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CLEVELAND – JANUARY 1, 2011 – This is the time to remember 2010. Here are the Most Surprising Prices, Record Prices and Great Stories from 2010.

December 2010

It was "save our history" week at New York auctions, with record prices set at Sotheby's for three items:

1) The highest price ever paid at auction for a U.S. Presidential document was $3,778,500 for an 1863 copy of the Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation

2) The guidon (the flag carried on a pole that identifies the unit going into battle) carried in Custer's 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn sold for $2,210,500

3) The third bit of history was the document that listed the 13 rules for the game of basketball invented by James Naismith in 1891. It sold for the highest price of all, $4,338,500. See Dec. 15, 2010, Kovels Komments.

Another piece of history was auctioned in February. George Washington's personal map of the Battle of Yorktown, which descended through the family of an aide to Washington, auctioned for $1.15 million at James Julia Auctions. See Feb. 17, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Pin owned by the Duchess of WindsorSome of the jewelry owned by the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson) was sold at Sotheby's London on November 30. Her flamingo pin made of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds sold for $2.7 million. See Dec. 1, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Bottles of vintage champagne were salvaged last summer from a shipwreck that happened near Finland and Sweden sometime between 1832 and 1844. Close to 50 sealed bottles are expected to sell for about $68,000 each. See Dec. 1, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Babe Ruth baseballNovember 2010

A signed Babe Ruth home run baseball hit in 1934 sold earlier this month for $264,500 at an auction at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky. See Nov. 24, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Maltese Falcon"The Maltese Falcon," a 1941 classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart, also featured an 11 1/2-inch statue of the bird. A group of collectors paid $305,000 for the resin bird. See Nov. 24, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Chinese vaseAnother found-in-the-attic story has a happy ending. Two relatives were cleaning up their inherited house near Heathrow Airport in England. They found a number of Chinese items, including a colorful 16-inch vase. They were wise enough to take it to a suburban London auction house, Bainbridge's. Peter Bainbridge estimated the value of the vase at $1.3 million to $2 million. But the final auction price was $85.9 million (including the buyer's premium and value-added tax). It's a new world record price for a piece of porcelain and for a piece of Chinese art. It's also the 11th-most-expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. See Nov. 17, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Honus Wagner baseball cardA Honus Wagner T206 baseball card in poor condition sold for $262,000 at a Heritage Auction Galleries sale. The card belonged to an order of U.S. Catholic nuns, the School Sisters of Notre Dame. However, the winning bidder didn't pay and the auction house contacted another regular customer, who paid the full bid price to be sure the nuns got all the money. See Nov. 10, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Carnival glass cracker jarCarnival glass set some records this month. A Northwood opal aqua Grape & Cable cracker jar sold for $67,500. See Oct. 27, 2010, Kovels Komments.


October 2010

Second century Roman helmetA treasure hunter with a metal detector found a second-century Roman helmet in England earlier this year. It sold at a Christie's auction in London for $3,629,469. See Oct. 13, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Jazz BowlThe Jazz Bowl sold for over five times estimate at Rago Arts and Auction Center. The ViktorSchreckengost masterpiece brought $158,600. See Oct. 5, 2010, Kovels Komments.


September 2010

1943 Lincoln pennyA 1943 zinc-coated steel Lincoln penny is worth less than 10 cents today. But a 1943 one-of-a-kind copper alloy Lincoln penny struck at the Denver Mint was sold by a New Jersey coin dealer for a record $1.7 million. See Sept. 29, 2010, Kovels Komments.


August 2010

A lot of comic books set records this year. The price for the rare 1940 Batman No. 1 comic book was $55,269. Found in Alaska, it was sold by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas. See Aug. 11, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Action Comics No. 1Another very valuable comic book has been found. It's a copy of Action Comics No. 1, the 1938 issue that introduced Superman. That comic book has been attracting super prices since 2009. A couple was packing to move out of their foreclosed house when they found a copy of the famous comic book. They had read about the record-breaking sales and contacted ComicConnect. Presale estimate for the comic was $250,000. It sold for $436,000. The house was saved! See Aug. 11, 2010, Kovels Komments.


June 2010

Flash Comics No. 1Another very expensive comic book sold in June. A copy of Flash Comics No. 1 in pristine condition sold privately for $450,000. See June 9, 2010, Kovels Komments.


April 2010

Action Comic No. 1, the famous first appearance of Superman, has sold for an even higher record price (see Feb 24, 2010). The new record price - $1.5 million. See April 7, 2010, Kovels Komments.


March 2010

Batman can beat Superman--at least he did once in 2010. On Thursday, Feb. 25, Detective Comics No. 27, which featured the first appearance of Batman, sold for the new record price of $1,075,500 at a Heritage Galleries auction. See March 3, 2010, Kovels Komments.


February 2010

Action Comics No. 1, one of about 100 copies known to exist, sold in a private sale for $1 million. It was in great condition. See Feb. 24, 2010, Kovels Komments.


TriggerJuly 2010

Not many stuffed horses sell for $266,500, but probably no other horse is as famous as Trigger, the palomino used by Roy Rogers on television and in the movies. Christie's and High Noon jointly auctioned the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum collection, including Trigger. See July 21, 2010, Kovels Komments.



June 2010

The world record price for a sports uniform was set last week at a Canadian auction house. The 1972 hockey jersey worn by Paul Henderson of Team Canada in the Summit Series sold for $1.275 million (U.S.). Henderson scored the winning goal for Canada in the deciding game against Russia. See June 30, 2010, Kovels Komments.


An autograph by a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett, sold at a Sotheby's auction for $722,500. The rare Gwinnett signature was on a letter. See June 23, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Ever heard of "Dave the Slave"? He made pottery in Edgefield, South Carolina, in the 1830s. A jug bought for $25 years ago sold at an Eagles Basket Auction in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, for $13,000. See June 23, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Cigar store IndianA cigar store Indian that had been in the family basement since the 1960s gave the owner an unexpected legacy. The Indian, in fine unrestored condition, was sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas for an amazing $203,150. See June 16, 2010, Kovels Komments.


April 2010

Persian ivory boxAn ivory box, described as a mid-nineteenth-century Persian piece estimated at $700 to $900, auctioned in Cleveland last year for $471,528 (see ezine Oct. 7, 2009). It was auctioned in 2010 at Sotheby's London for $3.68 million. See April 28, 2010, Kovels Komments.


The Gutenberg Bible is probably the most famous book in Western civilization--the first book printed with moveable type. There are 21 complete copies of the 42-line Bible in existence. It sold for $5.4 million at Christie's, a record price at auction for a printed book. See April 28, 2010, Kovels Komments.


Washington flaskThe rare deep sapphire blue flask called "General Washington and Bust" (McKearin GI-14) brought $100,620 at an online Heckler Auction. The flask has the names Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the ridge and is called the "Firecracker flask" because both men died on July 4, 1826. See April 7, 2010, Kovels Komments.


BugattiA 1925 Buggati Brescia that was pulled from a lake in Switzerland last summer auctioned for $368,686. See Feb. 3, 2010, Kovels Komments.


January 2010

American silver bowlAn American silver bowl (est., $400,000-$800,000) set a record of $5,906,500 at a Sotheby's auction. See Jan. 27, 2010, Kovels Komments.




Terry Kovel has written more than 98 books about collecting, including the best-selling annual price book, Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide. The 2011 guide is now in stores. Terry publishes a subscription newsletter and writes a syndicated newspaper column that appears in more than 150 newspapers and digital publications. She and Ralph starred in the weekly HGTV program, Flea Market Finds with the Kovels. The Kovels website,, offers 700,000 free prices and other information for collectors, including books, special reports, a weekly emailed letter to collectors, marks and an archive of other informative material. Since Ralph's death in 2008, the Kovel brand has been continued by Terry Kovel and her daughter, Kim Kovel.


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