What do a Cox – Roosevelt political button, Babe Ruth photograph, Star Wars Jawa action figure, and Transformers Optimus Prime toy have in common? They were the quartet that led Hake’s first premier auction of 2023 to a total of $2.571 million.

The auction, held on March 21-22, was filled with 1,938 lots of Americana and pop culture collectibles that covered everything from sought after political items and baseball memorabilia, to key comics and action figures. The auction set new world records and many of the top results bested their preauction estimates. In fact, nine of the top ten results from Part I were over their estimate – some by an astonishing amount – and four of the top seven results in Part II exceeded their estimates.

Bidders voted another Cox – Roosevelt button as an auction leader when the 1920 jugate button Hake #1 from the John Hillhouse Collection realized $100,300 – twice as much as its high-end estimate. All known specimens of Cox & Roosevelt jugate buttons are considered to be salesman samples. This 1” example was produced by a relatively small Omaha, Nebraska firm, M.F. Shafer & Co., while all other varieties were produced by major button manufacturers of the era. This was the first time that Hake’s offered this variety of the button.

A circa 1920 Babe Ruth Paul Thompson PSA/DNA Type 1 authentic original photograph slugged one out of the park to sell for $78,529 – more than double the high-end estimate. This photo from Ruth’s first season with the New York Yankees is one of the finest examples of prewar baseball photography in existence. It is credited to Paul Thompson, one of the preeminent baseball photographers of the early 20th century.

“The Sultan of Swat sure stepped up to the auction plate for Hake’s,” Hake’s President Alex Winter said. “We expected this to do well based on rarity and the superb portrait image, but to end at double the high-end of our estimate surprised even us. This was not a home run; it was a grand slam! In fact, the consignor has just two words when he saw the result – Holy Blank!”

The Toltoys Australian release Empire Strikes Back Jawa 41-back-E AFA 50 with the vinyl cape set a world record at $49,324. This version of the Jawa figure was originally only available for a short time before Kenner switched the vinyl cape to one made from cloth. The short-lived US version was part of the first 12 action figures released by Kenner, and as such, was only available on the Star Wars card. This is the only vinyl cape Jawa on an Empire Strikes Back card, making it the rarest production version of the vinyl cape Jawa.

Star Wars toys accounted for several of the biggest sales in Part II, including another vinyl cape Jawa, this one a US release 12-back-A CAS 85, that cleared $29,500. The Hong Kong Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi with the double-telescoping lightsaber AFA 80+ nabbed $24,660, setting a new world record for the grade and besting the $20,000 estimate. The R2-D2 first shot action figure with silk screened decal and legs variety AFA 80, a very early prototype, set a world record at $22,066. A Tusken Raider 20-back mock-up proof card AFA 80 early example made before the “Tusken Raider” name was changed to “Sand People” on the production cards went for $19,572, gaining another world record.

Transformers assembled a huge sale when the Series 1 Optimus Prime AFA 85 with the trademark logo set a world record at $34,461, well over the $20,000 estimate. The window box contains the Autobot Commander and features the trademark logo which is earlier and much rarer than the version with the registered logo. This is one of the most desirable Series 1 Transformers toys and is extremely difficult to find in the original factory sealed box.

Transformers set another world record when the Series 2 Construction Giftset Devastator AFA 85 cleared $25,370, achieving a world record and surpassing the $20,000 estimate. The display box contains all six Constructicons – Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Scrapper, Hook, Long Haul, and Mixmaster – that combined to form the Devastator. This is the only giftset that features all six of the Constructicons, which were also sold as individual pieces.

Marvel key first appearances led the comic listings, starting with X-Men #1 CGC 7.0 with the first appearances of the X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel, and Beast) and their regular nemesis, Magneto, that sold for $27,417. Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC 2.0 with the debuts of Spider-Man, as well as Aunt May and Uncle Ben, totaled $21,240. Fantastic Four #1 CGC 5.0 featuring the first appearances of the Fantastic Four and Mole Man jumped to $19,972.

The Grant and Wilson 1872 jugate American Flag brought $24,662, besting the $20,000 estimate. It has a canton featuring a large edge to edge oval frame centering the woodcut candidate portraits among the 23 stars arranged and text in the stripes is bolder than on other examples, likely making it a unique example. This important and rare flag is a much larger 17-3/4” x 30” example than the more commonly seen 13-1/4” x 23-1/2” flag and smaller versions.

A 1910-1912 Sweet Caporal Cigarettes high grade complete set of 204 buttons totaled $15,286, well over the $10,000 estimate. The 7/8” set includes Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Chief Bender, Roger Bresnahan, Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown, Frank Chance, Fred Clarke, Eddie Collins, Hugh Duffy, Clark Griffith, Miller Huggins, Hugh Jennings, John McGraw, Joe Tinker, Bobby Wallace, and Zach Wheat.

A 1917 Honus Wagner Doherty Silk Sox advertising card hammered for $14,421, over the $10,000 estimate. One of only two known examples, it was produced in honor of Honus Wagner Day on August 26, 1917. It was from the final year of Wagner’s playing career and the special day was organized by fans in Paterson, NJ where he was a local hero.

A 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers PM10 Series Jackie Robinson real photo stadium button with attachments decimated its $2,000 estimate when it sold for $12,707. The rare, desirable 2-1/8” button’s spring pin still holds the ribbon, plastic bat, and ball in place.

The big sellers in Part I continued to surpass their estimates with a Coolidge and Dawes for the Nations Cause rare 1924 jugate button selling for $10,620, an 1894 Baltimore Orioles “Pennant” winners very rare celluloid stickpin hit $8,638 (over the $5,000 estimate), a 1913 Goldsmith’s All-Nations Baseball Club postcard achieved $8,047, and Davis: Teapot Dome likely unique original art 1924 sample button reached $7,917 (nearly eight times the $1,000 estimate).

Part II continued setting records and exceeding estimates with a Jimi Hendrix Experience 1969 German concert poster featuring Gunther Kieser’s art that sold for $18,561, setting a world record and nearly doubling the preauction estimate. An Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) 12-back-A AFA 85 set a world record at $17,700, more than triple the estimate. The Transformers Series 2 Dinobot – Grimlock AFA 85 went well beyond the $10,000 estimate, driving to $16,523.

All of the top sales from Part I and Part II can now be viewed at hakes.com.