This Month in Collecting History - July 2016
By Mike McLeod

July 3, 1908: The passing of Joel Chandler Harris, aka Uncle Remus, at the age of 59. A cast iron Uncle Remus mechanical bank, 5.75 inches long and manufactured by Kyser & Rex, sold for $22,000 at Morphy Auctions in 2012.

Photo Right: Uncle Remus bank
(Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions))

July 4, 1939: Lou Gehrig gave his “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech in Yankee Stadium. He was forced to retire because of ALS, the disease that would bear his name. Lou Gehrig, “The Iron Horse,” set the record with 2,130 consecutive games played in; that lasted until Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 2,632. In August 2015 at, a Gehrig bat sold for $436,970—many times higher than normal because a photo showed Gehrig holding it.

July 5, 2002: Baseball legend Ted Williams passed away. In April 2012, Hunt Auctions sold his memorabilia for $3.5 million. His 1949 American League Most Valuable Player Award plaque, .344 batting average, hit $260,000, and his 1957 Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat Award, earned with a batting average .388, rose to $200,000 (without 15% buyer’s premium).

Photo Right: Ted Williams’ Sultan of Swat Crown
(Photo courtesy of Hunt Auctions)

July 13, 1942: The carpenter-turned-actor Harrison Ford was born. A screen-used bullwhip from Indiana Jones sold for $204,000 at Profiles in History in 2015.

July 15, 1779: Birthday of Clement Clarke Moore, author of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” or “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” A handwritten and signed copy of it sold for $280,000 in 2006 in a private sale brokered by Heritage Auctions. Three other copies are in museums (

July 17: Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason and writer of detective stories was born in 1889. Also this day, the singer/dancer/gangster/actor James Cagney was born in 1899. The only known one-sheet Style A movie poster of Cagney’s The Public Enemy (1931) auctioned for $167,300, and his screen-worn suit from Yankee Doodle Dandy sold for $11,950, both at Heritage Auctions.

July 18, 1863: The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the Union’s first African American unit, led a valorous attack on Ft. Wagner in South Carolina; more than 50 were killed, including the 54th’s commander, Colonel Robert Shaw. In 1900, Sergeant William Harvey Carney of the 54th was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in this battle—the first African American to receive it by date of his actions, even though others received this honor before him. Raynor’s Historical Collectible Auction sold an inscribed wooden toothbrush belonging to George Ringgold of the 54th Mass. for $998 in 2006.

Photo Right: Sgt. William Harvey Carney

July 20, 1969: A day always to remember, Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. He was followed later by Buzz Aldrin while Michael Collins orbited the moon. They all received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A check for $10.50 that Neil Armstrong wrote and signed on the day of the Apollo 11 launch on July 16, 1969 sold for $27,350 at RR Auctions in 2009.

July 21: Funny thing, Don Knotts, 1924, and Robin Williams, 1951, were born on the same day. Williams’ Mork from Ork spacesuit sold for $19,200, and the board game from his movie Jumanji, with a letter from the director, brought $52,275 at Profiles in History in 2014.

July 23, 1962: Jackie Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first African American to enter that hallowed Hall. He was also the first to break the color barrier in baseball in the 20th century. Jackie Robinson’s Rawlings glove—said to have been used during the last three years of his career, including his 1955 World Series win and in the 1956 World Series in his last game—sold for $373,002 at Steiner Sports in 2013.

July 24, 1897: Amelia Earhart was born. In 1991, a sheet of aluminum believed to be a patch on her plane was found (, 10/28/14). A pair of her goggles worn in 1932 in her solo flight across the Atlantic, the first woman to do so, was sold for $141,600 in 2009 at Profiles in History.

July 26, 1928: Film director Stanley Kubrick premiered and eventually produced classics: Spartacus, $60 million worldwide, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, $68.7 million total ( In 2015, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences purchased 2001’s model Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle for $344,000 at a Premiere Props auction. Kubrick destroyed most of the props after the movie to prevent their being recycled into other movies (, 3/29/15). However, he did not completely destroy HAL, the murderous master computer. Christie’s sold one of the front panels that held the HAL 9000’s (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic) red camera eye for $27,615 in 2010.

Photo Right: The Aries 1B (Photo courtesy of Premiere Props)

July 28, 1929: The birthday of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. A signed Jacques Lowe photo of her sold for $1,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2015.

Photo Right: Jacqueline Kennedy, ca. 1961-1962
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

July 29, 2010: Winston Churchill's false teeth sold for $23,700 at Keys Auction House in Aylsham, U.K.

July 29, 1982: Harold Sakata passed away at the age of 62. A Hawaiian of Japanese descent, Harold was an Olympic Silver Medalist in weightlifting at the 1948 Summer Olympics, a professional wrestler and—Oddjob! One of the greatest henchmen in the Bond movies, Harold was famous for tossing his deadly, slicing hat like a Frisbee. One of the two steel-brimmed hats worn by Oddjob (sometimes written “Odd Job”) in Goldfinger hit $110,000 at Guernsey’s in 2008. The other sold at Christie’s in 1998 for $104,408.

Harold “Oddjob” Sakata (Photo:

Oddjob’s deadly hat
(Photo courtesy of Guernsey’s)

July 30, 2002: A 1933 $20 Double Eagle coin designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens sold for $7.59 million—plus $20 to make it legal tender—at Sotheby's. Also, the author of Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte was born in 1818.

July 31, 1965: Joanne Rowling was born. The chair in which she sat while writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chair sold at Heritage Auctions on April 6, 2106 for $394,000. She signed the backrest and wrote on the apron of the seat: “I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair.”

Photo Right: JK Rowling’s writing chair
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions)


All photos public domain, PD-US, unless otherwise credited.



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