Any way you look at it, 2008, especially the last few months, have been difficult for just about every one. There has been tremendous uncertainty, tempered by hope of improvement and steadying of the economic ship. But, there have also been some definite bright spots. Among some of the more encouraging were the recent results of Mastro Auction's December Premier auction. "You would have to be naïve not to acknowledge that the economy is having a definite impact on our industry," said Doug Allen, COO and president of Mastro Auctions. "Consignments have tightened due to the hesitancy to act. As with most asset categories, individuals just aren't sure as to whether they should sell their valuables or hold onto them." The result, according to a Allen, is a decrease in the amount of high end items available for auction.

Despite this industry obstacle and the overall state of the global economy, Allen says that the results of Mastro Auctions' December Premier sale suggest high-end Sports & Americana items are holding their value, especially when compared to other auction categories such as fine art. "Overall, our prices realized were encouraging and bidding, in general, was quite vigorous," said Allen. "Good news is hard to come by these days, but for Sports & Americana buyers and sellers, the trends we see appear to be tracking in their favor."

Specific highlights of Mastro Auctions' December Premier 2008 sale include:

TOP LOTS

A 1924 Babe Ruth Personalized Game Used Bat - PSA 10
Hailing from the 1922-1925 labeling period, this 36-inch, 42-ounce war club features telling attributes that place it directly in Ruth's hands. Uncracked, the lumber shows evidence of outstanding game use. The bat sold for $105,000.

A 1910 T210 Old Mill Cigarettes Joe Jackson - PSA Authentic
The offered card originates from an estate sale in the Baltimore area in the 1980s. It is an outstanding example of a card for which the total known population stands in the neighborhood of just ten copies. The final price for owning such exclusivity was $102,000.

Magnificent Collection of 1898 Cameo Pepsin Gum Pins (64 Different)
The Whitehead & Hoag Company of Newark, NJ produced these early 1-1/4" celluloid baseball pins as premiums for their neighboring firm, the American Pepsin Co. These pins were distributed with that latter firm's Cameo Pepsin Gum product and carried back paper advertisements for the confection. This is easily one of the finest holdings in our hobby as was evidence by heavy bidding and price realized of $87,000.

1971 Topps Complete Set (752) - An Extremely High Grade "Black Beauty" Including PSA GEM MT 10 #525 Ernie Banks "1 of 1" and Fifty-Eight PSA MINT 9 Examples!
The solid-bordered "Black Beauty" (a reference to its delicate and distinctive, full-bleed edge design) is famous for its tremendous star content, its glamorous visual appeal in high grade, and, above all, its rarity in pristine, unhandled condition. The set's excellence commanded a final price of $69,000.

Incredible Early Mickey Mantle 1952 H&B Signed Game Used Bat - PSA 9
This autographed Hillerich & Bradsby "M110" signature model bat was ably employed by Mickey Mantle during his first full season (1952) in the major leagues. A bona fide hit with collectors, the bat had 21 bids and sold for $45,000.

Don Flanagan's Sports Tickets Collection (7,000+) - A Massive Accumulation!
At the time that he passed away, Don was in the process of writing a definitive reference book about sports tickets, and his exhaustively compiled resource material is here offered. This is an assembly that was always being added to, and constantly enhanced. Don possessed an insatiable penchant for research in some of the less-explored corners of the memorabilia realm, and one of those areas-game tickets and stubs-had been his focus for a number of years. This interesting collection went for $42,000.

Spectacular Babe Ruth Single Signed OAL (Harridge) Ball - PSA/DNA Graded NM to MT 8!
The offered treasure hails from Ruth's final years-perhaps, as his demise was almost complete. Evidence of this comes in the form of the stamped OAL identifiers. A star just below William Harridge's facsimile signature dates the orb to sometime after 1946. The ball realized a final price of $39,000.

Incredible Hoard of 1870s-1880s "Boston Base Ball Club" Stock Certificates (69)
The flagship piece in the array dates to 1876, the year the Boston organization continued its enduring run-in the newly established National League-as the oldest continually active franchise in the history of American professional sports. This historic collection went for $39,000.

Exceptional 1888 A35 Goodwin "Baseball Champions" Round Album
The "Round Album," as it has always been known to collectors, is simply one of the most popular of all 19th Century baseball items, and it is by far the most desirable of all tobacco albums. Obviously this one was no exception. It was desired by several collectors but purchased by only one lucky bidder. The final price was $39,000.

1933 R319 Goudey Partial Set (169/239) Including Ruth and Many Hall of Famers!
This immensely popular and colorful edition is certainly one of the most highly sought-after series from the 1930s or any other decade. The tremendous artwork and colors pay due homage to the extensive selection of Hall of Famers. In total, 73 cards have been graded by PSA. As a result, the set commanded $39,000.

AND MORE HIGHLIGHTS BY CATEGORY:

BASEBALL CARDS - GRADED SETS, PARTIAL SETS, SINGLES
A 1933 R319 Goudey graded partial set (163/239) sold for $26,400; a 1933 V353 World Wide Gum #93 Babe Ruth - PSA NM-MT 8 "1 of 1!" sold for $25,200; a 1913 WG6 Fenway Breweries Tom Barker complete card game set (52) including nine graded PSA GEM MT 10 examples - #3 on the PSA Set Registry went for $21,600; a 1965 Topps complete set (598) - #13 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $20,400; a 1934 D382 "Tarzan - Thoro Bread" BVG-graded collection(10 different) sold for $18,000; a 1952 Topps "Middle Series" PSA NM-MT 8 collection (69 different) went for $15,600; a remarkable 1963 Fleer complete set (66) plus checklist - #6 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $15,600; a 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth - PSA NM 7 sold for $14,400 a 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle rookie card - PSA VG-EX+ 4.5 went for $12,000; a 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders graded collection (30 different) including Cobb went for $11,400; a 1911 T205 Gold Border Clark Griffith - PSA NM-MT 8 realized a final price of $10,200; a 1957 Topps #1 Ted Williams - PSA MINT 9 sent for $10,200; and a 1952 Topps "High Numbers" PSA NM-MT 8 collection (14 different) commanded $10,200.

In addition, an exceptional 1954 Red Heart PSA NM-MT 8 complete set (33) went for $10,200; a 1969 Topps complete set (664) - #9 on the PSA Set Registry went for $10,200; a 1911 T205 Gold Border R. Hoblitzell, Rare Name Correct "No Cin. After 1908 Stats" variation - PSA EX-MT 6 went for $8,400; a 1952 Mother's Cookies complete set (64) including seven PSA GEM MT 10 "1 of 1's" - #1 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $8,400; a 1909-11 T206 White Border PSA EX 5 collection (96 different) sold for $8,400; a 1953 Topps PSA NM-MT 8 collection (64) including seven "High Numbers" sold for $7,800; a 1966 Topps graded partial set (548/598) sold for $7,200; a 1953 Bowman Color #114 Bob Feller - PSA MINT 9 sold for $7,200; a 1952 Topps "Semi-High Numbers" PSA NM-MT 8 collection (30 different) went for $7,200; a 1911 T205 Gold Border Terry Turner - PSA NM-MT 8 "1 of 2!" sent for $6,60; a 1911 T205 Gold Border graded collection(123 different) including Cobb, Young, Johnson and Speaker went for $6,600;a 1955 Topps graded partial set (162/206) realized a final price of $6,600;a 1909 T204 Ramly William Bransfield, "Square Frame" variety - PSA GD 2 sold for $6,600; a 1970 Topps graded partial set (679/720) sold for $6,600; a 1911 T205 Gold Border Thomas Downey - PSA NM-MT 8 "1 of 1!" realized a final price of $6,000; a 1967 Topps graded partial set (441/609) went for $6,000; and a 1952 Topps "Low Numbers" PSA NM-MT 8 collection (12 different) went for $6,000.

BASEBALL CARDS - PARTIALLY GRADED OR UNGRADED SETS, PARTIAL SETS, SINGLES
A 1909-1911 T206 White Border near set (520/524) sold for $21,600; a 1888 Joseph Hall Cabinet - Louisville Ball Club commanded $14,400; the finest complete set of 1931 W517 uncut panel candy store strip cards (54 cards on 18 strips!) commanded $12,000; a rare 1950s Drake's baseball complete set (36) went for $11,400; a 1956 Topps high grade complete set (340) plus both checklists sold for $8,400; a 1940 R335 Play Ball complete set (240) realized a final price of $7,800; a 1953 Bowman black & white complete set (64) - from the Lionel Carter Collection sold for $7,800; a 1933 R319 Goudey partial set (150/240) including many Hall of Famers went for $7,200; a 1951- 1959 Topps collection (1,600+) including numerous Hall of Famers and stars went for $7,200; a 1912 T207 Brown Background "Recruit Backs" complete cet (150) plus three variations went for $6,600; a Sherry Magee circa 1909 original Carl Horner Studio cabinet photo and 1909-11 T206 White Border card (2 items) went for $6,600; a 1951 Bowman near set (322/324) went for $6,600; a 1953 Bowman Color complete set (160) went for $6,000; a 1915 E145-2 Cracker Jack collection (38 different) including six Hall of Famers went for $6,000; and a 1960s Topps and Post collection (6,400) including 17 Mickey Mantle Cards and many Hall of Famers and stars went for $6,000.

AUTOGRAPHED BASEBALLS
A very scarce 1930s vintage "Goose" Goslin single signed ball sold for $19,200; a Jackie Robinson single signed ball went for $14,400; a comprehensive 1988-1992 A.L. team signed balls collection (375) - including 18 World Series Champions with 1989 A's, 1991 Twins and 1992 Blue Jays sold for $14,400; a Babe Ruth single signed ball commanded $12,000; a spectacular Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig signed ball sold for $10,800; a scarce 1930s vintage Bucky Harris single signed ball - PSA/DNA NM+ 7.5 went for $7,200; a 1941 Rochester Red Wings team signed ball (26 signatures) including Babe Ruth and Stan Musial sold for $5,700; a Ted Williams single signed balls collection (12) - all graded PSA/DNA MINT 9 sold for $4,200; a 1928 New York Yankees World Champions team signed ball (23 signatures) including Ruth, Gehrig and Lazzeri realized a final price of $4,200; and a Roberto Clemente single signed ball - dated June 1971 went for $4,200.

OTHER BASEBALL AUTOGRAPHS
A Ty Cobb signed personal checks collection (29) - all graded PSA/DNA MINT 9 sold for $22,800; a 1949 Bowman complete set (240) including 215 signed cards went for $12,000; a Mickey Mantle single signed bats collection (6 items) - including four bats inscribed "No. 7" realized a final price of $12,000; a 1958 Topps signed complete set (494) went for $10,800; a Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris signed "1961 Home Run Chase" commemorative bat - serial-numbered "92" in a Limited Edition of 115 pieces went for $9,600; a 1957 Topps near set (396/407) including 349 signed cards went for $9,000; a Barney Dreyfuss handwritten letter to John Heydler - the newest Hall of Famer went for $9,000; a classic Babe Ruth 1926 signed original photograph went for $9,000; a Lou Gehrig signed photograph sold for $7,800; an attractive 1931 Babe Ruth signed "Batting" photograph sold for $7,200; and a Babe Ruth 2008 Upper Deck Premier "Stitchings Cut" #CUT-BR Cut Signature "1 of 1!" - PSA/DNA-Authenticated went for $6,600.

BASEBALL BATS
A "Black Betsy" 1916-1921 H&B Pro Model game used bat attributed to Joe Jackson sold for $9,000; a Ted Williams 1946-1947 H&B game used bat - PSA 8 went for $8,400; a Roberto Clemente 1971 H&B World Series game used bat - PSA 10 realized a final price of $7,800; a Thurman Munson 1979 H&B game used bat - used during Munson's final season - PSA 7 sold for $7,800; and a Harmon Killebrew 1959 H&B signed game used bat sold for $5,100.

RUTHIAN TREASURES
A Babe Ruth oversized 14" x 17-1/2" signed batting photo sold for $21,600; a Babe Ruth and Claire Ruth signed postcards collection (12) sold for $20,400; a Babe Ruth "Christmas Day 1925" signed and personalized studio portrait went for $11,400; a Babe Ruth circa 1927 signed ball - incredible sweet spot signature commanded $10,200; a Babe Ruth 1934 signed and personalized Boston Braves photograph went for $7,800; and a Babe Ruth 1942 signed letter - from the set of "The Pride of the Yankees" went for $7,800.

BASEBALL GAME GEAR
A Hank Aaron 1976 Milwaukee Brewers game worn home jersey - his final season sold for $13,200; a Joe Rudi 1974 Oakland A's game worn home jersey went for $7,200; a George Brett 1980 Kansas City Royals game worn home jersey (MVP season) went for $6,000; and a Derek Jeter 1999 New York Yankees game worn road jersey sold for $4,800.

BASEBALL TROPHIES AND AWARDS AND OTHER MEMORABILIA
A 1920 Spalding baseball advertising sign went for $11,400; Leroy Stanton's 1992 Toronto Blue Jays World Championship ring (coach) went for $10,200; a scarce 1953 New York Yankees World Champions salesman's sample ring realized a final price of $9,000; the largest of the 1880s Huebach baseball statues (matched pair) went for $8,400; a 2003 Florida Marlins World Champions Scout ring (Spencer Mills) with original presentation box went for $8,400; a 1977 New York Yankees World Champions ring - bat boy John Calderero sold for $7,800; and a Tim Raines 1998 New York Yankees World Series Trophy went for $7,200.

FOOTBALL FAVORITES
A 1981 San Francisco 49ers World Champions Super Bowl XVI players ring (Lynn Thomas) plus original box went for $16,800; a rare Mike Ditka Mid-1960s Chicago Bears game worn home jersey sold for $10,800; an incredible 1924 Notre Dame "Four Horsemen," "Seven Mules" and Knute Rockne signed photograph went for $8,400; a 1950 Bowman #43 Marion Motley rookie card - PSA MINT 9 went for $6,600; and a Walter Payton signed photographs collection (45) - all PSA/DNA-authenticated sold for $6,000.

BASKETBALL BEAUTIES
A Magic Johnson 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers game worn home uniform commanded $22,800; a spectacular 1996-97 Chicago Bulls World Champions Front Office ring (Executive Judy Lynch) with original presentation box sold for $18,000; a 1969/70 Topps NM/MT graded complete set (99) went for $9,000; a 1961/62 Fleer graded complete set (66) went for $7,800; a Julius Erving late 1970s/early 1980s Philadelphia 76ers signed game worn uniform (2 items) including jersey and shorts sold for $6,000; and four 1986/87 Fleer complete 132-card sets on full uncut sheets (4) - all featuring Michael Jordan rookie cards realized a final price of $5,700.

HOCKEY HIGHLIGHTS
A 1955/56 Parkhurst complete set (79) - #4 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $20,400; a 1911-12 C55 Imperial Tobacco #38 Georges Vezina - the issue's "Key" card - PSA NM 7 went for $13,200; a 1957/58 Topps complete set (66) - #2 on the PSA Set Registry realized a final price of $11,400; a 1963/64 Parkhurst complete set (99) - #3 on the PSA Set Registry went for $10,200; a 1959/60 Parkhurst complete set (50) - #2 on the PSA Set Registry went for $9,000; a 1972/73 Topps complete set (176) - #2 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $7,200; a 1932/33 O'Keefe's Blotters/Coasters partial set (15/20) including Bailey and Clancy sold for $6,600; and a 1969/70 Topps complete set (132) - #2 on the PSA Set Registry went for $6,000.

BOXING HEAVYWEIGHTS
A 1948 Leaf Boxing complete set (49) - #5 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $9,000; a scarce 19th Century Boxers CDVs collection (17 different) including Sullivan, Kilrain and Corbett sold for $5,400; a 1948 Leaf PSA NM- MT 8 collection (14 different) including Jack Johnson and Gene Tunney realized a final price of $4,500; a 1951 Topps Ringside PSA-graded complete set (96) went for $3,600; and a 1951 Topps Ringside PSA NM-MT 8 collection (36 different) realized a final price of $3,600.

AMERICANA COLLECTIBLES

CAMPAIGN COLLECTIBLES
A magnificent 1860 Abraham Lincoln jumbo ambrotype campaign badge went for $36,000; the "Holy Grail" - 1920 "Cox-Roosevelt Club" Jugate 1" campaign pinback commanded $25,200; a significant 1934-2007 Presidential Christmas cards and gift prints collection (149 items) including 1952 Truman gift print and fourteen Roosevelt Christmas cards went for $12,000; an extremely rare 1868 Seymour/Blair campaign flag went for $10,800; an unlisted and highly coveted 1872 Grant/Wilson campaign flag sold for $10,200; a very unusual and rare 1868 Grant/Colfax campaign flag went for $9,000; and a circa 1800 Thomas Jefferson Liverpool pitcher sold for $6,000.

PRESIDENTIAL IN NATURE
A George Washington 1796 signed patent letter for a "Mode of Tanning Leather" went for $13,200; a beautifully matted and framed Abraham Lincoln 1864 signed endorsement sold for $9,600; an extremely scarce Abraham Lincoln 1864 signed appointment for a hospital chaplain went for $6,000; a Barack Obama single signed ball - graded 9.5 by PSA/DNA sold for $4,800; and an Abraham Lincoln 1863 boldly signed partial document display sold for $4,200.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING
A tremendous George Washington 1796 two-page ALS discussing the "Federal City" that would bear his name sold for $22,800; the Dr. Ben Braude autograph collection - nearly two centuries of signatures! (2,500+ items) commanded $20,400; a Thomas Alva Edison 1883 signed patent application for the electric light bulb sold for $14,400; a Benjamin Franklin 1787 signed pay order display sold for $11,400; a Congressman Abraham Lincoln 1848 signed Presidential campaign solicitation for Zachary Taylor - perhaps unique in private hands realized a final price of $10,200; an 1878 patent application for the phonograph - signed by Thomas Edison went for $10,200; and a tragic and heartbreaking John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy signed 1963 Christmas card went for $9,600.

NON-SPORTS CARDS
A 1959 Fleer "Three Stooges" PSA MINT 9 collection (20 different) sold for $22,800; a 1933 R73 Goudey "Indian Gum" near complete master set (418/432) including two different wrappers went for $15,600; a 1938 R69 Gum, Inc. "Horrors of War" complete set (288) plus a trio of reverse variations sold for $10,200; a 1940s-1970s non sports hoard (7,000+) including complete and near sets realized a final price of $9,600; a highly desirable 1888 N19 Allen & Ginter "Pirates of the Spanish Main" complete set (50) - #3 on the PSA Set Registry went for $9,000; a 1952 Topps "Look 'N See" complete set (135) - #3 on the PSA Set Registry sold for $7,800; a 1959 Fleer "Three Stooges" #81 "He Must Be Around ..." - PSA GEM MT 10 "1 of 2!" went for $7,800; the ultimate 1966 Topps Test "Superman in the Jungle" collection - ultra-rare five cent display box, sell sheet, wrapper and three cards went for $6,600; and an 1889 N232 Kinney "Surf Beauties" PSA-graded complete set (50)including many "1 of 1's!" sold for $6,600.

COMIC COLLECTIBLES
A 1941 "All Flash Quarterly" #1 - CGC Universal Grade VF 8.0 - the first tssue of the Golden Age Flash's solo title sold for $7,200; a 1938 "Action Comics" #2 CGC Restored Grade Apparent VG 4.0 - second appearance of Superman went for $7,200; a 1974 "Incredible Hulk" #181 CGC Universal Grade NM+ 9.6 - the first full Wolverine appearance went for $4,500; and a 1970s-1980s high grade comics hoard (nearly 7,000 books!) sold for $3,000.

ENTERTAINMENT MEMORABILIA
A 1963 Beatles signed publicity photo sold for $18,000; the only known John Lennon signed personal check - PSA/DNA MINT 9 commanded $13,200; an extensive collection of 1940s-1960s recording artists and film stars exhibit cards archive pieces (933) went for $6,600; s 1920s-1960s exhibit cards archive pieces (2,415+) - balance of collection sold for $5,700; an extensive collection of 1920s-1960s photographic pin-ups, showgirls and Hollywood starlets exhibit cards archive pieces (391) went for $5,100; a 1920s "Mack Sennett Comedies" Girls exhibit cards archive original photo collection (198) realized a final price of $4,800; and a music and entertainment superstars signed photographs collection (750+) including Will Ferrell, Al Pacino and Jessica Simpson sold for $4,800.

COINS
An important 1857-1898 U.S. issue stamp type collection (74 different) - all PSE-Certified sold for $18,000; 1989 Canadian Maple Leaf 10th Anniversary 1 ounce silver, gold and platinum boxed proof sets (3 sets) sold or $6,000; an 1847 through 2007 U.S. stamp collection (7 albums) went for $5,100; and a 1787 Fugio cent from the Bank of New York hoard MS-63RB (PCGS) R-4 sold for $4,200.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To pre-register for Mastro Auctions' 2009 sales or to consign items, call 630-472-1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.

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About Mastro Auctions
Mastro Auctions, of Burr Ridge, Illinois, is part of the Silkroad Equity family of companies. The firm is the nation's leading high-value collectibles auction company. The company has been involved in the sale of many of the most famous and valuable Sports and Americana collectibles ever publicly offered, including the most expensive baseball card ever sold at public auction (a 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner for $1.62 million), the most expensive baseball card set (1914 Cracker Jack, $960,000), and the bat Babe Ruth used to hit his first home run in Yankee Stadium ($1.2 million). Mastro Auctions also sold Norman Rockwell's "The Dugout" original oil painting ($355,000), Roger Maris' 1961 jersey (worn when he hit home run #61, $302,000), the bus Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to stand for segregation (nearly $500,000) and the famous Steve Bartman Cubs foul ball (more than $100,000). For more information, call Mastro Auctions at 630-472- 1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.