Delores Knox walked into the Louisville Slugger museum holding a cloth bag full of her father's old photographs. By the time she left, she knew she was holding some of the rarest Negro League memorabilia on earth.The daughter of former Negro Leaguer J. Leonard Mitchell showed up with her fathers lifetime collection of memorabilia. There were cards, advertising broadsides, photos, tickets, game used equipment and ephemera. Much of the items were Negro League related, but he also had a large collection of vintage entertainment, football, basketball and All American Girls Baseball League photos.
The J. Leonard Mitchell Collection will be made available to collectors on March 7th, as part of Hunt Auctions' live event in King of Prussia, PA. Company president David Hunt says that he rarely comes across anything he hasn't seen before when he's out on the appraisal trail, so it's a special day when such rare items turn up.
"With this group, about 60 to 75 percent of it was unique to me," he says. "Establishing prices was difficult. Bidding gets pretty aggressive because nobody has a set idea of what these things are worth. The market is established right in front of your eyes."
Here is a circa 1940's photograph of the Ethiopian Clowns.
Below is a photograph of the 1941 Kansas City Monarchs that includes "should be" Hall of Famer Buck O'Neil.
Roy Campanella is featured in this 1942 broadside advertising a couple of games.
This is one of the nicest items here. Below is a photograph featuring the Homestead Grays that includes Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.
Game-used equipment from the Negro Leagues is basically non-existent. Here are some cleats and a catcher glove found within Mitchell's belongings and was most likely used in some games.
Below is a small sample of 80 photographs from the All American Girls Baseball League.
Hat Tip: SCD: