Published: August 9, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy of Hake’s
YORK, PENN. – A veritable six-pack of original artworks from Star Wars’ earliest days combined to post impressive results at Hake’s July 26-27 auction of pop culture memorabilia. With each lot containing unpublished concept art that comic strip artist Al Williamson (1931-2020) created in the late 1970s for a proposed Star Wars daily newspaper comic strip, the six original Star Wars art strips combined for $171,504. They were just part of the rich trove of pop culture and historical memorabilia that Hake’s presented over the two days in a sale that totaled $2.7 million with a sell-through rate of about 95 percent. “We were very pleased with how things went,” said the firm’s president Alex Winter. “A-list material showed its value.”
Williamson, known for his work with EC Comics and for having drawn the 1960s Flash Gordon comic strip, had prepared 12 strips to cover the first two weeks of newspaper publication (Sundays were not included). However, the deal was never consummated. Instead, Russ Manning (1929-1981) was tapped to write and draw the Star Wars strip, which he did from 1979 to 1981, when poor health forced him to retire. At that point, Williamson stepped back in to handle the art and storyline duties through the strip’s conclusion in 1984.
The first six strips of the original Williamson concept art were given to George Lucas, while the six strips intended for the second week of publication were given to Star Wars marketing executive Charles Lippincott (1939-2020) and they never left his family until his widow consigned them to Hake’s. It was, according to Winter, “an absolutely unique opportunity.” Cataloged in six consecutive lots, each carrying an estimate of $10/20,000, the comic strip cache clearly outperformed, with four of the lots going to one buyer and two going to another bidder.
Part of the trifecta of action-figure royalty in the sale was an 8-inch Green Goblin from Mego’s “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” line. Issued in 1977 and AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case), the figure was estimated $10/20,000 but the archenemy of Spider-Man created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did much better, selling for $76,700, going to a serious action figure collector. The auction included many rare standard-production figures, such as a 2Ã¼-inch Jawa from Kenner’s 1978 Star Wars toyline, which sold for $29,854, and a straight-arm GI Joe: A Real American Hero action figure of Commando Snake Eyes from Hasbro’s 1982 toyline going out at $9,440.
A Star Wars action figure highlight going over the estimate included an AFA graded and encapsulated 3Ã¾-inch-tall Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi with a double-telescoping saber from Kenner’s popular 1977 Star Wars toyline, It earned $27,258.
Two political buttons went well over estimates. One was a unique John W. Davis (1873-1955) 5-inch oval real photo portrait cello button that found favor at $37,760 against a high estimate of $20,000. Davis had served as solicitor general under Woodrow Wilson and in the US House representing West Virginia from 1911 to 1913. His career as a lawyer ended in 1955 after having argued 140 cases before the US Supreme Court. In 1924 he was the dark horse “favorite son” candidate of West Virginia entering the Democratic convention and went on to win the nomination on the 103rd ballot. But prospects for the Dems were pretty dismal in the 1924 election cycle, so not much material was produced for his campaign, making interesting artifacts featuring Davis among the most elusive for any candidate of the Twentieth Century.
Representing the smallest size in which a jugate pinback button was made – 5/8 inches in diameter – a James M. Cox and Franklin Delano Roosevelt jugate button from the US presidential election of 1920 slipped its $20,000 high estimate and left the gallery at $34,786.
A great baseball photo hit an auction home run. Fresh to the hobby, an exceptionally rare panoramic image depicting roughly one half of the greatest Negro League team in California Winter League baseball history, the 1926-27 Philadelphia Royal Giants ball club was bid to $18,212. No fewer than six future National Baseball Hall of Famers adorned the roster of that powerhouse team over the course of the entire winter league season, including three all-time greats pictured: Willie “Bill” Foster (standing far left), Norman “Turkey” Stearnes (standing next to Foster) and “Bullet” Joe Rogan (standing fifth from right).
There was a record price achieved for a bobbing head figure. Inside a rather beat-up looking original plain brown cardboard box was a 4-7/8-inch-tall painted composition figure of Batman with a spring coil bobbing head. The box was labeled “Manufactured In Japan For International Purchasing Co.,” 1966. Among the rarest and most sought-after of all bobbing heads (an equally rare Robin was also produced), Hake’s said the only other example of this figure it has offered was in slightly lesser condition and without the box and it sold for $4,521 in 2014. This one went out at $10,488.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Hake’s next major cataloged sale is set for November 15-16. For information, www.hakes.com, 866-404-9800 (toll-free) or 717-434-1600.
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