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Whatcha Got?

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sullivan panelThere are two questions I cannot answer because I do not know: why do I like boxing and why do I collect boxing? I can, however, answer how I got started in doing both.

I started collecting boxing when we were living in Seattle and were attending the Convention Center’s Science Fiction Convention in roughly 1978-79. I still had my baseball cards from my youth as well as my football cards but they were sequestered at home with my folks in Mobile, AL and I hadn’t collected a baseball or football card since middle school. At this convention were dealer tables, one of which was sponsored by Pacific Trading Cards who was home-ported just north of Seattle. On their table were Science Fiction cards, baseball cards and a small stack of ‘48 Leaf card boxers. Until that time I didn’t know boxing cards even existed.

A couple of weeks later my wife and I made a trip up to PCT’s shop and I fell in love with cards of the guys I had seen on TV with my Dad back in the ‘50’s  (which answers how I started to love the sport itself.)

I abandoned any temptation to resume baseball or football collecting because they were far too expensive. Besides, boxing seemed an marciano gloves lastarzaundervalued genre. It still is but not so much. I started subscribing to The Trader Speaks and got hooked up with Hall’s Nostalgia who sold me about 50 T218 and T220 cards at less than $1 each. I didn’t know who those guys were in those sets so I searched until I found a dealer who knew where I could find info on most of them. His name was Jerome Shochet and he recommended a book called “Ten and Out” by Johnston which is, even today, the best classic history of the sport. I read the book and was hooked.

I joined the collectors’club in Seattle and sent for my baseball and football cards to swap for boxing at very, very good rates. I never looked back and now I have literally thousands of programs, posters, photos, postcards, signatures, cards, fight-worn equipment, and miscellaneous other material, 99% of which is pre-1964.demp-labl contr

But even a guy who is in his ‘70’s and has collected so long, has his top wish list. Here’s mine:

Signatures: Marvin Hart and Paddy Ryan.

Antique photos: John L. Sullivan Old Judge cabinet (not cigarette card).

Programs: Louis vs. Dorazio, Dempsey vs. Miske title fights.

Pretty small list, considering, but what I have amassed since reading Ten and Out some 35-38 years ago is pretty extensive. I often get queries about what I have, so here are some. These are my best pieces in each category. Keep in mind none are for sale or trade:

Cards: Sullivan N246 Kinney, ex. Sullivan Sunday Mercury. Warshaw lists both as “one known.”

Programs: Johnson vs. Ketchel. Wilson vs. Greb 1.

Fight site posters: Liston vs. Clay 1, Miami. Dempsey vs. Miske.

Fight-worn equipment: Marciano’s gloves vs. Lastarza (title). Dempsey sash worn in ring against Carpentier.

Antique photos: 7 ¼ x 13 mint John L. Sullivan Mora photo and 20×40 Stanley Ketchel crayon photo from Ketchel family.sullmerc

Postcard: Johnson with officials surrendering at the Mexican border. Handwritten Ketchel postcards.

Tickets: Full Robinson-Lamotta 6; Robinson wins MWC.

i.o.u autograph by nat langham 1857Signatures: Nat Langham IOU.

Awards: Willie Pep championship Ring belt

Miscellaneous: Nonpareil Dempsey vs. George LeBlanche handwritten fight contract for “pivot punch” fight. Impeccable condition; large signatures. Joe Gans pocketwatch. Signed Robinson-Lamotta 6 fight contract. Stanley Ketchel western spur.

Okay, now that I read this I realize I have gone to being just boastful but I do enjoy telling folks what I have. Moreover, I LOVE hearing what others have. However large or small your collection, I bet you enjoy telling folks who will appreciate hearing it.

 

That last point is important, as you well know. When we have folks over for a glass of wine or a beer and burger they often can be found staring at the walls full of photos in my living room and clearly haven’t a clue what to ask about in a conversation. Most look like they are viewing alien pictures from Roswell. Finally they ask, “Did you box?” When I assure them I have never boxed they usually ask me one of those two questions I can’t answer: Why do you like boxing and why do you collect boxing?

Comment on this post and tell us whatcha got!

 

 

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23 Comments

  1. Murray Greig
    July 30, 2016 at 3:20 am — Reply

    Great post, Don — and a VERY impressive collection. Like you, I’m always curious about other collectors’ passions.
    I was heavy into baseball and hockey, but gravitated to boxing as a 16-year-old in 1972 after acquiring a poster, program and ticket stubs from Canadian champ George Chuvalo’s second fight with Muhammad Ali, at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. My poster is one of the few known versions with the original date for the fight, March 17. After Chuvalo was injured in training the poster was reprinted with the new date, May 1. I’ve since managed to acquire on-site posters from 44 of Chuvalo’s 93 bouts – including 7 of his 9 headliners at Madison Square Garden.
    I also have programs and full tickets or stubs from 61 of Chuvalo’s fights, and original signed contracts for 15 of them, including vs. Frazier, Quarry, Bonavena, Mathis and Bob Foster (a fight that never happened).
    After college I became a sportswriter, and in 1986 I met George for the first time when he was training Razor Ruddock. Over the ensuing years we’ve forged a close friendship, and in 2012 I was honored when he asked me to co-author his autobiography, which was published the following year and became a Canadian best-seller.
    While Chuvalo continues to be the main focus of my collection, over the years I’ve also dabbled in acquiring advertising and commercial memorabilia of the linear heavyweight champions – everything from a bottle of Joe Louis rum from Panama to a Jack Dempsey chocolate bar wrapper and a box of Muhammad Ali De-Con roach traps.
    Another heavyweight I collect is Luther McCarty. Several years ago at an auction in Calgary I acquired three McCarty cabinet photos, one of his business cards and five of the six RPPCs that were issued in the weeks following his death at the hands of Arthur Pelkey in their infamous 1913 bout for the World White Heavyweight title. Always on the lookout for more!

    • July 30, 2016 at 3:33 pm — Reply

      Great stuff, Murray. Can’t say I know of anyone with as complete a collection on a boxer as yours of Chuvalo. Envious of your McCarty material, too. I have a few things including a signed photo in only fair condition.

  2. July 30, 2016 at 4:58 pm — Reply

    Being able to personally view Don’s collection in his home with his gracious wife several years ago is still one of my favorite hobby experiences. I can assure you that Don is not bragging. If anything, he is being very humble about his absolutely amazing collection.

    I collect John L. Sullivan cards from the 19th Century mainly. I only like “photo” cards, as opposed to “drawings” like Allen & Ginters. My collection is almost complete. The only cards that are missing are the N246 Kinney and Sunday Mercury that reside in Don’s collection, along with the Old Judge Cabinet that we both hope exists. The pride of my collection is a Newsboy Cabinet of Sullivan, also listed as a “one known”.

    • July 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm — Reply

      Okay, Andy, but if I had your Newsboy cabinet of Sullivan my collection would be even better! I never actually saw the Sullivan Old Judge cabinet but some 30 years ago an antique dealer called me and said he had one framed over a cut signature of Sullivan. I asked him to measure it and the measurements were of a cabinet. My hobby account was flat broke at the time so it was the “one that got away.” But if none got away, what fun would it be when you finally found them?

  3. July 31, 2016 at 3:05 am — Reply

    Books are obviously my main thing. While many of the following are not among the most valuable, these are among those that I enjoy having in my collection the most:

    * Graham ‘A Few Words In Defence of The Ring’ (Professionally rebound in maroon cloth. Title in gold on spine). By a member of the University of Cambridge. Sixpence. London. John Fellowes. And W. Spires. Stitched as issued, without binding. Octavo. First edition. Seemingly unrecorded. No copy in COPAC, B.L., or Hartley. 1843

    * Weston C. Neville ‘A Boxing Bibliography’ 1937 Appears to be a one of a kind publication

    * Golding, Louis Black Frailty (75 limited ed. Signed) (Hero of story is Tom Molineaux) #68 of 75. (Novel) 1934 Author autograph 8-11-1935

    * Donovan, Mike The Roosevelt I Know 1909 1st HC Yes VG Author autograph to William Pinkerton (Of Pinkerton Detective Agency)

    * Armstrong, Henry Gloves, God, and Glory 1956 Long inscription from Henry Armstrong to to Sugar Ray Robinson

    * Bettinson, A.F. The National Sporting Club Past and Present 1901 Autographed by Harry Harris ‘Human Scissors’ to sportswriter Harry Grayson

    * Murray, Jim The Jim Murray Collection 1988
    Autographed to Jimmy McLarnin on his 83rd birthday by Jim Murray

    * Gallico, Paul ‘The Golden People’ 1964 Bing Croby’s bookplate. Book autographed by Jack Dempsey & Gene Tunney

    * Benton, B.H. (ed.) Little Fistiana 1898 Signed by James J. Corbett autograph

    * Hooper, Stanley The A.B.C. of Boxing 1923 Inscribed by author to famous English boxing referee Eugene Corri.

    * Taylor Foulproof Prizefight Government 1946 Inscribed by author to fighter Jimmy McLarnin

    * Fleischer, Nat John L. Sullivan Champion of Champions 1951 Inscribed by author: “This is Book no. 1 off the press. Nat Fleischer, The Author”

    * Lud Relief to Royalty (James Braddock) 1936 Inscribed by Braddock to promoter Mike Jacobs

    * Fleischer, Nat Nat Fleischer’s All Time Ring Record Book 1943 Inscribed by Fleischer to his son-in-law Nat Loubet

    * Fleischer, Nat Jack McAuliffe the Napolean of the Prize Ring 1944 Inscribed by Fleischer: “Dear Son (Nat Loubet)- Hope you’ll get a chance to read this during the Christmas holiday’s, Lovingly Dad”

    * Fleischer Nat Scientific Blocking and Hitting and Other Methods of Defence 1935 Inscribed by Fleischer: “First completed copy off press Nat Fleischer August 7 – 1935″

    ” Fleischer Nat Jack Dempsey The Idol of Fistiana – Revised edition. Leather covers 1936 Inscribed by Fleischer: “This is first copy of revised edition off press Nat Fleischer the author”

    ” Fleischer Nat Gentleman Jim The Story of James J. Corbett 1942 Inscribed by Fleischer: “This is the first completed book – first off press and first to be bound Nat Fleischer April 4, 1942”

    * Fleischer Nat The Boston Strongboy (Limited to 900 copies per Ring magazine ad at time) 1941 1st HC N/A Good Inscribed by Fleischer: “This is the first copy off press – June 18, 1941 Nat Fleischer author”

    * Graziano Rocky Rocky’s Boxing Book 1979 Inscribed by Rocky Graziano to Steve Riggio, a professional fighter who defeated Rocky twice

    * Fleischer Nat From Milos to Londos (#24 of 1000) 1936 Inscribed to Boston Post sportswriter Doc Almy by Nat Fleischer

    * Davis W.S. The Sporting Encyclopedia, The Sportsman’s Manual and Reference Book c1885 Inscribed to John L. Sullivan 1892Heller Peter In This Corner 1973 1st HC Yes VG Presentation letter to Jimmy McLarnin signed by author
    Hoffer

    * Liebling A.J. The Sweet Science 1956 Inscribed to Ray Robinson by George Schuyler, an author, journalist & commentator as well as a member of the NAACP.

    * Wignall Trevor Almost Yesterday 1949 Long inscription to Nat Fleischer by Trevor Wignall

    * Queensberry Marcus The Sporting Queensberrys 1942 Signed by Jimmy Mclarnin, Queensberry, and Bing Crosby.

    * Haislet Edwin A Manual of Boxing (101 typewritten pages in bound volume) 1934 Signed “Personal Copy Edwin L. Haislet”

    * Dean T. What Our Boxers Struck 1924 1st softcover Signed by author. Very scrarce

    * Sugar Bert The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time 1984 Signed by Mike Tyson, Willie Pep, Archie Moore, Sean O’Grady, Jose Torres, Bob Foster, Ike Williams, Kid Gavilan, Jose Napoles, Emile Griffith, Tony Zale, Eder Jofre, Hector Camacho, Vinny Pazienza, Vito Antuofermo, Arthur Mercante, Gene Fullmer, Carlos Ortiz, Alexis Arguello, Iran Barkley.

    * Burns Tommy Scientific Boxing of Self Defence 1907 Signed by Tommy Burns, Boxing Sporting editor T. Murray, & Canadian Eddie Thompson

    * Lawless Will A New Line on World’s Heavyweight Championship. Based on Irrefutable Facts and Figures c1930s Hardcover Unpublished manuscript. Possibly one of a kind

    * Sullivan John L. The Boxing Instructor. Fighters – Rules, Plans and Tricks 1937 Very scarce booklet. By a different John L. than the great heavyweight champion. No copies found on-line in any libraries.

    * Whittaker, Johnny Hints on Boxing and Boxing Lessons 1926 Very scarce, only one I’ve seen

  4. July 31, 2016 at 5:31 am — Reply

    Gents, Regarding Chuvalo posters, George once told me in Canastota that he had loaned a large collection of his original posters to someone opening up a boxing gym in Toronto. The gym either burned down or was closed for some reason and the posters were history.

  5. Rich Zampetta
    July 31, 2016 at 6:24 pm — Reply

    Hey Don,
    What a fantastic collection you have and thanks for posting some images of it. I am a collector living in London England and have been collecting for around15 years now. I primarily collect Books and magazines but also have one or two early programs.
    Books i am most proud of are: A treatise on the useful art of defence by Capt. Godfrey, The Complete art of Boxing by an Amateur, First 3 vols of Boxiana in original printed boards, The History of the Prize-ring by Pugnus parts 1 and 2, all the Ed James books from the 1870s, Two Fisted Jeff by Fullerton with dust jacket.Mirror of life an English publication originally very similar to Police Gazette bound vols 1906-1924.

    I have a complete run of Boxing News in bound vols from 1909-1925.
    Programs: Sam Langford-Bill Lang Olympia 1911, Bill Papke-Jim Sullian London Palladium 1911.
    One of my greatest treasures is Owen Moran’s personal scrapbook.

  6. July 31, 2016 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    Sounds like a lead someone could follow up on. Good use of this blog comments.

  7. August 8, 2016 at 6:04 pm — Reply

    Cards. Type cards and Exhibit cards are my “bag”. I have types from all over the world and continually adding more, from every continent and dozens of countries, from club fighters in Finland to HOFers from Argentina, and everywhere in between. Some day I suppose I will try to write a guide to worldwide cards. My favorite foreign card is an Israeli Cassius Clay from the late 60s or early 70s, from a set of celebrities and athletes. I also like the NX5 1938 American Sweets cards from the Philippines. Domestically, I still think the T218 Jack Johnson side view is the best looking boxing card ever made. The best part of chasing types and Exhibits is that it is never done. I also collect Benny Leonard, Joe Louis and Jim Jeffries cards, which I try to dovetail in with the type card collection (e.g., holding a Louis or Leonard or Jeffries as my type whenever possible). Personal treasure is my collection of Ray Miller stuff. Ray and my grandfather were first cousins from a large extended Polish-Jewish family. I have an array of photos, cards, autographs and news clippings, plus a promotional poster, a poster from his fight with Barney Ross, and even his signed contract from the 1951 Topps Ringside set. Currently chasing a salesman sample panel from Ringside with Ray in it. I’ve never seen one but hope springs eternal.

  8. August 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    If you are reading this and have ever owned a boxing card or ever even think you might own one, you have to go get Adam Warsaw’s latest edition of Great American Boxing Cards if you haven’t already. Every edition brings him further toward perfection on this topic. He includes cabinet photos, too, so you know I bought one!

  9. August 15, 2016 at 12:09 am — Reply

    Collecting early champion signed photos. I was fortunate enough to purchase from France an autographed photo of 1930’s flyweight champion Victor Young Perez for about $100! It is rare and I don’t know if another one of his signatures exists – he reportedly died on a death march after a Nazi prison camp was evacuated in 1945. When I told the late great Johnny Bos I got it he almost lost his mind! Johnny as many of us know had one of the best collections and was always looking to complete his collection of early champions signatures. One he and I could never understand why there was not more signed material on was Jack McAuliffe since he lived until 1937 and was active to some extent in boxing until his death.
    I see the picture I have of Perez is now on boxrec:
    http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/File:Perez.VictorYoung2.jpg

    • September 30, 2016 at 8:38 pm — Reply

      I know of at least two Perez signatures besides yours. I have a back-signed PC and there is a front-signed card from a tough French set called Byrrh (it was an apertif: booze).

      • Tom Scharf
        October 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm — Reply

        Do those 2 signatures match mine? Would be good to know since I know of no other exemplars.

        • February 3, 2017 at 10:47 pm — Reply

          Your signature matches the one I have. It also matches the couple of other exemplars I have gathered from around the web. Looks good to me. I’m no handwriting expert but email me filmalan@gmail.com and I will share my examples. Alan

  10. September 11, 2016 at 7:42 pm — Reply

    Hi Don,
    By way of introduction my name is Jeff Ellis from South Africa.
    I am a boxing promoter for the past 25 years doing small shows and specializing in dinner shows. I have been involved in the sport for over 50 years, as an amateur boxer and later as a pro. Unfortunately I was not successful. However my love for collecting has established into a somewhat huge collection. I will be selling off my collecting soon. I am also the owner of African Ring Boxing Magazine and my autographs can be seen on my website http://www.africanring.co.za.
    Presently i have over 2000 signatures on my site and will soon update with prices and the remaining pics for sale. I have a few rare signatures like James Braddock, Sonny Liston, Ezzard Charles, Tunney, Dempsey, Ray Robinson, Abe Attell and many more. I have 2 signed photos of Harry Greb, the one is definitely a very old copy and the other looks like an original but I am not sure and need to have it checked out. I also need to have a Rocky Marciano signature checked,
    Your site is wonderful.
    Regards Jeff

  11. September 29, 2016 at 11:34 pm — Reply

    Hi Everyone,
    I am looking for a program of Al “Bummy” Davis who fought in the 1930’s and 1940’s. To keep the cost down, it can be any of his fights.
    Can you help?
    Thanks, Andy Sandler (914) 388-2940 California

  12. September 30, 2016 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    Love of the Game Auctions in NJ on a boxing card and memorabilia auction scheduled to start in October. So far there is a sizable Jack Johnson card collection including some real rarities, many sets and singles of popular prewar cards, and quite a few seldom seen type cards. On the memorabilia side, there are Boxiana etchings, a good deal of Clay/Ali material, plus material from Dempsey, Louis, and several other top fighters, lots of premiums and ephemera, etc. Should be a pretty good sized catalog (and yes, an actual catalog will be issued and sent to registrants free of charge). Contact Al Crisafulli at Love of the Game Auctions to register al@loveofthegameauctions.com

  13. October 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm — Reply

    Hello All

    I am a collector from Cali. I have mostly collected vintage photos from the early day days. Although I am not a huge collector if signatures I do have my share. I have a rather large collection of Sam Langford original photos from his fighting days. Also a slew of old Dana photos and other antique photos including Sullivan, Non Pareil, Battling Nelson, Mysterious Billy Smith etc. I have picked up items from many collectors over the years including Jerome and Don Scott. Photos remain my real interest and I just love finding one I have never seen. If anyone here has any Langford photos in particular please contact me.
    916-628-5731

  14. Brandi Lamey
    November 20, 2016 at 2:49 am — Reply

    I have boxing illustrated magazines special edition ones and some sports illustrated with mike Tyson
    Dates as late as 1972 and as early as 1990

  15. Benita Lee
    December 3, 2016 at 12:27 pm — Reply

    Signed Jack Dempsey “flyer”

    Middle of flyer – a government of the people by the people – for the people

    Hillman hotel Birmingham Alabama

  16. Susan Johnson
    January 14, 2017 at 2:23 am — Reply

    I have about 10 hours of one on one interviews with Willie pep on beta. It was filmed in 1995, in Hartford Connecticut. We followed Willie throughout his day for almost 4 full days. I am the producer and owner of the collection ( complete with signed release from Mr. Pep) I am looking to find a new home for the collection. Any ideas?

    • Steve Compton
      February 21, 2017 at 5:08 am — Reply

      Contact me Susan, I am interested in your Pep stuff.

      klompton@mchsi.com
      618-549-3737

  17. Aron Bloom
    January 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm — Reply

    WANTED QUALITY BOXING ITEMS

    Looking for quality boxing related items from the 1970s & 1980s

    Programs, Posters, Tickets & Fight Worn etc.

    Please contact me if anything is available.

    Thank you.
    Aron Bloom
    609-502-9104

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