Gehrig pin is prize of collection

By Robert Obojski

Daniel Lovegrove began his career in sports merchandising shortly after  graduating from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, in 1989.

Lovegrove, who majored in theater arts, abandoned the idea of becoming involved  in the commercial theater, and feels he made the right decision in starting  his Darien, Conn.-based firm "Recollectics," less than a year after receiving  his degree.

Lovegrove's career in the sports memorabilia field was put on hold for many  months because of a congenital hip condition that, happily resulted in a  successful hip redesign through advanced surgical methods.

Just as he was in the process of founding Recollectics, he took a number  of courses at the Gemological Institute of America in New York City. At the  Gemological Institute he learned a great deal about the intricacies connected  with the designing and manufacture of all types of jewelry.

Lovegrove began collecting sports jewelry in the mid-1970s when he was still  a teenager.

"I was introduced to the hobby and was taught first-hand about collecting  by a friend of the family, Mr. Walter Hess," he told SCD. "Walter Hess was  an executive with the L.G. Balfour Co. (Attleboro, Mass.) and he was responsible  for the design and manufacture of numerous sports awards, including: World  Series press pins, World Series trophies, Cy Young Awards, Rookie of the  Year Awards, All-Star Game MVP Awards, League Championship rings, NBA  championship rings and Super Bowl Championship rings."

Lovegrove took two courses about the history of baseball at New York City's  New School for Social Research, courses taught by noted baseball historian  and artist Michael Schacht.

"Mr. Schacht helped me to broaden my interests in collecting baseball  memorabilia," said Lovegrove. "Several of his portraits of baseball greats  are housed in the Baseball Hall of Fame's Museum in Cooperstown."

Lovegrove has a number of Schacht artworks in his offices including portraits  of Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young and Walter Johnson.

Lovegrove named his company "Recollectics," a term he coined - the "re" referring  to reminiscences, with "collectics" referring to collectibles. "A recollectic  is any type of sports memorabilia that is a true artifact of a particular  game," he said.

While Lovegrove now deals in a wide variety of sports collectibles, especially  in the baseball field, he does continue to specialize in sports jewelry.  Among the key types of items in his inventoryare Hall of Fame press pins,  and press pins from the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup (Hockey), and from the NCAA  Basketball Championships. He also deals in Indianapolis 500 "pit badges".

He has also dealt extensively in Baseball Hall of Fame bats, single autographed  baseballs and autographed team baseballs. He advertises in a variety of sports  publications, including Sports Collectors Digest.

He's attended a number of sports collectibles shows in the East over a period  of several years, but said he didn't take out a table until this past August  at Gloria Rothstein's East Coast National staged at Westchester, White Plains,  NY

"It was a great experience to hold a table at a major show," he said. "For  starters, I got to meet some of my mail order and phone customers face-to-face  for the first time. Holding a table at a show is like 'showing the flag.'"

Over the past couple of years, Recollectics has grown to such an extent that  Lovegrove hired some high school students to work for him parttime after  school hours.

Baseball Jewelry Inventor

Lovegrove's business card, in addition to giving the usual business address,  phone number, etc., is also inscribed "Daniel Cary Lovegrove, Inventor, U.S.  Patent #5, 193, 360."

The patent concerns a ring that features a removable tablet which is, as  Lovegrove describes it, "ideal for engraving and inscribing."

Called a "PULTAB," by Lovegrove, the patent for the ring was granted by the  U.S. Patent Office, Washington, D.C., on March 16, 1993. A detailed definition  of the Pultab is given in the abstract included in the U.S. Patent Office  document awarding the patent which reads in part:

"This invention is a tablet finger ring which includes a finger-engaging  band portion and a head portion. The head position is provided with a slot  below the upper surface thereof in which is slidably positioned a tablet  on which inscriptions or the like may be applied to the upper surface The  tablet is completely removable from the slot to apply the inscription and  to read same."

Lovegrove said the Pultab ring is designed especially for sports presentation  purposes and the tablet (or tab) allows sufficient space for an appropriate  inscription.

Lovegrove is in the process of marketing the Pultab ring on a commercial  basis.

He indicated that successfully applying for a patent is a long and expensive  procedure. His application tic fees, plus the cost of his own pate, attorneys,  came to several thousand dollars.

The Unique Lou Gehrig Pin

While Lovegrove is a sports memorabilia dealer, he remains a collector at  heart - and the "crown jewel" of his private collection- is the unique Lou  Gehrig All-Star predestination pin.

The great Gehrig removed himself from the Yankees lineup on May

1939, after having played in 2,13 consecutive games. The America League decided  to honor Gehrig by naming him as honorary captain of the A.L. All-Stars that  year. Gehrig received the pin in a special ceremony before the start of the  1939 "Mid Summer Classic" played on July 11

Yankee Stadium. Gehrig, in a Yankee uniform, sat on the bench for the entire  game as the A.L. won 2-1.

The pin, especially made for Gehrig measures about one square inch. It shaped  like a baseball diamond, wit the inner field made of gold. The raise golden  baseball in the center proclaims the game's site and date - "New York 1939"  and also serves as the pitcher mound.

At each corner in the baselines six-point diamonds representing the four  bases. The vibrant blue basepath crafted in enamel are emblazoned "American  League All Star Game" in bright gold lettering. On the reverse side there  is an engraved "Lou Gehrig .

Surrounded by scrollwork above and below. The "Dieges and Clust" hallmark  stamp appears at the base below this engraving.

Interestingly enough, this 1939 AllStar pin is the only gold award Gehrig  ever received.

Gehrig's wife, Eleanor, gave the pin to her husband's nurse who cared for  him until his death on June 2, 1941 (17 days from what would have been his  38th birthday).

The nurse eventually gave the pin to a nephew, who in turn sold it in February  1989. In May of the same year it was purchased by Famous American Name Sales  Inc. (FANS). FANS then loaned it out to the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum  to be exhibited in time for the 50th anniversary of the Baseball Shrine in  Cooperstown. Then, beginning September 1989, the pin was exhibited on a tour  throughout the United States.

Finally, the Gehrig pin was put up for auction at a Guernsey's sale conducted  on April 28, 1990 at New York City's Passenger Pier 90.

The pre-sale estimate was set at $75,000/$100,000.

Lovegrove attended the sale, along with his father, and thought he had little  chance of bidding successfully if the price came up to pre-sale estimate  levels. But he was lucky when the floor bidding stopped at the $38,000 mark,  and with the 10 percent buyer's premium, total price paid came to $41,800.  "1 got a real bargain," he said. He identified the underbidder as

Joshua Evans. "When I held up my paddle at $38,000, Josh just threw up his  hands," he said.

Lovegrove researched Gehrig's career carefully before he showed up for the  Guernsey sale, and decided that he'd bid up to $39,000, the most the great  Yankee slugger earned in a single season. "Yes, I made up my mind that $39,000  was as high as I'd go, and I got lucky," he told SCD.

"The Gehrig 1939 All-Star pin stays in my permanent collection," said Lovegrove.  "I wouldn't even sell it if somebody offered me $100,000. How can you place  a price tag on a national treasure?"

The Guernsey auction catalogue called the Gehrig All-Star pin, "one of the  finest and rarest specimens of baseball memorabilia in existence today."  (The Guernsey's sale, held on two days, grossed more than $2 million, one  of the largest sports memorabilia auctions up to that point.)

Lovegrove usually keeps the pin in a bank vault. It is properly housed in  a handsome, inscribed plastic case.

Gehrig is Lovegrove's all-time baseball hero. "He said, "Gehrig was the epitome  of the great ballplayer. As far as baseball pins are concerned, no one can  ever have a complete collection of pins without the Gehrig specimen. Collectors  may say it's not really a press pin, but it's very special to me, regardless."  He plans to loan it to the Baseball HOF to be included in the Museum's Lou  Gehrig exhibit.

A couple of years ago, Lovegrove designed a specially inscribed ring for  pitcher Jim Abbott, who was then with the California Angels.

"I always admired Jim Abbott because he overcame an enormous physical handicap  in becoming a major league pitcher," said Lovegrove. "He was born with only  a left arm and hand, and yet he was able to pitch a no-hitter for the New  York Yankees in 1993.

"I just wanted to let Jim Abbott know how much I admire his courage by having  this ring made for him as a tribute.

"I consider myself as a 'sports archeologist.' I want to help hobbyists to  build their collections around truly meaningful artifacts. A sports archeologist  is, of course, much more than a mere collector of mementos. The phrase suggests  someone who is interested in the history of this subject. At home I compile  countless newspaper and magazine clippings, stuff that covers all sports.  I continue to seek out the true artifacts of sports."

Sports Collectors Digest October 24, 1997

Reprinted by permission Krause Publications, Inc.  (c) 1996 Krause  Publications, Inc.