Josten's logo and a "10K" gold content, while the clasps are stamped "1/20 12K GF," the result of two ring faces having been fashioned into tasteful sleeve adornments. Each cufflink survives in pristine original condition.


The small handful of Super Bowl I rings that have appeared on the hobby's auction block have commanded solid five-figure prices, and this offering is every bit their equal--some would argue that the connection to a "Hungry Five" member, and the duplication of the ring's primary design, would give these cufflinks the edge. It's unquestionably one of the most exciting Packers offerings to tempt the advanced collector in recent years, accompanied by a letter of provenance from esteemed Titletown collectibles purveyor Packer City Antiques. Letter of provenance from Packer City Antiques. LOA from PSA/DNA.
"Rare" is an understatement. Lee Joannes is a towering figure in Packers history. Some lucky collector is going to treasure this connection to our team's Founding Fathers.

It's also worth noting that these cufflinks reflect the original design of the Packers' Super Bowl I rings, before Vince Lombardi replaced the emerald with a diamond. Outstanding.

As much as I love Lombardi's style, I actually prefer the emerald to diamond; the green added to yellow gold really brings the Packers' colors to life.

As we get nearer to another Packer season, it's worth pausing to remember those heroes who brought the first NFL-AFL Championship Trophy home to Green Bay:



The auction ends next week: bid early, bid often.