Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    The Original Plaster Cast Maquette Used to Cast the Heisman Trophy, and the Last Bronze Trophy Produced from the Maquette. When New York's Downtown Athletic Club conceived college football's highest award in 1935, they turned to the preeminent Roman Bronze Works to craft the trophy that would symbolize gridiron excellence. The firm was widely recognized for its superior bronze castings, employing the lost-wax method to produce works by such noted sculptors as Frederick Remington, Charles Russell and James Fraser. The gorgeous bronze bases of Tiffany Studios' famous lamps were likewise crafted by Roman Bronze Works, and when Tiffany filed for bankruptcy, it was RBW that took over their building and operations.

    To sculpt the most famous form in American sports, they would turn to Frank Eliscu, then a relatively unknown artist of twenty-three who would go on to great success, generating hundreds of celebrated works ranging from the official inaugural medals of Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller to the monumental "Cascade of Books" above the entrance to the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress.

    The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually to the most outstanding collegiate football player of the year, and has been won by such legends as Paul Hornung, Marcus Allen, Barry Sanders and Roger Staubach. In terms of physical presence, it is the most dynamically sculpted of all sports awards. Not just some manner of glorified loving cup, the award is an iconic work of art and perhaps the most recognizable symbol of individual athletic achievement.

    It is believed that the lost-wax method was replaced with a "modern" vulcanized rubber process sometime during the 1970's, but the maquette offered here was used to cast each and every one of the approximately first forty Heisman Trophies. Because of the outstretched arm, it was made in two sections by the Master Sand Caster, attached in a "Roman joint" and then finished by the Master Finisher. Included in the provenance of this offering is a letter from the original Master Sand Caster attesting to its authenticity.

    The Roman Bronze Works gradually went out of business during the 1990's. Some years earlier the manufacturing of the Heisman Trophy had been turned over to a firm which also makes class rings and the like, and the modern Heismans differ rather significantly from those masterpieces created by the original maker.

    The sculptor, Frank Eliscu, had retained his original plaster model, which was eventually sold by Sotheby's in New York in December 2005 for the sum of $190,000, plus the buyer's premium. While there is no dismissing the importance of the artist's own copy of the work, one could quite easily argue that the working maquette used to cast the actual trophies carries an even greater historical appeal. In addition, this offering includes what is documented to be the last bronze trophy ever cast, formerly displayed at Roman Bronze Works. While we cannot fairly compare this example to awarded Heismans, we do note that player-owned specimens have routinely exceed a quarter-million dollars at auction on the rare occasions they have been made available. Guide Value or Estimate: $100,000 - up.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    17th-18th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,116

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 6 days left to consign to the 2020 April 16 The David Hall T206 Collection Part IV Sports Card Catalog Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    The hammer price for my Mantle card significantly exceeded my admittedly conservative estimations, and I couldn't be more pleased.
    George T.,
    Pinetop, AZ
    View More Testimonials

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2020 January 30 The 1952 Topps & 1953 Topps PSA Set Registry Auction
    2020 January 30 The 1952 Topps & 1953 Topps PSA Set Registry Auction
    REALIZED $706,616