Sports, Other Tobacco Advertisements Brilliantly colorful and framed tobacco ads top the May 16 Grey Flannel Auctions sale. Also a ball signed by Babe Ruth, dated in 1919, is on the block as well as signed Dale Earnhardt racing suits.
Richard Russek, President & CEO, (631) 288-7800, ext. 228
Michael Russek, Director of Operations, ext 230
T.J. Favila, Auction Director, ext. 221
GREY FLANNEL MAY 16 AUCTION FEATURES
SOUTHERLAND TOBACCO AD COLLECTION
WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. - Mark Southerland of Perry, Fla., owns and operates South House Furniture, one of the area's largest furniture companies. So it comes as no surprise that someone who has dealt with taste and design for 26 years should have a pretty good eye for artwork.
The kinds of artwork that attract Southerland are Chesterfield tobacco ads. He loves the brilliant colors and the design, which just so happened to incorporate famous baseball players and lesser known individuals, including sharpshooters, canasta players and Miss Harlem.
Southerland's tobacco ad collection, all framed for any room in the house or office, comprise about a third of the Grey Flannel Auctions sale on May 16.
The auction also contains one of the earliest signed Babe Ruth balls. The consignor has had the ball for more than 40 years. It's signed by Ruth and dated "10-20-1919." Other blockbuster items added late include racing suits worn by the late Dale Earnhardt. An unnamed clothing designer and manufacturer is the consignor.
The suits are signed by the late NASCAR legend. The same consignor is making available a championship belt worn by Mike Tyson.
Southerland is widely acknowledged as having one of the most extensive private tobacco ad collections. They've occupied rooms of furniture in a 45,000-square-foot showroom and a separate 2,800-square-foot building next to his home.
He had dreams of putting of putting together a coffee table book of sorts, but that enterprise might compete for time in building the rest of his collection of baseball memorabilia
"I started my collection by buying (late player) Jake Powell's collection in 1991 and within that collection were the Chesterfield tobacco ads," Southerland said. "I loved the colors in the designs and the images of Ted Williams, Bill Dickey, Mel Ott, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Terry, Bucky Walters and others."
He pursued this niche with a passion, but never chose to devote much time to researching the history of or artists associated with the ads. Yet, he did acquire priceless anecdotes over the years. "I talked to Ted Williams one time," he recalled. "He told me he got 50 bucks so Chesterfield could use his name and picture. . . . One of the ads featured the image of pitcher Whitlow Wyatt, who incidently never smoked. He actually gave me his ad and signed it for me."
Interestingly, tobacco companies targeted African-American smokers in small towns. Thus, such ads have formed a further niche in Black Americana and Southerland's collection.
Over the years, Southerland has met and done some trading with other like-minded collectors, mostly through the Internet. Among his favorites are the Granger tobacco ads with Mel Ott and anything with Babe Ruth's image.
He's worked hard and paid a fancy penny to collect