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Auction #230 Introduction

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Back in November 2014 with Auction #213, Hake’s began selling sports pinback buttons originating from The Paul Muchinsky Collection. Now, with Auction #230, we begin selling selections of the most prized buttons that formed The Paul Muchinsky Collection. Originally placed in trust and not to be sold until 2037, the family has updated that decision.

Let me explain how we’ve come to this moment in baseball and sports pinback collecting that I never envisioned years ago when Paul dedicated his first book to me in gratitude for the inspiration my books on pinback buttons gave him.

In 2004, Dr. Paul M. Muchinsky self-published Baseball Pinback Buttons. It presented a near 600-page visual encyclopedia of baseball history, at all levels of play, documented since 1894 via pinback ribbon badges and since 1896 via pinback buttons. I was not surprised by the thousands of baseball buttons shown because I knew Paul loved pinbacks as much as I do. After all, he was just 11 when he bought his first baseball button at a World Series game at Yankee Stadium in 1958. When you have the will, the means and a head start, over the course of a half century that is the precise formula for both fun and, in the end, what I call a pinnacle collection. Few achieve this level of collecting. Paul did.

Paul continued collecting sports buttons, especially baseball, after publishing his landmark book in 2004 and even added to his legacy by publishing the equally comprehensive book Boxing Pinback Buttons in 2008. However, as the size of his button collections grew and his health waned, Paul made the decision to downsize. Thus, Auction #213 was our inaugural offering of items from the Muchinsky Collection. Early on we sold everything from stock car driver buttons to champion walkers followed by many photo examples from the specific chapters in Paul’s book Baseball Pinback Buttons. All those were indeed from the collection; however, now comes Paul’s most treasured and historic artifacts. Some are the only known examples in the hobby, many others are rarely seen or offered at auction, and that includes over Hake’s 53 years.

As an informed estimate, I calculate Paul retained about 15% of his original collection. From that core group, Alex Winter, Hake’s President, and I selected items to make this a special auction. There are the earliest three baseball buttons known to me from 1896, the year of the button’s invention, there are numerous pieces from the earliest World Series, and buttons for the greatest names in baseball: Cobb, Wagner, Walter Johnson, Ruth, Gehrig, Robinson, Aaron, Mantle, Mays, Ted Williams and many other Hall Of Fame Inductees.

Indeed, the single most extraordinary celluloid in the Muchinsky Collection, shown on the back cover of Baseball Pinback Buttons, is in this auction. I’m referring to the only known example of the huge 6” diameter beer advertising button which showcases Babe Ruth along with his 1916 World Series winning Boston Red Sox teammates. As a World Series, Red Sox and Babe Ruth historic artifact, the significance and uniqueness of this piece makes predicting the interest for it impossible to estimate. Suffice to say, this Ruth piece should establish a new record for a button sold at auction. How this and the other Muchinsky rarities get valued in relationship to the high demand for sports cards, which exist in greater numbers and routinely sell in the six and even seven figure range, will soon be known.

Hake’s Auction #230 will long be remembered in baseball collectibles as an epic event. It will mark the changing of hands. The shifting of ownership. We are honored the Muchinsky family entrusted this process to Hake’s. The items will carry the Muchinsky Collection pedigree, but they will have new homes and new curators. The phrase “chance of a lifetime” has never been more true.

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