Hake’s March 19-20 auction offers bumper crop of unique, top-graded pop culture rarities

 In Auctions

YORK, Pa. – Turning the pages of Hake’s newly released March 19-20 auction catalog will be a Christmas-morning experience for pop culture collectors. Repeatedly, the expertly-detailed descriptions include such phrases as “highest graded,” “only known example,” or “fresh to the hobby.” Such commentary and accolades aren’t confined to just one category, either. They’re woven throughout the broadly-varied 1,928-lot selection, from original comic-book art to a Dave Grohl handwritten Nirvana set list to sole survivors of the baseball and trading-card realm. Here are highlights of the auction journey Hake’s has in store for fans in their first major event of 2024.

In the poster-collecting world, R-rated posters rule, especially those promoting horror films like Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (NOES). While posters from the “Nightmare” franchise are in constant demand, their rarity pales in comparison to that of the original 1983 pre-release art that launched the famous Elm Street imagery. That particular commissioned artwork, which was created by Duncan Eagleson, has never been offered for public sale – until now. It is the centerpiece of Hake’s March auction and comes with impeccable provenance, as it is consigned by the artist himself.

Eagleson’s airbrushed acrylic painting is a tranquil depiction of a suburban neighborhood at dusk, with one significant difference. Ominously positioned overhead is a huge triple-bladed metal claw that has violently ripped through the sky, a portent of what was to come. Eagleson sized the artwork to suit a 27-inch by 40-inch poster, but it did not go on to be used as the final US movie poster – Matt Peak created that particular artwork, which features four, not three, blades. Eagleson’s art appeared in a pre-release newspaper ad campaign and on posters issued in Europe. To his surprise, it was even featured on the 20th anniversary (2004) release of NOES. His absolutely unique original artwork, signed and dated ’83, is the seminal visual for what would become a long-running film franchise. It is offered at auction with a $20,000-$35,000 estimate.

Trading cards have been unstoppable at auction, and the trend is expected to continue when collectors discover a sealed booster box from Wizards Of The Coast’s 1994 Magic: The Gathering Legends edition. The coveted trove contains 36 packs, each with 15 cards, or 540 cards in total. This lot represents the third expansion set for Magic: The Gathering and is the first to include playing cards with multiple colors. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000

Another “big wow” in the sale is a complete 1959 Fleer The Three Stooges master set of 99 collector cards, each one CGC graded, and the set graded 5.53 overall. The cards feature full-color photo fronts with images from various Stooges shorts. Additionally, cards #1, #2 and #3 feature portrait photos of Curly, Larry and Moe; and both the standard and highly sought-after “checklist” version of cards #16, #63 and #64 are included. The original wax wrapper adds the finishing touch to this amazing set, which was formerly part of the legendary John Grossman collection. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000

Those in search of a sports unicorn will find it in a 1910 Baltimore News-issued baseball card depicting Baltimore Orioles manager Jack Dunn. It is the only example of its type known to Hake’s experts. “In fact, the set itself is so rare, it’s possible that only one card representing each of the team’s players has survived,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions. The card is CGC-graded 1 Poor. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000

The 1980s was the decade in which Mattel unleashed its medieval-sword and sci-fi media franchise “Masters of the Universe.” Building on its original 1982 action-figure line, Mattel followed with scores of toys and minicomics, including the fantasy-fueled extravaganza all collectors covet: the 1986 Mattel Masters of the Universe Eternia Series 5 playset. In its March sale, Hake’s will unveil one of the highest of all AFA-graded examples of this set (AFA 80 NM). A beautiful presentation with art by William George, the layout includes three themed towers and three different battery-operated vehicles that run on the set’s monorail system. “When introduced, it was a very expensive toy, so not many parents bought it. Today, it’s a great rarity,” Alex Winter noted.  Estimate: $10,000-$20,000

From Aurora’s golden age of model kits comes a top prize: a boxed and unused kit for “Godzilla’s Go Kart.” The zany box art for this kit, copyrighted 1966, depicts the Japanese mega-monster charging downhill on a go kart whose license plate reads “People Beware.” Due to its small original production run and very limited distribution, the Godzilla kit is beyond rare. In fact, it is the only boxed example Hake’s has handled in 57 years of operation. From the peerless Janusey Brothers collection, it is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

Batman is the subject of two stellar lots. A beautiful example of DC Comics’ Batman #181 (June 1966) comic book features the first appearance of Poison Ivy (Pamela Lillian Isley). It is CGC-graded 9.4 NM, with only 11 other certified copies having a higher grade. The book features cover art by Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson; and a storyline by Robert Kanigher/Gardner Fox. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000. The second featured Batman lot is the original Dick Giordano (1932-2010) comic book cover art for DC Comics’ Batman #315 (Sept. 1979). It was executed in pen and ink, and features the Caped Crusader airborne above Gotham with his Bat-Glider, ready to battle Kite-Man. Measuring 11 by 17 inches, with a DC Comics copyright inkstamp on verso, it is estimated at $5,000-$10,000.

To get the good stuff, Star Wars fans know they can count on Hake’s. The upcoming sale includes a “Star Wars: Revenge Of The Jedi” (1982) mock-up concept proof card for a Kenner toyline later renamed “Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi.” Made by repurposing an Empire Strikes Back Bespin Security Guard 45 back blister card and adding a completely hand-done logo and mixed-media design, it is AFA-graded NG (No Grade) because it is a unique piece. Accompanied by a CIB LOA, it is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

Estimated even higher, at $20,000-$35,000, is an uncirculated Kenner Star Wars early bird kit that is AFA-graded 85 NM. Alex Winter explained: “The Star Wars movie came out in 1977, but Kenner couldn’t get the toys done in time for Christmas of that year, so parents could give their children a Kenner mail-in certificate promising they would receive an early bird kit as soon as the figures were ready. The kit contained figures of a first-version Luke Skywalker with Double-Telescoping Saber, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and R2-D2.” The kit offered by Hakes is complete with plastic pegs for posing figures, a mini catalog, and a plain cardboard stand. It is sealed and boxed but has no mailing label, indicating it was never shipped.

Nirvana is the Seattle band that immortalized grunge. Among the most memorable concerts to became part of Nirvana’s storied history was the one that took place on October 30, 1992 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During that show, Nirvana famously protested the crowd’s abusive behavior toward their all-girl opening band, Calamity Jane, by playing lesser-known songs and intentionally skipping Smells Like Teen Spirit. Hake’s is proud to offer a set list from that concert, handwritten in red felt-tip marker by drummer Dave Grohl and with the name “Nirvana Catering” printed on the reverse. This one-of-a-kind artifact from a historic and well-documented concert is estimated at $5,000-$10,000.

Political memorabilia has been a staple at Hake’s since the company’s launch in 1967. The March 19-20 auction lineup is highlighted by a true gem: a William Henry Harrison “Harrison and Reform” 1840 presidential campaign flag. Styled as an American Flag, it bears images of a log cabin and hard cider barrel, suggesting that Harrison was a man of the people and not a Champagne-drinking aristocrat. Made of silk and measuring 22 by 28 inches, it is the only example of its type that Hake’s experts can recall from the last 30 years of commerce. The highly important textile is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.

Hake’s March 19-20, 2024 online auction is now open for bidding. For a free printed catalog or additional information on any item in the sale, call 866-404-9800 (toll-free) or 717-434-1600; or email hakes@hakes.com. View the fully illustrated catalog online and sign up to bid at https://hakes.com/.

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