Dave Ariss enjoys rarities. If a rare item has displayable qualities, Ariss would especially like to own it. When he displays a piece from his wonderful collection, Ariss would like people to immediately recognize the unique quality. Recently, Ariss brought an incredible piece to PSA/DNA in hopes that it would be certified as genuine. It was a bench.
A bench? That's right.
Yet this is no ordinary bench, but one that was constructed out of autographed baseballs and unsigned baseball bats. You really don't want to sit on this one. It's hard to say when the bench was constructed, but many of the autographs date back to the 1920s and 1930s. There were a couple of Babe Ruth autographs, a few Jimmie Foxx signatures, a Ty Cobb autograph and also a Cy Young to name a few. The list goes on and on.
One of the baseballs, unfortunately, has been drilled right through the sweet spot where Babe Ruth's autograph resides, but that doesn't matter. When you see the bench in person, you realize what a unique display piece it truly is. Ariss was eager to share his thoughts on collecting.
Let's cut to the chase. Tell us about your unique bench.
I purchased it out of a national auction over the summer in 1999. I believe it was around September when the auction took place. I was up until the early morning hours bidding on the bench, but it was definitely worth it. I had a few guys bidding against me that were also very interested, but I was able to outlast them in the end. I think it finally ended at about 2 a.m. and I was tired. When I received official notice that I won the bench, I couldn't wait for its arrival. The anticipation was tremendous, I felt like a little kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. When it got here, I just said to myself, "Look at all these signatures." It was incredible. It was far more impressive in person than when I viewed the bench in the auction catalogue.
Besides the bench, what other items do you collect?
I love to collect unique items. I do collect all sports, but baseball is my favorite because of its rich history. I especially enjoy items that relate to greats, such as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. I have signed baseballs and other collectibles that relate to some of the greatest baseball teams in history, such as the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1927 New York Yankees. These are the teams that people will always talk about. I also love sports art. I have a few original pieces from famed sports artist Leroy Nieman. Nieman prints are fairly tough to find but originals are originals. I really enjoy those pieces. I also collect items related to the Dream Team in basketball. My favorite Dream Team piece is an autographed team photo. Every member has signed it. When it comes down to it, I focus on pieces that have displayable quality. I want people to enjoy the pieces with me.
What made you decide to bring your bench to PSA/DNA?
Well, I saw your booth at a collectibles show and was intrigued. The people there explained to me how I could submit my bench and what the process was all about. I knew that PSA had a great reputation and was basically the standard for card grading, so I wasn't too worried about the quality of service. Before I found out about PSA/DNA, I didn't really know where to go with my memorabilia. Now, after talking with several people in the industry, I am confident I made the right choice.
What are your collecting plans for the future?
Well, I have been doing this for about 10 years and I have no plans on stopping anytime soon. I am running out of room in my house though! (laughs) The key for me is shock value. I want to continue to search for conversation pieces that make people who see them say, "Wow." I know with this bench, that is exactly the reaction that everyone will have.