Press Release - December 20, 2006

Heritage Auction Galleries Sets New Mark with Dr. James Naismith Collection!

Basketball inventor's personal collection brings World Record results!

DALLAS, TEXAS: Heritage Auction Galleries realized a new auction world record with the personal collection of Dr. James Naismith that closed Friday, December 15, 2006, in Dallas, Texas, setting the mark for the highest total ever realized for a single non-baseball sporting figure. The final tally reached $724,313, although after-auction sales are still ongoing and could push the total even higher.

"We couldn't be more pleased," said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Memorabilia Auctions for Heritage Auction Galleries. "From the kindness and cooperation of Dr. Naismith's family, to the intrigue of the material itself, to the enthusiasm of the bidders that participated, the entire process of hosting this auction was a pleasure."

Ivy continued, "It was also very gratifying to see the tremendous participation from overseas, which is a tribute to the power and reach of our marketing department. Two lots relating to early Chinese basketball exceeded pre-auction estimates by multiples, and proved to be among the most hotly contested bidding in the auction. We also found a great deal of participation from those outside the sports collecting ranks, people who understand the Naismith Collection is a national treasure with an importance that transcends the sporting world."

"The biggest story of the event was the price of $71,700 realized for Dr. Naismith's personal handwritten account of the first game, played in 1891," explained Ivy. "Clearly the bidding public understood that this was the most significant basketball document ever to reach the auction block."

A document archive including Dr. Naismith's personal typed copy of the original rules also caused a major stir among collectors, who elevated the final bid price to $53,775. "These seminal documents, created by the hand of the game's inventor, likewise represent some of the most important athletic texts ever to be presented for sale," noted Ivy.

Other highlights of the sale included:

1930's James Naismith Full Draft Typed Manuscript with Handwritten Notes.
"This is Naismith's unabridged manuscript for the published book Basketball: Its Origin and Development," explained Ivy. "One lucky winning bidder will be able to read a tremendous amount of text that never made it to print."

Exceptional Photograph of Springfield Basketball Court.
"This was arguably the most aesthetically appealing lot in the auction," said Ivy. "Though the photo's status as the only known period image of the site of basketball's first game fueled the impressive bidding."

Circa 1900 Whistle Owned and Used by James Naismith.
"One could certainly make the argument that this is the most significant artifact of University of Kansas basketball ever presented for auction," explained Ivy. "Dr. Naismith used the 'Acme Thunderer' during his tenure as the Jayhawks' very first basketball coach."

1936 James Naismith Passport with Multiple Signatures.
"This is the official government issued passport that granted Naismith entry to Germany, where he would attend the Berlin Olympics, the first to feature basketball as a medal sport," stated Ivy. "Pristine autographs in the passport from Naismith himself added yet more appeal for bidders."

1939 James Naismith Signed "Basketball" Card.
"Here's living proof that collectors still appreciate just how scarce and valuable Naismith autographs are," explained Ivy. "This represents the highest price ever paid for what is essentially just a Naismith autograph, as opposed to an official document or manuscript."

Heritage Auction Galleries' Sports division specializes in rare and collectible sports cards, as well as uniforms, equipment, and related vintage sports memorabilia. Consignments for future Signature Sports Auctions are currently being accepted.

For more information about Heritage's auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit our Permanent Auction Archives at

Prospective consignors and sellers of vintage sports memorabilia are invited to visit and click on the "Sell Now" tab. Or simply email Chris Ivy at

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Nicole Jewell at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 272, or visit to order by email.

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The whole staff at Heritage made the difficult process of selling my husband's treasured collection much less painful through their understanding.
S.J. ,
Clarksburg, WV