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'Shoeless' Joe Jackson baseball photo sells for record $1.4M

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A rare autographed photo of baseball legend "Shoeless" Joe Jackson sold for a record $1.47 million at an auction, Christie's announced.

Christie's said the 1911 photo, the only known signed photo of Jackson in existence, sold at an auction held with Hunt Auctions on Thursday in New York. Christie's said it "far exceeded" its estimate of $200,000 to $400,000.

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The 8-inch-by-10-inch photo by Frank W. Smith was part of a 246-piece Extra Innings collection, which brought in a total of $9.39 million.

Christie's said the sale price of $1.47 million for the Jackson photo is the most ever paid for an autographed sports photo. The image of Jackson in a throwing pose was captured at Cleveland Naps spring training in March 1911 in Alexandria, La.

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"Jackson's labored and primitive signature formation is immediately recognizable due to his inability to formally read or write," Christie's said in an essay for the item. "As a result of Jackson's relative illiteracy there are scant few authentic examples of his autograph known to exist."

"To date, the offered Jackson signed image is the lone surviving example of any type. Based on the scarcity of signed images from this period, in general, coupled with the miniscule population of original Jackson autographs we cannot overstate the rarity of this offering," the auction house said.

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The auction also featured a Babe Ruth bat, which sold for $1.05 million, and a Lou Gehrig autographed postcard, which sold for $687,500.

A rare autographed photo of baseball legend 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson from 1911 sold as part of an auction Thursday in New York. Photo courtesy of Christie's Images LTD 2021
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"The 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson autographed photograph realized an exceptional, yet deserved, record price," Hunt Auctions president David Hunt said in a news release. "The combination of unique scarcity, high condition grade and unimpeachable primary source provenance all contributed to interest from bidders in the U.S. and overseas.

"The results for the Jackson signed photo and other highlight items within the Extra Innings Collection illustrate a continued recognition of the historic sports memorabilia category as a leading investment class."

Jackson was a member of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that fixed that year's World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He was banned from baseball in 1920.

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