God, The 10 Commandments and Honus Wagner: Donated Items Raise Funds Through Heritage Auctions

It was a century old, creased and someone long ago had coated it with shellac, but the small baseball card was a previously unreported example of the legendary and valuable 1909 T-206 series Honus Wagner card. The “Holy Grail” of sports cards was an unexpected donation made in 2010 to The School Sisters of Notre Dame convent in Baltimore.

The nuns consigned the card to Heritage Auctions and it sold later that year for $262,900, more than double its pre-auction estimate.

Honus Wagner Baseball Card

1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner SGC Authentic
SOLD FOR: $262,900.00


This past week there have been nationwide stories about the GracePoint Church in Valparaiso, Indiana receiving an 1866 U.S. $20 denomination (Double Eagle) gold coin from a member of the congregation. It is historically significant as an early example of the motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, on U.S. coins, and one of only about ten that can be accounted for today. The donor’s husband died years ago, the coin had survived an attempted theft at the widow’s home, and she wanted to now help the congregation when it needed money to build a church.

Her donation, and an advance payment of $150,000 from Heritage Auctions, helped the congregation avoid missing a financial deadline for the church construction. The congregation will be getting more money in the near future because coin is expected to sell for $300,000 or more when it is offered by Heritage Auctions on April 27.

1866 Liberty Double Eagle, PR65 Cameo1866 Liberty Double Eagle, PR65 Cameo
Outstanding Quality and Eye Appeal, Gold CAC
Only 10 Examples Traced
Bidding ends April 27, 2017 @ approx. 5:50 CST


Over the years, Heritage Auctions has helped to raise more than $4 million for non-profits, foundations, schools and museums. With more than 40,000 potential bidders visiting the Heritage Auctions website on an average day and more than 17 million annually, there is a global, affluent audience that is passionate about unique treasures and experiences — an attitude that extends to supporting philanthropic causes.

Here are a few additional examples of significant items sold through Heritage Auctions that helped raise funds for worthy endeavors:

Weighing almost 115 pounds, the world’s earliest-known chiseled stone inscription of the 10 Commandments, circa 300-830 CE, sold in November 2016 for $850,000 to benefit the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, New York.

Oldest Known Stone 10 CommandmentsThe Yavneh Ten Commandments Stone
JUDAEA. Late Roman-Byzantine Era, circa 300-830 CE. Marble Decalogue Inscription
SOLD FOR: $850,000.00**


Acclaimed On the Road author Jack Kerouac’s original typewritten manuscript for his 1958 novel, The Dharma Bums, recently brought $137,500 to benefit The Kerouac Project of Orlando for the purpose of funding their primary mission: supporting future generations of writers and artists inspired by the work and legacy of Jack Kerouac.

Original Typescript of The Dharma Bums

Original Typescript of The Dharma Bums 1
Jack Kerouac (John Louis Kerouac). Original Typescript of The Dharma Bums (published October 2, 1958)
SOLD FOR: $137,500.00


LAIKA, the visionary animation studio behind the popular films, “The Boxtrolls,” “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” opened its archives for the first time to sell more than 250 puppets, models, props and art through Heritage in 2015.  A portion of the proceeds from The Art Of LAIKA auction were then donated by LAIKA to The Art of Elysium, a non-profit arts organization that works to make art a catalyst for social change by bringing creativity and inspiration to children, artists, and various populations in need.

ParaNorman Norman Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2012)
ParaNorman Norman Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2012)
SOLD FOR: $28,680.00

The Boxtrolls Archibald Snatcher Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2014)
The Boxtrolls Archibald Snatcher Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2014)
SOLD FOR: $23,900.00

Coraline in Orange Pajamas Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2009)
Coraline in Orange Pajamas Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2009)
SOLD FOR: $22,705.00

ParaNorman Mitch Downe Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2012)
ParaNorman Mitch Downe Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2012)
SOLD FOR: $17,925.00

The Boxtrolls Winnie Portley-Rind Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2014)
The Boxtrolls Winnie Portley-Rind Original Animation Puppet (LAIKA, 2014)
SOLD FOR: $16,730.00


The family of legendary actor John Wayne offered never-before-released personal and professional memorabilia from the movie star’s archives for public auction in 2011.  A portion of the $5.38 million proceeds subsequently went to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation to help fund cancer research, treatment, and education.

A beret from The Green Berets JOHN WAYNE
A beret from “The Green Berets.”
SOLD FOR: $179,250.00

john wayne golden globe
A Golden Globe Award for “True Grit.”
SOLD FOR: $143,400.00john wayne cowboy hat
A Cowboy Hat from “Big Jake,” “The Cowboys,” and “The Train Robbers.”
SOLD FOR: $119,500.00
john wayne drivers license
The Last Driver’s License, 1977
SOLD FOR: $89,625.00
true grit eye patch john wayne
An Eye Patch from “True Grit.”
SOLD FOR: $47,800.00


When international superstar Sylvester Stallone sold more than $3 million of his iconic props and costumes from such famous films, such as “Rocky” and “Rambo,” in 2015 he donated a portion of the proceeds to charities that assist veterans and wounded U.S. military personnel.

Selling desirable donated items, such as important sports memorabilia, rare coins, art, historic manuscripts and even ancient artifacts through public auction can be beneficial for the consignors seeking to turn tangible items into cash for nonprofit organizations.  It’s also beneficial to eager collectors worldwide who have the opportunity to acquire items not previously available.


WRITTEN BY: Donn Pearlman
**SPECIAL NOTICE: The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) granted export approval for this piece in perpetuity to the Living Torah Museum in a letter dated 20 March, 2005. By terms of the letter, the museum must receive permission from the IAA for any future sale of the artifact. In subsequent contacts, the IAA has confirmed that the agency will approve sale to a third party. The conditions for such a sale are as follows:
(1) A major institutional buyer (public museum, library, nonprofit, institute of higher learning, etc.) with a museum or facility that is open to the general public may acquire it with the intention of putting it on prominent display in an appropriate setting; or
(2) A private individual or nonprofit group may acquire the piece with the declared intention of donating it, or placing it on permanent loan, to a public museum or facility to be put on display, as outlined above; or
(3) An institutional or private buyer may acquire the stone with the declared intention of placing it on “tour” to different public museums or institutions around the world, to be placed on display, for the educational benefit and enjoyment of all, or
(4) A private or institutional buyer may acquire the stone with the intention of returning it to Israel.







Posted by Heritage Editorial

This article was written as a collaborative effort by multiple experts within the category at Heritage Auctions.

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